BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) — Cody Caswell wants his Lawrence High School football players to strut onto the field before the game and strut off the field after the game.
But, most importantly, he wants them to walk the walk of a powerhouse football team when the game is in session.
"We want our kids to have an attitude, kind of like (the University of Miami) of the '80s — minus the dancing," he said. "When they have a big hit, we want them to be emotional and celebrate with their teammates. We want our kids to have that swagger to them."
Lawrence wielded its confidence-driven attitude while posting the winningest season in program history — and making some postseason history on the first Associated Press All-State Team for eight-man football. Caswell was named the first Coach of the Year, quarterback Derek Gribler was selected as the first Player of the Year and defensive back Matt Cammire also landed All-State honors.
The inaugural eight-player team also features Peck's Cody Abrego and Kyle Abrego, Cedarville's Brad Causley, Webberville's Travis Elowsky, Rapid River's Steve Johnson and Deckerville's Ryan Stone.
Lawrence, 13-0, won the state championship Friday against Cedarville. It marked the completion of a dramatic turnaround under the 30-year-old Caswell, whose first three teams went 3-24.
Gribler emerged as the point man, as the 5-foot-9, 170-pound senior directed the offense to 57.8 points per game. He completed 76 of 122 passes for 1,559 yards and 28 touchdowns while rushing for 1,071 yards and 17 scores during the regular season. He added four picks and 10 pass breakups at free safety.
"You talk about dual threat, he's it," Caswell said. "We run a lot of read-option that is predicated on what he sees and what he does, so our offense doesn't go without Derek."
The 6-foot, 180-pound Cammire tallied three interceptions with 25 tackles at defensive back while making 30 catches for 709 yards and 17 TDs at wide receiver.
"He's one of those players who, when you need to make a play, you go his way and he makes it," Caswell said. "That kid can play, that's for sure."
The Abrego brothers formed a formidable 1-2 combination for Peck. The 5-11, 180 Cody Abrego ran for 1,435 yards and 25 TDs, averaging 12.8 yards per carry. He hauled down four interceptions and 43 tackles while forcing four fumbles on defense.
The 6-5, 220 Kyle Abrego was a devastating blocker who mixed in six touchdowns at tight end. He was monstrous at defensive end, corraling 108 tackles, with six sacks, 22 tackles for loss and nine batted passes.
Brad Causley was a driving force for Cedarville, making 45 tackles and three interceptions at defensive back and scoring nine touchdowns on 28 receptions at end. His signature was the return game, where he piled up half of his 1,056 all-purpose yards and scored six TDs.
Steve Johnson was a pivotal part of the Rapid River offense as a 5-9, 190 center. He was dominant as the Bridge Alliance Defensive Player of the Year at linebacker, collecting 63 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and six pass breakups.
Travis Elowsky put up eye-popping numbers as one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the nation at Webberville. The 6-1, 190 senior completed 142 of 257 passes for 29 touchdowns and 2,320 yards, ranking second in the nation, according to MaxPreps.com.
Ryan Stone stood as the heart and soul of the Deckerville lineup. The 5-8, 165 senior had a nose for the ball with nine interceptions at defensive back, returning three for touchdowns, while collecting 87 tackles. He also had 1,025 rushing yards, 371 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns.