Unforgettable Fifth: Week 7 of Football 2022
ADRIAN – A few years ago, it would have been easy to imagine Brady McKelvey scoring a last-second shot for Adrian Lenawee Christian to win a basketball game or for him to find the back of the net with a game-winning football goal.
But fast forward to today and McKelvey might be more likely to score a game-winning field goal for the No. 2-ranked 8-man Cougars football team.
“I watched football of course, but I never played it until last year,” McKelvey said. “It’s interesting. It was great fun. I’m glad Coach (Bill) Wilharms asked us to try.
McKelvey is a two-sport athlete in the fall, playing for both the Lenawee Christian soccer and football teams. He played on MHSAA championship teams in both sports. Last week, McKelvey reached rare territory when he scored his 100th career extra point – the state record for 8-man football.
“We were never great football players,” McKelvey said, referring to him and his brother, Jacob, now a student at the University of Michigan. “We have always had a football in our hands.”
Wilharms is the strength and conditioning coach and college football coach of Lenawee Christian, who became an 8-man powerhouse, winning Division 1 championships in the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Brady and Jacob McKelvey s were training at the LCS facility two springs ago when Wilharms asked if they wanted to try kicking for the football team.
“I always wondered what it would be like to kick a soccer ball,” Brady McKelvey said. “I always wanted to do it, but I never got the chance. We were excited to try it.
The two came out for the team last season and were coached by Casey Opsal, a former Hudson kicker and now Lenawee County Sheriff’s Deputy who is one of Wilharms’ aides. With Opsal’s guidance, Jacob and Brady became exceptional kickers.
“He’s the person who taught me everything I know about it,” McKelvey said. “He helped me a lot to improve myself.”
McKelvey has never attended a football camp or taken a course on how to kick a football from anyone outside of LCS staff. Still, his stats are nothing short of amazing.
Last season, McKelvey had a streak of 52 consecutive extra points at one point and finished the season with 59 of 61 attempts. He has a current streak of 23 consecutive games heading into this week’s game and is 44 of 45 altogether this year. In two seasons, that makes him 103 for 106. He scored his first field goal earlier this season, giving him 106 career hitting points.
Twice in his career he scored 10 extra points in a game. This year he has hit at least eight PATs for four consecutive weeks. He also averages around 45 yards per kickoff.
Wilharms said he was happy McKelvey had decided to try his hand at football and said the elder was still learning the nuances of football, such as where to place the ball at kick-offs.
“He’s a good athlete,” Wilharms said. “His PATs are consistent. We are really happy to have him in the team.
Brady and Jacob shared duties last season, although by the end of the season Jacob was starting and Brady was handling most of the extra points.
“At first one of us would come out and kick and the next time the other would come out,” McKelvey said. “Towards the end of the season I was better at extra points and he was better at kick-off. It’s cool to be part of a team that scores a lot because you hit a lot.
LCS has no trouble scoring. The Cougars are 6-1 and averaging 49.8 points per game.
Football continues to be McKelvey’s favorite sport. The Cougars are also having a strong season on the field, and he’s a big part of this team’s success as well.
“I still love football,” McKelvey said.
Cougars soccer coach Nathan Sharpe said McKelvey is a team leader. He has three goals and three assists this fall. “He’s a captain and a key player for our team,” Sharpe said.
McKelvey said kicking the ball in soccer and kicking in soccer are very different things that require different technique.
“It’s amazingly different,” he said. “A soccer ball is much bigger. You have more room to hit it. You want to bend over and try to keep it down. A soccer ball, you have to make a very different kind of contact because you want to get it going through the air.
“The first time I kicked a football without a frame was interesting. I had to try and completely change the way I kicked.
He’s learned the technique so much that this winter he plans to skip basketball so he can attend soccer camps. He hopes to become good enough to try out or get into a college football team.
“I didn’t really expect to be as consistent as I have been,” he said. “You watch college kickers, and even they miss sometimes. I work on it as much as I can. With football games, there are times when I can’t go to football practice, but I try to get out as much as possible.
“I think it would be great to kick college,” he added. “I plan to go to some camps this winter. If I am able to walk somewhere, it would be fine for me.
Besides football, the McKelveys also have a background in basketball. Their father Scott coached boys and girls basketball in Lenawee County for years. He was recently hired as the boys’ varsity coach at Blissfield. The boys grew up as managers and hung around the teams Scott coached.
McKelvey sets the bar high in the 8-player football record books. LCS still has two regular season games to play and is considered one of the favorites to make a long run in the playoffs, which means it could push that number of extra points much higher.
“I’m very happy to have tried out for the team,” he said. “Being part of it is a lot of fun. The guys on the team have always treated me like part of the team. I really like being on the team. All the success we have makes it so much fun.
Doug Donnelly was a sports and news reporter and city editor for 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992 to 1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995 to 2012, and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He has also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in Southeast Michigan. Email him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PICTURES (Top) Brett McKelvey is getting ready to kick off a game this season. (Middle) McKelvey, with father Scott McKelvey and mother Melissa Dempsey. (Photos courtesy of Jeff Jameson/Lenawee Christian.)