- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Growing up in a community like Clarkston, Clay Senerius always knew he wanted to play football. Every little kid strives to lace ‘em up for the hometown Wolves.

But the reality was that he wasn’t built like a football player. And at Clarkston - a school of more than 2,600 students - that’s not the way to find your way onto the field.

“Clay was the kind of kid who as a seventh-grader, you didn’t see great things athletically from him,” Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes coach Josh Sawicki said. “He would have gotten lost in the mix at a bigger school. He was always skilled, but his athleticism has come later. He knew he would have an opportunity (at Our Lady), and he has just ran with it.”

Senerius transferred to Our Lady in middle school. It didn’t take long for him to make a difference for the Lakers. This season marked his third straight as starting quarterback. His most recent start, a 36-20 victory over Ottawa Lake Whiteford on Saturday, helped Lakes improve to 13-0 and earn a spot in Friday’s Division 8 state championship game.

With 225 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns in snowy conditions against the Bobcats, Senerius broke his own school record for passing yards in a season (2,913) and closed to within two touchdowns of the school’s single season mark of 36 - also owned by him.

Those kind of numbers helped Senerius earn Division 7-8 Player of the Year honors in voting by a panel of Associated Press sportswriters from the state.

“He has a tremendous amount of arm talent that he’s had a chance to display here at Lakes that I don’t think he would have gotten at Clarkston, playing behind (two-time all-state quarterback) D.J. Zezula,” Sawicki said. “I think he’s one of the best quarterbacks around, regardless of class.”

Entering the state playoffs Senerius held at least eight school records at quarterback. With four more games - and a fifth upcoming - under his belt, he has set the bar high in Waterford. His top target on the field is his twin brother Devin Senerius, who amassed nearly 1,300 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns through the semifinals. He, too, was a first team all-state selection.

Joining Devin Senerius among first-team receivers are Brandon Beane of Baldwin, Malik Ellison of Flint Beecher and Thomas Jackson of Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett. Saugatuck’s Blake Dunn was the other quarterback selected.

Pewamo-Westphalia’s Jared Smith, who broke single-season state records for rushing yards (3,094) and touchdowns (52), leads a strong contingent at running back. Blake Dupuis of Lake Linden Hubbell, Ethan Korb of Dansville and Chase Rollin of Beal City join him on the first team.

The all-state line includes Adam Audette of Climax-Scotts, Anthony Fitzpatrick of Detroit Loyola, Dan Gensmer of Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary, Luke Harris of New Lothrop, Jack Hensley of Sterling Heights Parkway Christian, Jacob Holt and Muskegon Catholic Central, Lucas Klein of Lake Linden Hubbell and Ian McInnis of Munising.

Detroit Loyola’s Kailen Abrams amassed 165 tackles through 10 games and leads a linebacker unit that includes Mark Baker of Lenawee Christian, Nate Jones of Muskegon Catholic Central and Ryan Kostich of Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes.

Gage Kreski of St. Ignace, Dallas O’Green of Carson City Crystal and Jelani Taylor of Flint Beecher are the first-team defensive backs. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart’s Kyle Szymanski earned first-team honors at specialist, while teammate Matt Kornexl was the team’s kicker. Nathan Fox of Johannesburg-Lewiston was the first-team punter.

Our Lady of the Lakes’ Josh Sawicki and Sacred Heart’s Rick Roberts were co-coaches of the year. Sawicki’s team broke the school record with its 13th victory, while Roberts won his 200th career high school game in 2015.

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