Hilltop Plans Celebration Marking 25th Anniversary Of Undefeated Football Team


It’s been 25 years since Hilltop High School 10-0 season in varsity football and the school wants to celebrate. The high school will honor the team Sept. 21 as the Cadets host Ottawa Hills.  According to Hilltop Athletic Director Tony Gerig the cermeony will take place after the band halftime show and the school wants to get the word out to all the team members, cheerleaders, former coaches and the marching band to come back for a homecoming of sorts.

The 1993 team only team in school history to finish undefeated in a season of 10 games or more. The Cadets missed the playoffs that year because they played many Michigan teams who only played a 9-game season.

The team was coached by Hal Krotzer, who now resides in Raleigh, N.C. He will be unable to attend the game but did share some memories about that squad.

”They were a special bunch of kids,” Krotzer said. “They were a tough group who came together.”  The key to the team’s success was its unity of purpose.

“Everybody was moving in the same direction; they played well together,” Krotzer said. “They were all great from beginning to end. They all just came together.”

While the team swept through the SCAA schedule and some other local teams, Krotzer was not so sure about his team’s chances in the postseason. Liberty Center was a formidable team that year.

“Ending the season undefeated was special,” Krotzer said.

The team was led by Jay Joseph who rushed for 1,303 yards and scored 155 points (23 touchdowns). His 36 points in a game against Waldron still stands a school record.
Jason Armbruster had 494 yards rushing, while Shea Walkup had 240. Jon Bernath was the quarterback and threw for 442 yards and 7 TDs in an offense that total 2,317 yards on the ground.

On defense, Bernath had 12 sacks, 29 solo tackles and a blocked punt. Joseph had 48 solo tackles, five interceptions. Chad Axford had 59 solo tackles, 23 assists, recovered two fumbles and had seven sacks. Nathan Saneda had 54 solo tackles, 33 assists, 2 fumble returns for 85 yards, 2 interception returns for 24 yards and score 12 points. Forrest Church had 24 tackles, eight assists, recovered one fumble and had four sacks.



SCAA All-League

1st Team Offense: Nathan Saneda, Guard; Jay Joseph, Tailback

1st Team Defense: Jon Bernath, Defensive End; Jay Joseph, Safety

2nd Team Offense: Todd Gerig, Offensive End; Jason Armbruster, Fullback

2nd Team Defense: Brock McNeal, Linebacker; Chad Axford, Linebacker; Nathan Saneda, Linebacker.

Coaches Award: Heath Phillips

1993 Season 7-0 SCAA, 10-0 Overall

Sept. 3 

HILLTOP 8, Edgerton 0

Scoring: Jay Joseph 45 run (Joseph run)

Jason Armbruster 70 yards 20 carries; Joseph 9-61 156 total

Sept. 10              

HILLTOP 32, Antwerp 14

Scoring: Jon Bernath 1 run (Jay Joseph run)

Nathan Saneda 50 fumble return (Joseph run)

Brock McNeal 30 pass from Jon Bernath (Bernath pass to McNeal)

Shea Walkup 8 run (Jason Armbruster run)

Joseph 97 yards 14 carries; Hilltop 178 yards overall.

Sept. 17

HILLTOP 34, Pittsford (MI) 13

Scoring: Jason Armbruster 1 run

Shea Walkup 79 run (Jay Joseph run)

Joseph 31 run (Joseph run)

Nathan Saneda 35 fumble return

Walkup 22 run

Armbruster 143 yards on 19 carries. Walkup 107 yards on 6 carries.

Sept. 24              

HILLTOP 38, Edon 12

Scoring: Jay Joseph 32 run

Jon Bernath 1 run

Joseph 14 run (Bernath pass to Brock McNeal)

Tom Gerig 49 pass from Bernath

Joseph 19 run

Joseph 14 run

Total yards: Hilltop 244 yards rushing, 76 passing

Oct. 1                   

HILLTOP 24, Litchfield (MI) 8

Scoring: Joseph 20 run

Shea Walkup 1 run

Jon Bernath 1 run

Joseph 39 punt return

Jay Joseph 105 yards rushing, 2 interceptions

Hilltop 259 yards rushing

Oct. 8   

HILLTOP 50, Waldron (MI) 18

Scoring: Jay Joseph 3 run (Jason Armbruster PAT run)

Joseph 33 run (PAT good)

Joseph 38 run (Armbruster kick)

Joseph pass from Bernath (Armbruster kick)

Tony Gerig 56 pass from Bernath (PAT failed)

Joseph 25 fumble recovery (PAT failed)

Joseph run

Armbruster 31 FG

Total yards Hilltop 236 rushing, 119 yards passing

Jay Joseph 6 TDs, PAT kick, 143 yards rushing

First-ever 6-0 start for Hilltop

Oct. 15                 

HILLTOP 14, North Adams-Jerome (MI) 6

Scoring: Brock McNeal 26 pass from Jon Bernath (Jay Joseph PAT run)

Joseph 25 pass from Bernath (PAT failed)

Oct. 22                 

HILLTOP 44, Camden-Frontier (MI) 0

Scoring: Jay Joseph 76 punt return

Joseph 4 run (Bernath 2 –point PAT)

Jon Bernath 1 run (Bernath 2 –point PAT)

Joseph 1 run

Joseph 12 run

Shea Walkup 12 run (Ty Krotzer pass to Josh Taylor)

Joseph 168 yards on 19 carries Hilltop 225 yards overall

Oct. 29                 

HILLTOP 22, Tekonsha (MI) 20

Scoring: Jay Joseph 56 run (Joseph PAT run)

Joseph 47 run (PAT failed)

Joseph 22 run (Jon Bernath PAT run)

Hilltop 259 yards rushing

Nov. 5                  

HILLTOP 28, Ottawa Hills 0

Scoring: Jon Bernath 3 run, Bernath 2-point run

Joseph 39 run Jason Armbruster kick

Brock McNeal 29 pass from Bernath (Armbruster kick)

Adam Ruthley 1 run

Cadets 200 yards rushing, 114 yards passing

Jay Joseph 25-151 rushing, season total 1,303 yards (school record)

Additional news coverage will be provided in future weeks covering the gathering along with player quotes.

James Pruitt may be reached at publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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