Ashton Benkert learns on the way to record-setting career. The lineman Ashton Benkert becomes a charter as a full-time instructor of Frankenmuth

Ashton Benkert learns on the way to record-setting career. The lineman Ashton Benkert becomes a char ...

Ashton Benkert was a senior at Frankenmuth, a junior undersized that had hard work playing on the defensive line at the end of the offensive line.

"When you face 300-pounders like Jon Stone or Jon Kelley, you learn what you can and can't do," Benkert said. "That were the biggest linemen in the area and they could beat you.

When I was 5-9, 195 pounds, I learned how to use speed and agility for the matches. But now that I'm bigger and stronger, I still use speed and agility to win matches.

Benkert is an important defensive line that helped Frankenmuth to win the Division 5 semifinals with a strong defense that helped Frankenmuth win the Division 5 semifinals against the defending state champion Grand Rapids Catholic Central Saturday at Mount Pleasant High School.

Benkert tasked the Eagles with 61 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 8 sacks and 3 forced kicks this season. The 6-foot-10, 215 pound lineman has two pass breakups and 2 blocked kicks.

He holds a Frankenmuth career record for tackles for loss with 45 sacks and comes shy of 16 career record with 16.

He's not the biggest player in football, but he plays big, and is a very strong kid. He puts energy into the weight room, but it's a lot harder to take with him to get an weight.

He practiced against Stone, Kelley, Tom Main... and he caught some pretty decent-sized guys. Just in our own practice hes seeing himself shes quick. Hes able to get off the ball quick, but also hard to get on with. Hes on the Hill for practice against Kelley,... but, the only thing that we can see is that he does, he has a big influence.

Benkert also has some experience against Sundays opponent. Grand Rapids Catholic Central beat Frankenmuth 48-21 in the 2020 Division 5 state final. Benkert played six tackles and a fumble recovery.

After playing them last year, I feel a little better, Benkert said. They really surprised me, and were the most physically active team we played all year.

We hear how good they are. We saw how good they are, but I think we have more scepticism for this time as they played them last year.

This season the two teams are 12-0 at the weekend and are both ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the Division 5 poll. Last season, Catholic Central finished 11-0, while Frankenmuth was 11-1.

The Cougars are 36-1 in the last three seasons against Niles (Illinois) Notre Dame in 2018. The lone loss is given to Catholic Central in the state final.

We were able to see their speed and size, so we kind of knew what we were up against, Martin said. We were in that venue first, whilst that provided a little extra comfort in that venue. Mount Pleasant has a lot of different airways.

He won't succeed by being a team who plays physical and fast, doesn't play smart. They do all that that.

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