Antcliff broke ground as high school athlete

BARRYTON — Marsden Antcliff pulled off a rare feat in his high school playing days.

The running back was a Class D all-state performer with Barryton. One year later, he earned all-state laurels with Chippewa Hills High School, the first year the school was in existence after the consolidation of Barryton, Remus, Weidman and Mecosta schools.

It is just a small part why Antcliff will be inducted into the Mecosta County Sports Hall of Fame on Sunday at Hemlock Park. The induction ceremony is set for 6:30 p.m. with the Old Timer’s contest scheduled for about 7 p.m.

Also being enshrined are Tom Horan, Robert (Bob) Anger and John Raffel.

“This means a great deal to me with all of the great athletes in Mecosta County,” Antcliff said. “My goodness, it is an honor to be among all of them. There are a lot of better athletes than I was. It’s great to be mentioned.”

Though Antcliff succeeded in track, basketball and baseball, it was the gridiron where he excelled the most.

In his junior season, Antcliff rushed for more than 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns for Barryton. Those yards included gaining 388 yards on just 25 carries against Lake City.

He also rushed for 160 yards on 14 carries against Newaygo and another 167 yards on the ground on nine attempts against Pine River.

Antcliff’s exploits landed him on the Class D all-state team.

“It wasn’t just me, I had a great team,” Antcliff said.

Antcliff said he benefited from an offense that used direct snaps to him. The center would hike the ball between the quarterbacks legs to Antcliff and it would be “sweep left or sweep right.”

“I don’t know any other team that did that,” Antcliff said.

After his junior season, Chippewa Hills High School came into being.

Though he played with plenty of players who had never played football before (Remus, Mecosta and Weidman didn’t have a football team), Antcliff’s success continued.

He amassed more than 1,200 yards and scored 14 touchdowns, including a 98-yard scamper.

While Antcliff enjoyed the accolades, he knows it wouldn’t have been possible without the guys up front.

“John Sprague, Mike Ford, those guys did all the blocking,” Antcliff said. “It was fun to play with those boys.”

Antcliff was wanted by Ferris State and Central Michigan, but he took too long to decide where to attend school. Instead, he was drafted into the Army and served in Vietnam — never getting a shot to play in college.

“Sure I regret not making a decision sooner,” Antcliff said. “I rather have been there than in Vietnam.”

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