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Mike Gardner headed for Hall of Fame

Mike Gardner, a 1994 OHS grad and star athlete, will be inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame this fall. (click for larger version)
June 29, 2011 - Mike Gardner was a fixture on the athletic fields and courts throughout his four-year career at Oxford High School.

From 1990-1994, Gardner would become a nine-time letter winner in football, basketball, baseball and track and field. However, it would be his standout football career and accomplishments as quarterback that would land him as part of the inaugural class of the OHS Athletic Hall of Fame.

"It's a tremendous honor," Gardner said. "There are some amazing athletes that have gone through (OHS), at least during the time I went there."

Gardner said his mother and varsity coach Bud Rowley nominated him.

He made an immediate impact on the football field during his freshman season in 1990, starting every game as quarterback and guiding the Wildcats to a 9-0 record and a Flint Metro League championship.

He helped lead the Wildcats to their first ever 12 win season before losing 35-14 to Dowagiac Chieftains in the class BB state championship game.

The following season, Gardner again guided the Wildcats to a perfect regular season and a second consecutive FML championship.

However, Oxford would fall short again, this time losing to Marine City in the Playoffs.

Everything finally came together in 1992 for Gardner and the Wildcats. Gardner, who was named captain, would guide the Wildcats to another perfect regular season and avenge playoff loses to Dowagiac (21-20) and Marine City (48-7).

The Wildcats captured the elusive class BB state championship 20-13 overtime thriller against Kenowa Hills.

"It was incredible and is still one of the better memories in my life," Gardner said. "You make friendships the rest of your life, and I think it is becoming more and more rewarding as I get older because of the people you run into."

In his senior year, he led the Wildcats to another undefeated record before losing 28-25 to East Grand Rapids in the state championship game.

During his career, Gardner complied a 37-2 record as a starting quarterback, including a 36-0 regular season record, four FML championships and three trips to the state finals.

He passed for over 3,500 yards and 40 touchdowns and was named first team, all-FML, first team All-Metro Detroit, all county dream team and well as first team Class BB all state as a senior.

He also received the United States Marine Corp Most Outstanding Athlete award in his senior year.

After graduating from OHS in 1994, Gardner would play for Northwood University on an athletic scholarship, starting games at quarterback in each of his four years there.

At the end of his career, he was the school's only two-time captain for the Timberwolves. "I never really thought about it much until after school and after playing," Gardner said.

"The validation of the fact that I was doing the right things, saying the right things and still putting forth maximum effort was validated by being nominated twice as a captain," Gardner said.

Gardner is currently ranked 7th on the all-time passing list at Northwood (1,901) and is listed among the career leaders in pass attempts (272) and completions (119).

He graduated from Northwood in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in Business Management, and in 2002 helped found the Populus Group of Troy, a human capitol management firm and staff agency. He currently works as the company's recruiting manager. He is married to former Wildcat cheerleader Pam Read, class of 1994, and currently lives in Lake Orion.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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