Sacred Heart Duo Taking Talents to First-Year Madonna Football Program
MT. PLEASANT – A pair of Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart football players are set to continue their playing careers at the collegiate level together.
Seniors Ben Ruggles and Jayden Oldenburg will be a part of Madonna University’s first freshmen class during its inaugural campaign in the fall of 2020.
Being part of a first-year program sold Ruggles and Oldenburg on Livonia-based school.
“It’s really cool,” Ruggles said. “That’s one of the biggest selling points that I thought was great was that it is the first and it would be really cool to be part of the first year team there, to start up a startup team at Madonna.”
Ruggles appeared at a variety of positions as a senior, earning North Central Thumb League all-conference honors at linebacker, quarterback and tight end. As a team captain, Ruggles threw for 1,805 yards and 28 touchdowns while rushing for 108 yards and one score. He also caught 15 passes for 156 yards and one touchdown and returned seven kicks for 153 yards and one score.
Defensively, Ruggles was honored by the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association an as all-region honoree after racking up 102 tackles, four sacks, an interception and a safety at linebacker. In all, Ruggles accumulated 2,237 all-purpose yards and 31 scores.
For Oldenburg, the opportunity to play collegiately is particularly special. An all-conference defensive end as senior, Oldenburg had not played competitive football since middle school prior to putting the pads and helmet back on in 2019.
“I feel like a lot of teams are established by now and there’s not a whole lot of startup teams nowadays,” Oldenburg said. “It’s definitely going to be special. I see it as a total pro. I mean, that’s a big reason I wanted to go here as well. Because whether or not if we come on being a great team or not it’s just a great opportunity to be first year program.”
Oldenburg tallied 47 tackles and six sacks in 2019 to go along with three catches for 25 yards and two scores as a receiver.
Both players will have to transition back to playing 11-player football after playing the 8-player game the previous two seasons at Sacred Heart.
As an NAIA institution, Madonna is a member of the Mid-States Football Association and joins other Michigan NAIA football programs like Concordia, Lawrence Tech and Siena Heights.