After some research by both Blue Springs South football coach Jon Oyler, Jaguars senior safety Michael Muehlberger has learned that he is in an elite group of one – that’s right, one player, in the history of high school sports in the state of Missouri – following a remarkable, and game-changing, four-defensive touchdown performance in last Friday’s 48-20 Class 6 District 3 first-round game at Francis Howell in St. Chalres.
Missouri State High School Activities Association communications director Jason West said via email that while there is no recognized record for defensive touchdowns in a game – only interception returns and fumble returns – no one is listed in both.
Which means the likeable safety is likely in a class by himself.
“It couldn’t happen to a better kid,” Oyler said Wednesday afternoon as he and the Jaguars (4-6) prepared for Friday night’s game at No. 1-ranked Columbia Rock Bridge. “When you think it about, it was pretty amazing what he did.
“He’s one of the most competitive players you’ll ever find, and he pretty much turned the game around. He always puts himself in a position to make big plays – and last Friday he made four of them!”
Muehlberger finished with three interception returns of 10, 38 and 37 yards for touchdowns – which tied a state record for a single game – and one fumble recovery for a touchdown of 43 yards, becoming the the first player in the history of the state to score four defensive touchdowns in one game.
“It’s all so unbelievable,” Muehlberger said. “This week, I’ve made sure to stay focused because we have another huge game Friday. What happened last week it over, now, it’s time to play again and hopefully, get another big win.”
When asked to recount each score, Muehlberger readily agreed.
“The first one was about 10 yards,” Muehlberger said, “and I was pretty excited because it was my first pick-six ever. They had been driving on us and had a (20-7) lead and we were looking to make a big play on defense.
“The second was about 38 yards and there were multiple blue jerseys (Francis Howell players) around me as I ran to the end zone. I didn’t want them to stop me and I was able to score again.”
The third score was the fumble recovery.
“(It) just bounced right to me about 43 yards out and I had an open path to the end zone. I’m thinking, ‘Three defensive touchdowns? That’s crazy,’” added Muehlberger, who totaled 128 return yards in the game. “And then I get the third interception and it’s about 37 yards. I had a lot of blocking help on that one. I don’t score without the guys blocking for me.
“Then, when I went back to the sidelines after that one, everyone was going crazy.
“My dad was down on the field taking pictures and my mom got a little teary-eyed after the game. When I think back on it, it’s all so unbelievable.”
And, along with his immediate family, his uncle, former South linebacker Josh Taylor, was in attendance.
“Josh Taylor was a stud,” said Oyler, who coached Taylor in 2001, his first year as an assistant coach at South. “It was so cool that he was at the game where Michael had the four touchdowns. I know how much it meant to everyone in their family.”
Muehlberger has totaled 62 tackles, including two for loss. He also has two other fumble recoveries and two passes defensed.
He even spent the first game of the season playing quarterback for the injured Brody Parker, completing 9 of 22 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns and totaling eight carries for 46 yards rushing against Lee’s Summit West.
Muehlberger said the experience playing quarterback helped him while playing safety.
"I try to think what a quarterback will be thinking, and it's helped,” he said. “I try to outguess them."
It appeared to help last Friday in St. Charles. Muehlberger said he still can’t quite believe his record-shattering night.
“I’m very humbled and thankful God put me into that situation to help my team,” Muehlberger said. “It was the game of my career – it was crazy. And we live to play again, and right now, that’s the most important thing of all.”