Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 1

December 11, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

One of the best parts of boys basketball season is how quickly the state’s elite teams begin testing themselves against each other to get an idea where they stand coming into the winter.

We saw plenty of those titanic matchups last week – although the first game to top our “Week in Review” for 2017-18 allowed us to look back more than look forward.

As during last season, the weekly Breslin Bound report – powered by MI Student Aid – will look at five results from the previous week that particularly popped, plus a few teams to keep on your radar during the months ahead and five games during the week to come that you might want to check out.

These reports are based on results and schedules posted for each school at – to offer corrections, email me at [email protected].  

Week in Review

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results: 

1. Rapid River 65, Powers North Central 43 – The Rockets put an end to North Central’s MHSAA-record 84-game winning streak, which began on opening night of the 2014-15 season.

2. Canton 65, Belleville 61 – This opener shook Class A quite a bit with Canton losing to Belleville by 23 last year and the Tigers expected to contend for a spot at Breslin this upcoming March.

3. Detroit Cass Tech 84, Flint Beecher 53 – The Technicians are expected to be among Class A contenders after winning 19 games a year ago, and this was a great sign as reigning Class C champ Beecher no doubt will be in that mix again as well.

4. Clarkston 65, Wayne Memorial 55 – The reigning Class A champ got a nice win over another expected contender before finishing the week with a five-point victory in another test, against Flint Carman-Ainsworth.

5. Hazel Park 86, Detroit East English 72 – The Vikings may have taken a step toward joining the elite with a big win over one of the anticipated best from the Detroit Public School League.

Watch List

With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks: 


Canton (2-0) – The Chiefs opened 0-2 a year ago with losses to Detroit Country Day and Belleville, the teams they beat last week. Canton plays in a Kensington Lakes Activities Association Black with expected favorites Wayne and Westland John Glenn, but showed last week it should be right in the mix after finishing third and 13-8 overall in 2016-17.

Mattawan (2-0) – The Wildcats were 7-14 a year ago and haven’t had a winning season this decade. But they couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, opening with a 55-54 win over Paw Paw after falling to the eventual 18-win Redskins by 16 a year ago.


Escanaba (2-0) – Coming off a banner football season, the Eskymos provided some early excitement on the basketball court last week after winning 12 games last winter. Escanaba avenged last year’s 20-point opening night loss with a 60-45 win over Negaunee, which won 20 games last season.

Essexville Garber (2-0) – The Dukes’ 5-16 campaign last winter ended with seven straight losses including by a basket to Bay City John Glenn in the District. The bounce-back began last week with a 25-point win over Pinconning followed by a 14-pointer over the rival Bobcats.


Bad Axe (2-0) – An ability to win close games surely would be beneficial as Bad Axe looks to build on last season’s 10-10 finish. The Hatchets beat both Imlay City and Harbor Beach by three points last week; both opponents finished with winning records last winter.

Detroit Pershing (1-0) – The Doughboys have had three middling seasons since their last 20-win run in 2013-14, but they’re expected to be among the state’s best even as they will play a mostly Class A schedule. Last week’s 81-74 overtime win over 2017 Class D semifinalist Southfield Christian was an impressive way to start.


Ewen-Trout Creek (2-0) – The Panthers’ 6-foot-7 senior Jacob Witt is probably one of the most unknown standout all-around athletes in the state, but he could finish this season with his team making some noise. Ewen-Trout Creek went 14-9 last season and last week avenged a 2016-17 loss to Hancock with a 38-point win.

Rapid River (2-0) – The Rockets not only ended North Central’s streak, but opened with a 56-53 win over Carney-Nadeau, which is coming off a 15-win season. Rapid River was 11-13 last winter after opening with an eight-point loss to Carney-Nadeau and a 53-pointer to the Jets, but the Rockets did close 2016-17 on an 8-4 run.  

Can't-Miss Contests

Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:  

Tuesday – Dansville (2-0) at Pewamo-Westphalia (1-0) – The Pirates regularly are among contenders statewide in Class C, but Dansville and 6-9 Caleb Hodgson surely would love to take their place starting in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference standings.

Thursday – Rapid River (2-0) at Crystal Falls Forest Park (2-0) – These look like early contenders to go after the top Class D spot from the Upper Peninsula as reigning MHSAA champion North Central is expected to fall back toward the pack.

Friday – Saginaw Arthur Hill (0-1) at Saginaw (0-0) – This one rarely disappoints; all three meetings went Saginaw’s way by double digits last season, but that third one did come in a District Final.

Friday – Hazel Park (1-0) at Detroit U-D Jesuit (2-0) – The Cubs are off to another strong start and have a tough game against East English on Tuesday before Hazel Park comes in looking for another big early win.

Sunday – Detroit Pershing (1-0) vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (2-0) at Ecorse – This looks to be the premier game of the Hoopz 4 Hope Classic, as the Eaglets also have a pair of double-digit wins to start this winter.

PHOTO: Lansing Everett was among teams that began 2-0 to start the season last week. (Click for more from

E-TC's Witt Bulldozing Path from Small Town to Football's Biggest Stage

By Jason Juno
Special for

June 28, 2024

Ewen-Trout Creek graduate Jake Witt is playing for a spot on the Indianapolis Colts’ 53-man roster. The memories of high school sports, and the impact they’ve had on his journey to the NFL, have stuck with him through his college days and even now as a professional.

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosThe 300-plus receiving yards he went for in a game against the eventual 8-player state champion back in 2017. 

The regular-season basketball game where 3,276 fans turned out to watch his Panthers play just a few months later.

The teamwork prep sports taught him. The family atmosphere he got to be a part of on the high school football team.

“Football was definitely the sport I felt the most family-type feeling with it,” Witt said earlier this week after fishing on Erickson Lake while back in the Upper Peninsula before training camp begins next month. “That’s what drew me back to wanting to play football in college, was my opportunity in high school to play and getting that feeling with the guys and that family-oriented feel.”

Witt played two years of high school football. He lined up exclusively at wide receiver for Ewen-Trout Creek as a junior and then was more of a blocking tight end when E-TC and Ontonagon joined forces as a co-op program when he was a senior.

He ultimately decided to play basketball first in college, at Michigan Tech. But two of his three finalists were football opportunities.

“Obviously playing basketball from second grade on, people would probably assume that I would want to play basketball in college,” Witt said. “I think that just goes to show that football in those two years had a big impact and obviously it led me to where I am when I played at Northern and where I am today.”

Witt played only one year of basketball at Tech. He transferred to Northern Michigan University to attend as a student only before being talked into playing football. 

He was initially a tight end there before moving to tackle because of injuries during a game against Ferris State. He dominated, not allowing a sack or even a quarterback pressure against what was considered the best Division II defensive line in the country. 

He stayed at tackle for what was left of that season and then all of his final year at Northern. Despite his limited time at the position, he had the attention of NFL scouts and entered the draft. The attention reached a fever pitch during his pro day at Central Michigan when he wowed with his athleticism. His 9.92 Relative Athletic Score, a way to measure players’ athletic testing while accounting for their size, was one of the best for an offensive tackle prospect since it began being used in 1987.

Witt, right, umpires a baseball game last summer.He was drafted with the 236th pick, in the seventh round, by the Colts in 2023. 

His first training camp was cut short due to a hip injury, and he was then placed on season-ending injured reserve. But he’s back healthy and ready to go. He practiced at second-string left tackle during the offseason camp this spring and now hopes to earn a spot on the 53-man roster with training camp set to begin in a month.

“I want to go into training camp, play well and then play well enough to where they can’t release me off the 53,” Witt said. “The next goal is to play in a game. And I think that will start with special teams, that will start with field goal. And then from there, obviously, everybody is one week of great practice away from playing with the offense, one injury away from playing in a game with the offense.”

Those who watched him during his high school days in the U.P. likely wouldn’t be at all surprised to see that happen.

Witt is still the only receiver to go for 300 or more receiving yards in 8-player football in state history, according to the MHSAA record book. And he did it twice, a 325-yard game against Eben Junction Superior Central as a junior and the 305-yard performance against Crystal Falls Forest Park as a senior.

The Ontonagon co-op team had mostly stuck to running the ball that season, but looked for Witt through the air against the eventual state champion Trojans.

“I think it was 345 (yards), I think they sent in the wrong number,” Witt said. “That was one game where we switched things up with our offensive attack and threw the ball a lot more, and it ended up paying off for us very well. We were down big at halftime, and we pushed back and we were in a battle with them in the second half. It was a great game. We didn’t end up winning, but it was a lot of fun.”

He enjoyed both years of high school football – even while mostly blocking on the line as a senior despite having shown previously to be a more-than-capable receiver.

Witt warms up during the Indianapolis Colts’ rookie camp in May 2023.“A lot of the offense wasn’t focused on me anymore, which was great,” Witt said. “It made me a much more well-rounded football player. It made me a much better athlete, it gave me a better perception on things as a football player versus just being a receiver. I think both years were great for different reasons.”

Witt said every sport he played in high school was beneficial to him going forward. Basketball, for example, taught him teamwork and coordination. 

“And just relationship building is huge; for me, it helped me move on to the professional football level,” he said.

No high school game was quite as memorable for him as that regular-season basketball game at Michigan Tech on a chilly Wednesday night in Houghton.

Ewen-Trout Creek and Dollar Bay were tied atop the U.P. small-school poll. With that type of matchup, and the chance for fans in the Copper Country to see the 6-7 Witt and his above-the-rim play that’s pretty unique in the U.P., the game was moved from Dollar Bay’s tiny gym to Michigan Tech. (He wasn’t quite 300 pounds like he is now, but he was close – and he came into that game averaging 27 points and 16 rebounds per game with no one able to match his size and strength.)

They expected a crowd; they got 3,276. The latest arriving fans had to sit on the floor on the baseline.

“You don’t see that very much in Division 4 basketball even in the playoffs,” Witt said. “Just having that atmosphere, and especially having it between two of the best U.P. teams at the time, and having the storyline that was behind the game was great – and one of the most memorable events to this day still for me.”

Witt is looking forward to the challenge of training camp and achieving his goals in Indianapolis. But he’s not rushing away a U.P. summer. 

He helped out at last week’s U.P. Football All-Star game. He was happy to provide insight for any players headed off to play college ball, and they helped the Marquette County Habitat for Humanity with the finishing touches on one of their houses.

Over the next month, he’ll still be training, going over the playbook and doing position skill work. As happy as he was to help out last week, he’s happy to be on the lake again, too, fishing like a normal Yooper.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to do, that and train,” Witt said. “Just trying to destress before I get back into it.”

PHOTOS (Top) At left, Jake Witt played for Ewen-Trout Creek during a 2018 basketball game at Michigan Tech, and at right Witt takes a photo with area youth baseball players last summer. (Middle) Witt, right, umpires a baseball game last summer. (Below) Witt warms up during the Indianapolis Colts’ rookie camp in May 2023. (Photos by Jason Juno.)