Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 1

December 4, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Boys basketball is back and a bit earlier than usual this winter.

But the trails to Breslin Center already are being blazed as we head into first full week of December and second week of this season.

We’ll again begin every week with a “Breslin Bound” look at the most significant results from the week that was, a look at a pair of teams in every division that are making noise and then a quick glance at games to watch in the week to come. (Changes to keep in mind this season – in addition to the boys season starting and ending a week before the girls, the tournament is now organized by Divisions, 1-4, instead of the traditional Class A-B-C-D.)

Breslin Bound is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at To offer corrections or fill in scores we’re missing, email me at [email protected].

Week in Review

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

1. Benton Harbor 67, Dowagiac 66 – The reigning Class B champion held on in a rematch of last season’s Regional Final, which saw Dowagiac’s season end at 17-6.

2. Detroit Martin Luther King 54, River Rouge 51 – Hopes are high for both of these programs, as River Rouge made the Class B Semifinals a year ago and King was a Regional finalist in Class A; they now play in Divisions 2 and 1, respectively. 

3. Grand Rapids Christian 60, Wyoming Godwin Heights 59 – These two likely will be ranked among the best in Division 2 when Associated Press polls begin, and the Eagles own the upper hand after avenging last season’s four-point loss.

4. Sterling Heights Stevenson 59, Clarkston 53 – The Wolves graduated a ton and saw one of the state’s winningest coaches retire after back-to-back MHSAA titles, but beating the reigning Class A champion to start the season still had to be huge for the Titans.

5. Ypsilanti Lincoln 80, Ann Arbor Huron 69 – Last season, Lincoln lost by 20 to Huron, which finished 16-6. But the Railsplitters enjoyed the upper hand this time in the high school debut of freshman sensation Emoni Bates.

Watch List

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


• Marquette (2-0) – The Redmen started the season with a statement, downing Brighton 63-58 in overtime on the first day of the Petoskey Tip-Off Classic and then coming back the next day to beat the host 53-31. Marquette was 15-6 a year ago after opening with a 17-point loss to the Northmen, who went on to finish 19-3.

• Portage Northern (2-0) – The Huskies finished 6-16 last season, with a pair of regular-season losses to Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West champion St. Joseph. Perhaps an upset of the Bears in the District opener was a sign of things to come; Northern downed Coloma (18-3 last season) in its opener 71-66 and then St. Joseph 61-48.


• Clare (2-0) – The reigning Jack Pine Conference runner-up looks to chase Sanford Meridian again after opening with a 58-56 win over Beal City and then taking a league win 53-48 over Roscommon. Clare reached its District Final last season, when it finished 19-4.

• Essexville Garber (2-0) – After closing last season with five defeats in their final seven games to finish 11-11, the Dukes are roaring into this winter. They started by avenging last winter’s loss to Saginaw Nouvel with a 61-53 win and then outlasted neighbor Bay City John Glenn 44-42.


• Ironwood (2-0) – The Red Devils, coming off a 12-9 finish last winter, edged Bessemer 54-52 in the opener and won more comfortably against Bayfield (Wis.), 71-58, to close the week. Both games had notable highlights – the first was won on a halfcourt shot, while the second saw Griffen Revoyr score 45 points (as reported by The Upbeat). 

• Sanford Meridian – The reigning Jack Pine Conference champion opened with a 58-49 win over Division 1 Saginaw Heritage, and then started league play with an 81-21 victory over Gladwin. The Mustangs were 21-4 a year ago and reached the Class C Quarterfinals.


• Brimley (2-0) – The Bays are rallying right away after last season’s 20-4 finish and run to the Class D Regional Finals. They started last week by avenging that Regional championship game loss with a 71-49 win over Cedarville, and continued with an 81-49 victory over DeTour. That first win could make Brimley the team to beat in the Eastern U.P. Athletic Conference after finishing second to Cedarville a year ago.

• Engadine (2-0) – The Eagles have improved from two to 12 to 15 wins over the last three seasons, and they’re off to the right start as they try to build on last winter’s 15-6 finish. Engadine scored big in a couple of opening week wins, beating Rock Mid-Peninsula 89-50 and Newberry 91-73. The Eagles also play in the EUPAC.

Can't-Miss Contests

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

Friday – Dansville (1-0) at Pewamo-Westphalia (0-0) – The Central Michigan Athletic Conference is loaded with small-school contenders, and Dansville is a popular pick to go far in Division 3 – and beat the Pirates by a point in a Class Regional Semifinal when these two last met.

Friday – Iron Mountain (2-0) at Calumet (2-0) – These two both were league champions last season and are off to fast starts again; when they last met nine months ago the Mountaineers emerged with a 56-44 win and Class C Regional title.

Friday – St. Joseph (1-1) at Stevensville Lakeshore (2-0) – These two finished first and second, respectively, in the SMAC West last season with the Bears winning their games by five and 13.

Friday – River Rouge (1-1) at West Bloomfield (1-0) – The Lakers stumbled to finish last winter but could be back in the mix and show it by avenging last season’s two-point overtime loss to the Panthers.

Saturday – Holland West Ottawa (1-0) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (0-0) – Last season’s Class A runner-up faces the runner-up from Class B in the 7 p.m. game of GRCC’s Winter Breakout.

Second Half’s weekly “Breslin Bound” reports are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTO: Lansing Everett and Shamar Howard (0) kicked off this season with a big road win last week at Grand Blanc. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)

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.)