Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 11

February 24, 2020

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Sunday was historic as for the first time, Boys Basketball District brackets were released with the top two teams separated to opposite sides, according to rankings produced by the Michigan Power Ratings formula.

While that was just another preliminary step for teams hoping to be Breslin Bound over the next month, more are to come this week as the state’s best finish off league titles or prepare to make their memories when the tournament begins in 14 days.

“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at Send corrections or missing scores to [email protected].

Week in Review

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

1. River Rouge 58, Benton Harbor 52 – The Panthers (17-1) further cemented themselves among Division 1 championship favorites with a close win against one of the best in Division 2 in the Tigers (16-2).

3. Howell 75, Canton 71 (3OT) – The Highlanders locked up their first Kensington Lakes Activities Association West title since 2017 by outlasting co-runner-up Canton – a good thing because Howell fell three days later to also-second-place Northville.

3. Erie Mason 62, Blissfield 58 – The Eagles (13-3) avenged their lone league loss, by two to Blissfield (15-2) on Jan. 21 – to take over first place in the Lenawee County Athletic Association.

4. Coldwater 56, Battle Creek Pennfield 52 – After being upset by Jackson Northwest three days before, league leader Coldwater (11-6) hung on against one of three other teams in Pennfield (11-5) sitting within a game of first place in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference.

5. Ypsilanti Lincoln 108, Chelsea 102 (2OT) – This didn’t have bearing on a league title – Lincoln (15-2) had already clinched the Southeastern Conference White and Chelsea (11-6) is fourth – but it was the first time since 1998 that two teams in Michigan combined to score at least 210 points.

Watch List

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


Muskegon (15-2) The Big Reds locked up their seventh Ottawa-Kent Conference Black title last week and have won 77 of their last 78 league games. Their only instate loss this season was 54-51 to Grand Blanc (15-3) – with the other defeat by 10 to Chicago Curie in December. They’ve been otherwise successful during an impressive nonleague slate that’s included wins over Ferndale (8-9 against the state’s ninth-strongest schedule), Saginaw (10-7) and Belleville (15-3) and with Kalamazoo Central (13-4) coming up next week.

River Rouge (17-1) Saturday’s win over Benton Harbor goes well with other nonleague victories over Ypsilanti Lincoln (15-2), Detroit Martin Luther King (13-5) and North Farmington (12-5) – and with Romulus (14-3) and Southfield Christian (13-3) coming up. Rouge’s only loss was 63-60 in overtime to Grand Rapids Catholic Central – the top-ranked team by MPR in Division 2. The Panthers also won their fifth-straight league title, going undefeated in the Michigan Metro Athletic Conference Blue thanks in part to sweeps of Hamtramck (14-3) and Ecorse (10-6).


Frankenmuth (14-2) – Two Tri-Valley Conference East teams are ranked among the top eight in Division 2 by MPR, Frankenmuth at No. 8 following No. 3 Bridgeport. The Eagles beat the Bearcats on Feb. 7 and trail in the standings by a game with two left. Frankenmuth also boasts solid wins over Jack Pine Conference co-leader Sanford Meridian (14-3) and Freeland (10-7) twice, and with room for a boost with Flint Southwestern (13-3) and Alma (12-6) coming up this week.

Otsego (17-1) The Bulldogs have won 15 straight and clinched the Wolverine Conference North championship, their third straight, and they can move to 24-0 in league play over those three seasons with a win over Allegan on Friday. The only loss was by 17 to Grand Rapids Catholic Central (see above) on Dec. 14. Only one team since – Battle Creek Lakeview – has come within nine points. Otsego also has an 11-point win over Edwardsburg, which it could see in next week’s conference crossover.


Iron Mountain (16-0) Returning a pair of stars from last season’s Division 3 runner-up run, Iron Mountain predictably has been dominant. The Mountaineers can clinch a share of the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference East title Tuesday and own a 69-51 win over second-place Negaunee (15-2) in from their first meeting Jan. 28 – they meet again March 5 to likely decide the title outright. Gladstone, with a 15-point loss Jan. 6, has come the closest to Iron Mountain so far.

Maple City Glen Lake (14-2) A 75-67 win over Frankfort on Friday finished a season sweep of the second-place Panthers (12-4) and clinched for Glen Lake the Northwest Conference title. The Lakers have won three straight league championships, including the last two outright, and are looking to make a run at a third-straight 20-win season as well. Their only losses were to Charlevoix (14-3) and Division 1 Traverse City West, and they beat Division 1 Saginaw Heritage (9-7) on Jan. 20 at Saginaw Valley State.


Hale (15-3) The Eagles have locked up the North Star League Little Dipper championship – their third consecutive – and despite losing two of their last three league games to second-place Posen (by one) and then Friday in a crossover that counts in the standings against Big Dipper champion Oscoda (by five). Those two and an earlier defeat to Oscoda (17-0) are the only losses this winter, and Hale did win its first meeting with Posen (12-4) by 16. The Eagles also have nice wins over Rogers City (11-7) and Mio (11-5).

Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (11-5) The Defenders are 10-2 after a 1-3 start and sit tied for first in the Alliance League with Wyoming Potter’s House Christian (11-6), which they face Friday. Tri-unity always loads its nonleague schedule with bigger opponents, and all five losses have come to Division 3 teams with 11 or more victories. Tri-unity also is one of five teams in its league with 11 or more wins, making its place at the top even more impressive. The Defenders take on four teams with double-digit wins over the next two weeks.

Can't-Miss Contests

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

Tuesday – Detroit U-D Jesuit (11-6) vs. Detroit Loyola (13-2) at Bloomfield Hills Marian – This winner faces Wednesday’s Orchard Lake St. Mary’s/Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice winner for the Detroit Catholic League Bishop championship.

Tuesday – Grand Rapids Northview (12-6) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (14-4) – After handing Forest Hills Central its only O-K White loss Friday, Northern must beat third-place Northview to keep in the mix for a shared league title and then root for Northview to beat Central on Friday so it can claim the outright championship.

Friday – Mount Pleasant (16-0) at Grand Blanc (15-3) – The Saginaw Valley League Blue champion hosts the winner from the Red in a matchup of top Division 1 teams statewide.

Friday – Ann Arbor Huron (16-1) at Kalamazoo Central (13-4) – The Maroon Giants start off the week hosting Stevensville Lakeshore (14-3) and finish with another of the best from Division 1.

Friday – Traverse City St. Francis (15-2) at Charlevoix (14-3) – St Francis will likely clinch the Lake Michigan Conference title Tuesday, but second-place Charlevoix still will enjoy a chance to avenge its earlier 42-33 loss to the Gladiators.

Second Half’s weekly “Breslin Bound” reports are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning 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. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTO: Menominee's Keagan Monroe drives to the basket while being surrounded by Ishpeming defenders Ben Pruett (23), Breck Bell (22) and Griffin Argall (34) and teammate Keaton Uecke. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)

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.)