Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 8

February 4, 2020

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Whether it was last week’s Upper Peninsula matchup of statewide Division 3 contenders or the Saturday night showcase of recent MHSAA Finals champions, this boys basketball season at the start of February already has taken on a tournament-time atmosphere.

That should only continue to build this week as league races get more intense and state powers meet again for another big event in the Grand Rapids area.

“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. Benton Harbor 73, Ypsilanti Lincoln 51 – The marquee matchup of the Grand Rapids Redhawk Classic saw the Tigers move up to No. 5 in Division 2 MPR with this win over the reigning Division 1 champion Lincoln, which was No. 1 in Division 1 last week but fell to No. 6.  

2. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 65, Hudsonville 47 – The Eaglets took back the top spot in Division 1 MPR by handing Hudsonville its first loss, also at the Redhawk Classic.

3. Iron Mountain 69, Negaunee 51 – A full house watched the unbeaten Mountaineers hand the Miners their first loss; they meet again in the regular-season finale March 5.

4. Erie Mason 70, Onsted 67 (2 OT) – The Eagles, with their lone Lenawee County Athletic Association loss by a basket to Blissfield nine days prior, moved back into a tie for first with this win over another co-leader.

5. Muskegon 77, Saginaw 74 – The Big Reds remain unbeaten against in-state competition with this Redhawk Classic nail-biter their third victory by three points or fewer this winter.

Watch List

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


Clarkston (10-1) The cast mostly has changed since the Wolves’ back-to-back Class A titles in 2017 and 2018, but second-year coach Tim Wasilk has Clarkston on a nine-game winning streak and atop the Oakland Activities Association Red standings with recent wins over second-place Ferndale and third-place (tied) North Farmington and West Bloomfield. The team’s only loss was to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s on Dec. 20; Clarkston also owns wins over Detroit Martin Luther King and Flint Carman-Ainsworth.

Flint Southwestern (10-1) The Jaguars are riding a 10-game winning streak after winning a combined seven games over the last two seasons. Their lone loss this winter was to Burton Bendle (10-2) in the season opener, and they handed Croswell-Lexington its only defeat, 53-50, on Dec. 27. Another major test comes tonight against undefeated Bridgeport, and Flint Beecher (11-1) also will provide a valuable measuring stick Feb. 18.  


Grand Rapids Catholic Central (11-1) A six-point loss Dec. 17 to still-undefeated Grand Rapids Christian is all that’s kept GRCC from perfect as well this winter – and the Cougars actually entered this week with the top MPR in Division 2, two spots ahead of the Eagles. That’s a credit to GRCC’s body of work, which includes handing the only defeats to Otsego (12-1) and River Rouge (12-1) and nine wins total over teams with records above .500. Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather Classic matchup with Benton Harbor will be the game of the week in this state.

Goodrich (11-1) The Martians’ 46-44 win over Flint Metro League Stripes leader Linden last week arguably was their most impressive of the season, although it also followed up a 45-point win over Clio (11-2). Goodrich leads the Metro League Stars division by two games over the Mustangs and see them again Feb. 28. The Martians’ only loss was a close one, 61-58 in overtime to Carman-Ainsworth (8-4) on Jan. 21.


Detroit Edison (7-3) The Pioneers’ position atop Division 3 MPR is a nod to its impressive schedule and wins over Waterford Mott (10-2) and Detroit Douglass (12-3). Division 1 Clarkston and Detroit Martin Luther King are among opponents coming up, but Edison is plenty familiar with the big powers after losing just 53-50 to still-unbeaten Ann Arbor Huron and 75-58 to Ypsilanti Lincoln. That third defeat came Dec. 16 against reigning Division 4 champion Southfield Christian, 61-52.

Schoolcraft (12-0) The Eagles are making a run at a second-straight season with at least 20 wins, with only a 58-56 overtime victory over Hopkins in the season opener finishing closer than 14 points. Schoolcraft sits atop the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley standings, two games ahead of second-place Kalamazoo Christian thanks in part to a 51-37 victory Jan. 10. The Eagles also own a win over reigning league champion Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep, 53-26 on Jan. 7


Munising (12-1) The Mustangs are contending with Bark River-Harris atop the Skyline Central Conference Large schools division and defeated Small schools leader Powers North Central 67-31 to close last week. Munising is seeking a fourth-straight league title and hosts Bark River-Harris tonight. The Mustangs also handed Pickford its only loss, 57-47 on Dec. 28, and its only defeat came in a low-scoring 35-20 matchup with Crystal Falls Forest Park on Jan. 16.

Pickford (9-1) Pickford has matched last season’s success after finishing 2018-19 at 9-11. The Panthers have only the loss to Munising during an otherwise unbeaten run. They’ve handed defeats to three nine-win teams – Dearborn Advanced Tech, Rudyard and Pellston – and the 55-54 victory over Advanced Tech was one of two one-pointers Pickford has held on to claim this winter.

Can't-Miss Contests

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

Tuesday – Portage Central (10-0) at Kalamazoo Central (7-3) – The leaders of the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West and East, respectively, face off.

Tuesday – Flint Southwestern (10-1) at Bridgeport (12-0) – This kicks off a week for the Bearcats that also will include games against Unionville-Sebewaing (9-1) and Frankenmuth (9-1).

Wednesday – Beaverton (8-2) at Sanford Meridian (10-2) – The co-leaders in the Jack Pine Conference will meet a second time after Beaverton won the first 40-38 on Dec. 17.

Saturday – Benton Harbor (11-1) vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (11-1) at Ottawa Hills – As noted above, this is the game of the week statewide and a potential preview of a playoff showdown.

Saturday – Grand Blanc (10-3) at Muskegon (10-1) – This also could foreshadow a postseason matchup as these are two of the best in Division 1.   

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: Iron Mountain's Foster Wonders drives to the basket while being defended by Negaunee's Drew Lindberg (23), Will Luke (14), and Chas Kumpula (5) near the end of the second quarter of last week’s matchup. (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.)