Class of 2014
Adam Armour 6-1 210 Sr LB Traverse City St. Francis
The reigning defensive MVP of the Gladiators, it will take more than a broken hand to keep Armour off the field. Still playing with a cast, he was TCSF’s leading tackler and had a sack in the Glads’ 34-14 win over previously undefeated Grayling. Armour’s particularly qualified to excel against a spread-it-out, launch-it-up team like Grayling because of his pass coverage. Quick, instinctive middle linebacker. A2 has 4.6 speed and seems even faster because of how he ends up in the right spots.
Kyle Blough 6-3 200 Sr TE/LB Lowell
Reminds some of Reed Stormzand, who was a tough all-around athlete last season for Lowell, now at Siena Heights. Like his teammates up front, Blough’s trim but strong and they wore down the heavier Muskegon linemen. Lowell moves him around on defense and while he breaks down consistently and fundamentally as you’d expect of a Red Arrow, can finish better. He’s fast though, and showed it with a pursuit and shoelace tackle for loss against Muskegon. If there’s a college future for Blough it’s at tight end. Can hold onto the ball to complete catches over the middle. He and Lowell junior Josh Branagan give QB Kyler Shurlow two legit tight end options.
Jalen Brooks 6-3 185 Sr ATH Cadillac
To earn the “ATH” label, a player needs to have legitimate three-position college potential. Brooks qualifies, as he’s being recruited for the GLIAC and MAC as a quarterback, receiver and defensive back. Brooks’ designation isn’t limited to football, he’s got D2 basketball interest with one GLIAC coach saying he’s a better athlete than anyone they have on their current roster. In his last season as a high school QB, at least, Brooks has led Cadillac to a 4-0 start, most recently beating Alpena 40-24. He’s already the school’s all-time leading rusher. This year’s running numbers aren’t as gaudy as in 2012, between the graduation of the strongest pair of tackles in Michigan, and this year’s Vikings presenting more threats from the running back positions. Brooks is a smooth runner who glides over 10- to 15-yard chunks of yardage by habit. Alpena packed it in to contain the running threat, only to see Brooks complete 12-of-19 passes for 346 yards and 3 TDs, with 107 yards and a TD on the ground.
Luke Diekevers 6-5 200 Sr TE Jenison
He has some elite athletic bonafides, with a 36-point game as a hooper last winter, a 3 TD game this fall. Diekevers hasn’t seen that kind of production since the 3 TD opener. It’s not that he doesn’t get open, it’s just that in recent blowout losses to Rockford and Reeths-Puffer, the pocket is being blown up while the route is run. Uses his size and strength to get off initial bumps, and is a big, aggressive target when given the chance. Goes both ways for the Wildcats.
Josh Olson 6-3 185 Sr WR Rockford
No one thinks feature receiver and Rockford, but Olson combines good physical tools and comes through when he gets chances. He’s strong in Rockford’s hurry up offense. In said role against Jenison, he converted a first down then a tough TD catch in the corner of the end zone. Olson isn’t only a nice-sized target, he can adjust to the ball and has and after the catch accelerates surprisingly well for lankier receiver.
Matt Reitsma 6-2 240 Sr OL Lowell
Lowell’s offense went right down the field on the opening possession, establishing the tone for the night against Muskegon. Reitsma did a lot of damage at right tackle. He’s the kind of versatile lineman Lowell needs with their different looks, sometimes he’s lined up with two tight ends, sometimes four wide. Reitsma stood up Muskegon’s linemen, and got out to block their linebackers. May not have the wingspan of a college tackle.
Jarrett Sobkowiak 6-0 250 Sr DL Rockford
After an historically disappointing effort against Muskegon, Rockford needed a get-well game and Jenison fit the bill. The Rams pitched a shutout 42-0. Sobkowiak is an active note tackle who had two sacks against Jenison, including one where he bolo-bolo’d a 10-yard loss. He has good punch, can sort through the line without getting hung up, and consistently demands double-teams. Sobkowiak’s presence allows some playmaking opportunities for a very promising sophomore, 6-3, 230 Gabe Bauman. As a recruit, Sobkowiak doesn’t have the size and explosion for the position at a big school but is intriguing after that.
Class of 2015
Josh Branagan 6-4 210 Jr TE Lowell
For all the talk of ACT scores, let’s not poor-mouth Lowell’s actual talent. Branagan is certainly gifted, with a four-catch game against Muskegon. The first of them saw Branagan release then receive the screen pass for a 10-yard TD, giving Lowell a first quarter lead on the Big Reds that they’d hold the rest of the game. Had a two TD game in the season opener. A smooth long-strider with enough core strength to get off initial tacklers for extra yardage. May be Lowell’s best pure receiver, and was lined up at tight end maybe half the time. Won’t make anyone forget Heath Miller as a blocker. Everyone knows about Northview’s Blake Bockheim. Branagan may need to be in that 2015 tight end discussion himself.
Marty Ward 5-9 200 Jr RB Niles Brandywine
He turned some heads at our Lakeshore workout in July, where he was the strongest skill position guy in the bench then also looked like a football player in drills. Ward’s further proved to be more than just a workout warrior providing the running threat this fall for undefeated Brandywine. They had their toughest test yet against Bridgman, but the Bobcats put it away with Ward’s 73-yard TD. That was his third TD as he had 138 yards on 17 carries.
Corey Westra 5-9 175 Jr Zeeland East
The Chix’ leading JV rusher in 2012, Westra had ably replaced Josh Blauwkamp as East’s speed complement to Spencer Viening. That was to be expected, as Bauman graduated. But now Viening was out with a knee injury. Westra would be exposed against Forest Hills Central — was he a remora, attached to and success depending on Viening? Or was he a shark himself? Turns out Westra’s all predator. He fed for his second 200-yard game and scored three TDs of at least 50 yards in a 27-25 Zeeland East win. While he’s a big play threat like Zeeland West neighbor Danny Bauder, Westra has more traditional running back vision and balance, whereas Danny Boy is pure speed and a likely receiver or defensive back in college.
Class of 2016
Hunter Broersma 6-1 180 So WR/DB Muskegon Mona Shores
4-0 Mona Shores is so explosive because junior QB Tyree Jackson has more than just future WMU Bronco Asantay Brown at his disposal. Broersma has emerged as a big-play threat as a receiver or runner. In the Sailors’ shootout win over Grand Haven, he caught a 30-yard TD pass and ran for two more scores. Mona loves to use him on end-arounds and other backfield trickery because he’s good at doing two things — turning the corner, and finding the end zone. A rambunctious, aggressive running style. Can also separate to take advantage of Jackson’s vertical passing game.