Best in the state

Local teams well represented on AP All-State football list for 2013

REED CITY — Nine area student athletes were named to the Associated Press All-State football teams, including two First-Team All-State honorees.

ALL STATE: (ABOVE) Reed City linebacker Eric Grannis (9) tracks down a Morley Stanwood ballcarrier earlier this season. Grannis was named to the Associated Press Division 5-6 All-State football team as a first-team selection this week. (Pioneer file photo)

ALL STATE: (ABOVE) Reed City linebacker Eric Grannis (9) tracks down a Morley Stanwood ballcarrier earlier this season. Grannis was named to the Associated Press Division 5-6 All-State football team as a first-team selection this week. (Pioneer file photo)

Reed City led the way with four honorees including Division 5-6 First-Team All-State senior linebacker Eric Grannis.

Grannis recorded 114 tackles this season, eight of which for losses, two sacks and two fumble recoveries.

“He was a force for us on defense,” said Reed City head coach Monty Price. “He was a special player.”

On the other side of the ball, the Coyotes racked up nearly 4,500 yards of total offense as they were led by a trio of all-state honorable mentions.

Leading the way was senior quarterback Chad Samuels who threw for 950 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions while running for 253 yards and five touchdowns.

Samuels finished his career as a starting quarterback with a record of 29-2.

When Samuels wasn’t putting the ball in the air or running it himself, he was handing the ball off to junior running back Jon Green.

Green had 1,281 rushing yards on 91 carries and 18 touchdowns. He added three receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown.

Protecting Samuels and providing space for Green was senior lineman Darrien Sweet.

Sweet is a two-time first-team All-CSAA honoree and was voted the top offensive lineman in the conference.

“Chad was the heart and soul of our offense,” Price said. “Jon is an awesome kid. He was productive last year and this year he blew it out of the water. (Darrien) has shown so much growth and worked his tail off.”

Evart was well represented in the Division 7-8 All-State team with three honorees, including first-team All-State senior receiver Jacob Hopkins.

Hopkins had 46 receptions for 1,017 yards and 16 touchdowns, with his yards and touchdowns being new school records.

“We’ve never had a receiver like him,” said Evart head coach Pat Craven. “His stats speak for themself, he took over a few games this year that helped us have a pretty good football season.”

Joining Hopkins as a honorable mention was the one who was delivering the ball to him, senior quarterback Jacob

Fortune.

Fortune completed 57 percent of his passes for 1,684 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Joining Hopkins and Fortune was senior linebacker Larry VanBuren as a special mention.

VanBuren recorded 122 tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery in his third year as a starting linebacker for the

Wildcats.

“(Fortune) did a good job at spearding the ball around,” Craven said. “He had a lot of confidence and made great progress from last season. (VanBuren) had a nose for the football. He is a phenomenal player.”

Baldwin junior Brandon Childress was named as an honorable mention as he did it all for the Panthers.

He completed 49 percent of his passes for 987 yards and 11 touchdowns, he ran 93 times for 1,073 yards with 19 touchdowns, when he couldn’t get a first down he averaged 40.8 yards per punt and on defense he led his team with three interceptions.

“Brandon is the best quarterback I’ve ever coached,” said Baldwin head coach Doug Bolles in an e-mail. “He is a great leader and very knowledgeable of the game.”

The area was also represented in Division 3-4, with senior linebacker Marcus Merrill receiving the nod from Chippewa Hills as a honorable mention.

Merrill made 100 tackles and three sacks on the season.

“He’s a little bit undersized, but he made up for it in hard work,” said Warriors head coach Larry Jose.

Jose went on to praise not only his linebacker, but the rest of CSAA which received five nominations.

“Our league this year is the best it has ever been since I’ve been coaching,” he said. “Top to bottom, the best.”

Craven said much of the same about the Highland Conference and the surrounding area.

“There are a lot of really good football players,” he said. “Hardworking small town kids who love football.”

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Posted by Kris Lodes

Kris is a freelance contributor for the sports department at the Pioneer. He specializes in prep sports coverage in Mecosta and Osceola counties. He can be reached at klodes@pioneergroup.com or by phone at (231)592-8363.

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