East Grand Rapids High School is two-time defending Division 3 State Champion in football. The challenge to make it three in a row is in replacing 20 starters. While Pioneer head coach Peter Stuursma recently told GoBlueWolverine Magazine that several of this years new starters do have significant game experience, Thursday's scrimmage against Wayland and DeWitt showed the task of defending their title will be daunting.
The format of the scrimmage consisted of each team running a series of offensive plays against the opposing defense. While referees were on hand there were no first down markers, the teams just ran plays regardless of the outcome. DeWitt was the first to square off against the East Grand Rapids defense. The Panthers wasted no time letting EGR know they no longer had the team that shut down offenses last season. DeWitt dominated at the line of scrimmage and was able to pass the ball with ease. DeWitt quarterback Justin Meeder was able to weave through the Pioneer defense, eluding would-be tacklers for big gains. Meeder, who played wide receiver last season, is being recruited primarily by MAC schools, according to Panther head coach Rob Zimmerman said.
At last it was time for the evenings main attraction to take the field. The crowd of several hundred let out a round of appluase as EGR running back Kevin Grady too the field with the offense. The excitement was short lived. As with the offense, the DeWitt defense completely controlled the EGR offense on the line of scrimmage, and Grady was stuffed on his first two carries. He just had no place to go as the Panther swarm keyed on the Pioneer star and had at least four defenders at the point of attack. The EGR line was overwhelemed.
In the end DeWitt scored twice and held the Pioneers scoreless. East Grand Rapids never really threatened the Panther defense.
After being uncharacteristically dominated by DeWitt, the Pioneers sqaured off against Wayland and had much better success. Grady was able to show off the skills that make him one of the most sought after running backs in the country. While the swarming defense of DeWitt was able to contain the EGR star, Wayland wasn't able to dominate at the line in similar fashion, which left Grady one-on-one with his would be tacklers. An impossible job.One person can't bring Grady down. His huge legs, think Earl Campbell, and low center of gravity, just rumble through single tacklers as if they were orange cones. Defenders literally bounce of the strong motors. Grady scored twice on long runs, showing his ability not only to run through defenders, but also to elude them. This is one of many talents Grady possesses. "He has better vision than anyone I've ever seen at this level," said one EGR coach. "He may not have the greatest speed, but his ability to go through people as well as make them miss, is amazing."
On to the recruiting side for a moment. Grady, of course, announced his intention to attend the University of Michigan back in September, becoming the first pledge for the Wolverine class of 2005. When GBW spoke with him on Monday he stated that things have been quiet. The quiet is expected to end September 1, when coaches are allowed to contact recruits by phone once a week. "Just because Kevin has announced doesn't mean schools aren't going to go after him hard," Kevin Grady, Sr. said. "His commitment is solid but I'm sure people will try to change his mind."
East Grand Rapids has one week to get things together as they open the season next Friday againe Ottawa Hills.