Prep Insider: Poljan excited to ‘find home’ at CMU
Tony Poljan has finally found a home at Central Michigan and he couldn’t be happier after experiencing a crazy final couple of months in his recruiting journey.
Poljan, a three-star dual-threat quarterback, originally committed to Minnesota last spring.
Poljan, at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, showed his ability to throw the ball while also running over people during his final two years at Lansing Catholic Central. He was offered as a tight end by Michigan State, but ultimately wanted to play quarterback and picked CMU, the school which has former Lansing Catholic Central standout Cooper Rush as its quarterback.
Poljan is also an outstanding basketball player. He had 31 points and 17 rebounds Tuesday in a 65-59 comeback win over Jackson, rallying his team from a 57-52 deficit in the final minutes, scoring nine during the game-winning 13-2 run.
“It’s been a crazy last six weeks so it felt great to finally find a home,” said Poljan, who is ranked No. 19 on The News’ list of Blue Chip recruits. “I plan on taking a back seat to Cooper and just absorbing and learning everything I possibly can.
“I’m really excited about coming in and start learning the offensive formations because once you make it to the next level of football comes a whole other language, so you have to learn the language before you can perform.”
Poljan also was recruited by Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Nebraska.
Poljan will have an outstanding receiver to work with in three-star recruit Bailey Edwards (Chelsea), who also de-committed from Minnesota. Then there’s Utica running back Kumehnnu Gwilly, a two-star recruit with three-star upside since he’s played only 21/2 years of organized ball.
On playing with Edwards, the younger brother of former Michigan and NFL receiver Braylon Edwards, Poljan said: “We were both recruited at Minnesota so I knew him and we’re both now at Central so I think the sky’s the limit for us.
“When I started the recruiting process, I was looking first for a good education and second a great coach and Minnesota had that and that’s why I was over there, and Central has those same things,” said Poljan, who committed to Minnesota in May but de-committed in late November after Jerry Kill resigned for health reasons, followed by the firing of offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover and quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski.
So, was it tough to say no to MSU’s offer?
“It was hard to turn down Michigan State, but at the same time I wanted to follow my dream and that’s to play quarterback in college,” Poljan said.
But he has more business to take care of before he heads for Mount Pleasant.
“We have the pieces of the puzzle,” Poljan said of Lansing C.C.’s 11-1 basketball team, one of the top teams in Class B. “We just have to come out every day and practice hard and play hard and the scoreboard will take care of itself.”
PSL tourney heats up
The Detroit Public School League basketball tournament reaches the quarterfinal and semifinal games this week, beginning Tuesday at Cass Tech.
The quarterfinal schedule has Douglass playing King at 5 p.m., followed by CMA-Renaissance at 7:30.
On Wednesday at Cass Tech, Northwestern faces defending champion Western at 5 p.m., followed by Henry Ford-East English at 7:30.
Semifinal games are Friday (5, 7:30) at Cass Tech with Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s winners playing each other. The title game is set for Feb. 19 at Calihan Hall.
Western defeated Renaissance by one point in last year’s title game. The field appears wide open again. Renaissance (13-2) defeated Western earlier in the season, East English (13-3) defeated Renaissance and Western (14-2) beat East English, 58-54, last Tuesday.
“We have a lot of great teams in this league,” Renaissance coach Vito Jordan said. “CMA is really good, but a lot of people don’t know a lot about them since they’re Division 2. Northwestern has a great player in Terrence Sewell who is averaging 25, and we all know about Western and East English. East English has eight players who scored 20 or more points during their careers.”
Renaissance defeated East English in the semifinals last year to earn the right to play Western.
East English knocked down 16 3-pointers in its 87-41 first-round win over Central Friday with 6-4 senior Kamari Newman scoring 20 of his 28 points in the first quarter, making six threes. Teammate Lamar Neely scored 26, making eight threes.
“We wanted to come out in the first round and make a statement for the rest of the teams in our bracket,” Newman said. “It’s going to be real exciting, preparing my guys and myself for the rest of the tournament. It’s up for grabs this year.”
Newman, who signed with George Mason, is averaging 25 points.
Hartland gearing up
Rick Gadwa has built a perennial championship contender during his five years as head hockey coach at Hartland.
And, it’s easy to think Hartland has a shot at getting back to the Division 2 state championship game after watching it defeat Sault Ste. Marie, 3-1, Saturday afternoon in the 16th Annual MIHL Prep Hockey Showcase at the Kennedy Recreation Center in Trenton.
Hartland senior center Luke Cowan made the difference, scoring a pair of goals, his first coming after stealing the puck in his own zone, skating the length of the ice and scoring on a wrist shot from the left circle with 30 seconds left in the first period.
“We’ve had talent in the past, but I feel the difference this year is getting a few upper-echelon kids, getting them to switch from Triple A to play high school hockey,” said Gadwa, a 2003 Hartland grad. “Luke Cowan is one of those Triple A players who has come in with a lot of experience and leadership. He’s an impressive skater, outstanding with the puck and has a lot of skill.”
Cowan has 24 goals and 58 points for Hartland, which is 18-2 after finishing 17-10-1 last season. Hartland will play the Livonia Stevenson-Brighton winner for the Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship Feb. 19.
“We’ve won the regional championship the last four years and played in the Division 2 state championship game in 2013 and ’14,” Gadwa said. Hartland lost to Livonia Stevenson, 5-4, three years ago in the title game and 8-3 to Trenton two years ago.
Hartland defeated Trenton, 5-2, Friday in the Prep Showcase tournament with Christian Spangler playing well in goal. Spangler has a 12-2 record with a 2.16 goals-against average and save percentage of .905.
“Christian’s a senior goaltender with a huge upside,” said Gadwa. “We also have an excellent defenseman in Joe Ullstrom, who is 6-2 and 190 pounds with a full skill set, a great skater with a powerful shot.”
Hartland hosts Novi at 8 p.m. Wednesday on Senior Night.
By the numbers
4: 3-pointers made by North Farmington during the final four minutes of its 61-56 OAA Red win over Rochester Adams Tuesday, after making just 3 of 25 during the first three quarters
6: 3-pointers made by East English senior Kamari Newman in the opening quarter of an 87-41 first-round PSL tourney win over Central Friday
20: Points scored by Detroit Country Day junior Destiny Pitts in a 69-56 win over Haslett Tuesday in a rematch of last year’s Class B title game, won by Country Day
Corey Allen, Ypsilanti
The senior guard scored a career-high 45, leading Ypsilanti Community to a 77-74 overtime win over Ann Arbor Huron Tuesday.
Top game last week
North Farmington 61, Rochester Adams 56: Billy Thomas scored 20 to help North Farmington come back from a 12-point halftime deficit. Senior point guard Jacob Joubert scored 16 for North Farmington (13-2), which didn’t hold a lead until Thomas’ 3-pointer with four seconds left. Senior guard Spencer Littleson had 15 points for Adams (11-2).
Top games this week
Clarkston (12-1) at North Farmington (13-2), 7 p.m. Friday: This is the showdown in the OAA Red with Clarkston owning a one-game lead thanks to its 60-47 win between the teams in the first meeting last month when 6-4 Dylan Alderson scored 27, making 9 of 12 shots from the field. Clarkston is led by its backcourt of sophomore Foster Loyer and Alderson. Senior guards Jacob Joubert and Billy Thomas pace North Farmington.
Ypsilanti Arbor Prep girls (14-1) at Detroit Country Day (14-1), 6 p.m. Friday: Defending Class B champion Country Day has all-state guard/forward Destiny Pitts back on the floor after missing multiple games with a concussion. Arbor Prep is among the best in Class C and will give Pitts & Co. a major test with its outstanding quickness.