Prep Insider: Gwilly looks even better as senior at Utica

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Kumehnnu Gwilly enjoys battering the opposition on the football field.

Gwilly made a name for himself during his junior year at Utica — just his second year of organized ball — when he rushed for 1,944 yards and 15 touchdowns.

With a scholarship offer locked up at Central Michigan, he is focused on having a successful last hurrah.

Gwilly sure had an opener to remember Friday night, running wild for a school-record 397 yards (27 carries) and six TDs in a 41-31 win over Fraser. He scored on runs of 23, 21, 8, 65, 47 and 40 yards.

Gwilly, 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds with 4.6 speed, also is getting more playing time on the defensive side of the ball. He was on the field for 95 percent of the snaps, according to coach Tony Smith, getting in on eight tackles and recovering a fumble.

“He was awesome, broke loose for a lot of big runs and he did a great job defensively, too,” Smith said.

“Things couldn’t have gone better,” said Gwilly, who broke his own school record of 315 yards in a game. “The line did a great job of opening holes. It was all about being patient, especially when they’re loading the box. You just have to wait for the hole, then blast through it, you know, lower my shoulders, break a tackle or two and off to the races.”

Sounds like a great game plan with outstanding execution. So, how does Gwilly feel with so much contact on both sides of the ball?

“Sure, I’m a little sore, bruised ribs, but I’ll be ready for next week,” he said. “I’m playing more defense this year because we’re a little short on linebackers. I love playing defense, play downhill just like running back. I love being the hammer. It’s always better being the hammer than the nail.”

Gwilly has put on 20 pounds since last year and is benching 285, up from 225 a year ago. He’s strongly committed to CMU.

“I love the coaches at Central,” he said. “They treat me like family and I’m comfortable there. I’m just relaxed and focusing on the season.”

And, that could be bad news for Gwilly’s opponents, including a rivalry game at Utica Ford Thursday.

No easier for Loyola

Division 7 state champion Detroit Loyola opened the season with a hard-fought, 24-12 loss to Division 3 state champ Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and now travels to Muskegon to face Oakridge Friday night.

Oakridge, a traditional power with Division 5 state titles in 2005 and ’08, showed it will again be a threat for a state championship with a 45-26 pounding of two-time Division 8 state champ Muskegon Catholic Central.

Loyola, which was hurt by St. Mary’s run game, now must focus on stopping the aerial attack of Oakridge junior Brady Luttrull, who completed his first 17 passes and ended with a 25-of-30 showing for 315 yards and six TDs, all to James Cooper III (10 catches, 130 yards).

And in Week 6, Loyola makes a return trip to Wayne State to face defending Division 2 state champ Warren De La Salle.

Kessman’s big leg

Rockford kicker Quinn Nordin has been getting all the hype heading into the season, already committing to Penn State.

Clarkston kicker/punter Alex Kessman boomed a 56-yard field goal with 54 seconds left in the half Thursday to pull the Wolves within 14-10 in an eventual 35-10 loss to Macomb Dakota. He also had a 50-yard punt in the opening half.

“I guess Pat Narduzzi just got himself a kicker,” Dakota coach Mike Giannone said. “He’s every bit a big-time Division 1 kicker.”

Don’t be surprised if Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh take a look at Kessman as well in the weeks ahead.

Skyline climbs

While Clarkston and Muskegon Catholic Central’s long winning streaks came to an end in Week 1, Ann Arbor Skyline had a nice mix of the new and old to end its 12-game losing streak Thursday, defeating Westland John Glenn, 38-14.

Junior running back Charles Jones rushed for 174 yards (16 carries) and scored two touchdowns.

Transfers Joe Bob Walker, Hunter Rison and five-star linebacker Daelin Hayes all had impressive debuts.

Walker, a 6-5, 230-pound quarterback, completed his first six passes for 178 yards, including a 28-yard TD pass to Rison — a junior and MSU commit — and a 15-yard TD toss to Kayron Rogers. Hayes had six tackles, including a sack, and forced a fumble.

By the numbers

2: Interceptions returned for touchdowns by West Bloomfield in its 59-31 win over Dearborn

6: TD receptions by Muskegon Oakridge senior receiver James Cooper III in his team’s season-opening 45-26 win over two-time Division 8 state champion Muskegon Catholic Central.

17: Consecutive passes junior quarterback Brady Luttrull completed to s’tart the game in Muskegon Oakridge’s 45-26 win that ended Muskegon C.C.'s 26-game winning streak.

Top performer

Josh Jackson, Saline

Jackson, a senior quarterback who’s committed to Virginia Tech, had an outstanding opener, piling up 451 yards of total offense in a 37-24 win over No. 18 Rockford. He completed 25 of 34 passes for 354 yards and 4 TDs and ran for 97 yards on 12 carries.


“They ran a reverse return (on kickoff) and our guys chased and she smoked the kid, and if she doesn’t, it’s a TD. Veronica is one of the best athletes in the school. She’s very competitive and once the return man broke free she was determined to make the tackle. Our sidelines ignited, and in some ways it was a game saver.”

— Tom Smith, Utica coach, on his kicker, Veronica Kramer, who made 5 of 6 PATs and tackled Fraser’s return man with Utica holding a 28-21 lead.