Goricki: Veasley ‘remarkable’ at QB for West Bloomfield

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Walled Lake Western’s Cody White, left, has thrown six touchdown passes in his team’s first two games while filling in at quarterback.

Bryce Veasley showed a glimpse of his ability during his sophomore season a year ago to help Southfield-Lathrup earn a state playoff appearance before the school closed its doors for the final time.

Veasley, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound quarterback, threw for more than 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns.

With Lathrup merging with Southfield to form Southfield A&T, it was quite clear that former Southfield sophomore standout Sam Johnson, who already has offers from a dozen schools, would be the No. 1 quarterback.

It was an easy choice for Veasley to move in with his father in West Bloomfield. He transferred to West Bloomfield last winter and has put up some big numbers in the first two weeks of the season.

Veasley, a pro-style quarterback, has completed 35-of-53 passes for 558 yards and eight touchdowns, and 55 yards rushing on 12 carries. He was 14-of-18 for 214 yards and four touchdowns in a 27-21 win at Oxford Friday.

Veasley has developed strong chemistry with receiver Garrett Winn (14 receptions, 268 yards) who already has four touchdown receptions this season. Veasley has multiple weapons to work with, including running back Davion Johnson and former Lathrup receiver Tai Mustapha, who has a touchdown reception in each game.

Bryce Veasley

“I knew he had some talent, but I wouldn’t think he’d have eight touchdown passes in the first two weeks of the season,” said West Bloomfield coach Ron Bellamy of Veasley, who has offers from Toledo and Central Michigan. “That’s remarkable.”

When asked to compare Veasley with Trishton Jackson, who led West Bloomfield to an unbeaten regular season before moving onto Michigan State, Bellamy replied: “Trishton’s a better athlete, more a true dual-threat guy where Bryce is more of a pocket passer. We like him throwing the ball better than we liked Trishton at this point.”

Bellamy said the victory over Oxford was a “must-win” since West Bloomfield was forced to forfeit its 31-28 overtime win over Birmingham Groves due to playing with an ineligible player.

“I’m real proud of the kids because they weren’t sulking or letting that situation get to them and it’s a good thing because that’s not the type of team (Oxford) that you want to play,” Bellamy said. “Oxford came out beating (defending Division 1 state champion) Romeo and they are a physical, smashmouth team. I knew it would be a four-quarter game and I’m glad we got out of there with the win.”

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Veasley made sure West Bloomfield was at its best early, throwing three first-half touchdowns to open up a 21-0 lead.

“I’m getting used to the offense,” Veasley said. “Coming in when I met the offensive coordinator, he told me we were going to be throwing the ball a lot. We had a lot of 7-on-7 passing camps, and Garrett and I went to college camps together, too, so we clicked fast.

“I feel I throw the ball well and read defenses well and I’m counted on to run the ball more. I can throw the ball deep and make the intermediate passes, too.”

Veasley was also Lathrup’s No. 1 pitcher his freshman year, throwing 85 mph. He plans to play basketball this winter, but hopes he will join the team late after a long postseason run.

Western’s White impressing at quarterback

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has to be smiling when thinking what type of trick plays he can use when Walled Lake Western’s Cody White reaches the East Lansing campus.

White, who’s committed to MSU as a receiver, has done a remarkable job at quarterback while filling in for injured Johnny Tracy.

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It’s frightening to think what White’s stat line will be when he hooks up more with his receivers on deep passes.

White throws the ball effortlessly on 40- to 50-yard deep balls. He failed to click with his receivers on more than a handful of throws in a dramatic 33-30 comeback win Thursday at Canton.

White did connect with Justin Thomas on a 59-yard throw when Thomas got behind a defender. He also found Kam Ford for a 40-yard touchdown on the game’s opening drive, but that score was called back due to a penalty. He also hit Ford on a 56-yard throw to set up another score.

What makes White so tough to stop is his ability to run with the ball, too. He scored on a 60-yard quarterback draw to pull Western even at 27 early in the fourth, taking the snap and taking one step back before running up the middle and cutting left to reach the end zone.

“It was a designed run,” White said. “The line blocked perfectly and I just found green grass and got into the end zone.”

Said Western coach Mike Zdebski of White: “Boy, he can run can’t he. He keeps his composure even when things don’t go right. He doesn’t get stressed out, just feeling ‘I’ll get them next play.’”

White has accounted for nine touchdowns, including six touchdown passes.

Canton struggles to finish

Canton coach Tim Baechler finds himself in unfamiliar territory, heading into Week No. 3 with an 0-2 record for the first time since 1998.

It’s not that Baechler has a bad team. In fact, Canton is much better than average but just can’t find a way to close out games.

Canton let a 21-point lead slip away in its season-opening 40-35 loss to Dearborn Fordson, then failed to protect a 27-14 third-quarter lead against Walled Lake Western in the 33-30 loss.

To make matters worse, running back Markus Sanders suffered an injury to his left leg in the first half and did not return.

Baechler, now in his 19th year as Canton’s coach, said it’s possible Sanders could miss Friday’s game at Hartland. He has to feel fortunate Canton has depth in the backfield with sophomore Steven Walker (138 yards) and seniors Julian Thornton (88 yards) and Colin Troup combining to run for 300 yards in the loss to Western.

But Canton, which has made eight straight state playoff appearances and advanced to the Division 1 state semifinals a year ago, isn’t alone.

Ann Arbor Pioneer and Sterling Heights Stevenson also are off to 0-2 starts, but haven’t been nearly as competitive as Canton.

Pioneer suffered a 51-14 loss to Muskegon in Week No. 1 and a 20-7 setback to U-D Jesuit, while Stevenson has been dominated in losses to Detroit C.C. (42-0) and Warren Mott (36-7).


Twitter: @DavidGoricki