Rod Beard and Dave Goricki talk about the first half of the high school football season. The Detroit News, The Detroit News
Brighton — Brian Lemons was in a defensive stance time and time again during Brighton’s practice Tuesday afternoon while preparing his team to slow down Canton’s high-powered Wing-T offense.
Brighton has pitched a pair of shutouts while outscoring its opponents by a total of 90-7 the last three weeks to set up the KLAA West Division showdown, after coming up just short of defeating then-No. 1 Belleville in the season-opener, 40-35 on a last-second TD pass.
Brighton will try to avenge last year's 35-10 loss to Canton when the teams play Friday night at Brighton.
Lemons feels good about how his team has played after Brighton suffered multiple injuries early in the 2017 season, preventing it from a state playoff appearance.
“We lost three offensive linemen before our third game last season, lost both running backs too, so we took some lumps,” Lemons said. “We started six sophomores last year, and now we’re a junior-heavy team. Our strength is up front.”
The defense is led by junior defensive tackle Nate Kwapisz and linebackers Jack Krause and juniors Cole Riddle and Zach Pardonnet.
Lemons also is confident with having an experienced quarterback in senior Will Jontz, who accounted for five touchdowns in the loss to Belleville, rushing for 182 yards and four TDs, then rushing for 148 yards and a TD last week in a 24-7 victory over Plymouth.
“College coaches are seeing the athlete and the potential in Will because his intelligence and athleticism are his strengths,” Lemons said. “He’s big and fast at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, and has done a lot of damage with his legs. He’s one of the top track athletes at Brighton, and is still learning how to throw the ball since he’s only been a quarterback for two years.”
Jontz has been getting solid protection from an offensive line that includes junior guard Nate Hoffman (6-3, 255), tackles Jacob LaFave (6-4, 250) and Brad Luketic, center Colby Ford and guard Jacob Possorek.
“We’re doing really well,” Jontz said. “We’re closer as a team and we’re playing for each other and I’m having a ton of fun. I’ve gained a lot of experience and that’s been helpful. It’s like the game has slowed down for me.
“I think I’m a good dual-threat quarterback with my running opening up the passing game, and I feel like I’ve improved my passing a lot.”
Jontz has offers from Davenport, Butler and Olivet Nazarene, but has also gotten interest from Michigan State, Ferris State and Ivy League schools.
“It’s a grind and a lot of back and forth because you don’t want schools to forget about you,” Jontz said of the recruiting process. “I was invited by Michigan State to watch the Utah State game, had a great time, went on the field before the game and met their quarterback and receivers coach. I’ll be at Central Michigan this weekend, then Eastern Michigan the following week. Pittsburgh and Indiana has also shown interest. I’ve had a lot of fun with it.”
And, Jontz hopes to have more fun on the field when Brighton battles Canton with first place on the line Friday night.