Prep notebook: West Bloomfield coach predicts greatness for Michigan-bound Donovan Edwards
Detroit — West Bloomfield coach Ron Bellamy is closing in on 40, experiencing a lot on the field, first during his high school days in Louisiana, then playing college ball at Michigan before moving on to the NFL while with the Dolphins whose head coach was Nick Saban.
And, Bellamy knows a great player and had high praise for Michigan-bound running back Donovan Edwards, who had a career-high 257 yards and three touchdowns to help West Bloomfield earn its first state championship in a 41-0 rout of defending champion Davison Saturday in the Division 1 final at Ford Field.
“I’m from Louisiana and I got a chance to play against Ed Reed in high school, I got a chance to play against Reggie Wayne in high school, Eli Manning, I played with some of NFL Hall of Famers in high school, against them, on the same field and he looks like them,” said Bellamy of Edwards who rushed for 1,668 yards and 27 TDs his senior year, 647 and 10 TDs in the three games after the eight-week shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not the cliché, oh the best football player on the field, he looks like a dude that’s going to play a long time in the NFL, to be an All-American at the University of Michigan, Obviously, some things have to happen in his favor, but you saw it, he just looks different than everybody else on the field and probably only touched the ball no more than 15 times today.”
That’s right, Edwards carried the ball 14 times, the majority coming out of the wildcat formation, picking up the 257 yards which was the most rushing yards in a Division 1/Class A final. He broke loose for a 78-yard touchdown in the opening quarter before runs of 71 and 16 in the third quarter while not touching the ball in the final quarter.
Edwards talked like a leader following the game, saying: “My offensive line gave me great opportunities to hit the hole, I used my vision, used my strength. I just took their deepest weakness, but they also had a great defensive game plan. Their linebackers fill holes very well, so it’s nothing new to me, I’m just going to do what a beast do.
“My offensive line is young, Amir Herring is a sophomore, Ryan Ross is a freshman, Dallin (Henry) is a sophomore, and then we have two seniors, so I have a young offensive line and I couldn’t be more proud of them, and they faced (Clarkston's) Rocco Spindler and Garrett Dellinger (LSU), and (Belleville's) Damon Payne (Alabama) and every single time they held their own, so when the trust is there, you hit it and go.”
Edwards has already moved into Michigan and taken classes, so practicing in Michigan’s indoor facility with his West Bloomfield team was a treat this past week.
Edwards was going to make sure he could play in the state title game, even making a call to the NCAA to get the ball rolling in his favor.
The MHSAA put in place a waiver — due to the pandemic — to allow athletes to participate in postseason competition even if they had graduated.
“Yes, I called the NCAA and I wasn’t given a direct answer, but they made it work for me and I appreciate it,” Edwards said.
Uyl lifts DeWitt
Senior linebacker Grant Uyl got in on 10 tackles Saturday to help DeWitt hand veteran coach Rob Zimmerman his first state championship trophy with a 40-30 win over defending Division 3 champion River Rouge.
It just so happens that Uyl is the son of MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl who wants to have all three seasons — fall, winter, spring — have champions during the 2020-21 school year after having the winter season cut short last year and spring sports completely wiped out due to the pandemic.
“All the pauses and the trials and tribulations were very tough for all of us to deal with throughout the state, but we have such great leadership and good coaches on this team that we were able to push through it and I just tried to maintain as much hope as I could in my dad and the MHSAA that they were going to find whatever way possible so that we could finish and we all stayed hopeful and we all stayed confident,” Grant Uyl said. “We knew what kind of team we had so we just wanted to finish this thing the right way.”
Uyl played on a defensive unit, which didn't allow a point during the postseason heading into the title bout before taking a 21-8 halftime lead over River Rouge to set the tempo.
“The first half was definitely huge, got up a few scores and the offense came out and played great, firing on all cylinders,” Uyl said. “It was great for them to have such a great game because that really took a lot of the pressure off of us.”
"We didn’t have the game that we expected, but they are a great offense and he’s (River Rouge quarterback Mareyohn Hrabowski) just a load, a big fella and he’s obviously very good, going to Western Michigan. They had some big linemen and they win at the point of attack, so it was really a challenge for our team, and we answered the bell just enough times to get it done.”
When asked where he planned on playing his college ball, especially with the NCAA making it more difficult for high school seniors to land college homes by granting current players an extra year of eligibility, Uyl replied: “I have no idea, we’re just trying to enjoy this win tonight, that’s a topic that can be answered down the road.”
Uyl’s father not only celebrated his son’s state championship but also his staff’s goal of getting the fall sports season completed.
Goricki’s state finals MVPs
►Donovan Edwards, Sr., RB, West Bloomfield: Edwards realized his dream of helping West Bloomfield win its first state championship before moving on to play at Michigan by rushing for a career-high 257 yards (14 carries) and three touchdowns.
►Brady Rose, Sr., QB, Muskegon Mona Shores: Rose rushed for 154 yards (22 carries) and scored two TDs to help Mona Shores repeat as Division 2 state champions with a 25-19 win over Warren De La Salle. He also had a 65-yard run to set up a TD and got in on eight tackles from his secondary spot and recovered an onside kick.
►Tyler Holtz, Jr., QB, DeWitt: Holtz had a hand in five touchdowns to help DeWitt hand veteran coach Rob Zimmerman his first state championship with a 40-30 win over defending state champion River Rouge. And, Holtz had to be at his best with WMU-bound quarterback Mareyohn Hrabowski playing well in the second half. Holtz completed 12 of 16 passes for 177 yards and four TDs, rushing for 111 (13 carries) and a TD.
►Danny MacLean, Sr., WR/S, Detroit Country Day: MacLean had nine tackles from his safety position while also intercepting a pass late in the second quarter to make sure Country Day would lead (6-0) going into halftime. He then had one of his three receptions on the opening drive of the second half which ended with a TD in the 13-0 win over Cadillac, ending Country Day’s string of five straight losses in the D4 game at Ford Field.
►Joey Silveri, Jr., QB, Grand Rapids Catholic Central: Silveri threw for three TDs and ran for three more TDs to help Grand Rapids Catholic Central earn a 48-21 victory over Frankenmuth to win the Division 5 state title after defeating Detroit Country Day 44-0 in last year’s Division 4 state championship game. He found Nolan Ziegler, a Notre Dame commit, for a pair of TD tosses and Miami of Ohio-bound Jace Williams for another, all coming in the first half.
►Drew Collins, Sr., QB, Montague: Collins showed his accuracy, hitting on 15 of 19 passes for 244 yards and three TDs while also scoring on a 23-yard run to lift Montague to a 40-14 win over Clinton. He found Sam Smith on TD tosses of 9 and 44 yards in the opening quarter and then a 26-yarder in the third.
►Julius Garza, Sr., RB/LB, New Lothrop: Garza was outstanding in all three phases of the game, resulting in multiple explosive plays, including an 83-yard TD on a kickoff return and a 65-yrd TD reception to turn a 7-6 deficit into a 20-7 lead. He also rushed for a pair of TDs in the 42-35 win over Traverse City St. Francis to finish 11-0. He had nine tackles from his linebacker spot.
►Sam Todd, Sr., QB/S, Centreville: Todd completed 6-of-7 passes for 130 yards, both TD tosses going to Tyler Swanwick. He also rushed for 70 yards and a TD in a 22-0 win over Ubly to complete an incredible season for Centreville (11-0) which had never won a district title before this season.