By: Scott Keyes
Grace named Sports Scene Player of the Year
When Alex Grace looks back at his high school career a decade from now, he will realize that he did everything humanly possible to put his team in a position to win football games.
That is probably an understatement, as Grace will go down in the record books as one of the Michigan High School Athletic Association's all-time greats. He was selected to the Sports Scene Dream Team for three consecutive years, culminating this year with his selection as Player of the Year. Grace, the Associated Press Division 3-4 Player of Year, finished his career with 7,541 yards and 99 touchdowns. He ranks third in career rushing and second in rushing touchdowns.
The future Western Michigan University player set the state single-season record as a junior, with 2,962 yards.
As a senior, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound back ran for 2,426 yards and 36 touchdowns. He also extended his streak of 100-yard rushing games to 23 and set the state record with eight consecutive 200-yard games.
Grace is joined on the Sports Scene Dream Team by Swan Valley teammates Taylor Reaume, Ben Hart, and Casey Stadler.
Reaume was named the Defensive Player of the Year. He was named to the AP team as a linebacker after 141 tackles, 13 of them for loss. He finished his career with 459 career tackles.
Highlighting the offensive side of the ball is Midland Dow's Caleb Richards, who was named Offensive Player of the Year. Richards had more than 100 yards receiving in five games this season, including 226 yards and three touchdowns on four receptions against Davison. He cracked 1,000 yards rushing on the season. A two-time captain, Richards carried the ball 135 times for 1,097 yards and 16 touchdowns this year. He also had 42 receptions for 944 yards and nine more touchdowns and was named the Saginaw Valley League Blue Division Most Valuable Player. He also threw a 12-yard touchdown pass.
Joining Richards on the Sports Scene Dream Team is Dow teammate Mike Robb, who made the team as a tight end.
Ithaca has five players on the Sports Scene Dream Team: Jake Smith, Spence DeMull, Jace Demenov, Jonah Loomis, and Dallas Reeser. All but Reeser will return next season for the Yellowjackets.
Smith is joined at quarterback by Lansing Catholic's Tony Poljan, who is also a junior. Poljan's teammate Tony Palmer is also a Sports Scene Dream Team member.
Lansing Sexton has three Dream Team members in seniors Avonte Bell, Rayshawn Wilborn, and Javon Ray. Sexton made it to the Division 4 final, where it lost to Grand Rapids Christian 28-27.
Area schools with at least two Dream Team members are Lowell (Max Dean and Josh Colegrove), Michigan Lutheran Seminary (Bragg Eastin and Casey Williams), Freeland (Ryan Ryan Schumann and Jake Jankoska), and Mt. Pleasant (Kalebb Perry and Hunter Buczkowski).
Rounding out the Sports Scene Dream Team are Tyler Bradfield, Rockford; Brian Cole, Heritage; Steve Eipper, Greenville; Jacob Flaugher, Beal City; and Collin Alvesteffer, Cedar Springs.
Coaching the team are Co-Coaches of the Year, Ithaca's Terry Hessbrook and Lansing Catholic's Jim Ahern.