By: Daniel Stickradt
DIVISION 7: Pewamo-Westphalia’s scrappy lines aid Pirates’ success story
BY DAN STICKRADT
DETROIT — It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.
Such is the life of a lineman in football — in particular an offensive lineman.
These are the players that don’t record individual stats but still are very responsible for a team’s overall offensive output.
Pewamo-Westphalia’s offensive linemen contingent was rarely the largest on the field in recent years. They weren’t always the most skilled in terms of being heavily recruited.
But reaching three straight state semifinals with one state runner-up trophy and one state championship to boot proves their worth to the Pirates’ overall success story.
“They are very scrappy, which is which is what we want,” said P-W coach Jeremy Miller. “They are tough kids — not very big, but good athletes that understand what we’re trying do. They deserve a lot of credit. Both our offensive and defensive lines deserve a lot of credit for what we have accomplished the past few years.”
The Pirates have also captured four straight league and district titles and three straight regional crowns — perhaps the best four-year stretch in program history.
Led by seniors Dominic Spitzley, Nick Jandernoa, Devon Pung and Nolan Hagen and junior Isaiah Schafer, this collective unit was a driving force behind Pewamo-Westphalia’s monstrous offensive numbers the past three years.
Second-ranked Pewamo-Westphalia ended the 2016 season with a 28-14 victory over fifth-ranked Detroit Loyola in the Division 7 state finals at Ford Field to end the season a perfect 14-0.
Spitzley and Pung are two-way starters and both earned All-State First Team honors in Division 7-8 by the Associated Press.
Jared Smith, the state’s No. 2 all-time leading rusher, and a host of other offensive weapons simply thrived behind the stellar play of the Pirates’ men in the trenches.
“I give a lot of credit to our offensive line. We have a lot of weapons on this team, but we couldn’t do it without our line,” said Smith, who earned Associated Press All-State Division 7-8 Player of the Year behind the dominant offensive line. “They make our job easier.
“We’re all so close,” continued Smith. “We all wanted to win the state championship more than anything. That was our goal. Everyone did their part.”
Against Loyola, the Pirates faced a stiff challenge.
“They might have had the biggest defensive line that we’ve played against in school history, “ noted Miller. “They were huge. But our guys hung tough.”
P-W still rang up 28 points against Loyola’s daunting defensive front.
The Pirates finished the season with 608 total points, 171 first downs, 464 rushing attempts, 62 rushing touchdowns, 3,827 total rushing yards, 845 passing yards and a host of other highlight numbers and memorable plays.
It all ended with a state championship.
“We couldn’t have done it without them,” reminded Smith.
The dirty work isn’t so bad after all.