LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – The fifth day of our 6 Sports Two-A-Days coverage took us to two powerhouse programs who are both looking to return to Ford Field this season. Starting with the DeWitt Panthers who suffered a tough loss in last year’s Division 3 State Championship game to Detroit Martin Luther King.
That loss has been a huge part of their motivation to push through the grueling off-season workouts and into the start of two-a-days. The Panthers told us they want revenge for how last year’s season ended.
“We use that game as motivation every single day, every time we’re in the weight room, we remember how we felt after that game and we work the hard we can work and try to be better than what we were last year,” said senior wide receiver/cornerback Bryce Kurncz.
“I think a lot of us seniors that played last year are really mad cause of how close we got and so this year is just all about revenge and not taking a game for granted,” said senior lineman Matthew Nehf.
“You know it Just last year hurt so in a way yeah we want revenge for what happened at the end of last year,” said senior running back/safety Blake Haller.
When it comes to this year’s team, the Panthers are going back to their strength up front and relishing in the game plan to run over their opponents. Having the first day in pads was an eye-opening moment for the players to get physical again, which they couldn’t get enough of.
“I think that’s the best part of football right there…just being able to dominate the person across from you,” said Nehf.
“I would say if it wasn’t a great day I would be pretty disappointed but I was very happy with how we hit today so I guess I’m excited to answer your question,” said Dewitt Head Coach Rob Zimmerman.
“I’m really excited to run behind that O-line you know those guys are great a lot of experience coming back and the new guys have stepped up as well so I know they’re gonna make holes for me that I’m gonna be able to run through and get some yards,” said Haller.
DeWitt opens the season in the University of Michigan’s stadium against Haslett on August 25th at 3:30 p.m.
For Pewamo-Westphalia, the Pirates are riding high after an undefeated perfect season last year capped off with their fourth Division 7 State Championship in six seasons.
Some might think the Pirates would become complacent having won their second state title in three seasons and coming into this year on a 14-game winning streak but quarterback Troy Wertman told us he and his Pirates are hungrier than they’ve ever been.
“I would say we’re all just as motivated to get back to it you know there’s still always something to prove that’s why there’s a new season so you can go chase another state championship,” said Wertman.
“I mean I just a new year is a new year you know and you come back and you take last year’s example of you know those guys or those seniors they’re leaders like it’s just about being good teammates and great leadership and of course enthusiasm,” said junior linebacker Gavin Nurenberg.
“It’s kinda one of those things I mean I don’t see it out here I think everybody thinks they’re hungry you know what I mean there’s no target on our back we’re going for it again you know we’re chasing that championship,” said senior wide receiver Trent Channell.
On the offensive and defensive line is where the Pirates will look to dominate their opponents this season and Wertman specifically pointed out 6-foot-4 offensive lineman Trevor Spitzley a.k.a “Froggy”.
“We got some hard workers down there, Froggy’s a dog…Froggy is a dog,” said Wertman. “I know our line we got some good coaches, some hard workers on our line so I think we’ll be fine as long as that goes.”
“I think you know we’re really working good as a team and that’s the biggest thing in defense is just working together to get the job done,” said Nurenberg. “Everybody does their thing and we trust each other that’s really what I think is going to hold our defense together this year just like last year.”
“Think you know athletic very athletic up and down you know our linemen are very athletic we might be on the smaller side but we’re strong athletic and fast who doesn’t want that on their team,” said Channell.
The Pirates open their season when they host Redford Union on August 26th at 7 p.m.