By JIM LAHDE Morning Sun (Mount Pleasant)
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — EAST LANSING (AP) — To say that Travis Smith has had a prolific prep career is a bit of an understatement.
To put it properly, it would be safe to say that he’s had a perfect career.
In his third year as the starting quarterback for the Ithaca High School football team, Smith has guided the Yellowjackets to 41 straight victories and two state titles. The 6-foot-3 signal caller will lead Ithaca into its fourth straight Division 6 state final Friday when it takes on Clinton at Ford Field.
Through three years, the future Toledo Rocket has completed 468-of-691 passes for 7,539 yards and a state-record 100 touchdown passes versus 16 interceptions. He also has run for 2,372 yards on 350 carries and found pay dirt 48 times.
Considering his flawless body of work through the years, Smith has earned the Player of the Year award in Division 5-6 from The Associated Press.
“It really couldn’t have gone any better. It’s been a great ride,” said Smith, who started playing organized football in the fifth grade. “When I’m out there, I try to take what the defense is giving me and manage the game. I’m a pocket passer who can run.”
Smith, who also was named MLive.com’s first Michigan player of the year, came up to the varsity as a freshman and watched Alex Niznak lead the Yellowjackets to a state title in 2010. After Niznak graduated and moved on to Central Michigan, it became Smith’s team, and all he has done is win.
“He’s 40-0 as a starter for us. That’s pretty good,” chuckled Ithaca head coach Terry Hessbrook. “He’s put in endless hours working on his mechanics and footwork. For us, he’s our coach on the field. If we have something called that doesn’t look right, he makes the change at the line to something that will work.”
The other first-team AP Division 5-6 All-State quarterback is Grayling’s Jake Swander, who led the Vikings to a 9-2 record and completed 179-of-308 passes for 2,373 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Negaunee’s Tyler LaJoie, Roscommon’s Brett Jobin, Portland’s Jacob Kimmel, Jackson Lumen Christi’s Khari Willis and Maple City Glen Lake’s Trevor Apsey all earned first-team All-State honors at running back.
Ithaca’s Logan Hessbrook joins Montrose’s Malik Taylor and Grayling’s Tyler McClanahan as first-team receivers.
Olivet’s Chase McGill, Alma’s Curtis Doyle, Grand Rapids West Catholic’s Joey Corey, Berrien Springs’ Nick Padla and Jhonathon Williams and Montrose’s Dakota Jelinek all earned first-team All-State honors as linemen.
Grand Rapids West Catholic’s Max Boorsma, Livonia Clarenceville’s Brandon Uren, Reed City’s Eric Grannis, Montrose’s Tyler Doyle and Menominee’s Ryne Francour earned All-State honors at linebacker, while Reese’s Cody Peyok, Kalkaska’s Will Noble and Detroit University Prep’s Dezmond Earl made the first-team as defensive backs.
Frankenmuth’s Brian Stearns, Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard’s Kevin Masini and Standish-Sterling’s Clay Walderzak earned All-State first-team honors as specialists, while the All-State kicking honors went to Montague’s Wyatt Ford and Menominee’s Evan Pohlmann.
Shelby’s Devin Mussell earned the All-State punting honors, while Standish-Sterling’s Paul Walderzak took home the Division 5-6 Coach of the Year award.
Kalkaska running back Kaleb Hauser, Boyne City running back Malik Smith, Inland Lakes running back Daniel Flowers, Elk Rapids running back Thais Grays and Inland Lakes lineman Stanley Schramm were honorable mention selections, as well as Glen Lake coach Jerry Angers.