Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 16, 2013

Traverse City West athletes contribute to national win

By JAMES COOK jcook@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — CLEVELAND — Geordon Carter and Zach McGuire can add Super Bowl champions to their résumés.

The Traverse City West football players contributed heavily to the Detroit Lions' winning entry in the NFL's National 7-on-7 Tournament in Cleveland last weekend.

Carter had four catches in the Super Bowl win over the Miami Dolphins, and McGuire's interception sealed the Lions' 21-14 victory.

"I just got thrown in at corner because our previous corner got beat deep," McGuire said. "So (the coach) threw me in and told me to stay over the top, so I stayed over the top. I saw the quarterback throwing to my guy and jumped his route and picked it off."

Each of the 32 NFL teams had an entry in the two-day tournament. Players had to try out in one of six camps and earn their way onto the squad. Carter and McGuire were the selections from the NFL High School Player Development event held in Grayling.

Out of several hundred athletes there — which included schools from all over northern Michigan — 10 were selected as the "elites" from the camp. After more one-on-one drills against each other, it was whittled down to four, then one — Carter.

McGuire was also one of the four, and a week later he received a call saying he was also chosen.

Each game is 20 minutes long with a three-minute halftime (The last two minutes of each half is real time). The field is 40 yards long with a 10-yard endzone. With no blockers, the offense is one quarterback, a running back and five wide receivers. The defense gets one linebacker, two safeties and four cornerbacks.

"It's quite a bit different," Carter said. "It's playing with a lot of the best players in the country. It's a lot faster pace than we're used to up here."

McGuire — who played receiver and corner at West last season as a sophomore — started at safety and also played some wide receiver.

"I just kind of played my role at receiver," McGuire said. "I wasn't trying to make big plays or anything. I just played my role. And we ended up winning it all. I ended up making some big plays, and so did Geordon."

McGuire had to miss his grandfather's memorial service to play in the tournament, but his mother encouraged him to go.

"I told him, 'Your grandfather is going to have a front-row seat,'" West coach Tim Wooer said.

Their Detroit teammates gave the two Titans nicknames. Carter was Super Man and McGuire was Spider-Man. When he wore his glasses, they referred to McGuire at Peter Parker, Spider-Man's alias.

"We do a lot of 7-on-7 up (in Traverse City)," said Carter, a West linebacker who'll be a senior next season. "There were some teams, like the Miami Dolphins, that had eight practices. We had about a 45-minute practice — and that was the first time we met each other."

Carter played wide receiver, and had 15 catches and four touchdowns. McGuire broke up three passes in a 34-7 NFC Championship win over St. Louis.

Both Carter and McGuire also had to skip a college camp they had planned to attend at Grand Valley State. McGuire went to camps at Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Northwestern. Carter also attended the EMU camp.

Other players on the Lions team included Grand Haven quarterback Jalen Brady and Saginaw receiver Brian Cole, who already has scholarship offers from Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State.

"It was kind of cool, coming from our school where we have to shine and be leaders, to where we had to change our role to be more of a role players," McGuire said. "It was pretty cool to see how our team came together. When it came down to the final four teams, we were the only one with four losses. We just played as a team and everything clicked for us."

The pair received some other benefits from their selection, meeting several NFL players, including three-time Pro Bowl receiver Billy "White Shoes" Johnson. The program boasts NFL stars such as Cam Newton and Ray Rice among its alums.

"They gave us probably $500 or $600 in Nike gear," Carter said. "Cleats, gloves, all that."

Carter said he was told the championship would be broadcast on the NFL Network in August.