Grant Niemiec is as tough as any football player longtime Orchard Lake St. Mary’s coach George Porritt has coached.
The versatile senior and Associated Press Division 3-4 Player of the Year is a true football player and leader for the perennial state power, Porritt said.
“He plays the game the way you’re supposed to,” Porritt said. “I think he rubs off on the whole team. He’s that type of a player. The kids respect the way he plays.”
The 6-foot, 218-pound Niemiec is a two-way starter for 11-2 St. Mary’s, which plays in the Division 3 state championship game Saturday at Ford Field against Grand Rapids Christian (12-1).
A pair of Fruitport Trojans’ linemen — senior Amilio Flores and junior Chris Hendricks — were named all-state honorable mention. The pair helped Fruitport win its first eight games of the year before falling to DeWitt in the regular-season finale.
In the state playoffs, Fruitport dropped its opener against Grand Rapids Christian, 45-6.
It is Niemiec’s fourth appearance in the title game and the school’s ninth since 1999. St. Mary’s is seeking back-to-back Division 3 crowns.
Niemiec, who rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the Eaglets’ 28-7 semifinal win against Battle Creek Harper Creek, lines up at running back and linebacker. He led St. Mary’s in rushing and tackling during the regular season.
“Every time he gets the ball, it usually takes a couple of guys to tackle him. He runs with great passion. He’s relentless,” Porritt said. “(On defense), he’s great at getting to the football.”
Niemiec headlines the AP Division 3-4 All-State team.
On offense, the All-State honorees are quarterbacks Shaye Brown of Linden, Ben Dreslinski of Tecumseh and Alex Van De Vusse Grand Rapids Christian; running backs Berkley Edwards of Chelsea, Desmond King of Detroit East English Village Academy, Michael Tweh of Mount Pleasant and Spencer Viening of Zeeland East; and receivers Drake Harris of Grand Rapids Christian, Trent Karcher of Remus Chippewa Hills and CSont’e York of Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy.
The linemen selected are Ben Armstrong of Linden, Austin Johnson of Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, Alex Korhorn of Grand Rapids Christian, Riley Norman of Cadillac, Alec Stevens of Ogemaw Heights and Andre Turner of Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy.
On defense, the All-State team includes linebackers Niemiec, Adam Coon of Fowlerville, Joe Craven of Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Collin Schlosser of Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, and at defensive back, Mitch Bancroft of Stevensville Lakeshore, Darius Phillips of Dearborn Heights Robichaud and Ryheem Stokes of Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
Specialist Colin McCaw of Vicksburg, punter Jacob Howe of Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern and placekicker Joel Schipper of Grand Rapids Christian also made the All-State team.
Coach of the Year honors are being shared by Stevensville Lakeshore’s Denny Dock and Dearborn Heights Robichaud’s Keith Stephens.
Niemiec said he is looking forward to continuing his career at Miami (Ohio), where he will be teammates with his cousin, running back Parker McInnis.