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4 Marquette Redmen all-state: Desmond Mullen leads way with berth on Division 3-4 First Team

Marquette's Desmond Mullen, center, intercepts a pass thrown by Sault Ste. Marie's Jakob Davie in the fourth quarter on Sept. 25 in Marquette as Redmen teammate Ty Lotterman is right behind him. The pass was intended for the Soo's Callen Campbell, left. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

Tyler Holtz knew what was at stake.

The junior quarterback figured the DeWitt football program had an opportunity to put together another special season after back-to-back state semifinal appearances.

Holtz was driven to be a factor in that success and take over as the starter under center this fall.

Holtz simply did what has always come naturally and spent the offseason focused on turning himself into the best quarterback possible.

And, it paid off because he was voted as player of the year by The Michigan Associated Press in Division 3-4 football.

Marquette's Kameron Karp leaps high to come up with a completion in the end zone for a touchdown from quarterback Austin Ridl in the second half against Sault Ste. Marie on Sept. 25 in Marquette. Defending for the Soo is Emmett Fazzari, left. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

Marquette also had four players earn all-state mention, led by First Team All-State defensive back Desmond Mullen.

Mullen, a junior, is the only area player to earn this lofty of an all-state honor after he was also named the Defensive Player of the Year in All-Upper Peninsula balloting by the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association about a week earlier.

MSHS senior Kameron Karp was named a Second Team All-State player at wide receiver after he matched Mullen on his side of the ball as Offensive Player of the Year in the U.P.

Earning honorable mention all-state status were a pair of Marquette juniors — Austin Ridl at quarterback and Chris Ricker at lineman.

DeWitt’s Holtz spent lots of time working on his game that became the best in the state.

Muskegon Reeths-Puffer quarterback Ayden Willacker, center, is sacked by Marquette defenders, from left, Tye Parker, Wyatt Kuhlman and Chris Ricker in the first quarter of their MHSAA Division 1 playoff game played at William R. Hart Stadium in Marquette on Oct. 31. All three Marquette players were named All-Great Northern Conference, including Parker and Kuhlman on defense. Ricker earned all-state honorable mention. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

“I knew what I wanted to do this season and I knew the goals that our team had for this year,” he said. “I kind of just had that mentality of you’ve got to work if you want to achieve those goals. We set our goals high. Those goals are going to take some work. I’m glad that I put in the work that I did and made some sacrifices that I made.”

That work has translated into a big season for Holtz, who emerged as one of the state’s top players and made the Panthers one of the top teams that averaged 48.8 points. Holtz has thrown for 2,109 yards, 32 touchdowns and just one interception through nine games.

He will lead the DeWitt, the top-ranked Division 3 team, into a regional final against Stevensville Lakeshore when the pandemic-paused postseason resumes.

“I wasn’t really expecting to do what I’ve done this year,” said Holtz, who also has 318 yards rushing and two touchdowns. “It’s all because of my team. I couldn’t do it without them. That’s the biggest thing for me. Every time I think about it, I just go back to the guys. I’m super grateful for the team that I’m on to be honest.”

DeWitt coach Rob Zimmerman sensed in the offseason Holtz had an opportunity to be a special player with his athleticism, intelligence and work ethic.

From left, Marquette's Austin Ridl hands the ball off to Desmond Mullen as Brady Wright trails the play during the first quarter of an MHSAA Division 1 playoff game played against Muskegon Reeths-Puffer at William R. Hart Stadium in Marquette on Oct. 31. All three players were named All-Great Northern Conference, including at two positions for Mullen and Wright. Ridl was named an all-state honorable mention quarterback. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

“We have been very fortunate to have an awful a lot of great high school quarterbacks,” Zimmerman said. “I think the thing that separates (Holtz) is his work ethic. We’ve had a lot of kids that have worked extremely hard, but there’s no way we’ve had anybody that’s worked any harder than Tyler has.”

Joining Holtz and Marquette’s Mullen on the Division 3-4 all-state squad are Detroit King quarterback Dante Moore; running backs Brandon Martin of North Branch. Nico Hernandez of Madison Heights Lamphere, Kolby Hindenach of Paw Paw and Malekhi Obande of Hudsonville Unity Christian; receivers Grand Rapids South Christian’s Elliott Grahuis, DeWitt’s Tommy McIntosh, St. Joseph’s Griffin Shinrock and Chelsea’s Joe Taylor; linemen Detroit King’s Brandon Honorable, River Rouge’s Devontae Miles, Milan’s Dylan Beck, Detroit Country Day’s Caleb Tiernan, Flint Powers’ Logan Murray, Wyoming Godwin Heights’ Ru’Quan Buckley, Zeeland East’s Tag Bonnema and Mount Pleasant’s Josh Schell; linebackers Edwardsburg’s Drew Bidwell, DeWitt’s Andrew Debri, North Branch’s Drake Deshetsky and Detroit King’s Jaylen Reed; defensive backs Armorion Smith of River Rouge, Christion Stokes of Harper Woods and Tyreese Oakes of Muskegon; Goodrich specialist Tyson Davis; Orchard Lake St. Mary’s kicker Tommy Doman; Fowlerville punter Morgyn Muck while North Branch’s Jeremy Ferman and Madison Heights Lamphere’s Art Maisano were the co-coach of the year.

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