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DeWitt’s Holtz wins Michigan AP Division 3-4 Player of Year

December 24, 2020 GMT

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.

“I knew what I wanted to do this season and I knew the goals that our team had for this year,” Holtz 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.”

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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. Holtz has made his mark and added to a strong line of quarterback play that has annually made DeWitt one of the state’s top teams.

“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. When you’re willing to grind like that, you certainly have a chance to be special.

“We’ll see how we end up with the rest of the season, but we’ve certainly never had a kid that has put together any better season than him.”

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Joining Holtz 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, Tyreese Oakes of Muskegon and Desmond Mullen of Marquette; 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.