When Seattle’s Russell Wilson threw an interception on the 1-yard line in last season’s Super Bowl, he was accused of handing the Super Bowl trophy to New England.
Well, Jared Pittman didn’t throw an interception, but the Muskegon linebacker/running back did hand the 2014 Division 3 state championship trophy to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s after the Eaglets’ 7-0 victory over the Big Reds.
“I’m on the MHSAA student advisory council,” the senior said. “I was assigned the Division 3 state championship game trophy service.”
Why didn’t he grab the trophy and run to the locker room?
“It crossed my mind,” he said, laughing. “But I had a job to do and had to be professional, so I had to do and I did it.”
Pittman takes that professional attitude and applies it toward every aspect of his life. One reason is that he really has no alternative.
Gregory C. Pittman, his father, is a circuit court judge in Muskegon, meaning the youngster understands he is under a scrutiny not applied to most high school students.
“He always instilled some fear in me,” Pittman said. “My dad being a judge, I know I can’t be like the rest of the youth in the town, so I really have to watch what I do because all eyes are on me because of who my dad is.”
In other words, this poor kid has no shot at having any fun at all?
“Oh, no, absolutely not,” he said. “I’ve had plenty of fun. When me and my guys go out to eat, we have plenty of fun. I know what I can and cannot do, and how far I can go. I have boundaries and I know my boundaries very well, and I end up making the right decision.”
Pittman began playing in the first grade because football is a family affair. Three of his mother’s brothers played for the Big Reds, and three of his father’s brothers played for Muskegon Heights.
Friday nights always were the best night of the week for Pittman, who was a fixture at venerable Hackley Stadium, home of the Big Reds.
“I would either be sitting with my dad in the middle of the stadium on the 50-yard line,” Pittman said, “or I’d find my way down to the corner of the end zone and play tackle football with some of the other guys pretending to be the guys on the field then.”
That is why Pittman takes his role as a captain and the face of the Muskegon program so seriously. He understands that so many of the kids playing youth football in Muskegon idolize the varsity players.
He saw that recently when he and his cousin, quarterback Kalil Pimpleton, stopped by Smith-Ryerson Park to watch the kids in the Port City Youth League practice on the same field they did when they were that age.
“Some of them knew us,” he said. “I get that a lot. Those guys are the future. I want everyone to know that being a Big Red is something special, it’s a privilege. Being a Big Red, you have to work hard and you have to really be a positive person in the community.”
The same could be said for the Pittman family, which is why the youngster has no trouble staying out of trouble.
“I know right from wrong,” he said. “Me being a leader of the team, I try to teach my teammates right from wrong as my dad taught me. I try to give back to those guys.”
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.
Meet the Big Reds
Last season: 12-2.
Top players: OG Derices Brown, OT Juanye Johnson, junior WR/DB Jacorey Sullivan, WR/LB Terrion Hill-McKay, junior LB Andrew Ward, DB/RB Keyante Carpenter, LB/RB Jared Pittman, junior QB Kalil
Pimpleton, slot Cameron Copeland.
State playoff record: 44-18.
Coach: Shane Fairfield, sixth season at Muskegon (78-34).
Overview: After three consecutive runner-up finishes in Division 2, the Big Reds believe they can take that next step to the state title. With Brown and Johnson back on the offensive line, running the ball will be no problem. Pimpleton will be a first-year starter under center, but he is a shifty runner and will give Muskegon a true dual threat. The defense will be the same Muskegon defense that swarms to the ball.