Jared Smith has been used to having his jersey tugged and stretched as opponents have tried to find a way to slow and bring him down.
The Pewamo-Westphalia senior running back has even had to switch out of his familiar No. 26 jersey on a few different occasions like in Saturday’s Division 7 state semifinal because of a tear.
“That jersey has got torn up a few times and it’s been sewed up,” Smith said. “I don’t know how much more it can take.”
Despite a few jersey tears here and there, Smith has been able to shake off opposing teams’ best efforts to stop him while rushing his way into the state record books during a career he will end as one of the most accomplished running backs in Michigan history.
And he leads the Associated Press Division 7-8 all-state football team as the player of the year.
A year after setting single-season state records with 3,250 rushing yards and 53 touchdowns, Smith has put together another strong season for unbeaten No. 2-ranked P-W, which will face Detroit Loyola in Saturday’s state championship game at Ford Field.
Smith has more than 2,500 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns this season for the Pirates (13-0) while setting state records in career rushing touchdowns (123) and consecutive 100-yard rushing games.(33). But winning a state championship would mean more to Smith than any of those records, especially after the Pirates fell short in last year’s state championship game to Ishpeming.
“The records are nice, but the state championship is what I’ve always wanted,” Smith said. “It’s what the whole team wants. That’s just been the main goal all year. We came up just barely short last year. We knew how close we were and we should have had it. We’re close again this year and that’s our biggest focus.”
Pewamo-Westphalia coach Jeremy Miller has been amazed by what Smith has done on the field while helping the Pirates compile a 36-4 record in his three full seasons on varsity. And he knows Smith’s gaudy rushing numbers could be even better if he stayed on the field longer in games that were out of hand.
“In more than half of his varsity football games he’s played in, he has not played past the first half of the third quarter,” Miller said. “When I think back at what he’s done and the amount of actual quarters that he’s played, it’s unbelievable.
“It’s amazing what he’s been able to accomplish, and he’ll tell you that’s a credit to his offensive line blocking in front.”
Smith is one of four P-W players to earn first team all-state recognition in Division 7-8.
Dominic Spitzley was voted a first team lineman for his role in paving the way for Smith and the Pirates to rush for more than 3,700 yards this fall. Linebacker Devon Pung, who missed a large portion of last season with an ankle injury, and defensive back Mason Schneider have been key components on a P-W defense that has allowed just 103 points this fall and were also voted to the first team.
Carson City-Crystal quarterback Drew Stout, Fulton running back Colton Stipcak, Fowler linebacker Dallas Watts and P-W linebacker Nathan Smith were named honorable mention all-state.
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.