Essexville Garber’s VanSumeren AP Division 5-6 top player
ESSEXVILLE, Mich. (AP) — How good of a football player is Essexville Garber’s Ben VanSumeren?
So good that the University of Iowa is considering playing him at linebacker when he joins the Hawkeyes next year, even though he made his biggest impact at wide receiver during his memorable senior season for the Dukes.
Despite only playing at wideout for just over seven games, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound VanSumeren hauled in 85 passes for 1,259 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is The Associated Press Division 5-6 high school football Player of the Year.
“We’ve had some really good players and good young men come through the program, but Ben is the best athlete and best football player we’ve had come through here in the 21 years I’ve been at Garber High School,” Dukes coach Jake Coquillard said of VanSumeren, who also received scholarship offers from Purdue, Minnesota, Missouri and at least 10 other Division I schools.
VanSumeren consistently tore up opposing secondaries, catching 10 or more passes and at least one touchdown in each of the last seven games after starting at quarterback the first two games and throwing for 249 yards and three TDs.
VanSumeren delivered despite frequently drawing double or even triple coverage. He has a 40-inch vertical leap and runs a 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds.
″(Opponents) rolled the coverage to him all the time,” said Coquillard, whose team went 4-5 with four losses to playoff qualifiers. “It was hard-earned yardage. It’s a testament to his hands going up and catching it in traffic, and his route running is exceptional.”
He also ran for 387 yards and six scores, and had 43 tackles at linebacker while playing part-time on defense.
“I like delivering hits. I love taking the will out of the opponent,” VanSumeren said.
VanSumeren, a team captain, was grateful for the Player of the Year honor.
“I think it’s an amazing honor and I’m blessed to receive it,” he said.
Joining VanSumeren on the first team are quarterbacks Joey Bentley of Ithaca and Zack Pickens of Watervliet; running backs Jalen Myles of Carrollton, Bryce Stark of Montague, Phillip Jones of Reed City and Sebastian Toland of Jackson Lumen Christi; wideouts Nick Folkerts of Algonac, Brian Kieft of Watervliet and Kejuan Sanders of Detroit Community; linebackers Zach Hessbrook of Ithaca, Nathaniel Mitchell of Grand Rapids West Catholic, Dean Battley of Portland and Jacob Ager of Boyne City; linemen Billy Koepf of Remus Chippewa Hills, Anthony Pelton of Reed City, Evan Geyer of Frankenmuth, Cameron Toth of Saginaw Swan Valley, Tyden Ferris of Delton Kellogg, Luke Marsh of Montague, Chaim Austin of Detroit Central and Ryan Lints of Traverse City St. Francis; defensive backs Jerodd Vines of Detroit Central, Connor Davenport of Brooklyn Columbia Central and Eric Carson of Boyne City; specialist Brenden Sersaw of Clare; kicker Adam Culp of Ithaca and punter Jayce Bourcier of Freeland.
The Division 5-6 Coach of the Year is Frankenmuth’s Phil Martin.
Voting was by a panel of AP member sportswriters from around the state.