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Napoleon High School to host Brian Stuard Night

Members of the Napoleon Athletic Boosters will honor Napoleon High School graduate Brian Stuard during a ceremony prior to the NHS/Columbia Central High School boys’ varsity basketball game Dec. 16.

Stuard is starting his fourth season on the PGA Tour after finishing 51st in the FedEx Cup standings in 2013-14. He earned more than $1.85 million during the recently-completed season.

Brian Stuard Night will begin with an autograph session in a room overlooking the basketball court from 5:30 to approximately 6:45 p.m. Those in attendance of the basketball game may have items signed by Stuard during that 75-minute period in the upstairs balcony.

A 10-minute ceremony will take place following the NHS/CCHS junior varsity basketball game.

Stuard will meet with media members following the ceremony and enjoy the friendly rivalry between the two schools following interviews. One of his best friends in high school is D.J. Heselschwerdt, coach of the NHS boys’ varsity squad.

For more information, call NHS at 536-8667.  Courtesy of Jeff SteersStuard

Sponsor Spotlight: Blair Car Care

 

 

By Larry Jacobson
JTV Sports

According to the dictionary, the definition for longevity is sometimes meant to refer to especially long lived members of a population, as in ‘Our family is known for its longevity.’

         For the team at Blair’s Car Care Center on Wildwood Avenue in Jackson it applies to both the Blair family itself, and to the extended family of employees that make up what is known around the area – simply – as ‘Blair’s.’ As in, ‘my car needs a tune-up and I’m dropping it off at Blair’s.’

Mike’s great-grandfather started Blair’s back in 1922 primarily as a carpet business before recognizing the growing potential in automotive tires.

“Our longevity is probably what I’m most proud of and the way we’ve been able to keep going through the generations,” said Mike Blair.

Blair’s Car Care has three generations of the Blair family at the shop now including Mike, his father Richard, and Mike’s son, Mike Jr.

“I started here back in the 1970’s right after high school,” Mike said. “So it’s pretty special for me to know there are three generations of Blair’s here right now. My dad’s out there working, I’m here and my son is here, too. And we plan on being here for many more.”

Blair’s Car Care has been a staple in the Jackson area as a trusted, neighborhood-style car center that maintains a personal touch with clients that’s lacking in larger, ‘big box’ automotive centers.

“I think people do appreciate and value the personalized touch that we offer,” Mike said. “Our customers like coming in and speaking directly to the technician that’s worked on their vehicle and that we encourage that interaction. It’s friendly, it’s personal and that’s how we build relationships. Our customers like and trust us, and are comfortable coming back when they have issues with their vehicles.”

In the ever changing field of automotive service, it’s been imperative for the Blair technicians and staff – they have ten employees – to stay updated on all of the changing dynamics involved. This includes sending their technicians to training seminars and enrolling in online certification classes to keep that knowledge base current.

“It’s important for us to diversify and stay competitive,” Mike said. “But our employees are very dedicated. They want to be up to date on any changes because we want our customers to know that, if they bring their vehicle in to us for a problem, we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”

In a world of ever-changing names and locations, updates and big box competition, it gets more and more difficult for a small business to evolve, survive and thrive. But Blair’s Car Care, with a personalized approach and customer loyalty as a foundation, has done it for multiple generations.

And I’m betting they keep it rolling for many more.

SAU Athletics to partner with Lions Club for Food Drive on Dec. 16

FoodDrive_webSPRING ARBOR, Mich. – The Spring Arbor University athletic department is partnering with the Parma Lions Club to host a Food Drive to collect non-perishable food items at the Cougar men’s and women’s basketball games on Tuesday, Dec. 16.

 

Fans that bring non-perishable food items will receive free admission to the games. The contributions will go towards the Lions Club Christmas baskets which will be redistributed to help feed local families during the holiday season.

 

The women’s team will be hosting No. 24 Cornerstone University at 5 p.m. The men’s team will follow with a game against Albion College at 7 p.m.

 

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with more than 1.3 million members in approximately 45,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas around the world.

Lumen Christi’s Khari Willis named JTV Sports Player of the Year

Willis POY

By Larry Jacobson, JTV Sports

From a pure numbers perspective, the ‘nuts and bolts’ of Khari Willis – Lumen Christi’s standout senior running back and one of four finalists for the state’s Player of the Year – are staggering. Consider this year’s totals, which rank as one of the greatest single-season rushing marks in state history:

  • 2,800 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns.
  • 11.6 yards per carry and 233 yards per game.
  • 50 carries and 412 yards in the season-ending playoff loss to Monroe St. Mary’s.

But this is the best part about knowing the young man: He’s an even better person than he is a football player.

When asked who he turns to for advice or guidance, on or off the playing field, Khari motioned to his father, John, sitting a few feet away from him.

“My dad’s never forced me into anything,” Khari said. “He’s always let me choose what it is I want to do, and then he helps me get better at it. But he’s always let me take that first step.”

“I’ve always told my kids that I don’t care what they do, I just want them to do it well,” John Willis said. “Once they’ve made the decision to do something, I want them to work as hard as they can at it.”

And working hard is something that Khari also does well.

“I’ll have a list of things I want to get done during a typical day,” said John, the Director of the Martin Luther King Center in Jackson. “But sometimes I’ll just get started and Khari will come in and say ‘Pop, I need another workout,’ and off we go. He’s a very hard worker and he’s always pushing himself to get better. At the same time it’s allowed us to spend a lot of time together and to bond as father and son. I’m very thankful for that.”

Khari is a pretty quiet person – sticking mostly to himself and those he’s closest to, like family and his teammates. And he’s very careful with social media.

“I try to stay away from that stuff,” he said. “It’s mostly negative and you’ll just end up in trouble if you get too involved in it. I tell people, if you want to talk to me that badly, call me.”

And dad’s influence is there, too.

“I’ve tried to communicate with all the kids the dangers of social media,” John said. “They need to understand that anything they do – any comment, any picture, any tweet – is out there forever. And there are people out there just waiting to pounce on any little thing.”

As for his Lumen Christi career, it’s been a heck of a journey.

“The thing I’ll remember the most from high school is the relationships I built with my teammates,” he said. “I came out of my shell a little bit and I developed relationships and became friends with a lot of people I probably wouldn’t have had it not been for football. It’s allowed me to work on my leadership skills and to gain that confidence. I always wanted to get better and better, to work harder and harder, and be the type of person that got out front and said ‘follow me.’” He smiled when reflecting on the 2014 Titans, who came a single point from advancing to the state semifinals. “I remember the team getting together back in the summer and we all sort of looked at each other like ‘okay, here we go.’ Our offensive line just got better and better as the season went on.”

Of that season-ending crusher, the 27-26 loss in the Regional Final, he could only shake his head.

“Tough loss,” he said – and he let that sort of hang there for a moment.

There were other nuggets gleaned from our conversation, such as…

What would you like for Christmas?

          “I have everything I need, really, as long as my family’s around me. Some new clothes would be nice, though.”

What video game system to you prefer?

          “Definitely the X-Box One,” he said. “And I like the sports games. NCAA football and NBA basketball. Devin (Edwards – his teammate and friend) thinks he can beat me but he really can’t. I beat him all the time.”

  • Note: We’ll discuss that with Devin at a later time!

On teasing from his brother, Terrell:

          “He gets on me pretty good, but I’m used to it. He said if he’d been allowed to carry the ball as much as I did, he would have run for over 3,000 yards in a season.” (Khari finished 2014 with 2,800.)

On who will win the college football national championship this year when I suggested Ohio State:

          “I don’t think Jameis Winston will allow Florida State to lose. I mean, he makes some bone-headed decisions off the field, but on the field he’s a tough competitor.”

After high school, Khari will head north to Lansing to play football for Michigan State, although he’s not sure yet which position he’ll play. Despite all of his success and accolades on offense in high school, he wouldn’t mind a switch to defense.

“Football is football and I just love to play it,” he said. “I’d play offensive line if I could. But it might be more fun to hit guys for a change rather than being the target.”

To this, his father smiled and nodded.

“As a dad, it’s hard seeing your kid get hit so hard all the time,” John said. “I try not to think about it too much, but it can be hard to watch.”

In the long term, Khari envisions attending law school and becoming a defense attorney, and he has the smarts and the moxie to make a good one. But before any of that – before graduation and MSU and more football – there’s the upcoming basketball season to consider.

“We’re going to be really good,” he said of this year’s Titans. “We have a target on our backs, and that’s a good thing. We want that. We want the expectations to be high.”

The college and high school recruiting services (such as Rivals, Scout & ESPN.com) use a 1-to-5 star system to classify the best and the brightest. They watch video tape and measure statistics like size and speed. But I wonder if they ever spend time with these young men. I wonder if they ever get to know them.

Rivals and Scout, two of the largest recruiting services, give Khari Willis three or four stars, but I’m going to disagree with them.

This young man, on and off the field, is five star all the way.

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Hanover-Horton’s Johnnie Stewart named JTV Sports Coach of the Year

Stewart guided Hanover-Horton to best season ever; looks to make it the norm

By Mike Moore

Staff Writer

Hanover – The shock and the awe, the celebration and the excitement, it was all a direct result of the greatness displayed on the field all fall.

If Johnnie Stewart gets his wish, the 2014 season will become the norm with the Hanover-Horton football program, and not the exception.

But taking a step back, focusing on the here and now, and appreciating this season for what it was, Stewart was an easy choice for the 2014 JTV Sports Football Coach of the Year.

Stewart COY2“This was a very special year,” Stewart said earlier this week. “In all my years of coaching, this is going to be one group and one season I’ll truly miss.”

The Comets seemingly made history at every step this fall.

Their 8-2 final record was the best in program history. The trip to the Division 6 playoffs was just the fourth such event, ever. The 6-1 mark in the Cascades Conference was the best since joining in 1976. The 282 points scored was third best in program history and the 189 allowed was the lowest since 2002.

Needless to say, it was a year of records, and none of it surprised Stewart.

“Last year, that’s when we had the feeling this team could do some things,” he explained. “One of the perks we do for a living is the strength training. We saw what they did in the weight room. We saw how agile they were. We know their families, and when you saw what they did in the classroom and the weight room and you knew how close they were, you just saw it.”

Stewart shared head-coaching duties with Matt Resor in 2012, guiding the Comets to a 3-6 year with a team starting almost all sophomores.

Last year he assumed the top spot within the program, and Hanover went 4-5.

This fall, those ripe sophomores had become seasoned veterans

“If you look at the collegiate level, you kind of see the success that’s had when you have the same kids for three years,” Stewart said. “I’m not tooting my own horn, but that’s what we did. When these seniors were sophomores, we threw them into the fire three years ago. When we took over, we were trying to absorb two small classes, back to back.”

“Of the 13 seniors we had on varsity this year, most of them were starters as sophomores,” he continued. “And on top of that, the quality of these kids was exceptional. We didn’t have any problem guys, no wise guys or off-the-field trouble.”

Hanover opened the season in style, shutting out Concord 28-0. The second week brought about a forfeit from East Jackson, but there was little rust to be had in a 30-13 pounding of Addison and a 42-21 victory against Michigan Center that followed.

Controversy swirled on so many levels and in so many ways when the Comets fell to Manchester 18-16, but the guys never let it linger.

They roared back with a 20-7 victory against Vandercook Lake in Week 5 and a 40-12 drubbing of Napoleon the following weekend.

But the main event came Oct. 17 when Hanover took on Grass Lake, and in a game few may have given them a chance to win, well, that’s exactly what they did.

The 34-28 victory against the Warriors snapped a 12-game losing streak in the series.

The win was the first over Grass Lake since a 14-0 decision in 2001.

Hanover closed the regular season with a 50-48 thriller over Quincy before falling to Hillsdale in the Division 6 playoff opener.

“Each game we played was huge for us because we were a team that wanted to make history for this program,” Stewart said. “When that’s your objective, you can’t let any get away.”

And they didn’t. But when asked why, or what made this year’s team so special, the Comets’ coach just laughed.

“Truthfully, we weren’t that good,” he said. “On paper, we’re not the best team around. We didn’t have the old-school football players. We won because these kids gave 110 percent and never quit. It sounds cliché, but that’s the truth. … We were the example of why this game is a team sport”

And now, seasons like this become the norm, right?

“I certainly hope so, or why stick with it?” Stewart boasted. “Sustaining this success will be the key, that’s for sure. But this was a year that captivated the community. There was that, ‘oh my God they made playoffs’ feeling this year. We want the reverse to be the case, when people are shocked when we don’t make it. … We have all the pieces in place here to make this a consistent winner.”

Including the coach.

Thanksgiving Day on JTV

15740829632_c8dbca088b_kTune into JTV and jtv.tv for special High School Football Programming all day.

At 10am, noon and 6pm we’ll air our season recap on the Aspen One Hour Football Show featuring our top Games of the Year, JTV Sports Coach of the Year and JTV Sports Player of the Year.

Below is our game schedule for Thanksgiving Day.  Thank you to all our viewers, advertisers and supporters for another great season of High School Football on JTV.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

1pm – Hanover-Horton at Grass Lake

3:30pm – Lumen Christi at Jackson

7pm – Northwest at Western

9:30pm – Monroe St. Mary CC at Lumen Christi

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Weekend Broadcast Schedule

IMG_9816Saturday 1pm and 7pm and Sunday 3:30pm – Monroe St. Mary CC at Lumen Christi

 

Saturday 3:30pm and 9:30pm and Sunday 9:30pm – Hanover-Horton at Grass Lake

 

Sunday 1pm and 7pm – Michigan Center at Vandercook Lake

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Game Broadcast Schedule

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Games on DVD

All games on JTV are available on DVD. The price is $15 for each game. To order, call our studios at 517-787-8817 or order online.

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