Bryce Underwood stood on Lawrence Tech’s field this summer, picking apart opponent’s defenses during 7-on-7 competition as a 13-year-old quarterback.
It was then that Underwood showed his talent before stepping on the field for his first high school game as quarterback at Belleville High School.
Once Underwood played for real, he was just as impressive. He threw for 2,888 yards and 39 touchdowns and just four interceptions to lead Belleville to its first state championship in program history. He was named the Michigan Associated Press Division 1-2 Player of the Year.
Underwood who has scholarship offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee, Kentucky and Marshall.
Underwood was at his best in a 55-33 win over Rochester Adams in the Division 1 state title game at Ford Field, throwing for 284 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing for a 30-yard score.
“I think it’s his upside that makes him special, it’s his sprit, it’s his leadership,” Belleville coach Jermain Crowell said. “He has unbelievable poise, not only for his age, but his poise for anyone. I think his parents have done an amazing job for preparing him for this role. I think he’s just scratching the surface to be honest with you.
“When you look at the body of work that he did as a whole … I mean wow? I don’t know if Drew Henson made All-State four years in a row and Bryce could be the No. 1 quarterback to ever come through the state of Michigan.”
Underwood was joined by first-team quarterbacks in Warren DeLaSalle junior Brady Drogosh and Saline sophomore C.J. Carr, grandson of former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr.
Drogosh led DeLaSalle to the Division 2 state championship, throwing 142 yards and three touchdowns and running for 174 yards and a touchdown in a 41-14 title game rout over Traverse City Central.
Carr threw for 2,676 yards and 28 touchdowns with just four interceptions. He has offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State and Wisconsin.
Michigan State-bound Dillon Tatum of West Bloomfield, Cephus Harris III of Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, Brayden McKenna of Lapeer, Cole Cabana of Dexter and Elijah Jackson-Anderson of Grand Blanc are first-team running backs.
Michigan State-bound Antonio Gates Jr., son of former NFL star tight end Antonio Gates, earns first-team honors at receiver, along with Jeremiah Caldwell of Belleville, Semaj Morgan of West Bloomfield and Quinn Fracassi of South Lyon.
Caldwell had three touchdown receptions — off passes from Underwood — in the state championship game win. Morgan, a junior, recently committed to Michigan.
Jalen Thompson, a junior at Detroit Cass Tech, earned a spot as a first-team all-state linemen, as did Michael Williams of West Bloomfield, James Livingston of Dexter, Ashton Lepo of Grand Haven, Alex DeGrieck of Rochester Adams, Cross Watson of Portage Central, Deone Walker of Detroit Cass Tech and sophomore Brandon Davis-Swain of West Bloomfield.
Notre Dame-bound Josh Burnham of Traverse City Central was named first-team linebacker, along with Jordan Kwiatkowski (Central Michigan) of Sterling Heights Stevenson, Aidan Vaughan (Wisconsin) of Walled Lake Western and Cross Dobbs of Grand Blanc.
Michigan-bound Will Johnson of Grosse Pointe South earned first-team status as a defensive back, as did Carson Bourdo of Traverse City Central, Jaden Mangham (Michigan State) of Birmingham Groves, Tyrell Henry (Michigan State) of Roseville and Belleville sophomore James Robinson.
Other first-team selections include Battle Creek Lakeview specialist Jaris McIntosh, Ann Arbor Huron junior kicker Adam Samaha and East Lansing punter Evan Sundermann.
Antaiwn Mack of Ann Arbor Huron was Coach of the Year. And, for good reason since he took over a program which had a 39-game losing streak prior to his arrival in 2019. He guided Ann Arbor Huron to a win in his first season, then three victories in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, including the program’s first state playoff win since 2000, followed by an 8-2 season this fall with its losses coming against Saline, then Belleville, 14-10 in a district semifinal.