October 15, 2013

Kalamazoo's quarterback has his head in the game

More news about: Kalamazoo
Justin Danzy, Kalamazoo's quarterback, has been named MIAA Offensive Player of the Week twice already this season.
Kalamazoo athletics photo

It isn't the completion percentage, the touchdown passes or the yards that make Justin Danzy one of the top quarterbacks in the MIAA.

Well, OK, it's all part of it, but it's what doesn't show up on the stat sheet that has allowed Danzy to rise to stardom in his sophomore season at Kalamazoo.

"The thing about Justin is that he is a really brilliant kid," Kalamazoo head coach Jamie Zorbo said. He is very intelligent and has a great understanding of our offense and knows how to make good decisions."

Danzy played in six games a year ago and threw for just 231 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown pass but he was picked off three times. He also rushed for 30 yards.

What a difference a year makes, though. In five games, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound sophomore signal-caller from Southfield High School in Michigan has thrown for 1,633 yards and 12 touchdowns. He's been picked off only four times and has completed 67.8 percent of his passes. Danzy has also rushed for 167 yards and a score.

When he was asked about is coach's remarks regarding his intelligence, he agreed that it is has no doubt been a key to his success at the college level.

"We have a very complex offense, and there is a lot you have to learn," Danzy said. "I've learned to make good decisions out there, and it helps that I have great receivers to throw the ball to. I owe a lot of my success to my teammates."

Danzy said he has been playing quarterback since he was 8 years old, and it's a position he has thrived in. Twice this season he has been named the MIAA Offensive Player of the Week, most recently on Oct. 7 after leading the Hornets to a 38-31 win over Trine in the conference opener.

Danzy attempted 51 passes and completed 37 while torching the Thunder for 423 yards and four touhdowns. Danzy rose to the occasion in crunch time in the win, directing a 97-yard game-winning drive that ended with a 2-yard scoring strike to Elijah Hamilton-Wray.

"It's crazy that I've had this kind of success, but it all comes down to preparation and being ready to be at your best," Danzy said. "I also have a year of experience now, and I have great teammates around me. They help make me look good."

Danzy has helped Kalamazoo go 3-2 in the first half of the season. The Hornets are 1-0 in the MIAA and face Albion on Saturday in a pivotal league game at home.

Having a younger quarterback as the starter could be a cause for concern for some teams. Zorbo doesn't have those concerns.

"He is very mature and plays beyond his age," Zorbo said. "The good thing about him is he is always working to correct his mistakes. He continues to work to get better each week."

Danzy admits adjusting to life as a college athlete wasn't easy. It took him some time to learn how to juggle academics and athletics.

"It took time to get comfortable with everything that first year," Danzy said. "I had football practice, I was learning a new playbook, and I had to go to class. But I learned how to manage my time. That was the key."

Although Danzy is a threat to run every time he has the football, he'd much rather stand back and wait to make a throw.

"I'd rather be in the pocket and stand there waiting to make a throw, but if I have to use my running ability I will," Danzy said. "It helps me to extend plays sometimes until a receiver is open. It's nice having the ability to run if I have to do it."

Kalamazoo is averaging 448.4 yards per game and allowing 324.2. The Hornets' rushing attack is led by Hamilton-Wray, who has churned out 380 yards and three touchdowns.

Josh Wise is the top receiver, having caught 46 passes for 558 yards and five touchdowns. Cameron Shegos has made 27 catches for 265 yards and five scores.
Alex Dietrich has caught 35 passes for 324 yards.

The defense is anchored by Dylan Zerki, who has racked up 45 tackles and has forced two fumbles. Connor Rzeznik has tallied 38 tackles and Blake Simon has
come through with 32 tackles. Jake Larioza has tallied 23 tackles to go along with two fumble recoveries.

Before the win over Trine, the Hornets had dropped two consecutive games. Panic, however, never set in.

"We didn't panic at all after those losses. Everyone stayed focused," Zorbo said. "We stayed united and moved forward. We put a lot more focus on execution and doing what we need to do as a team to be ready to go on game day."

Danzy believes the Hornets are as capable as any team of winning the conference and he said he and his teammates are confident after coming off a big win over Trine. In fact, it was the Hornets' first win against the Thunder since a 33-30 double overtime victory in 2006. It was the first win on the road against Trine since 2003.

"We felt like that win gave us a lot of confidence because it had been a long time since we had won there," Danzy said. "We know the road doesn't get any easier from here, starting this week when we play Albion. But we just have to build on what we've done and continue to take steps forward. If we play our best, we'll have a chance to win."

In the poll

Top-ranked Mount Union stretched its win streak to 20 with a 62-0 win over Wilmington on Saturday. The Purple Raiders have the nation's longest winnnig streak and were led by Kevin Burke, who threw for 209 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 111 yards and two scores.

Burke and the Raiders rolled up 642 yards of offense and limited the Quakers to 95 yards. Mount Union is 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the OAC.

For the defense, it was its first shutout of the year and the Purple Raiders never allowed Wilmington to cross midfield. Tom Lallly racked up three sacks and Trevor Smith tallied six tackles. Roy Fowler and Isaiah Chambers each picked off a pass.

Behind a school-record four touchdowns by Cartel Brooks, No. 12 Heidelberg cruised to a 73-17 win over Capital on Saturday.

The Student Princes scored on every drive except the final one as they put up their highest point total since 1950. Heidelberg improved to 5-0 overall and to 4-0 in the conference.

Brooks rushed for 131 yards on just 15 attempt s and Nick DeLisa opened the game by returning a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. DeLisa finished with 151 return yards.

Mitchell Kelly paced a defensive effort that held the Crusaders to 324 yards. Kelly racked up 11 tackles and the Heidelberg defense came through with four sacks.

Cody Buresh rang up 4.5 sacks on Ohio Wesleyan quarterback Mason Espinosa and led No. 16 Wabash to a 38-13 NCAC win over the Bishops on Saturday. The sack total for Buresh was a school record. Buresh finished with nine tackles and Nate Scola racked up 10 tackles.

The Little Giants (5-0, 4-0 NCAC), who have thrived on special teams play, got three big plays on Saturday.  Houston Hodges returned a punt 56 yards for a score Ian MacDougall nailed a 45-yard field goal, which was the longest of his career. The Little Giants have now scored nine touchdowns on defense or special teams this season.

Anthony Stella played a key role offensively, rushing for 189 yards and two touchdowns while Michael Putko threw for 121 yards and a score.

No. 18 Wittenberg continued its dominance of Denison on Saturday, winning 38-20 despite turning the ball over three times. The Tigers, who are 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the NCAC, haven't lost to the Big Red since 1989.

Wittenberg finished with 480 yards of offense, with Reed Florence throwing for 351 yards and four touchdowns. Brendon Cunningham caught six passes for 136 yards, including three for touchdowns. His 73-yard touchdown catch put Wittenberg in front 7-3.

Four players tallied 10 or more tackles for Wittenberg. Spencer Leno tallied 13 tackles and Nick Gibson racked up 12 tackles and forced a fumble. Evan Killilea and Josh Bannick racked up 11 and 10 tackles, respectively. Wittenberg held Denison to 301 yards.

No. 20 John Carroll used a steady diet of big plays to take down Marietta 62-7 on Saturday. The Blue Streaks got 177 yards and three touchdowns from Daquan Grobsmith. He opened the game with a 59-yard run and he would eventually score on a 1-yard run.

Grobsmith rushed for three scores, marking the second consecutive week he has done that.

One of the biggest plays of the night came from Tommy Michaels, who checked in for Grobsmith late in the game and rushed 97 yards for a touchdown. The run was the longest in program history, edging the record of 96 that had been held since the 1991 season.

Choe Samba delivered a big play on defense as he picked off a pass and bolted 77 yards for the end zone. Mark Myers threw for 141 yards and three touchdowns to help lead John Carroll to its first 5-0 start since 2002.

Inside the OAC

Baldwin Wallace won its third consecutive game in the series against Ohio Northern, topping the Polar Bears 38-17 on Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets rolled up 478 yards and improved to 3-2 overall and to 2-2 in the OAC.

Josiah Holt ran for three touchdowns and Michael Slack threw for 140 yards and a score. Holt finished with 234 all-purpose yards, including 184 rushing yards.

David Flegal racked up 14 tackles and Zack Barley tallied 11 tackles on a day when the Polar Bears finished with 405 yards. Patrick Angle threw for 317 yards and Devon Price caught 10 passes for 143 yards for Ohio Northern, which is now 2-3 overall and 1-3 in the league.

Otterbein avoided a close loss on the road as Muskingum came up short on its final two drives of the game in a 12-10 win over the Muskies on Saturday.

The Cardinals watched a 41-field-yard goal by Muskingum go wide right and saw the final drive by the Muskies end at the Otterbein 39-yard line as time expired.

The Cardinals finished with 261 yards of offense and pushed their record to 4-2 overall and to 3-1 in the OAC.

Steven Carpenter stepped up and made two touchdown catches, including a 54-yard scoring strike that put the Cardinals up 6-3 at halftime.

Ben Sizemore completed 13 of his 21 passes and Carpenter racked up six catches for 115 yards.

Austin Jones turned in a solid defensive performance as he tallied 14 tackles. Eric Mitchell finished with 11 tackles and Zack Grieves made eight tackles.

Jordan Bonifas, who picked off a Muskies pass in the red zone early in the second half, recovered a fumble as well in the win.

Melvin Smith rushed for 40 yards and a touchdown for Muskingum, which is now 1-4 overall and 1-3 in the OAC.

Inside the MIAA

Albion turned the ball over twice and trailed by four points early in the second half before rallying for 41-27 win over Trine Saturday afternoon.

Down 17-13, the Britons scored on their next four possessions to take control. Cody Crawford caught a pair of touchdown passes during the run and Colin
Parks bolted 66 yards for a score. Darrin Williams rushed 18 yards for a touchdown.

The Britons rolled up 524 yards, including 273 yards through the air by Dominic Bona, who completed 27 of his 30 passes. Williams rushed for 97 yards for

Albion, which improved to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the league.

Albion allowed 449 yards to Trine, which is 3-3 overall and 0-2 in the MIAA. Terron Bridgeman racked up 11 tackles for the Britons.

Andrew Dee threw for 205 yards and Richard Gunn rushed for 226 yards to pace the Thunder.

Augie Mata returned a blocked punt 66 yards for a touchdown and Kirby Cook ran a blocked extra-point attempt 98 yards for two points as special teams played a pivotal role in Hope's 47-14 win over Olivet.

The Flying Dutchmen handed the Comets their first loss of the year and improved to 4-2 overall and to 1-1 in the conference

Hope snapped a two-game losing streak on a day when Vincent Boody caught a 16-yard touchdown pass and finished with six catches for 131 yards. Michael Atwell threw for 247 yards and a touchdown.

Shawn Jackson came through with a big game as well as he rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Mata tallied eight tackles to lead the defense.

Olivet, which is 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the MIAA, fell behind 21-0 in the game. Curtis French led the defense with 10 tackles and Chris Jones and Alante Sims each rushed for a touchdown. Jones churned out 77 yards.

Inside the PAC

Washington and Jefferson stunned No. 20 Thomas More on Saturday, knocking off the previously unbeaten Saints 45-21.

Behind three touchdowns from Dion Wiegand, including a 92-yard kickoff return for a score in the third quarter, the Presidents (4-2, 3-1) ended a five-game losing streak to the Saints (4-1, 2-1).

Wiegand finished with 111 rushing yards and 239 all-purpose yards. Wiegand's kickoff return was the first for a touchdown by Washington and Jefferson since 2005.

Matt Bliss threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns and the Presidents did not allow a sack or commit a turnover as they racked up 345 yards. Bryce Merrill led the Presidents on defense with 14 tackles. Dan Graziano and Jared Pratt added eight tackles apiece.

Domonique Hayden rushed for 205 yards to pace the Saints while Jensen Gebhardt threw for 159 yards and a touchdown. Thomas More finished with 415 yards.

For the first time since 2004, Waynesburg kept an opponent off the scoreboard, blanking Grove City 38-0 on Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets were led by Carter Hill, who threw for over 300 yards for the third consecutive game. Hill threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns as he completed 22 of his 33 passes. Hill was not picked off in the win.

Andrew English had a big day as well as he caught six passes for 66 yards and a touchdown as Waynesburg improved to 5-1 overall and to 3-1 in the PAC.

Brandon Fedorka racked up nine tackles to go along with two sacks and a forced fumble. Stephen Holt tallied eight tackles and picked off his first career pass.

Waynesburg rolled up four sacks and forced three turnovers. Waynesburg limited the Wolverines to 266 yards and rolled up 444 yards of offense.

Grove City (3-3, 1-3) was led by Brian Pell, who ws 23-of-44 for 212 yards. Ben Manwaring finished with 10 tackles.

Inside the NCAC

DePauw won its first game of the season in convincing fashion as it blasted Oberlin 45-11 on Saturday. The Tigers are 1-4 overall and 1-3 in the NCAC.

The Tigers rolled up 478 yards of offense. Barry Flynn caught nine passes for 156 yards and a pair of scores to help lead the attack.

Matt Hunt, who is only a freshman, threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for a touchdown as well as the Tigers dominated the Yeomen (1-4, 0-4).

Mitch Dewenger tallied 11 tackles to pace the Tigers and Adam Folta added seven tackles. DePauw racked up three sacks as a team and forced four turnovers, which led to 24 points.

Kirby Livingston paced Oberlin on defense with 10 tackles. Lucas Poggiali threw for 159 yards and a touchdown for Oberlin.

Brandon January rushed for a career-high 181 yards and a touchdown as he helped Kenyon take down Hiram 20-16 on Saturday. January carried the ball 28 times in the win, and Kenyon finished with 410 yards of offense.

Jake Bates completed 14 of his 22 passes for 146 yards and a pair of touchdowns. as Kenyon improved to 4-2 overall and to 4-1 in the NCAC.

Hiram (2-4, 1-4) led 7-0 early but the Lords took a 13-7 lead into halftime. The score was tied at 13-13 in the third before Bates threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Brian Hunca with under two minutes to go in the third to put Kenyon up for good at 20-13.

A goal-line stand late in the game heped Kenyon secure the win. Blake Calcei caught three passes for 22 yards, and his touchdown catch was his team-best sixth of the season.

Kolin Sullivan was one of five players with six tackles for Kenyon. He also tallied a sack.

David Perkins rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns to pace Hiram.

Quick Look at Tartans and Spartans

Rob Kalkstein threw for 305 yards on 18-of-25 passing and threw for three touchdown passes, but the valiant effort wasn't enough in Carnegie Mellon's 27-24 loss to Westminster on Saturday.

The Tartans fell to 3-3 on the season.

Kalkstein's performance marked the second time in his career that he threw for more than 300 yards. Tim Kitka caught six passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. It was Kitka's third 100-yard game of his career.

Connor young hit a 28-yard field goal to put Carnegie Mellon up 24-21 with 11:26 left but Westminster answered to take the lead for good.

Carnegie Mellon finished with 457 yards while holding Westminster to 329. Akwasi Brefo racked up nine tackles and Jack Butler tallied seven tackles while picking off a pass as well.

Case Western Reserve will return to action Saturday, playing its first game in 21 days when it battles Puget Sound on the road in the state of Washington.

The Spartans (1-3) haven't played since Sept. 28 when it fell 45-0 to nationally ranked Linfield on Homecoming. The Spartans have had their share of success on the road, though, and are 28-4 away from home since 2007. They are 55-13 overall since the 2007 campaign.

Case is averaging 17 points per game and 262 yards per outing of offense.

Notes: Cody Williams threw for 205 yards and rushed for 38 yards as he gave a solid effort in Muskingum's 12-10 Homecoming loss to Otterbein. Williams helped the Muskies generate 355 yards and hold an 11-minute edge in time of possession... Aaron Tenney threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns and Deonte Bridgeman returned an interception 44 yards for a score as Adrian blasted Alma 41-16 on Saturday. Adrian finished with 331 yards....Thiel returned home after three consecutive games on the road and knocked off Saint Vincent 30-3 on Saturday. Ryan Radke made his first start for the Tomcats and was 6-of-9 for 50 yards. He threw one touchdown pass and also rushed for 52 yards as Thiel nailed down its first win of the season....Josh Peacock was one of three players to tally 10 or more tackles in Hiram's 20-16 loss to Kenyon. Peacock racked up 13 tackles for the Terriers, who allowed 410 yards. Richard Simpson caught five passes for a career-high 136 yards.

comments powered by Disqus

Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Findlay, Ohio. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending the last 10 at The Courier in Findlay. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for D3hoops.com. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.

2011 columnist: Dean Jackson
2007-10 columnist: Matt Florjancic

Previous Columns

November 19, 2014
Smooth sailing for Ruffing
Ryan Ruffing was W&J's backup running back his first two seasons, but as a junior, he's rolled...
November 11, 2014
He's come a long way
An injury early in his career nearly cost him more than just a season of football, but Evan Killilea...
November 4, 2014
'Out of my comfort zone'
Alana Gaither never planned to play football. She played on an all-boys soccer team as a child and...
October 28, 2014
DePauw turning it around
After hitting rock-bottom, with a 2-8 season and just one touchdown, total, in three Monon Bell...
October 21, 2014
Finding a home
Taylor Masiewicz has always wanted to be a starting quarterback at the college level. He found a...
October 14, 2014
Making his own name
Luke Riemenschneider's connections to Baldwin Wallace go back generations. And while his great-grand...
October 7, 2014
Blinn driving Bethany's strong start
Eric Blinn has accomplished a lot in a short period of time. Midway through his junior season,...
September 30, 2014
Running all over
After playing corner, wide receiver and returning kicks, Sean Hackel has found his home at running...
September 23, 2014
Deflecting passes
Ellis Ewing picked off three passes for Adrian in the Bulldogs' win vs. Benedictine on Saturday. But...
September 16, 2014
ONU taking a new angle under center
After a year settling into the role, Patrick Angle, a transfer from Youngstown State, is off to a...
September 9, 2014
The littlest Tartan
Carnegie Mellon’s most inspirational member of the team wasn’t on the field for the...
September 3, 2014
10 games to watch for 2014
Around the Great Lakes is back for the 2014 season with a look at the top games involving teams from...

Other Columnists