Luke Gorzinski went through the long, grueling and sometimes frustrating ACL rehab process even though his knees are fine.
The Powers North Central quarterback understands that being the leader of a state championship football program takes more than a strong arm and fleet feet. So when good friend and teammate Dylan Plunger started his ACL rehab program, Gorzinski started it right alongside him.
“Luke has always been that way,” North Central coach Leo Gorzinski, who is his father. “When he saw Dylan come over on crutches, he said, `Oh, man, I’ve got to do something.’ Luke’s a relentless workout guy anyway, so he’s going to be Dylan’s rehab partner.”
That mentality helped Gorzinski become the Michigan Associated Press Player of the Year for eight-player football.
He headlines the All-State first team that includes linemen Lane Nehring and Wyatt Raab, who joined Gorzinski on the North Central squad that powered to a 13-0 season and a second straight eight-player Division 2 state championship.
The honor squad also features lineman Cody Kegerreis, receiver Elliott Addleman and linebacker Collin Davis from Division 1 state champion Adrian Lenawee Christian. Division 1 runner-up Suttons Bay landed running back Shawn Bramer and defensive back Hugh Periard on the first team while Division 2 runner-up Colon is represented by receiver Justin Wickey, lineman Tucker Lafler, linebacker Kaleb Johnson and athlete Simon Vinson.
Au Gres quarterback Mason VanSickle, Morrice running back Wyatt Wesley, Indian River Inland Lakes defensive back Sam Mayer, Marion athlete Mason Salisbury, Britton-Deerfield athlete Nicolas Johnson and Marcellus kicker and punter Cordell Jones-McNally also landed first-team accolades.
Coach of the Year went to Brian Sanchez of Au Gres.
Gorzinski fittingly led the way, like he did throughout the season as North Central successfully defended its state title and claimed its fourth championship in seven years. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior completed 73.7 percent of his passes, going 56 of 76 for 1,009 yards and 14 touchdowns with zero interceptions to repeat as a first-team All-State quarterback.
He also rushed for 1,133 yards and 18 TDs on 80 carries, averaging 14.2 yards per carry, and scored three touchdowns on four receptions. He excelled defensively with two interceptions, 14 pass breakups and 16 tackles for loss.
“What separates him is his ability to process everything,” Leo Gorzinski said. “When we watch college games, he sees where everybody is and what the concepts are. Most of the other players use their athleticism to set them apart, he does it with his understanding of the game – plus he’s an exceptional athlete.
“He has a knack for slowing everything down. In the state championship games, when we’re on the sidelines arguing as coaches, he’d come over and say ‘Relax, I’ve got this.’”
Since North Central made the move to eight-player football in 2015, its quarterback has earned first-team All-State each season. Jason Whitens was Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016, Hunter Riley was first-team QB in 2017 and Noah Gorzinski – Luke’s cousin – was first-team as a defensive back in 2018 and 2019. Luke Gorzinski can build on that trend when he returns as a senior in 2022.