November 22, 2014

Panthers, Tawas celebrate signing day

Brent Baker
Tawas Area's Jeff Janis accepted an offer to play football at Saginaw Valley State University.
Brent Baker
College football snapped up its prized recruits on Wednesday as high school seniors officially accepted scholarship offers. Standish-Sterling led area teams with four such signees: (l-r) Josh Augustine, Adam Gulvas, Mark Lorence and Austin Collier. A fifth Panther, Matt Ekdahl (far right), is still weighing academic scholarship offers from a pair of NCAA Division 3 schools, which cannot offer athletic scholarships.
Brent Baker
SSC's Austin Collier (second from right) and his family celebrate the signing of his scholarship offered by Bowling Green State University.
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By Brent Baker|Special to the Independent
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STANDISH — Standish-Sterling's football program put another notch in its belt Wednesday as the Panthers celebrated National Signing Day with four athletes accepting college scholarships to play football at the next level, while Tawas Area also announced the signing of one athlete to a college letter of intent.

SSC all-state quarterback / defensive back Austin Collier accepted an offer to attend Bowling Green State University, a Mid-American Conference school and the only NCAA Division 1 signee of the group.

Northwood University, Midland's NCAA Division 2 institution, signed Adam Gulvas, Mark Lorence and Josh Augustine, who will join former teammate Ashton Gulvas at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference school.

Tawas Area's Jeff Janis will also be at a GLIAC school, signing on at Saginaw Valley State University.

SSC's Matt Ekdahl also announced his intention to play at the college level at either Mt. Union College in Ohio or Hope College in Holland, Mich. Both are NCAA Division 3 schools, which cannot offer athletic scholarships, and Ekdahl is waiting to see which puts together the best academic scholarship offer before he makes his decision.

Collier's commitment to Bowling Green was no surprise as their interest in him had been high for some time.

"They liked me first," he said. "The were the first to make me an offer. I really like the school and have become friends with the coaches, and it sounds like they have plans for me there."

Though plans often change once players hit the field, Collier, who plans to study business, said Bowling Green is looking to move him to wingback, contrary to earlier talk of moving him to defense.

"I'm pretty excited," he said. "Some smaller schools made offers, and I had an official visit lined up at Western (Michigan), but never took it because with Bowling Green, I just knew it was the right one."

Gulvas was the first of the Northwood trio to make his mind up, thanks in part to his cousin Ashton, who saw significant playing time with the Wildcats as a freshman.

"It was just comfortable," Gulvas said. "I liked the coaches, and Ashton gave me a lot of good feelings about it too."

Gulvas, who plans to study marketing management, said he's looking forward to "getting back to football as soon as I can."

Augustine said Northwood's scholarship offer made the choice easy for him.

"I like the campus and the coaches," said Augustine, who plans to study construction management. "Having my friends going there helps too."

The draw of his SSC teammates was one factor that helped Lorence decide between Northwood and SVSU.

"These guys and Ashton going there definitely helped," he said. "It's close to home and they have a good marketing program."

Ekdahl, who wants to take advantage of strong science programs at Hope or Mt. Union, is awaiting final word on his scholarship options, which may not come until June.

"Both are good schools," he said, though he pointed out the Mt. Union is the defending NCAA Division 3 national champion.

Tawas Area's Jeff Janis, the Braves' multi-positional offensive weapon, played through several injuries, including a broken hand, and still finished with a spectacular season that landed him a scholarship offer from SVSU.

"They put together a nice package for him," said Tawas coach Tim Webb.

SSC coach Paul Walderzak, who played at the Division 1 level at Nebraska, said the next step for all the college signees is a big one.

"It's a totally different world," he said. "They'll be taking the next step in every way – in class, on the field, the level of competition. It's huge.

"I don't know how you replace a group like this," he added, looking ahead to the future of his own squad. "On the field, of course, but especially off the field. Their leadership, their attitudes and their work ethic – they've been great."

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