2017-12-07 / Sports

James Schelke named Player of the Year

By Mike Gallagher
Sports Reporter - mgallagher@mihomepaper.com

2017 11-Man All-Thumb Player of the Year, James Schelke 2017 11-Man All-Thumb Player of the Year, James Schelke HARBOR BEACH - During the 2017 football season, Harbor Beach quarterback James Schelke compiled 2,071 total yards of offense, scored 30 touchdowns, and led the Pirates to a Greater Thumb East Conference title.

For these reasons, Schelke was named the 2017 Thumb Sportswriters Association Player of the Year.

Schelke earned 27 points in the voting, edging out Joey Johnston (Cros-Lex quarterback, 19 points), Bryce Bearrs (Millington quarterback, 12 points), Brendan Hamilton (Cass City running back, 2 points), and Jacob Kretzschmer (EPBP running back, 1 point).

During his junior and sophomore seasons, Schelke found success at the receiver position, earning first team all-conference in 2016, and second team all-conference in 2015 as a receiver.

In the 2017 season however, Harbor Beach needed a quarterback.

With two-year starter Brady Kirsch gone to graduation, the Pirates had four players working out at quarterback in the preseason including Schelke, Austin Roberts, Michael Anderson, and Garrison Booms.

Schelke was named the starter, and in the season opener against Bad Axe, he had 165 total yards of offense, and scored four touchdowns.

“Jimmy is an extremely hard worker,” said Harbor Beach head coach Troy Schelke. “He worked extra hard this summer to develop rapport with his receivers. He willingly moved to quarterback and ended up being outstanding. He was one of our team leaders, and a real headache for offensive coordinators.”

The hard work showed, as Schelke ran for 1,164 yards, and passed for 907 yards on the season, leading the team in both categories.

Schelke’s two biggest performances of the season were against USA, when he ran for 228 yards and three touchdowns, and against Brown City, when he had 242 yards rushing, 58 yards passing, and two touchdowns.

Brown City head coach Aren Cooper was especially impressed with Schelke’s performance.

“We were unable to control Schelke, who is a tremendous athlete,” said Cooper. “He is an elusive and explosive athlete who we had no answer for.”

Schelke also was impressive in two of Harbor Beach’s biggest games of the season.

Harbor Beach played Ubly twice this season, once for the GTC East title, and once in the first round of playoffs.

Schelke had 209 rushing yards, 198 passing yards, and three touchdowns in the two matchups, including one of the most exciting plays of the season, a 3rd-and-37 conversion on a pass, in the GTC East title game.

Schelke is the third Pirate to win the TSA Player of the year, joining quarterback Eli Kraft (2013) and brother Josh Schelke (2014).

Josh won the award in 2014, after making the change from receiver to quarterback, like James.

Schelke, a senior, is the son of Troy and Sue Schelke.

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