Busch, Trojans Prepare for Opening Night Assignment at St. Johns

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 10:38 am
Mark Meyer

Senior quarterback Sam Busch will lead the Trojan offense Thursday night at St. Johns.
(Photo by Jim Pivarnik)

At 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, armed with a fastball that leaves his hand much closer than the standard mound-to-plate distance of 60 feet, 6 inches, Sam Busch cuts an imposing figure as one of the area’s top high school pitchers. Toss in the fact that he swings the bat as quickly and with as much force from the left side as he throws it, and it’s no wonder that Busch has attracted plenty of attention from college scouts.

Baseball, however, is something that Busch will set aside until springtime. The Trojan senior’s initial athletic task at hand, in the final year of his high school career, is to lead the East Lansing offense Thursday night at St. Johns in the opening game of the 2019 season.

East Lansing, a playoff qualifier a year ago, dominated St. Johns, 40-6, in last year’s home opener at Lynn C. Adams Stadium with Busch as the starting quarterback. In that game Busch completed nine of 15 passing attempts for 210 yards and guided the offense very capably.

But that would be the only game Busch started all season. Senior quarterback Joe Benbraham returned to the starting lineup after a one-game suspension and promptly guided the Trojans to eight regular season victories for the first time since 2003.

Busch returned to his backup role in week two and assumed the position without causing a stir.

“We knew going into the season that there would be competition for the quarterback position, and there was, believe me,” said East Lansing head coach Bill Feraco. “We settled on Joe but that was by no means indicative of the way Sam handled himself during the preseason or in any other workouts.

“Sam is a year smarter. He’s bigger, stronger and knows our schemes and what we like to do on offense. He has that leadership mentality that we need from our veteran athletes, and he’s the kind of young man that others gravitate toward when seeking an example of how to conduct themselves.”

Options aplenty on offense; Mills to solidify defense

Busch will have several buttons to push this season as the Trojans’ top signal caller. Junior wide receiver Andrel Anthony has the speed and sure-handedness to be a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Senior tailback T’Senre Gray, who rushed for 229 yards and scored three touchdowns in last year’s 43-0 victory over Waverly, will be called upon to be the backfield playmaker that is so vital to Feraco’s style of offense. Senior tight end and co-captain Jayth Joseph (6 foot, 205 pounds) and junior running back Alex Hosey add to the array of offensive talent that Busch will direct.

“Consistency will be something we strive for early in the season,” Feraco said. “I believe we have the pieces in place to put points on the board. The question, of course, is will we execute?”

Senior co-captain – and three-year varsity starter – Jamar Mills (5-foot-11, 229 pounds) anchors the East Lansing defense from his inside middle linebacker position while also rotating at the fullback slot on offense. From what Feraco (in photo below, after last year's victory over St. Johns) has seen thus far during the preseason and offseason workouts, Mills has established himself as a leader both on and off the field.

“Jamar’s preparation has been at the level at which we would expect from him,” Feraco said. “He brings that level of commitment and intensity that is crucial for anyone who wants to play the game at a high level.”

2019 Schedule (all games begin at 7 p.m.)
* Indicates CAAC Blue conference game

  • Aug. 29 @ St. Johns
  • Sept. 6 v. Grandville
  • Sept. 13 @ Grand Ledge*
  • Sept. 20 v. Portage Northern
  • Sept. 27 @ DeWitt*
  • Oct. 4 v. Holt (Homecoming)*
  • Oct. 11 v. Everett*
  • Oct. 18 @ Waverly*
  • Oct. 25 v. Okemos (Senior Night)*

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