South Christian’s Ty Rynbrandt has been one of the Grand Rapids area’s most impressive quarterbacks this season.
The senior has completed 72 percent of his passes and thrown for nearly 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns against three interceptions. But when Rynbrandt broke his collarbone in South Christian’s playoff opener against Kelloggsville on Oct. 30, one might have thought that the Sailors’ goal of a Division 4 state championship went down with him.
Not so fast.
Enter Jake DeHaan, a sophomore who spent the season quarterbacking South Christian’s junior varsity team. DeHaan finished up the Sailors’ 56-0 win over Kelloggsville before throwing two touchdown passes the following week in South Christian’s 21-6 win against Grand Rapids Christian in the district semifinals.
DeHaan then had a game like no other South Christian quarterback has ever had. DeHaan threw seven touchdown passes in this past Friday’s 56-14 win over Hamilton, leading the Sailors to a district title.
The seven touchdown passes set a South Christian school record, and it was just two shy of the state record nine that Omar Salih of Detroit Cesar Chavez threw in a game in 2013. Six Michigan quarterbacks have thrown eight touchdowns in a game, and DeHaan is one of 13 to pass for seven.
According to the MHSAA.com, DeHaan is one of three quarterbacks to throw seven touchdowns in a game. Fennville’s Wes Leonard did so in 2010 and NorthPointe Christian’s Eric Van Swol in 2011.
And DeHaan did so in just his second career varsity start.
“Any good football program is going to have the next-man-up mentality,” Sailors coach Danny Brown said. “When one guy goes down, the next person has to be ready to step up and fill the void so we don’t skip a beat. Fortunately for our case, we had Jake to do that. He has started two varsity games, and he is 2-0.
“He had a great year on the JV. Our JV tied Cedar Springs, and outside of that, we were undefeated. He is a big play guy. He played a little bit of varsity basketball last year as a freshman, and if you are doing that, you are not scared of the moment. He was thrown into the game against Kelloggsville. Ty went down, and he went flying in and made some nice plays for us as well.”
The 8-1 Sailors are scheduled to play at No. 1 ranked Edwardsburg when the state playoffs resume. All MHSAA sports have been paused for three weeks due to a surge in the number of coronavirus positive tests and deaths in recent weeks.
South Christian’s lone loss this season was 28-27 to undefeated Catholic Central. No other opponent has finished with 10 points of the Sailors, and Rynbrandt has been a big key to South Christian’s success. Rynbrandt has undergone surgery and is expected to need six-to-eight weeks to rehabilitate.
Brown said Rynbrandt has continued to play a big role on the team.
“The night that happened against Kelloggsville, Ty came back to be with the team after he went to the emergency room,” Brown said. “I said to him on the sidelines that the only way we are going to win is having you a part of it. Whether you are playing or diving in and coaching, you are still a big part of it. We still need you.
“He has taken ownership in that. Ty was one of a kind in range and dissecting defenses, so it’s almost like having a coach on the field. He has been on the headset with us on Friday nights and stands next to Jake all practice long and tells him what he’s seeing.
We trust Ty, and we let him run with it. We are still coaching Jake, but we trust Ty to mentor Jake.”
DeHaan was 17-of-20 against Hamilton for 322 yards. He was 9-of-19 for 194 yards in his first varsity start the week before in South Christian’s win versus Christian.
“Jake is similar to Ty in that he is a smart, intelligent kid,” Brown said. “Some kids rely on athleticism and are successful that way. Other kids have the brainpower to digest stuff. Both of these guys have that. For the most part, we have been able to put a lot of similar things on Jake’s plate and Ty has been there to walk him through it.”
Brown was quick to praise DeHaan’s teammates for making his transition to the varsity smoother. Elliot Grashuis had eight catches for 124 yards and three touchdowns against Hamilton, while Eli Smith had five receptions for 92 yards and a score. Evan Roedema had two touchdown catches and Sam Meengs one.
“I don’t think you ever anticipate having a kid throwing nine touchdowns in two games,” Brown said. “But obviously, we were very confident in what he could bring to the table.
“Obviously, we have good skill guys around him. We told him to trust the guys around you. You don’t need to do it all yourself. We have enough guys around you, and we will utilize their strengths as much as we utilize yours.”