De La Salle QB Nolan Schultz surprises many in Division 2 State Championship season (Story by: Terry Foster)

Written by
Terry Foster

Warren De La Salle quarterback Nolan Schultz rolled out of the pocket, found teammate Jacob Dobbs floating around in the secondary and zipped a perfect pass that resulted in a 44-yard touchdown pass that put DLS ahead for good during a 29-16 Pilots spanking of Muskegon Mona Shores.

The game cemented the Pilots second consecutive Division 2 state championship Saturday at Ford Field. It also ended a short story with a perfect ending.

If you are a follower of Pilots football seeing Schultz in the main chair as one of the main men was as shocking as embracing the Warriors from Brother Rice as one of your blood brothers and best friends. Schultz played quarterback for the Pilots Saturday and did a wonderful job despite his 5-foot-6 ½ frame and grimacing in pain every time he threw the ball.

Schultz completed 8 of 13 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown Saturday. He also ran for three touchdowns. An old right shoulder injury flared up whenever he threw the ball, but you never would have guessed it by seeing this man throw the ball.

And here is another shocker. He didn’t begin the season at quarterback and he wasn’t even inserted in the game when starting quarterback Anthony Stepnitz. The Pilots turned to Evan Vaillancourt and Jacob Dobbs, who quite frankly are better athletes and football players.

So this may have been the first time a former fourth string quarterback led his team to a state title.

Maybe head coach Mike Giannone by passed him initially because he couldn’t see the kid. He is kind of short. Making this guy the starting quarterback for an esteemed program like De La Salle is like making Spud Webb the starting center for the Los Angeles Lakers.

But don’t judge a book by its cover. This guy puts steam on the ball. He didn’t dink and dunk his way down the field. He threw big time passes mostly while rolling out of the pocket. Here is my only criticism of the Pilots. They probably should have let the kid pass more. Mona Shores had no answer for Schultz or the men catching the ball. Shores sacked him twice, but when he didn’t find an open man Schultz scrambled for 57 yards and kept moving the chains.

Did I tell you that the kid is short? He has another problem which will prevent him from replacing Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay any time soon. He has a difficult time seeing over defensive linemen while in the pocket.

So the coaching staff needed to devise a new play book to show off the strengths of their pint sized pocket passer.

Two days before the fifth game of the season against University of Detroit Jesuit coach Giannone texted Schultz and told him to report to his office. He had something important to tell him. Schultz had no idea what the meeting was about.

But he was secretly hoping to become De La Salle’s starting quarterback. And that’s exactly what happened. Finally.

When news got around that the short special teams kid was going to be starting quarterback, there were probably a few groans in the Pilots dressing room. But no one belly ached in front of Schultz. Players only showed him brotherly support.

And then they rallied around him and stomped U-D 41-20.

“Everybody was really supportive,” Schultz said.

Schultz doesn’t believe his pint size or lack of ability prevented him from becoming the starting QB sooner. It was baseball. While other players were showing their best face to the coaching staff during summer drills Schultz criss crossed the Midwest playing center field on his travel baseball team.

Why did Giannone change his mind about Schultz?

He liked the kid’s quickness and grit.

“I was looking for somebody shorter than me,” Giannone said with a hearty laugh. “He made me look good.”

Shortly after making Schultz his starting quarterback Giannone met another pint-sized passer. It was 5-8 Doug Flutie. He knew it was a good omen.

On Saturday came the perfect ending. It is a short story the Pilots will remember for a long time.