Area Male Athlete: Michael Meyer is Pierz's pick man
Pierz head football coach Leo Pohlkamp on free safety Michael Meyer's ability to intercept passes: "He's got great hands and he'll find himself in a lot of situations where it's a jump ball type situation. He's a forward in basketball so his timi...
Pierz head football coach Leo Pohlkamp on free safety Michael Meyer's ability to intercept passes: "He's got great hands and he'll find himself in a lot of situations where it's a jump ball type situation. He's a forward in basketball so his timing is excellent. It's not all about jumping, but you have to have good timing. That's where he gets a lot of his interceptions. He goes up and gets it and takes it away."
Michael Meyer gets praised for watching a screen.
No, the Pierz Pioneers senior isn't binge watching the last season of "Sons of Anarchy." Meyer is busy dissecting the next opponent's offensive plays.
Position: Free safety, receiver
Highlights: Finished with seven solo tackles, one assisted tackle and two pass break ups
The three-year starting free safety has made a habit of watching film of the opposition. He's gotten so good he can pick apart an offensive play just from the formation.
"We look at certain sets that they're in and what kind of plays they like to run out of certain sets," said Meyer. "I usually just watch the wide receivers because that's what I guard. I like to pick up on their favorite routes and go off of that.
"It definitely helps to watch film. Sometimes you can pick up little things and identify exactly what they're going to run so you're not guessing."
Meyer was busy at work Monday picking apart Tri-City United, Pierz's Class 3A state semifinal opponent.
"Already on Monday, he watched both films that we have on Tri-City United," said Pierz head coach Leo Pohlkamp. "He watches a lot of film."
As a free safety, Meyer is the last line of defense for the Pioneers' defense, which has given up a Class 3A-low 7.7 points a game. Meyer played an integral part in Pierz's 9-0 shutout of Albany in the Oct. 31 state quarterfinals at St. Cloud State University. Meyer had seven solo tackles, one assisted tackle and two pass defenses.
"He helps out everyone that needs to be helped and he does that well," Pohlkamp said. "I remember last year in Brainerd against (Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton) he saw the routes developing. A lot of teams run the drag route or as I like to call them the waggle routes where they send somebody deep and then they drag a tight end across and then sneak the fullback out to the flats. Well, he saw that happening and he jumped the route and got the interception against Dilworth. That's the heads-up type of kid he is. He sees things happening."
On the season, Meyer has 28 solo tackles, 14 assisted tackles, one quarterback hurry and eight pass deflections. He leads the team with seven interceptions. He had one interception his sophomore season and seven last year.
"I usually go off the quarterback's eyes and whichever way he looks that's usually the way I break," Meyer said. "Then I go off of that and then I look at the wide receivers and see which way they're running and what routes they're running and that's what I usually jump."
Last season, Meyer finished with 14 solo tackles and 28 total tackles. He added a fumble recovery and six pass breakups.
"He's always been a free safety," Pohlkamp said. "He's a good cover person and I think this year he's really come up and been more physical. You don't want your free safety to make a lot of tackles, but when teams throw the tight end dump, where they'll fake it to the fullback and throw a quick pass to the tight end down the middle, he'll come up with some big hits for us. He's jarred the ball loose a few times this season. He's become a more physical free safety."
Meyer is also a punt returner for Pierz and in many situations he's the only punt returner. On 14 attempts he's covered 165 yards for 11.8 yards-per-attempt average.
"A lot of times we'll find ourselves in a situation where we don't know if the other team is going to fake the punt or go for it on fourth down so he's back there by himself," said Pohlkamp. "He's very sure-handed. I hate it when the guy doesn't catch it and lets it roll another 20 yards. He's got a lot of yards on his own because we're not blocking for him. We're too busy defending a possible fake. He's had a lot of catch-it-and-goes, but he's good at that because he's very sure-handed."
Offensively, Meyer has 12 receptions for 281 yards and four touchdowns. Last year, two of his three catches resulted in scores.
"I've always said that had he been on a team that throws a lot he would have a lot of catches," said Pohlkamp. "He would be their go-to receiver. He's our go-to receiver. He's had a very good year as a receiver for us, but it's our choice - we don't throw a lot."
Meyer said he doesn't mind that Pierz doesn't throw much. As long as his team is winning he's happy.
"Well, when they do call a play for a pass it really lights a spark," Meyer said. "You actually feel like you're going to get the ball and have a chance to score. But as long as the team scores and does good that's what I like."
Other notable performances:
Cross country: Tyler Moore, Little Falls, finished fourth in the Section 8-2A meet in 16:26.88 to advance to the Class 2A state meet.
Pequot Lakes team, finished second in the Section 8-1A meet to advance to the Class 1A state meet.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop .