By Andrew Johnson

KENT CITY – Kent City running back Gio Weeks ended his 2016 season on a frustrating note.

His team made the playoffs for only the third time in school history, but Weeks missed the district championship game – a loss to Ravenna – because his sister was getting married that day.

Nobody can blame Weeks’ sister for scheduling her wedding on a potential playoff day, because Kent City folks aren’t used to having their team make the playoffs.

And nobody can blame Weeks for attending the wedding rather than the game. After all, family comes first.

“I just knew my sister’s wedding was more important,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, it was hard for me to miss it. I knew I could make an impact.

Kent City junior running back Gio Weeks

“But I knew what the better decision was.”

Weeks has more than made up for that missed game this season. He has been a major force in helping Kent City start the season 5-0, heading into Friday’s CSAA Silver Division showdown with undefeated Morley-Stanwood.

“I’m psyched,” Weeks said about the big game. “It’s going to be a great game. We really need to focus on our team this week. We can’t go freelancing. There will be a ton of people there, and a ton of excitement.”

Weeks has already rushed for 553 yards this year, after gaining nearly 1,000 as a sophomore in 2016.

His big season started in Week 1, when Kent City again played Ravenna, this time at Grand Valley State University in the West Michigan Sports Commission’s Gridiron Classic. He ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns in the Eagles’ 41-20 victory over the Bulldogs.

He had another big game in Week 4 against White Cloud, when he totaled 127 yards and two touchdowns in a 63-12 win over White Cloud.

Weeks hit the century mark again last week against Lakeview, gaining 101 yards in a 49-23 win over Lakeview.

Kent City’s No. 6 Gio Weeks fights off the Ravenna defense for extra yards in the Eagles’ win over Ravenna in Week 1 at GVSU. Photo/Marc Hoeksema

One big strength for Weeks is his speed, which helped him set the Kent City school record in the 200-meter dash.

He’s also very determined to succeed, and humble enough to realize he can’t do it all by himself.

“I’m really fast and I try not to go down,” Weeks said. “I just have to give a lot of credit to the offensive line. Without them, I wouldn’t have room to run or score any touchdowns.

“I’m just really thankful for the whole team. Playing with them is great. It’s not about me. I’m just really thankful for all of them.”

While Weeks and standout Kent City quarterback John Meek are juniors, the team is also anchored by a great group of seniors, including halfback and safety Cody Bowers, tight end and outside linebacker Jayce Dailey, starting fullback and linebacker Luke Chipman, and guard Devin Loew.

“I think it’s been great for them,” said Weeks about the senior class, which has brought newfound success to the Kent City program. “They’re all hard workers and strong leaders who really love the game and play hard.”

No matter what happens the rest of the way, Kent City has already clinched back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1998 and 1999, when the Eagles finished 5-4 each year.

“It’s huge,” said Kent City Coach Bill Crane. “I don’t know the stats, but I couldn’t have told you the last time it happened. Small school high school football is a blast, and to see our town come together creates a buzz in the air.”

While Weeks is excited about being 5-0, he’s aware that his team will need to stay hungry and keep improving to reach its goals.

“This season has been great,” said Weeks. “We just work together and really hard. We know the potential we have and enjoy what we do. We’re really striving to grow as a team still, because we want to go far in the playoffs this year.

“We just have to trust in what the coaches tell us and stick to our assignments. If we do that, we know they will lead us to greatness.”