By Nate Thompson

NORTON SHORES – Keyshawn Summerville thinks he was going down the wrong path in life a few short years ago.

His said his grades were sagging, he hung out with the wrong crowd, and he had a selfish attitude.

But Summerville got a fresh start when he transferred to Mona Shores High School in the middle of his sophomore year.

His grades and attitude have improved tremendously, and he’s found great success on the football field. He’s teaming up with his childhood friend, Damari Roberson (another transfer student), to form one of the most potent receiving combinations in the state.

Together with senior quarterback Tristan Robbins, Summerville and Roberson have given Mona Shores a dangerous passing game to complement a potent running attack. That sort of offensive diversity has helped the Sailors get off to a great 3-0 start against three tough opponents this year.

Sailor receivers Damari Roberson  (left) and Keyshawn Summerville. Photo/Jason Goorman.

Mona Shores will host O-K Black Conference rival Reeths-Puffer, another undefeated squad, in a Friday showdown at 7 p.m.

Summerville and Roberson were neighborhood buddies when they were small kids living in the Orchard View school district.

“We both went to OV and when I was about in third grade, his house was in front of ours, so I’d just jump the fence and we’d ball out,” Summerville said. “It was just all fun. But we’re both competitors. We both want to win at everything and anything.”

The two played youth football together, but were split up when Roberson transferred to Mona Shores in middle school.

Summerville stayed behind, developed his skills and played as a freshman and sophomore with the Orchard View varsity.

But he wasn’t doing as well in other areas of his life. Luckily he had a caring mentor – his brother JaVante Hunter – who was an assistant coach in the OV football program at the time.

Hunter, a 2010 Muskegon High School graduate, recognized his younger brother wasn’t reaching his full potential. So he had a heart-to-heart conversation with Summerville following his sophomore season with the Cardinals.

Hunter thought Summerville needed a fresh start somewhere, and suggested that he transfer to Mona Shores and play for head coach Matt Koziak, who coached at Muskegon during Hunter’s Big Red days.

“One day he told me that I should go transfer,” Summerville recalled. “So we talked to my mom about it and she agreed. And thinking more about it and my options, I knew that both of my brothers had played for Coach Koziak at Muskegon, and they both got those championship rings. But more importantly, I felt that he would be a coach that could put me on the right path.”

Summerfield transferred to Mona Shores in the middle of his sophomore year, and it made a big difference.

“Coach (Koziak) has made me grow up,” Summerville said. “I was a little childish before. My attitude wasn’t the best. But now Koziak is always on my butt. He motivates me every day to be the best person I can be. And for that, I’m very appreciative.

“My grades are getting up there. I don’t really have any colleges reaching out to me now, because my grades were bad while I was at Orchard View. But I’m thinking about going to junior college for a year and then taking the next step up. I definitely want to play football at the next level.”

Roberson said Summerville consulted with him before transferring to Shores.

“He asked me how it was going at Shores, how the school and the kids were,” Roberson said. “I told him that the teachers are understanding and willing to help.”

Big play guys

On the football field, Summerville and Roberson give the Sailors the kind of big-play threat that most coaches only dream of having.

In Week 1 at the Big House in Ann Arbor against Canton, Roberson returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, while Summerville hauled in four catches for 78 yards, including an acrobatic 38-yard reception.

Damari Roberson on his 92-yard kickoff return at the Big House. Photo/Jason Goorman

In Week 2 against Zeeland West, Roberson caught three passes for 81 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown reception. Summerville had three catches for 57 yards, including a 43-yard reception that set up the go-ahead touchdown.

They both shined last Friday in the Sailors’ thrilling overtime victory over Rockford.

Roberson, a junior and the younger brother of former Mona Shores standout Darece Roberson, had his big moment  early in the third quarter, with the score tied 7-7.

Robbins had his helmet knocked off on the prior play, forcing him to the sidelines for at least one play. Roberson stepped in at QB and executed a nice fake handoff to Dee Davis, scooted through a huge hole, bounced to the outside and leapt to the pylon for a 51-yard touchdown.

“When I was running, I was thinking, am I going to have to dive (for the end zone)?” Roberson said. “But then I decided, no, I was going to beat him in a foot race. It was kind of close at the end, but I’m a big, strong, fast guy, and it takes a lot to knock me down.”

The home crowd roared when Roberson broke off his big run, but Summerville wasn’t surprised.

Keyshawn Summerville gets ready to haul in a big catch for Mona Shores. Photo/Jason Goorman

“With Damari, I know he’s super-talented, but nothing he does surprises me, because I’ve seen him before,” Summerville said. “I mean, we grew up together, so I know what he can do.”

Summerville hauled in seven catches for 100 yards, including a remarkable fourth-quarter touchdown catch with 56 seconds remaining that put the Sailors back in the game.

On a third-and-forever in Rams’ territory, Summerville got a step behind the Rockford defensive back, and Robbins tossed a perfect 45-yeard pass into his grasp.

Summerville landed on the turf in the end zone with the ball on his chest, but only held onto it for a second before it was ripped out of his hands by defender. But he had it long enough to score a touchdown.

Roberson said Summerville used to drop key passes when they were small kids.

“He never caught those when he was younger,” Roberson said. “He would drop it and everybody would get mad. Now he makes those catches. It’s so much fun. I knew he was going to make that play against Rockford, because playmakers make plays.”