A team-by-team glance at Washtenaw County's SEC White football teams in 2013
- A team-by-team glance at Washtenaw County's SEC Red football teams in 2013
- A team-by-team glance at Washtenaw County's other football teams in 2013
Perennial league power Chelsea swept its SEC White competition during the regular season last year, only to be eliminated from the playoffs by league foe Tecumseh. Even with the stars of those respective teams are gone - Chelsea running back Berkley Edwards to the University of Minnesota and Tecumseh quarterback Ben Dreslinski to Northwood University - the Indians and Bulldogs look like teams heading for another collision course atop the league standings and in the playoffs.That would make 15 straight years of postseason football for the Bulldogs under coach Brad Bush and the start of the first playoff streak in Tecumseh since the Indians made it three years in a row from 2000-02.
Both squads should have strong defenses led by senior middle linebackers, Shon Kuhn in Chelsea and Preston Pelham in Tecumseh, who was All-State as a junior.
The SEC White has had two playoff teams six of the eight years of its existence, but only once had three, in 2011 when Lincoln made the postseason for the first time in program history.
The Railsplitters were a turnover-plagued, one-point loss to Adrian away from making it three again last year. While they have the talent on both sides of the ball to give the league three postseason teams again, neither Dexter, Ypsilanti Community nor Adrian appear equipped to make similar pushes.
SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE WHITE DIVISIONCHELSEA BULLDOGS
Long-time coach Brad Bush said that in the absence of individual stars like Berkley Edwards or Nick Hill before him, this will be “more of your typical Chelsea team,” with “guys you haven’t heard of before that are going to have to step up.”
One of those guys will be senior quarterback Scott Crews. Crews has patiently waited his turn and will now be in charge of a more balanced attack, rather than the run-heavy offense with Edwards or Hill.
"(Crews) waited his turn," Bush said. "He played a lot of scout team, played a lot of times when it didn’t count, but he’s been a guy that we’ve thought of can be very good since the time he was in seventh grade."
Coaches said Crews has taken command of the team and the leadership early on, something that can't necessarily be taught, is the final piece of the puzzle to make it his team.
Protecting Crews and leading the way for the running game will be left tackle Tyler Eckler, a 6-3, 245 pound senior with Division I potential, and a nice luxury will be 6-4 wide receiver Tim Mantel.
"Crews could be a really good quarterback and he’s going to have to put more on his shoulders than we have lately (at the position)," Bush said. "We’ve been such a run dominated team, we’re going to be more balanced."LINCOLN RAILSPLITTERS
Two years ago Lincoln made the playoffs for the first time in program history. Last year the Railsplitters came within one win of doing it again.
This Lincoln team may be better than both of those squads. Coach Chris Westfall certainly thinks so.
"This is far and away the deepest team, talent-wise we’ve ever had," Westfall said.
And with 53 players, it's the deepest team the program's had, period, during Westfall's tenure. That can be attributed to the emphasis on offseason training.
"After the season we’ve all been in the weight room, all been running. We haven’t stopped football honestly," said senior wide receiver Delauren Roberson. "We’ve just been running, grinding every day."
Even among all the returners -- six on offense, seven on defense -- possibly the most valuable breakout player for the Railsplitters will be junior quarterback, Eugene Smith, a first-year starter. Smith is every bit of 6-3, 215 with the type of arm that can utilize Lincoln’s plethora of talented receivers and with the speedy Roberson, Lincoln's passing game will be dangerous.
But defense is where Westfall believes the Railsplitters are strongest.
"We have expectations as a defense and especially as linebackers," said senior linebacker L.T. Bolden. "It's our job to live up to those expectations."YPSILANTI COMMUNITY GRIZZLIES
Ypsilanti Community High School wasn't even technically a place until July, so the team that has come out of the merger between the Ypsilanti and Willow Run districts is, understandably, playing catch up.
"Ever since we started we feel like we’ve been playing catch up. Through all the transitions and everything that we have to go through and getting a late start," said coach Rufus Pipkins. "Plus we’ve always looked at ourselves as behind the eight ball because these kids have a new staff."
Pipkins noted that for the former Ypsilanti High School players, which comprise roughly 75 percent of the roster, he is their third coach in an as many years.
Pipkins said he and his staff have been spreading themselves thin and utilizing both Willow Run and Ypsilanti campuses to try to make up for lost time.
"We’ve tried to take advantage of everything we can do under the laws of Michigan high school rules," Pipkins said. "Just taking advantage of every minute."
A lot of teams will likely be able to beat the Grizzlies, but Pipkins wants to make sure the Grizzlies don’t beat themselves.
"Just looking at game films, the amount of mistakes - penalties, turnovers, unnecessary penalties - those stick out. So we’re working on continuity, eliminating mistakes, big and small,” Pipkins said.DEXTER DREADNAUGHTS
To say the past year has been tumultuous for the Dexter High School football team qualifies as the understatement of the year. Here's a recap: former head coach Brian Baird resigned after a Week 3 blowout loss to Pioneer and was replaced by Ryan Fisher on an interim basis. Mike Glennie was hired in the offseason only to resign after one month on the job, and longtime assistant Ken Koenig was hired in May.
And this of course is just three years removed from Tom Barbieri's firing, giving Dexter four coaches since 2012 and five since 2010. Pretty sure that's a record.
The good news? The turnout has been high compared to previous years.
“Given the circumstances that the program has gone through in the last 9-10 months, with the coaches switching, it’s good to see,” Koenig said.
Koenig said Dexter's will operate out of the Wing-T on offense with the occasional shotgun formation. Who will be running that offense was still a mystery a week into practice with Kyle Koenig (Ken's son) and Matt Mitchell battling every step of the way.
Koenig believes linebacker could be a position of strength for the Dreadnaughts behind Tyler Kinzel and Chris Bryson.