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Posted on Sun, Aug 25, 2013 : 5:29 a.m.

A team-by-team glance at Washtenaw County's SEC White football teams in 2013

By Pete Cunningham

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The SEC White should have multiple playoff-bound teams in 2013 and Chelsea and Lincoln are top candidates.


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.


1. Chelsea
2. Tecumseh
3. Lincoln
4. Adrian
5. Ypsilanti Community
6. Dexter
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.



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2012 Record: 6-4

Coach: Brad Bush (17th year, 126-45)

Key Players: QB Scott Crews, OL Tyler Eckler, WR Zach Fosdick, LB Shon Kuhn, WR Tim Mantel, WR Alex McDougal, RB Ty Nelson, RB Ethan Whitaker.
2012 Review: Extended the longest playoff streak in Washtenaw County to 14 years despite starting the season 0-3. Went on a 6-0 run to end the regular season and finished first in the SEC White. Lost to league foe Tecumseh in the opening round of the postseason.

2013 Outlook: The Bulldogs lost two high-profile stars in Michael Steinhauer and Berkley Edwards, but coach Brad Bush believes the team can be just as successful, but with unsung heros leading the way. Led by senior linebacker Shon Kuhn, Bush believes the defense can live up to the program’s lofty standards.

Schedule Aug. 30: Lansing Sexton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6: at Belleville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13: Saline, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20: at Ypsilanti, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27: Adrian, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4: Ypsilanti Lincoln, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: at Tecumseh, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18: at Dexter, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25: at Haslett, 7 p.m.


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."


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2012 Record: 5-4

Coach: Chris Westfall (7th year, 14-41)

Key Players: DB Cedric Addie, LB L.T. Bolden, OL Devin McCallister, DB K.J. Osborn, DB/WR Dalauren Roberson, LB E.J. Shaah, QB Eugene Smith.

2012 Review: Lincoln fell one win shy of an unprecedented second straight playoff appearance, but with five wins still had what coach Chris Westfall considered a successful year. Finished fourth in the SEC White Division behind Chelsea, Tecumseh and Adrian.

2013 Outlook: The Railsplitters return six starters on offense and seven on defense to a team that came within a point of reaching the postseason last year. A new quarterback and a plethora of talented receivers make Lincoln's offense dangerous but led by seniors E.J. Shaah and J.T. Bolden, the Railsplitters’ linebackers and defense will be the strength of the team, as it has been during the program’s revival.

Aug. 30: Belleville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6: Ann Arbor Huron, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13: Temperance Bedford, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20: at Tecumseh, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27: Dexter, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4: at Chelsea, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: Adrian, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18: at Ypsilanti, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25: at Milan, 7 p.m.


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."


2012 Record: 2-7 (Willow Run), 1-8 (Ypsilanti)

Coach: Rufus Pipkins (1st/9th year, 30-42 in eight years at Willow Run)

Key Players: QB Mike Caldwell, Martez Freeman, OL Jhamiel Hill, QB Marquis Smith, LB/RB Daouda Sylla, LB Patrick Ullrich.

2012 Review: Ypsilanti High School won just a single game against one-win Dexter. Willow Run won only two games playing in the Michigan Metro Athletic Conference, which is much weaker than the Southeastern Conference.

2013 Outlook: The Ypsilanti Community High School Grizzlies football team, like the school it represents, is trying to be a whole greater than the sum of its individual parts. Both Willow Run and Ypsilanti football teams struggled with numbers, on-field performance and discipline, and in the case of Ypsilanti, coach retention.

Schedule Aug. 30: Milan, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6: at Saline, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12: at Ann Arbor Huron, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20: Chelsea, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27: at Tecumseh, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4: at Adrian, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: Dexter, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18: Ypsilanti Lincoln, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25: at Auburn Hills Avondale, 7 p.m.


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.


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2012 Record: 1-8

Coach: Ken Koenig (1st year)

Key Players: LB Chris Bryson, LB Tyler Kinzel, QB/DB Kyle Koenig, FB Eric Leon, QB/DB Matt Mitchell, DL Cole Rize.
2012 Review: Dexter started the season 0-8, but was able to avoid its first winless season since 2000 with a win against Jackson Northwest in the season finale. Four different people have been the head coach of the program since the beginning of 2012.

2013 Outlook: Dexter will run a Wing-T offense and a 4-3 defense. With all the turmoil surrounding the coaching situation over the past three years, Koenig was more worried about players’ faith in the program than Xs and Os, and is encouraged by the 95-player program-wide turnout - 45 varsity, 25 JV and 25 freshman.

Aug. 29: at Fowlerville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6: Ann Arbor Skyline, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13: at Monroe, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20: Adrian, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27: at Ypsilanti Lincoln, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4: Tecumseh, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: at Ypsilanti, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18: Chelsea, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25: at Jackson Northwest, 7 p.m.


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.

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


Corner Guy

Sun, Aug 25, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

Sorry do nota look before jumping off

Corner Guy

Sun, Aug 25, 2013 : 9:25 p.m.

How about showing the Ypsilanti football schedule.

Pete Cunningham

Sun, Aug 25, 2013 : 10:57 p.m.

Ypsi's schedule is up above. Here it is again: Aug. 30: Milan, 7 p.m. Sept. 6: at Saline, 7 p.m. Sept. 12: at Ann Arbor Huron, 7 p.m. Sept. 20: Chelsea, 7 p.m. Sept. 27: at Tecumseh, 7 p.m. Oct. 4: at Adrian, 7 p.m. Oct. 11: Dexter, 7 p.m. Oct. 18: Ypsilanti Lincoln, 7 p.m. Oct. 25: at Auburn Hills Avondale, 7 p.m.


Sun, Aug 25, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

@ C_LO429 They might even benefit from being able to keep some of their players in town since Saline is out and about stealing players from around the area. Can't believe the Saline AD hired a guy who was banned from coaching in Ohio for illegal recruiting. And is just loving this guy the way the media in Columbus loves Tressel and Urban Meyer. Shameful.

Claude Kershner

Mon, Aug 26, 2013 : 8:15 p.m.

Jensky: you can look at virtually ANY area high school and find kids who have transferred into powerhouse teams in a given sport. The problem has become so pronounced around the state the Michigan High School Athletic Association has placed a rule restricting student transfer eligibility for sports to one full year from the time of transfer. Saline is as guilty as Huron as Pioneer as Skyline for having kids transfer into school for a specific sport and/or coach.


Mon, Aug 26, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

One could shrug and dismiss this statement as sour grapes. One could also consider Zucker's statement as slanderous due to the fact that this individual seems to have some evidence that Salne is currently breaking rules. If you wish to bring an individual or organizations past issues to light and let the readers determie for themselves if there was some wrong doing, so be it... if you wish to present new informtion with no fact to back it up, you are making a defamatory allegation.

Claude Kershner

Mon, Aug 26, 2013 : 11:03 a.m.

Thankfully, beginning in 2014 the MHSAA is putting a full year ban on transfers participating in high school sports. Schools that actively recruit or parents who behave like Scott Boros now will have to factor in what a full year sit out will mean to the players future. You won't be seeing many Sophomore or any Juniors leaving for greener pastures anymore.

Pete Cunningham

Sun, Aug 25, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

One of the first questions I ever asked Palka was about the allegations against his program and him. This is what he said the day he was hired at Saline: "I feel strongly that Whitmer's done everything correctly and have cooperated fully with the investigation," Palka said. "Unfortunately, when you search Whitmer, in addition to all the good things we've accomplished, it's one of the things that pops up, but we've been open about it." ThinkingOne hit on most of the points that came of the investigation, but one I wanted to add, was at Whitmer, Alexander was declared eligible for the playoffs after the OHSAA could not find evidence of violation of any eligibility bylaws and Alexander received a court order stating that the school could not declare him ineligible due to the lack of findings in the investigation. The investigation was opened again and concluded last winter. Whitmer was found to be in violation of transfer rules, that it had initially been cleared of, and seasons in which Alexander played were nullified. Palka spoke openly to the Toledo Blade about this stating the ruling was "unfortunate," adding "if we had a court order to play [Alexander] that's what we were going to do." If there has been a "ban" it certainly has not been reported on. Read more here at the Toledo Blade, which covered the entire situation very thoroughly:


Sun, Aug 25, 2013 : 5:39 p.m.

continued... Under the court order, this student could not be declared ineligible. This is fine for the OHSAA; they can sit and do nothing. They were not allowed to declare him ineligible but on the other hand they apparently didn't have to declare him eligible either. Whitmer had no such 'do nothing' option. If they had not played him for eligibility reasons, then they would have been violating a court order. So this mess seems to be about following a court order instead of a decision that the OHSAA was prohibited from enforcing. Of course the injunction was probably lifted after the student graduated, allowing the OHSAA to move in at that time and seek redress. Also, I could not find any mention in several articles that the football coach received any sort of ban - including the mentioned 'lifetime' ban - regarding this. Nor did I see anything mentioning any ban on the basketball coach that played this person either. Not saying there wasn't more to the story, but I could not find it in about 8 - 10 stories I read. Lastly, eligibility decisions are made by the school - the AD and principal - not the coach. According to the reading I did, at Whitmer, Joe Palka was a coach and a PE teacher only. So the decision would not have been his. Was he recruiting players in general? Wasn't directly addressed in these articles. Tricky situation - court injunction v OHSAA. Not so simple. If anyone has more factual information, please add it to the discussion. I make no claim that my limited research is exhaustive.


Sun, Aug 25, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

I was not familiar with these assertions, so I did some Google-research. As is usually on here, the story is more complex than indicated. From the Toledo Blade of July 6, 2012: 'Central to the case is the eligibility of two-sport standout LeRoy Alexander. A state appellate court in May dismissed the OHSAA's appeal aimed at making Alexander ineligible, thus putting an end to the legal side of a contentious affair that began in August when Alexander obtained a preliminary injunction that withheld throughout his senior year. The OHSAA, according to Stried, contends it never declared Alexander eligible, meaning Whitmer could face forfeitures for every contest in which he participated because it permitted him to play. Alexander, who soon will begin his freshman football season at Nebraska, was a key member of Whitmer's football team that advanced to the state semifinals as well as its state runner-up basketball team. '"We never declared LeRoy Alexander eligible and the school allowed him to compete throughout the football and basketball seasons," Stried said. "We'll see where that leads to, but in past cases when a school has permitted an ineligible student to participate, those contests have been forfeited." 'Whitmer could contend that its hands were tied, given that the district was a co-defendant along with the OHSAA in the lawsuit filed by Alexander.' more...


Sun, Aug 25, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

I would really like to see Dexter and the new Ypsi teams reinvent themselves as teams in the S.E.C and have some success on the football field. I believe they need help and no better team than Saline can help. If it was up to me teams like Dexter and Ypsi would be using our Stadium and practice equip and some coaching from either Freshmen or JV coaches!!! Even if this was on a part time basis these teams would excel.

Pete Cunningham

Sun, Aug 25, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

Dexter has a great stadium, and from what I've seen fine weight training equipment, so I'm not sure having the team travel 20 minutes everyday for practice to use another team's is the solution.


Sun, Aug 25, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

WHat a joke.

Pete Cunningham

Sun, Aug 25, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Admittedly, I went with the safe pick and took Chelsea to win, but wouldn't be surprised to see Tecumseh or Lincoln be the team to beat. Lincoln looks as good as it ever has, while Tecumseh will look drastically different with the graduation of All-State quarterback Ben Dreslinski. Let's not forget that Adrian has a long, storied history as well and could bounce back, though an ever-dropping student population is working against the Maples. Who do you guys think will win the league?