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Posted on Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 11:46 p.m.

Pioneer rallies behind fired Dexter coach Tom Barbieri in 69-0 win over Dreadnaughts

By Freelance Journalist


Pioneer players lift assistant coach Tom Barbieri in celebration after defeating Dexter, 69-0. Barbieri coached at Dexter for ten years before being fired in 2010.

Daniel Brenner |

by Phil Lozen for

Forgive Pioneer assistant coach Tom Barbieri if he instinctively headed toward the west sideline Friday night at Al Ritt Field in Dexter.

Barbieri spent ten years on the sidelines for the Dreadnaughts before being fired following the 2010 season, and some habits die hard.

Barbieri, who remains a physical education teacher in Dexter, greeted the Dexter student section before the game prior to taking up his post on the Pioneer sideline and watching his new team pound the Dreadnaughts 69-0.

“(Barbieri) loves this community,” Pioneer coach Paul Test said of his assistant’s former coaching home. “He gave his heart and soul to the Dexter community for ten years, and he’s giving his heart and soul right now to Pioneer football. I’m excited for him.”

More coverage: Boxscore at | Photo Gallery | Friday night football roundup

And while Barbieri downplayed during the week any notion of his Pioneer players “winning one for Tom”, the Pioneers (1-2, 1-0 SEC Red) certainly made their mark early, and often.

The game was the Southeastern Conference opener between cross-division opponents, but it was clear the players were motivated to perform on behalf of Barbieri.

“It was on our minds,” admitted Bradley Koenig, who blocked two punts for Pioneer, returning one for a touchdown. “(Barbieri) wanted us to play our best tonight. He reminded us during the week that Dexter wanted to come out and beat us, too, so it was nice to get the win.”


Pioneer senior linebacker Tyler Jackson tackles Dexter quarterback Andy McWilliams on Friday. Pioneer defeated Dexter 69-0.

Daniel Brenner |

“It’s different looking at the field from this side,” Barbieri said after the game. “A couple times I was yelling at the Dexter kids ‘Keep playing, you’re alright’. It was just a situation where the Pioneer kids were like ‘We’ve got your back coach’ and they played with motivation tonight and you know it just makes you feel good to know someone would dedicate their performance to you.”

The game wasn’t even nine minutes old and Pioneer had only run ten offensive plays yet they already led 21-0. In that time Koenig got his blocks and a touchdown. By the time Zak Davis scored his second touchdown of the night, on a 33-yard sprint with 3:09 still to go in the first quarter, Pioneer had already gained more yards (87) than Dexter would all night (53).

Koenig was a defensive star for Pioneer, sacking Dexter quarterback Andy McWilliams and forcing a fumble that guard Thad Stalmack returned for a score in the second quarter, and then on one of the final plays of the game, storming the Dexter backfield and stealing a pitch meant for a Dexter running back and carrying that 49 yards for the final Pioneer score.

“My job was to make sure the punter kicked it on time, “Koenig said of his pair of blocks. “In both cases I saw the opening and I just got them. We pride ourselves on our “D” and to play like this tonight feels good.”

Davis scored three touchdowns for Pioneer while backfield mate Marquise Thomas added two and Anthony Radu and Darius Sanderford added one each. Quarterback Aedan York only attempted two passes the entire night.

Dexter, meanwhile, couldn’t recover from the early hole. The Dreadnaughts (0-3, 0-1 SEC White) first seven possessions ended with four punts and three fumbles. Defensively, meanwhile, Dexter never forced Pioneer into a punt or a turnover.

The Dreadnaughts couldn’t even get a break in the kick return game, as Pioneer kicker Eric Kristensen boomed kickoff after kickoff into the endzone for five touchbacks.

And the wild ride for Pioneer continues next week when they play at Saline, where current Pioneer offensive coordinator Mike Glennie coached for ten years before resigning last season. Though Test expects Glennie to downplay that aspect.

“He just wants to win, he knows Saline will be hungry for that one,” Test said.

“We needed something for confidence, but we’re mature enough to know we have a lot more work to do,” Test said, looking to his team opening the SEC Red slate next week against the 3-0 Hornets. “The SEC Red games, they’ll all be tough.”

Phil Lozen is a freelance sports writer for



Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

"Tom Barbieri in celebration after defeating Dexter", as an "ASSISTANT" defensive coach, LOL. What a joke.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 3:11 a.m.

Apparently there must have been a banana exchanged between the Dexter and Pioneer coaches during the pre game handshake...must have really rattled nerves as Coach Baird has just resigned his position at Dexter as head coach. Go to for the scoop.

John J Hubbard Jr

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 1:54 a.m.

Barbieri was hired 10 years ago. He had been tagged as coach who could build a program and turn it around and take teams to the playoffs. I graduated from Dexter in 1986. In my 4 yrs in high school we had 1 winning season. We had a stud tailback to run the ball. We won our first 4 games. He got hurt, finised the season 5-4. I had 2 nephews play for Barbieri, they were seperated by 2 years. From what I have gathered talking to them and their friends, the coaches either liked you or didn't. From what I saw on the field at all of the games I attended, he had his favorites and they played until their butts were dragging. I never saw a anyone being "coached up". By the time the 3rd quarter was over the guys on the field were spent. Never getting a break or a breather because the next guy in was to far of a step down. One of the reasons he never made the playoffs was he could not beat the big boys of the SEC, Chelsea, Saline, Pioneer, etc... He would schedule cupcakes from out of the area, pad his record and hope for the best. Sure Pioneer has very large talent pool to pull from, but they are in the SEC by need, not design. I remember the SCC, Pioneer, Huron, Adrian, Ypsilanti. That came to end when Ypsi left to join one of the MEGA Conferences. After pulling some strings, viola! SEC now had Pioneer, Huron, and Adrian. With the collapse of the Mega and Ypsilanti's major loss of students they are now in the SEC also. My Mom went to Dexter the last year they made the playoffs. You only have to win 6 games to make it. How much longer does the community have to wait? You can only blame the players or "Talent Pool". Sometimes you have to point the finger at adminstration for not doing a proper search or a coach for not having the system to fit the talent. (see U of M first season under Rich Rod)


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 3:41 a.m.

Dexter has never made the playoffs:


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

Perhaps Dexter move to smaller conference maybe put them with Manchester, and Clinton or Milan. Hey no worries Dexter fans your day will come!!! SALINE'S high caliber offence will take care of Ann Arbor Pioneer.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

As a Pioneer alumnus, I was embarrassed, not by the score, but by Pioneer trying an onside kick with such a large lead. Pioneer showed poor class and sportsmanship, something rare in Pioneer athletics.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

I'd feel better losing 69-0, than an opposing offense kneeling the ball early in the third quarter. If this is the hardest challenge your children will face, then consider yourself lucky. Foster your time by working harder to get better, no matter the result. Priorities are so out of whack on why this has any resemblance of importance.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

Fred, I don't doubt that the QB is a good hardworking kid but 1 touchdown (late in a blowout loss) in 3 games should warrant a change. Maybe a shift to a speed QB and run a triple option?? As far as the current starters, 3 straight blowout losses should mean every position is open. Maybe scrapping the season is a little strong but at minimum with the way these games are going all players should be getting significant playing time. I was told they had a big offensive line last year and they all graduated so it is unstandable that they would be struggling but you at least have to try something different. I was at the game last night and it was brutal to watch. But at least the Dexter band makes it worth the price of admission.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

The talent pool in Ann Arbor will always be too much for the small towns like Dexter to overcome no matter how much they try to "coach-em-up". You can't coach speed. S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C!!!!


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 9 p.m.



Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

Please then explain Dexter's success and State Championships in other sports.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 4:32 p.m.

What a true classless act on the part of Pioneer and its coach. Way to kick the kids while their down just to make it personal. What a shame high school sports are turning in to.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 6 p.m.

It was 35-0 and the ball was being kicked from the 50 yard line after a Dexter personal foul.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 5:52 p.m.

I was at the game. It was pretty classless. I believe the score was 42-0 or 49-0 when Pioneer tried an on-side kick after a touchdown. Even the parents in the Pioneer section were cringing. The starting running backs were still running the ball on counter action plays in the 2nd half. After you are up by 5 or so TDs in a high school game, would it be that bad to put in the subs and just run dive plays? Oh well.....just my $0.02....


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

I wasn't at the game so it's tough for me to say. However, looking at the box score, it appears as if Pioneer may have cleared their bench for most of the 2nd half. It was 49-0 at half-time. At some point, there's only so much a school can do in terms of not running up the score. Further, it does not appear as if Pioneer were using a repeated deep ball threat to pile on. Instead, Zak Davis had three touchdown runs in the first quarter. He gave way to two Marquise Thomas TD runs in the second quarter. The other two first half scores came via punt block and fumble recovery. The two second half touchdown runs came from a third and fourth running back, which suggests it could have been backups or underclassmen making plays there. The third (and final) touchdown of the second half came via fumble recovery. I fully understand I could be way off, but it seems as if Pioneer would have had to go utterly and completely out of their way NOT to score in this game. What would have been more embarrassing, losing 69-0 or losing 42-0 with the winning team taking a knee from midway through the 2nd quarter all the way through the final horn?

say it plain

Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 3:48 p.m.

The comments I'm seeing here about Dexter Football makes me envious in a way lol... Wouldn't it be nice if school systems in MI could just opt the heck out of big 'successful' football programs?! I think it would. I think of the money and energy that could be spent instead on fun, fairly competitive intramural type programs that got lots of kids learning some sports and getting physical activity. Flag football games that helped kids learn the strategies (well, *some* anyway lol) of the game, get to run around on a pretty field, etc. Then we wouldn't have to spend extra energy plotting and analysing how to create a "winning" program and avoid a "losing" program and all that... The kids and parents who want to have little local team rivalries with lots of energy and money spent on coaching and gear and such could still pay for their travel teams and ask the local papers to cover it all, and the majority of kids and parents who don't play at this 'level' could have the resources available for the smaller activities that more people could happily participate in. Yes, maybe Dexter is somehow not winning football games because the administration doesn't make it a priority lol. I don't have any clue about their football "issues", but low-priority football sounds pretty fine to me :-) !


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

The real story is the fact that Dexter has never been to the playoffs. The program has just two winning seasons since 1989 – both under Barbieri. Barbieri inherited a program that had gone 0-9 the year before he arrived - 22-68 over the 10-yr period before his arrival. That timeline includes a season with an administrator trying to be a football coach & a season with Canton's current coach (who has perennial winning seasons). Yes, Dexter was 'only' 30-60 in the 10 yrs Barbieri was there. He did have 2 winning seasons just missing the playoffs in his last year. Dexter was a class B school of 917 students on his arrival playing the likes of Ann Arbor Pioneer (2500-3300 students during those years), Bedford (1600+), Saline (1500+). Monroe (2000+) – all programs with solid football pedigrees and much larger than Dexter. Add to that successful programs at Adrian and Chelsea and you have a difficult road to navigate. That's football. The long term level of losing season highlights a systematic problem that is more than any single coach; it is a culture. That culture starts at the top, with how little the school board and administration support the football program. Was 10 years for Barbieri enough? Maybe. But despite the initial enthusiasm and a senior-laden team last year, the results to date doesn't show that the new regime has moved the program closer to success. Is it the new coaches? Maybe. Or is it the culture?


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

This is an online news article written to generate clicks on the website trying to make something compelling about a good program beating one that isn't good. It is not a balanced review of Barbieri's career, nor is it a balanced attempt to understand why Dexter has not been successful. That would take an investigative effort into what former players and coaches have experienced in trying to produce winning seasons. That simply isn't worth a writer's time & effort in today's world of journalism. It holds little interest outside of local debate. But sitting in the stands, one could not help but recognize a return in energy back to the days when the most compelling reason people from Dexter came to the football game was to hear the band. That is a significant step backwards for the program and for what occurs on the field before and after halftime.

say it plain

Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

Ick, *that's* what the money we don't have that we spend on Varsity Sports in AAPS teaches our highschool "athletes", wow?! Vengeance? Dexter fired this dude, so he gets to preside over a score run-up just to, just to, *what* exactly? Teach sportsmanship and good citizenship?! My own baser instincts lead me to hope Pioneer gets the receiving end of this early and often for their 'performance' lol... "Classy" doesn't seem to be all too associated with the school lately...crapping on "rivals'" fields and cutting their nets as senior 'pranks', running up scores... reported last week that Pioneer's head coach led a little prayer session before the game against Brother Rice...did this week's prayers go something like "Dear Lord, please lead us to resounding, embarrassing victory over it for Barbieri"?!


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

Barbieri is a defensive assistant coach, not the offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator nor the head coach. It's not in his purview to 'run it up'. Get over it. And yes, they fired him, so he can go wherever he wants and coach. Pioneer already got waxed twice this year, so what exactly do you want?


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

Before the season, Baird commented that last year's team that had all the experience and talent " did not buy in to his program". After how Dexter performed in the first 3 games, you can understand what they didn't buy into. Maybe it is time to try something different with the offense. Has the back-up QB played yet because the offense isn't moving now so why not a change? How about scrapping this season and play more underclassmen so you can have experience for next season.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

"Did not buy into his program" = Blaming the kids. The Dexter QB is a good kid who works his butt off. Hard to try someone different at QB when the opposing defensive line has a free run at the QB every play. It isn't fair to kids who earned starting spots to "scrap the season" after 3 games and put them on the bench. That being said, if the team is losing 49-0 at halftime, the backups should be in the game playing the entire 2nd half to give them "experience for next [or this] season".


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

Pioneer threw 2 passes and handed the ball to 7 different running backs. They scored on special teams and defense as well. Coach barbieri is a good man who loves the dexter community. The pioneer team played hard for him and manhandled dexter. It was not classless. It was a whooping. I too live in dexter


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

And Dexter continues our proud tradition of losing. I think in my 4 years of HS they won a total of 2 games.

Jeff Reimold

Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

Hey Nick not dangerous, have you been to Dexter? They have not had a winning program alot longer than when Coach Barbieri started...Last SEC title: 1963...Its on their wall at the school. Get your facts striaght.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

Yes, he had some fine athletes, but Pioneer had 3 times the students, therefore (at least) 3 times the number of fine athletes. Simple math.

Nick Danger

Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 2 p.m.

He came on the assumption of turning the program around.He has had some fine athletes but still could not produce a winning season .Also,I thought it was a classless act to humiliate a high school team for your own revenge.Pioneer ran up the score .lastly,I live in Dexter


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

Ok, let me get this right in my mind. asked fans to vote for the game of the week and they picked Skyline vs Lincoln and now that story is third in today's coverage. So why even ask us to vote?


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 6:55 p.m.

Not surprising, this past March the headline of the article about the individual wrestling state finals was not the young man who was the highest placer from Washtenaw County, but another placer. Not that the other wrestler did not deserve the attention, but one would think the top placer would have gotten the same amount of attention.

say it plain

Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

I'm guessing staff are likely to be Pioneer alum, is why ;-)

Paula Gardner

Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

Here's the story on that game:


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

I think a mercy rule makes sense in one-sided massacres like this. The victors look like bad sports just piling on unmercifully and the losers have to feel terrible. Who wins? Barbieri has to feel a little smug beating the team that he used to coach. Is that enough of a reason to beat a team 69-0? Stay classy, Pioneer.

Nick Danger

Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 11:51 a.m.

Barbieri had 10 years to build a program at Dexter and he simply did not do the job. Some coach's florish as assistants but don't have what it takes to be a head coach


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

When discussing public school athletics I'm not sure it's ever as simple as blaming a head coach for a school's struggles, particularly when the program's ineptitude far outlasts that particular coach's tenure. I think it's quite common for many schools to have student bodies who tend to gravitate toward certain sports while avoiding others. In a situation like Dexter's, a coach can do what he can to attempt to move more athletes toward the football field but at the end of the day, he still must work with what he has. And to be sure, the quality of a coach certainly matters in the success of any athletic program, but it's but a small part of the entire equation.