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Posted on Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

Longtime Willow Run football coach Rufus Pipkins lands Ypsilanti Community Schools job

By Kyle Austin


Long-time Willow Run football coach Rufus Pipkins, pictured above, has been hired as the football coach for the new Ypsilanti Community Schools merged district.

Lon Horwedel | file photo

Updated at 2:10 p.m. with comments from Rufus Pipkins and at 3:15 with comments from Lamanzer Williams

Rufus Pipkins has been named the first head football coach for the Ypsilanti Community Schools, the district announced on its website on Monday.

Pipkins has spent the last eight years as the head coach at Willow Run, and more than 25 years total coaching football in the area.

Pipkins compiled a 30-42 record at Willow Run. That includes three winning seasons and one playoff appearance and win, in 2010, the program's first since 1981. Last year, the Flyers finished 2-7.

Pipkins will lead a football program combined from Ypsilanti High School and Willow Run High School. Ra-Mon Watkins coached Ypsilanti last year in his first year as head coach, guiding the Phoenix to a 1-8 mark.

Pipkins will be working with a truncated offseason schedule, with just 12 weeks until the first week of games. The first order of business, he said, will be identifying students at both schools who played on last year's teams and others who could be interested in joining the new team.

Once he does address his new team, Pipkins said he will focus on the positives.

“I don’t want to bring in any type of excuse mentality," Pipkins said. "You sometimes have to go with the cards that you’ve been dealt. Nobody’s played a game yet.

“We won’t address any negative statements about being behind and getting a new coach, the new coach’s philosophy and type of play and all. We’ll try to stay as positive as possible.”

New YCS athletic director Lamanzer Williams said Pipkins' positivity was one of the things that stood out about Pipkins during the hiring process.

“From what I’ve gathered just listening to people around the athletic department at our new high school, they felt like not only have we not been successful, they felt like the coaches haven’t been the most positive or uplifting people," Williams said. "So anybody that knows Rufus, man he can find some positive out of anything.”

Williams said Pipkins' accomplishments at Willow Run given the circumstances was also a key factor.

"He did a whole lot at Willow Run with minimal resources, no numbers and not a whole lot of support," Pipkins said. "That was key.

“I just know he’s about doing things the right way, and I know he can make a really bad situation really positive.”

Pipkins is the second YCS athletic department hire, after Williams was hired nearly a month ago as athletic director.

Williams is a former Willow Run player, and coached with Pipkins on the Willow Run staff after finishing his NFL career.

“It’s always great to have a working relationship with somebody that you know, and you probably get a lot of things addressed easier,” Pipkins said.

Williams was hired after the coaches hiring process had already been initiated, and said he re-interviewed Pipkins and other coaching candidates before providing his input to the hiring committee, which included students, parents and teachers from both schools, and administrators.

Kyle Austin covers sports for He can be reached at or 734-623-2535. Follow him on Twitter @KAustin_AA.



Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 11:17 a.m.

Really Mr. NFL, none of the coaches were " positive influence" I find that hard to believe, and that you spoke to anyone about all the coaches at Ypsi, like all the coaches from WR were so much better. No success at Ypsi? did you look at the Ypsi vs WR records? 06, 07 seasons before Ypsi went to SEC play. Well, Ypsi was 2 - 0 those years over the Flyers with back to back Mega Titles, the JV games were Ypsi blowouts over the Flyers I recall, outscoring Pipkins's future varsity players 110 - 6. That tells me Ypsi was building the Better program under Dave Pool, unfortunately for coach Pool he made one bad comment to his kids using a word the kids should not have been using fluently as they do in the first place, and we all know what I'm speaking of. Pool was 25 - 11 going into the 09 season, Malloy finished the season and was the coach until Watkins took over. So what coaches are you referring to yourself? Ypsi has had the better Win / Loss records over the past eight season going 33-39 with three different coaching staffs while Willow Run 8 season under one coach 30 - 42, some of the coaches who were apart of those Ypsi staffs had to do something right, we all know the ones getting it done behind the screen often go unrecognized. A clear case here, too bad for Ypsi football players as the WR kids get to keep their coach, and the Ypsi kids are once again under new leadership. Sounds like You were going with Rufus no matter what! I'd like to see how well he scored on his interviews compared to the other candidates.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

This is a great post. The coaches at Ypsi have been far superior then those at WR. Even the last 2 coaches at Ypsi even though they were not very good at connecting with the kids would be superior to Coach Pipkins. As far as candidates interviewed. I believe there were five and when ranked Pipkins was no. 5. There were some former assistant football coaches that were with Ypsi that were big parts of the program doing so well under Dave Poole. They were part of beating WR at that time. They all would have been better choices then the one made. This decision will come back and bite the administration. Not a good start to a new path.

Chad Williams

Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

As i said before Ypsi besides bball and track has been trash at every sport. Their football team aint no top ranked team either. They need someone familiar not only with the players but Ypsilantii in general. Bringing in someone new that dont know nothing about the history of either school dont help. Willow run although still have bad seasons has improved in the 8 years pipkins at coach and thats with an average of 25-30 players a year. Ypsi has never had to field a football team with 25 players.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

"So anybody that knows Rufus, man he can find some positive out of anything." "I just know he's about doing things the right way, and I know he can make a really bad situation really positive." There hasn't been any talk about him actually being qualified for the position. Sure, it's great that he is a positive guy and positivity is definitely needed after the debacle of a merger so far, but maybe Williams should have been looking for quality and winning instead of just positivity?


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

Best of luck Ru.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

This is the worst possible hire that could have happened. There were much better candiates then this guy. He is going to be exposed very early into this season. This is a case of an inexperienced, unqualified AD making a choice based on friendship. If the new district is going a new direction, then both if theses hires don't make since and this starts with the hire of the superintendent. Hiring him is leading to the hiring and demise of this school district before it gets started.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

Spot on. With all the talk of a new direction and a new path and yadah yadah yadah, they just keep rehiring the failing aspects of the old regimes while spurning any actual change. Although hindsight is usually 20/20, I would imagine most people who voted for the merger could go back and review their vote, they would change their vote to nay. Or at least I would. This is not what we were told would be coming. Once again, no ill will toward Pipkins...but his hire just shows that there is no leadership in the new district that is willing to change the system like we were promised.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 2:57 a.m.

Here is something to think about. Lamanzer Willis 2-16 in his last two football seasons. Rufus Pipkins 6-12 in his last two seasons. And three of Willow Run's wins against Detroit Allen. The Grizzlies are in trouble I think.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 4:59 a.m.

I guess they are trying to focus more on education than sports?

Kick the Can

Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 11:51 p.m.

I told you hiring Lamanzer Williams would be the kiss of death. Not only did Ypsilanti hire a AD that no one else wanted and who was ineffective in his other jobs, now they let that same person hire a football coach who is a joke in this area. Whose next? Does Williams have some more friends in Willow Run that want coaching jobs. How does anyone justify these decisions.


Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 9:52 p.m.

First of all there hasn't been a decent coach at Ypsi high in years. The coaches they had in the past were poor motivators, non-educators and had a horrible football IQ. From the students that has played for this coach and their family who has observed him, likes him very much. The only reason their record is low is because low enrollment and finding kids to be interested in playing football. Most of these kids nowadays aren't into sports like before. He had young talent and took them to their first playoff in 0ver 20 years. He's not only a players coach but has the players and schools interest at heart. Quiet as kept, he has been offered to coach at many other schools. I think before you condemn someone before he has a chance to make something with a combined talent of Willow Run and Ypsilanti kids. Put your emotions and prejudice aside and give him a chance. I have seen him coach and he's done pretty good with the little talent the he gets. So give him a chance first and stop all this bickering. You are mad because of the merger. Leave it alone and let it go. It's happening, Deal with it. You never know, it might have a remember the titans effect. But we won't know until you give it a try.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 4:59 a.m.

I think you are missing the point. Ypsi and WR were both bad teams. Neither coach deserved the job. This was supposed to be a chance to start over and it seems like we are just bringing back the same characters who took both of the school systems down. I am sure that Mr. Pipkins is a great guy and he could even be a football genius for all we know, but we do know, based upon his record, that he is a losing coach. And losing coaches should not get new jobs....or be hired to be the AD for the district. The new district needs new blood and new mindset. The more old people we bring back the more that we just bring back the old issues and their failing results.


Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 11:12 p.m.

There were no discipline on the Ypsi team neither. But apparently his track record is better than these other knuckleheads they had. I have witness Ypsi coaches and non of them were any good. Sorry but I have been at the games and seen the team dwindle during the season. I understand your gripe, but it is what is. If he can bringa positive attitude to these players, which they need through this, then I am all for it. Just wait and see what happens first is what all I am saying.


Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

Name one job this guy been offered, come on now! Every body knows Rufus is Lamanzer's boy and they keeping every thing in the Willow Run family. I don't have to say nothing more, the truth will come out once this team starts practicing. Stuff will be unorganized and they won't be any discipline on this team. Kids will be quitting like crazy once they start getting whipped in the SEC. Its going to be just like Willow Run football has been in the past.


Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 9:40 p.m.

Have the people who made this decision seen the Willow Run football team since Pipkins took over? The program was as bad as any around this year. Forget the fact that they made the playoffs once in Pipkins 8 years of coaching. That was due to a lot of talent and a really bad schedule. Pipkins won't have that luxury now. There isn't much talent left and the SEC is going to expose him as the weak coach he is. This is really too bad.


Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 9:13 p.m.

Another thing that no one is talking about is how people in the new Ypsi sport programs are telling the kids if they transfer to other schools they will have to sit out for entire year. That is a complete and utter lie!! ALL STUDENTS OF THE NEW YPSI SCHOOL WILL BE ABLE TO TRANSFER ANYWHERE WITHOUT HAVING TO SIT OUT AT ALL. MHSAA transfer "rule 7" states that students MAY TRANSFER from any School that is reorganized or consolidated -Your Welcome


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

It looks like the coach and AD are on the same page as usual at Ypsi.

Kyle Austin

Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

You're right, TheGospel. I can't speak to what students are being told, but that was my understanding of the transfer rule as possible. Pipkins told me yesterday that he hadn't heard of any football players transferring, but Williams said he knows of eight that have.


Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

And they think this is going to improve the schools it seems like we hear more talk about sports then the education!


Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 8:29 p.m.

You had to expect something like this was coming. The board, as well as the people that it has hired, have lacked the guts to actually go out and try to do what they said they were going to do...which was "create a destination district." (their words, not mine). Instead, they have taken bits and pieces of both districts, and not always the best parts, and made one district that was weaker than the two it replaced.


Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

SOS. The ultimate issue in this "merger" is that the same people on whose watch both districts were mismanaged are still there! They take turns acquiescing to each other to protect their own positions, while the kids are lost in the shuffle. All the board members should have stepped down, as well as the administration staff. Now this group of failures will be given another opportunity? Thank God my kids are gone from the district!


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 1:46 a.m.

You are dead right, Live2ride. By keeping both Board presidents, they kept the spirit both YPS and WR boards intact. What you are seeing is a series of political decisions where the interests of those in control supercede objective quality. This consolidated board is nothing more than a megalomaniac version of the political problems with the two prior. Nothing different in ways to establish control...just different players. Sad.

Friendly Guy

Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 10:28 p.m.

This post has nothing to do with this article! Go find another headline to post post those remarks.