LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Day three of the 6 Sports Two-A-Days coverage featured stops at a pair of CAAC Blue rivals, Grand Ledge and Okemos.
Grand Ledge will be relying heavily on its senior class this season. As of Aug. 10, the Comets have 37 players on the roster and more than 20 of them are going to be seniors this season. Head coach Joe Brya believes his team got stronger this offseason and has great trust in his seniors to lead the way.
“Our senior class has come a long way,” Brya said. “Their freshman year, this senior class didn’t win a single game in freshman football. They were 0-9 and to have this group of kids stay with it, over 20 guys now, still, stay with the program, says a lot about their character, and I’m really excited for the opportunity that they’re going to have on the field, as a varsity group this year.”
“We’re motivated,” Grand Ledge senior wide receiver and safety, Ethan McCartney said. “We stuck together, stayed committed, got in the weight room, improved. So we’re excited to try and prove everybody wrong and beat teams that they don’t think we should beat.”
Grand Ledge will open the season on the road against Coldwater, on Aug. 26.
As of Okemos, it lacks a big senior class. As a matter of fact, three weeks ago the program lacked in total numbers for the entire team.
After Mike Krumm stepped down, Brad Lilly was named interim coach and has since doubled the number of players within the program. When he took over, Okemos had less than 20 players, now it has 34 players, between freshman and varsity, and that number is expected to grow over the next couple of weeks.
Lilly was able to reach that number by channeling his inner salesman with kids in the area.
“We’ve been shaking the tree here and seeing what’s falling out,” Lilly said. “I’ve gone door-to-door and knocking on doors. Everybody I talk to, everybody I see, I ask if they want to play football.”
“He did tell us, he would come out to the field, occasionally, and try to find kids, who would want to play. He went door-to-door, going to the mall, coming to the school, just anything he possibly can to try and get kids to come out,” Okemos senior running back, linebacker, and captain Miles Bell said.
Okemos will open the season at home against Mason, on Aug. 26, and Lilly has seen his fair share of support from the community since he took over.
“I’ve seen a lot of outpouring support from business, from residents here, from players and parents, and administrators as well,” Lilly said. “I think everybody loves Okemos football. Everybody is ready to get behind this team, and see a turnaround, see some redemption.”
“As a new coach, he’s doing a fantastic,” Bell said. “He’s doing everything he possibly can to get our team in the place that it needs to be.”