LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – High school football teams all across the state of Michigan hit the practice field on Monday, August 9 to begin the 2021 campaign. Or as country singer Kenny Chesney would say, “The Boys of Fall” are back.
The Haslett Vikings were rip, roarin’ and ready to go at 8:30 a.m. and practiced until 10:30 a.m. for their first practice of the year. They also put in work later in the day from 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Brad Thomas is the new boss man in ‘H-Town’ and was formally named the Vikings’ new head coach in February after he and Jeff Woodworth served as co-interim coaches in 2020 following Charlie Otlewski’s retirement.
You could say being a head coach is in Thomas’ blood. His Dad was the head football coach at South Lyon for many years and the players even went to bat for him this offseason.
“I love him,” said Danny Ash. “I love to see him there. I pushed for it. I talked to the athletic director (Darin Ferguson). I wanted coach Thomas to be head coach and I’m glad he’s there and I think he’s taking this in the right direction. We wrote a huge letter of recommendation. Had all the team sign it. It was nerve racking at first because we really didn’t know what was going to happen, but I know deep down he’s the man for the job so it worked out.”
“It just feels great to have the opportunity to take what Charlie did, he did an awesome job here for so many years, and build off that,” said Thomas. “Put your own stamp on things. It’s exciting.”
The Vikings were 2-5 in 2020 and haven’t won a game in the CAAC Red since October of 2018, but they should be strong up front with three returning starters on the offensive line. Now that Thomas officially has the reigns he has a word he’s been trying to hammer home with his guys.
“We use the term S.T.E.P.S. overall for what we’re using as a program,” said Thomas. “It stands for strength, toughness, effort, pride, and shoulder to shoulder. It kind of stands for all the things we stand for as a program, but on the field we place a heavy emphasis on being aggressive and trust with your teammates. Those two things have been huge. None of us are perfect. We’re never going to make every tackle. We’re never going to make every block. We strive for that, but you know staying aggressive and battling through those mistakes that’s something we spent a lot of time really harping on with the guys. It’s ok to not be perfect, but it’s not ok to not give great effort.”
The very first stop on our 6 Sports Two-A-Days tour around mid-Michigan took us to Jackson High late Sunday night. However things didn’t exactly go as planned for coach Scott Farley and the Vikings. In his 29 years of coaching he has never head the lights not come on for a midnight practice to kick off the season.
There’s a lot of construction taking place around Tony Dungy Field, which caused the issue, and Farley was forced to call practice just a few minutes after midnight.
Jackson is coming off a 3-4 season and will have a fairly young team this year, but thankfully for Farley a lot of his players were able to get varsity experience due to a new rule that was put in place last season.
“One of the things that was helpful last year was the MHSAA created a five quarter rule where guys could play five quarters,” said Farley. “So our JV players dressed for a lot of varsity games and were a part of the varsity experience. A number of them got playing time in those varsity games so I think that really helped speed up the process and I think it will help us overcome those growing pains early on.”
Be sure to stay with 6 Sports for the next 14 days for our Two-A-Days coverage. We’ll be visiting 28 schools in 14 days and we may just show up at a field near you!