LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – For the first time on the 6 Sports Two-A-Days journey, a pair of CMAC teams are in the spotlight.
Stop No. 15 led us to John Spicer’s Fowler Eagles, who are coming off a 6-3 season. One of those losses came in the Div. 8 District Championship game, 21-2, to Carson City-Crystal.
That loss served as motivation for the Eagles in the offseason, especially when the 2021 schedule was released and Fowler was slated to open the season at Carson City-Crystal, on Aug. 27.
“This was our best year in the weight room by far, in the three years,” third-year coach Spicer said. “With our speed and agility, and all that, our numbers were by far the best they’ve been.”
“We have great experience and it’s been great effort all summer long,” Fowler senior quarterback, Chase Pung said. “I think we’re just ready to play on Friday nights. With more fans coming it’s going to be more amped up, better atmosphere, and I’m just ready to play.”
The Eagles have 22 players on the team this year and ten of them will be seniors. As for the junior class, they have benefited from being able to play in middle school. The current juniors were the first class that had the opportunity to play in middle school, and so far it’s made coaching a bit easier for Spicer.
“We can see the football knowledge is a lot better with those kids now, and some of the fundamentals, with the blocking and tackling,” Spicer said.
“With the middle school program starting, I can see the guys that are coming up playing JV now aren’t scared to tackle and take a hit,” Pung said.
A quick hop, skip, and a jump from Fowler, the Pirates of Pewamo-Westphalia were out having fun on their practice field.
Ninth-year head coach of the Pirates, Jeremy Miller had the team start practice by playing a game called ‘Pirate Ball’, which uses the skills of football, rugby, hockey, and basketball.
P-W keeps it loose and fun during parts of practice, but come Friday nights the Pirates will be out for blood. Last season, P-W had its season come to an end after COVID-19 forced the team to forfeit in the playoffs. The forfeit ended any chance P-W had to win back-to-back state titles in Div. 7.
“I think more than anything, it can motivate you because you know it can be over in any minute,” Miller said. “For many years you said that, but you were like ‘Well, really?’. Last year it actually happened and I think our kids have an appreciation for that.”
“We didn’t get to finish what we started. So we’re motivated by that. We’re upset that we couldn’t show everyone what we could have done,” P-W senior fullback and linebacker, Brock Thelen said. “Every time we all came in for our workouts, we all went really hard, lifted hard, and we came out here and focused on the playbook.”
At P-W it seems there’s never a rebuild under Miller, who has won three state titles with the Pirates (’16, ’17, ’19), it’s only a reload. A key reason the Pirates have had success on the football field is due to many student-athletes being multi-sport athletes.
“You could have a kid who is a really good football player, but they were a role player on the basketball team and that’s important,” Miller said. “We do a nice job here, of the coaches scheduling things so kids can do what they want. I love it. I think it’s great and I think more kids should play as many sports as they can.”
“We see each other year-round. Every sport we’re seeing each other. So you build that close bond of knowing what they can do and what you can do, and it carries over into the next sport,” Thelen said.