LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – On the final Thursday of the high school football offseason, a lot of our prep teams packed their bags for their first scrimmage of the season.

Before Potterville loaded the bus for a scrimmage in East Jackson, 6 Sports stopped by the high school to check on the Pirates. And after talking with fifth-year coach David Matthews, it wasn’t a surprise to find the team getting a pre-scrimmage lift in.

“When I got here in 2017, I was the fourth coach in four years, inherited 14 losses in a row,” Matthews said. “My big thing is our kids had to learn how to win Monday through Thursday. We had to show up every day and work, and then we had to get year-round lifting going on.”

“We had a lot more guys in the weight room than the last couple of years,” senior offensive tackle and defensive tackle, Abraham Hanna said. “We’ve had a couple of seniors step up this year, hitting it hard. A lot of these guys are a lot bigger this year than last year.”

The Pirates went 3-4 last season, winning three games in a row for the first time in 12 years, and the senior and junior class that returns, bring back plenty of experience.

“Abraham started for me as a freshman, a 13-year-old freshman,” Matthews said. “People don’t realize in 2018 and 2019, when we had one team, I had freshman and sophomores playing. This is the first year my offensive line is going to be made up of all juniors and seniors.”

Potterville opens the season on Aug. 27 at home against Muskegon Heights Academy.

6 Sports also caught up the Sexton football team before it boarded a bus, for a scrimmage in Battle Creek. Which marks the first time since the 2019 season Sexton will line up against someone other than themselves.

The Big Reds didn’t have a season last year, due to the Lansing School District canceling all fall sports, and because of it, fourth-year head coach Johnel Davis will have just five players with varsity experience.

In fact, one of the seniors, Kobe Rochester, will be playing in his first-ever football game when Sexton opens the season on Aug. 27 versus Lansing Everett. Rochester was a wrestler and weightlifter prior to joining the football and plans to play fullback, nose guard, and linebacker this season. His plan was to play last year, but we had to know why he decided to come out for the team?

“A lot of it was the constant pressure coach would put on me every time he would see me in the hall, to get me in the locker room, playing with these guys. And then once I saw the team bonding and family atmosphere that were coming behind it, I was like ‘I want to be a part of that,'” Rochester said.

With no season last year, Sexton still made the most of their fall in 2020. Davis got his kids involved with a program from Detroit called ‘Sound Mind, Sound Body,’ which allowed his players to zoom with college coaches and prep for the ACT.

“I’ve been a part of ‘Sound Mind, Sound Body.’ As a coach, I would travel down and work camps to work with the youths and mentor them. Since I had a relationship with Curtis Blackwell already, we linked up on that project to bring some hope to the young men in this community.”

“We were able to get new shoes, they provided them for us, and t-shirts at a camp that we did at Eastern,” Rochester said. “We got to see what coaches are looking for. I was able to go and speak with Olivet and a couple of other colleges.”