LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – If there’s one thing Lansing Sexton’s football team made clear it’s this: A three-win season is not going to cut it in 2022.
Johnel Davis is back for his fifth year and fourth season (team didn’t play in 2020) as Sexton’s coach and there’s no place he’d rather be than at his alma mater.
This season the strength of his team is the offensive line – and that’s putting it lightly. Sexton’s anchor up front is senior center Niko Quesada and it’s easy to see why.
“I’m 305 LBS., probably 6-foot tall,” Quesada said. “Our guards are around 6-foot-1, 6-foot-22, 270 LBS., and our tackles are around 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4, probably around 290 lbs. Others 340 LBS. So we’re a big group of guys but the coaches really emphasis we have to move fast and not slow our running backs down.”
Senior running back DeVon Hodges-Smith said, “We got a big, big, heavy line this year. Everybody’s 6-foot-3 and up. So, I know, if I get the ball they’re going to block for me of course. So, I’ll be okay.”
Staying in the CAAC Red, Portland is motivated by last season’s results to advance farther in the postseason and get back to Ford Field.
In 2021, the Red Raiders defeated Division 3 runner-up DeWitt but suffered losses to league champ Lansing Catholic in the regular season, and Marine City in the Division 5 state semifinal.
Portland turned the ball over five times in the loss to Marine City and know that can’t happen in order to win it all.
“That’s definitely my motivation every time I’m lifting. I just think about Marine City and how they took away what we were trying to accomplish,” senior offensive tackle Brady Krause said.
Portland lose size on their line due to graduation, but the team made up for that with gains in the weight room. Know for their ‘ground and pound’ mentality, the Raiders like what they have this season.
“We’re kind of small, we don’t have a ton of size but we have a lot of speed and a lot of tough kids,” Portland coach John Novara said. “They feel like they’re one of the better teams around.”
Senior running back Drew Miller said, “Everybody’s been willing to put in the work. Nobody’s skipping out at all. They all know what our goal is, and are willing to put in the work.”