Team of the Week: Okemos’ will to persevere

Team of the week

OKEMOS, Mich. (WLNS) – It’s been over two years now since the Okemos football team has won a game, but you’d never know it by the demeanor at practice. It’s spirited and does not resemble a team that’s been shut out 244-0 over its last four games.

Interim football coach, Brad Lilly said, “I think the kid’s love for the game shines through and I think, you know, we’ve got soccer and band kids that are filling our roster so we try and celebrate just our little victories.”

Victories like the one that occurred last Friday against St. Joseph, when soccer player turned punter Tyler Kliewer blasted a 66-yarder for his longest of the season.

“It’s just a lot of fun to be out here with my friends and just getting better,” Kliewer said.

Yes. Fun is how Kliewer describes Okemos’ 0-and-5 year and it’s due to Lilly’s approach, but just exactly how does he celebrate their little victories?

“We bought helmet stickers. We have an O with a lightning bolt through it for the offensive plays that are momentum, and on defense, we have an O with a skull in it. We give those out for special teams and for defense,” Lilly said.

Every time Kliewer has a punt over 35 yards, on goes a sticker, and currently he’s sporting 11 on his helmet. As for Ronald Morris, who swamped his trumpet for a pair of cleats, he has three stickers. However, the stickers are not why he wanted to be a part of this team.

“I think that you should always represent what’s important to you and for me, our school is important, and just wearing a jersey is always important,” Morris said. “So, no matter where I’m going or what team I’m doing you always have to represent what you do.”

It’s Okemos’ inherent pride for its school and its community that keeps them coming back every week despite the final number on the scoreboard.

“I’m just so proud of our kids and the way that they’ve shown up. Week after week and the adversity that they’ve faced and overcome,” Lilly said. “In life, we all get knocked down but not everybody gets back up, and these kids get up every single time.”

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