Rod Beard and Dave Goricki preview the 2018 high school football season The Detroit News
This is the fourth in a series on Farmington Hills Harrison’s final football season.
Farmington Hills — Max Martin was tossing the football around prior to practice Monday afternoon at Farmington Hills Harrison.
Martin, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior, doesn’t know where he will be a year from now since Harrison is closing its doors for good following the 2018-19 school year.
But, then again Martin knows he will be just fine wherever he ends up. After all, Martin is multi-talented on and off the field, owning a 3.80 grade-point average while having his hands in everything, including dance, acting and singing.
However, Martin is only focused on the here and now, which will mark the final season of Harrison’s powerful legacy on the football field. He will open as starting quarterback while playing safety on defense when Harrison hosts North Farmington Friday night.
“I like to kind of dip around in different fields and just find something that I like and then I stick with it,” Martin said. “I’m in a dance group, I try to do the musical, I make rap music and play basketball and football. I’m also in the IB program right now at school so I’m probably going to follow that, want to get into engineering in college, really interested in the automotive industry.”
So, what’s this dance group that Martin is involved in?
“I’m in a dance group called the Earth Angels,” Martin said. “We do like '50s, '60s swing dance and other things like that. We performed at Disney World a couple of years ago, at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame earlier this summer. It was a lot of fun. In last year’s musical 'Hairspray,' I was Seaweed and that was a lot of fun.
“I’m committed to football right now and don’t like to get distracted by other things so I’ll cancel my dance and all the other stuff, but I love to do them when I have the time.”
As much as Martin has enjoyed his time in dance and plays, he is totally focused on just football this fall, a season he hopes ends in the state playoffs at Ford Field on Thanksgiving weekend.
“This season is so important to me and I look at it as my senior year since the school is closing and I’m not really worried about where I’m going, just worried about here and now,” Martin said. “We’re just going to work and grow as a team and hopefully impress a lot of people around the world.
“I’m playing quarterback, just happy to do whatever I can to help the team and right now the coaches feel it’s at quarterback and so do I. As a quarterback, I feel my strength is being a double threat where I can run or throw. Our offensive line is amazing and it’s great to have a running back like Rod Heard behind me. We have a lot of weapons too, Ben Williams, receivers like Trenton Ramsey, John Wright, Delwan (Gaston) and at tight end Sylvon Brown.”
John Herrington is entering his 49th year as Harrison’s head coach, also owning the title as the state’s winningest coach (435-108, .800). He plans to start Martin and also use Dave Hiser at quarterback, putting the ball in Heard’s hands at times in the wildcat. Heard, a Northwestern commit, rushed for 1,538 yards and 23 touchdowns last season when Harrison finished 10-4, losing to Muskegon in the Division 3 state title game.
“Max is really good, has good hands and is quick, very agile,” said senior left tackle Maverick Hansen, who is a Central Michigan commit. “I’m fired up about playing. I’ve been waiting to play since I stopped playing in that state championship game last year. We can be great. We’ve seen what we can do last Thursday against West Bloomfield and Walled Lake Western in our scrimmage, beat West Bloomfield and tied Western.”
Herrington was impressed with how Harrison performed in the scrimmage against West Bloomfield — ranked No. 9 in The Detroit News preseason rankings — and No. 12 Walled Lake Western.
“We did really well in the scrimmage,” said Herrington, taking a swig of his Monster Energy drink before leading his team in practice. “I was really encouraged by everything. Defense played really well, running backs were good and the quarterbacks progressed a little. We are ready to go.
“Max will start at quarterback. It’s his job to lose now and we’ll see how he does this week. We hope to use them (Martin, Hiser) both and then we can evaluate a little better. Max is 6-3 and can run pretty well. He’s real smart. He just has to develop accuracy, make good decisions and not turn over the ball.”
When asked if had any surprises in the scrimmage, Herrington replied: “Mike Alford played really well. He’s a small linebacker who can play. He’s fast and made some really good stops.”
Alford, 5-7 and 160 pounds, will be starting for the first time his senior year.
“It feels good to start, especially at my size because usually, people are big at my position,” Alford said. “I just use my speed. I feel our defense has a chance to be very good. We have a lot of great players, guys like John Wright at strong safety and Sylvon Brown up front.”