Canton eyes another postseason run as practice begins

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Canton — It’s bright and early on Monday morning when about 60 players take the field at Canton High School to open up practice for the upcoming football season.

Coach Tim Baechler and his staff watched on just after 8 a.m. as players loosened up with different exercises before moving on to special-teams drills — first punt team, then kickoff.

Teams throughout the state can practice with just helmets Monday and Tuesday, then with helmets and shoulder pads Wednesday and Thursday, before being allowed to be in full pads Friday for the first day of full-contact practice.

Baechler, starting his 19th year at Canton, said the team has a key injury with senior running back Reid McDonnell out for six weeks with a right ankle injury. McDonnell was at practice, getting around on crutches while watching his teammates at work, including senior quarterback Joel Foster, who was tossing the football around.

Baechler has his son, 5-foot-10, 210-pound junior linebacker Lou Baechler among his 12 returning starters from a 10-3 team which advanced to the Division 1 state semifinals, falling to Detroit Cass Tech, 48-41.

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Canton also has 5-7, 185-pound senior running back Markus Sanders back. Sanders rushed for 2,000 yards his sophomore year when the Chiefs advanced to the regional final, then 2,495 yards last season.

Sanders is still without a Division 1 or 2 college offer, but says he will just let the recruiting process take care of itself. He just wants to have a successful season and that means another long postseason run.

Sanders has worked hard to put himself in the best shape possible. He played at 175 pounds with 4.68 speed a year ago. He says he is now at 5-7 1-2, 185 pounds with 4.58 speed. He attended camps at Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan and Wayne State this summer.

“I ran track last spring and I’ve been practicing on running the 40 to get my time down,” Sanders said. “I went to some camps this summer. The coaches just gave me some more things to use within my game, just add to my arsenal.

“It’s my senior year and I’m confident. I worked hard on conditioning, getting stronger and quicker. We all did. We had great chemistry last year and that led to our deep run. We played well together and we’re going to do the same this year. This team will be fun to watch.”