Farmington Hills Harrison will close its doors for good at the end of the 2018-19 school year in June, but key members of the football coaching staff have found a new challenge.
Former longtime Harrison assistant Jon Herstein is the new head coach at North Farmington, getting the job over the holiday season, then putting his staff together. He replaces Bob Chiesa, who was head coach at North the last two years, going 3-6 this past fall.
Legendary Harrison coach John Herrington plans to work alongside Herstein as a volunteer coach.
“My first hire was Coach Herrington,” said Herstein. “I said I got to make sure to get him or I’d be missing out in a big way, so the first person I called was Coach. I think he’s really excited. He’s one of my best friends and we have a great time together.
“He’s going to help out on the offense and we’ll kind of work the offense the same way we have the last several years between Coach Herrington, Mill Coleman and myself – all of us having input. I will be the offensive coordinator, but those guys will be instrumental in getting our offense up and running.”
Herrington started Harrison’s program in 1970 before the 36-year-old Herstein was born, departing with a state-record 443 victories and 13 state championships, the last one coming with Herstein on board as a line coach in 2010 (Division 2). Harrison advanced to the Division 3 state title game in 2017, losing to Muskegon, and finished 8-4 this past fall, losing to Chelsea in a Division 4 regional final.
“It’s a relief for all of us coaches,” said Herstein, who played at Wayne State, then joined Herrington’s staff in 2007. “You build a camaraderie and you think about staying together as a staff, a group you enjoy working with so much and continue to be able to give back to the community we love so much."
Dave Thorne, a longtime assistant at Harrison and most recently the defensive coordinator, will also be on the North Farmington staff. Eric Johnson will be working with the special teams.
“Billy Slobin, who was our strength and conditioning coach at Harrison, will be joining us at North,” Herstein said. “He’s a close friend and a great guy and he’ll continue on with us. We’ve already started with our weight training and the kids are excited about it. Scott Fifield will be staying with us after being at North Farmington a long time.”
North Farmington has struggled – 5-22 the last three years – with its last playoff win coming in 1978, and Herstein and his staff are excited to turn around the program. North competes in the OAA Blue, the lowest of the three divisions.
“We’re excited because they may have been down for a while, but there’s been some really good tradition (at North),” Herstein said. “One of things I’m probably most excited about is that they have some really good things going on at North as far as excellent academics, and they’ve had other good athletic programs, a good basketball program, track and field, baseball and golf.
“We’re going to have about 15 players from the Harrison program coming over to North. They are very committed and really excited about the new challenge. They are in a unique position where they understand the expectations and we’re going to expect them to be leaders. They’ve been coming to the weight trainings that we’ve had. We’ve had great turnout of students from both schools on a regular basis for weight training and the kids seem very excited to get better and learn.”
Sylvon Brown, Myles Hunt, Andrew Dooley and Jireh Alexander will be among the Harrison players moving on to North, but Max Martin, Andrew Ojemudia and Ejri Oghoufo will be attending Farmington.
Herrington is thrilled for Herstein.
“He’s ready to be a head coach, did a great job with us the last 12, 13 years and he’ll do a great job at North Farmington,” said Herrington, who plans to take a trip to the Florida Keys next month, then travel to Arizona to visit with former Harrison quarterback Drew Stanton.
“Mill and I will help run the offense with him, but he’ll call the plays. I’m excited that he wants me to help out. It will be fun. We’re excited to get going.”
Herstein’s head coaching debut will be against Waterford Kettering at North Farmington in late August with non-conference games set for Okemos in Week 7 and Ypsilanti Lincoln in Week 9.