Monday was the first day of high school football practice in Michigan and The Detroit News visited a few area teams. Here is the report from Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
Orchard Lake — Orchard Lake St. Mary’s won three straight Division 3 state championships from 2014-16 — then went 2-6 and 3-6 the last two years.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s seniors Kameron Arnold and Grant Henson are confident that the Eaglets are back on the right track.
“First day feels good, just getting the guys out here and working hard,” said Arnold, a 6-1, 210-pound receiver/safety who has a 3.7 grade-point average. “Everybody knows what they are doing, being in the right spot. I was at workouts every day this summer, working hard in the weight room, trying to lead by example, pushing every rep.
“This year means everything. We want to get our respect back, make sure St. Mary’s is back to where we were (state champs). We have a lot of depth, a lot of experience, so we should be good this year.”
Henson and Arnold were both members of St. Mary’s Division 2 state championship baseball team this past spring. Now, they want to lift another championship trophy.
Henson, who has a 4.05 GPA, is a former linebacker who is now the starting quarterback.
“We just finished the first session, feel it went great, got the timing down with our receivers, got our plays in, running backs getting our timing down too,” Henson said. “We have three or four offensive linemen coming back. They have the experience and depth. They have their communications skills down. They know how to block, when to block, the protections. They know my speed, so if I leave the pocket they know what to do.”
Henson feels right at home at quarterback, which wasn’t always the case last year.
“I have a lot more confidence now,” said Henson, who started the last seven games last season. “It’s easier, makes the game more fun. I can make my reads. I can get the ball to the athletes more. Kam Arnold is a crazy athlete. He’s probably the hardest worker on the team. He’s a playmaker and I’ll try to get the ball to him as much as possible.
“Last year, I was kind of just thrown into it a little bit. Now, I know I’m a leader, and we’ll go kind of as far as I can take them. When we came in we were coming off the three-peat state title. The expectations are high here. These last two seasons aren’t acceptable. The coaches have told us seniors that this is our time, our last chance to leave a legacy at St. Mary’s. We want to win a state championship, and I feel we have a good chance to do it.”
Coach George Porritt is entering his 30th season at St. Mary’s. He has guided his teams to 13 state championship game appearances and seven state titles. He said he has 50 players out this season, up from 39 a year ago.
“I’m very pleased with how our numbers popped up, and it shows in our depth,” said Porritt, who then talked about Arnold and Henson. “They’ve played, they’ve been in those big games already. I think they’re hungry because we haven’t had success lately. They’re intelligent players and they lead by example.”