Michigan high school football teams get acclimated to cold to finish playoffs

David Goricki
The Detroit News

High school football coaches were back at work Monday, gathering up their players over the weekend so they could get back to practice for the final weeks of the postseason, which gets underway Jan. 2 with regional championships at stake.

Detroit Country Day coach Dan MacLean has the luxury of having an indoor facility at his school.

Still, MacLean was running practice outdoors Monday morning so his players could get acclimated to the cold weather.

West Bloomfield running back Donovan Edwards runs drills with his team during practice Monday.

After all, the high school season is usually over Thanksgiving weekend, but the season was halted after district title games were completed the weekend of Nov. 13-14.

“It’s a great option for us and we’re going to go indoors if the weather is bad but right now we’re outside,” MacLean said.

Gov. Whitmer put a three-week pause on the season Nov. 15, then another 12-day pause just before the original pause was set to expire.

Country Day (6-2), which lost in the Division 4 state championship game last season, will play a regional title game at North Branch (9-0), which is led by running back Brandon Martin (1,403 yards, 20 TDs).

More: Michigan high school football playoffs schedule: Regionals

Tyrone Spencer doesn’t have the luxury of an indoor facility at Detroit King, needing to get out in the cold with his players.

Spencer held practice Monday afternoon, preparing King for a home game with defending Division 3 state champion River Rouge.

Spencer knows he needs to get his offense ready for a mammoth River Rouge defensive front that  includes junior Davonte Miles (6-5, 275) and Central Michigan-bound Pius Odjugo (6-3, 320).

Miles committed to Michigan over the weekend.

“Those are some big guys that they have up front, so we definitely have to get going, but they have to deal with the same layoff as us,” said Spencer of River Rouge.

King lost to Muskegon Mona Shores in last year’s Division 2 state championship game, winning the Division 3 state title in 2018.

Zdebski at it again

Mike Zdebski was a successful coach at Walled Lake Western for nearly 20 years, guiding Western to the Division 1 state championship in 1999 at the Pontiac Silverdome, then to the Division 2 state title game in 2016 at Ford Field, losing to King in Spencer’s first year as head coach, 18-0.

Zdebski moved to Arizona following the 2017 season, suffered through a 3-7 record his first year at Chandler Hamilton while rebuilding the program, then guided Hamilton to the state semifinals last season.

Due to the pandemic, Zdebski’s season was pushed back a few weeks, but his team then stormed its way to the state championship game where it lost to No. 5 nationally ranked Chandler – which had 13 players sign National Letters of Intent last week – 23-21 in the state championship game, missing a short would-be game-winning field goal on the final play.

Zdebski helped develop Jerry Rice’s son, Brenden Rice, last year. Rice has enjoyed a solid season at Colorado as a true freshman, grabbing a 61-yard TD catch in a 38-21 loss to Utah.