The Southfield Blue Jays have lost a lot of big time players from last season's squad that made a dramatic run all the way to the final four, but in no way, shape, or form is fifth year head coach Tim Conley conceding this year as a rebuilding project. And why should he. If you are a solid program with solid roots, like Southfield is, you don't rebuild, you simply re-load. "There is a lot of athletic talent on this team and that alone will be able to keep us competitive," he said on Monday in an interview. "I don't have a ton of tape on a lof of these guys, cause the experience and playing time just isn't there, but seeing what they've been able to do this summer and in this first week of practice, I like what I see."
After watching Conley's Blue Jays go through a heated and productive practice early-Monday afternoon, I'm pretty sure there will not be that drastic drop of a drop-off on the field when the season kicks off in two weeks. Conley and his coaching staff's dogged work ethic, coupled with a group of hard working players, won't let it. Although the departure of such Blue Jays gridiron stalwarts like QB Eddie "The Real Deal" Beal, RB Tim Keith (Wayne St.), and WR's De Andre Sutton (Findlay) and Antwon Robinson (Wayne St.), will most likely prevent the team from contending for a state title like in '08, there is no reason with the type of talent left behind that the squad can't contend for the league crown and a return trip back into the playoffs - after that, anything can happen. In fact, if I know coach Conley and his troops like I think I do - watching last year's miraculous come from behind post-season wins against Dearborn and Wyandotte Roosevelt, is all i had to witness to become a believer in the gutsy Blue Jays -, I expect it.
There might be a little lack of big game experience on this team, but judging by what I saw at practice Monday, the talent is still there for sure. The addition of a few transfers will help significantly. Especially on the defensive side of the ball, where All-PSL performer, Kevin Harmon, a dominating rush end who has come over from Detroit Henry Ford, will anchor Southfield's defensive front. Harmon led the PSL in sacks in 2008, racking up a rotund 23. Offensively, transfer Brandon Watkins, formerly of Novi, is battling it out with fellow 10th grader Justin Danzy, for the Blue Jays starting QB role. Watching them throw today, both seem to have nice touch with their passes and a good feel for the offense. The decision on who ends up starting probably won't end up being made to right before the season starts against Farmington on August 28.
Helping out whoever wins the job will be the rock of the Blue Jays team this season - their powerful running game. The bruising duo of senior battering ram Maurice Davenport and junior fire plug Daevon Robinson, will be one of the better tailback duos in the entire state. Davenport, with a scholarship offer from Eastern Michigan already, will also help Harmon run the 'D' from his spot at middle linebacker.
Conley will look to senior William Lyons to be one of his major playmakers on both offense and defense. The speedy Lyons is slotted to be the team's number one receiving option and he will captain the team's secondary from his safety position. "He's one of the best pure athletes I've coached. He's got wheels and good natural evasive instinct. We expect him to make a lot of plays for us whenever he's on the field.". Senior Kalen Willis will also be pulling double duty for Conley, lining up opposite Lyons as the Blue Jays number two receiving option and helping him out in the secondary at a cornerback spot. Willis made some big plays in the team's playoff run last Nov and hopefully some of that mojo will carry over to the upcoming campaign.