I was out at football practice at West Bloomfield High School today and was quite impressed with what I saw. There's no doubt the Lakers - 6-3 and a DI playoff qualifier last year after winning three in the row the conclude the regular season - lost some quality personnel to graduation. Replacing the likes of QB Ryan Christianson, RB Eric Ellis, WR Chris Hurst, and defensive linemen Tony and 'Twan Credit, won't be easy. However, after seeing 3rd year head coach James Thomas the '10 WB squad in person this afternoon, I am quite certain there will not be much of a drop off in the success this season. If the team's uncertain quarterbacking situation stabilizes, the Lakers could be very dangerous.
First off, watching Thomas coach is like watching a great war general. The man is the personification of inspirational and has his players thoroughly disciplined. They hang on his every word and buy into everything he is selling. The Kentucky born and bred Thomas, who had a previous stint at Pontiac Northern prior to coming over to WB, also exhibits the important ability to connect with his players on a personal level that translates to tough-as-nails performance on the field. Him and his staff - which now includes former NFL player and UofMichigan star Ron Bellamy helping out with the offense - run one of the better programs in the area.
Now, although there may be some big names gone, the Lakers' cubbard is far from bare. Talent still resides and there's plenty of it on both ends of the ball. On offense, senior WR/return specialist Cameron Fields will be the unit's on-field leader. He's crafty and fast and destined to be one of the county's leading pass catchers this season from his position in the slot. Aaron White on the end will keep opposing d-backs honest with his wheels. Vincent Simpson, a mack-truck disguised as a bullheaded running back, will anchor the team's running game, while junior Phil Brown and senior Josh Levine are battling out for starting quarterback duties. Both Brown and Levine led their respective JV teams to undefeated seasons in '07 and '08 and although Brown had the early advantage, following the first two days of camp, Levine is pushing hard for the job and looks to have pulled even in the competition.
The 'D' is going to be good too. Just like Fields, who was overshadowed in the past, this unit has a number of players that might not be the biggest names in the area, but are formidable talents in their own right. Linebacker, Matt Judon, is an athletic dynamo in the mold of a Julian Peterson, with sideline to sideline speed. Judon, getting looks from several MAC schools, will be the squad's QB on 'D'. A lot of people have not heard about Judon right now, but the kid's skills speak for themselves. The kid's for real, plain and simple. Could end up a bonafide game changer. Safety Aaron Foster - also a wide out opposite White on the split end - leads a sticky and spidery defensive back unit which calls itself "The Wolf Pack" and will cause problems for opposing receivers.