Oakland Christian coach reflects on historic season

By: Timothy Pontzer | Rochester Post | Published December 5, 2017

 Auburn Hills Oakland Christian senior tailback Hunter Washington runs past a Southfield Christian defender during a contest earlier this season. The Lancers piled up 329 total points this season, which was the most in school history.

Auburn Hills Oakland Christian senior tailback Hunter Washington runs past a Southfield Christian defender during a contest earlier this season. The Lancers piled up 329 total points this season, which was the most in school history.

Photo provided by Tammy Villemure

In one season, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian football accounted for nearly one quarter of the program’s all-time total wins.

The Lancers finished the year at 7-3, notching several firsts for a team that has collected 29 total victories since its inception in 2008. The campaign marked the first winning season in Oakland Christian history.

“During the summer and preseason workouts, I looked at our team and was excited,” Oakland Christian coach Robert Novy said after a team banquet Nov. 16. “I was comfortable that we were going to do well, but we still had to go out there and do it. We had 26 kids, and everyone realized this was definitely the most talented team we’ve ever had here.”

Novy’s club scored 329 points this season, shattering the program’s previous record by over 100. On defense, another mark was set, allowing only 143 points for the lowest in the school’s 10 seasons of football.

“We had great leaders on this team, many playing both sides,” Novy said. “With our size, most guys go both ways, and we were able to put some playmakers out there.”

Novy pointed to his batch of seniors for the success, citing quarterback Josh Siminski, tailback Hunter Washington, and wideouts Seth Williams and Ryder Patterson. Each of those players also started on defense. In addition, five of the club’s seven seniors had experience with Novy dating back to middle school.

A 1982 graduate of Utica Eisenhower, Novy starred as a defensive back and wide receiver for Ike before playing at Adrian College. He returned to coach the freshman team at Malow Middle School and the JV side at Eisenhower. He also spent over a decade on the sidelines of youth teams at Utica St. Lawrence and Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes before helming the Oakland Christian middle school team.

After two years as an assistant with the varsity unit for the Lancers, Novy was promoted to head coach, his first lead varsity position.

“I’m very thankful for Oakland Christian and the journey this has been,” Novy said. “I coached some of these kids through our youth teams and saw them grow into their roles. That’s what it takes to build a program, and that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

Novy’s first year saw the Lancers finish the 2015 season at 0-9. Two years later, the Lancers were going to the playoffs and making program history.

An Oct. 27 playoff victory over league rival Sterling Heights Parkway Christian marked the first time the club had ever earned a win in the postseason. The 34-6 decision occurred only 21 days after Parkway had topped the Lancers by two touchdowns in the regular season.

“That moment is something these kids will be able to enjoy for the rest of their lives,” Novy said. “That win means so much to what we’re trying to do here. It’s a credit to the seniors. After the Parkway regular-season game, I met with the core group and told them we were a little too fixated on stats. They all bought in, and it was vindication. Parkway beat us 58-0 in 2015, and we went to their field that night and really dominated them.”

The Lancers’ season ended in a Division 8 district final, falling 20-0 to Clarkston Everest Collegiate Nov. 3. Despite the loss, Novy was proud of his group.

“I can’t say enough good things about this team,” Novy said. “They left their mark. Our goal is to play for the (Michigan Independent Athletic Conference) championship, then to make the playoffs, and then to play in November.”

An undefeated Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest took the MIAC crown, but the latter two goals were achieved. For his efforts, Novy was named Coach of the Year in the MIAC, something he likened to a popularity contest.

“It’s nice, but I voted for (Lutheran Northwest coach Rick) Alkire,” Novy said. “It’s just something else to dust off at the house. I obviously can’t get it without these guys, and I’d trade it right now for a win over Everest.”

Novy and his team will have a chance to beat Everest, scheduling a playoff rematch for Week 1 next year.

“It’s definitely something to look forward to, but at the same time, it will be a new group, and it will be about how well we prepare,” Novy explained. “We’re also losing these great seniors, and it will be up to the underclassmen to take on that leadership. In our league, winning can be cyclical based on who you have, so we hope to try and maintain what we’ve got going on here.”