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Grosse Pointe Woods

May 15, 2013

Cimini returns to Liggett sidelines, set to guide football program again

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Coach Dan Cimini, far left, is pictured with his team in 2010. Cimini is set to return to the Knights’ sideline this fall.

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — From the abyss to the playoffs, Dan Cimini had done the unthinkable with the Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett football program.

And then, with a solid footing established, he stepped aside to focus solely on a baseball program that was on the cusp of greatness.

It was 2011, and months after reviving Liggett on the gridiron, Cimini stood at home plate in Battle Creek with a Division 4 baseball state championship trophy over his head.

The plan had worked.

Football was back and baseball was on top.

But Cimini remained an uncomfortable observer during the fall months.

“It was tough to watch (football) and not be part of it,” he said last week.

Well, he’s part of it again.

When Lou Ray stepped down following the 2012 season, Cimini was the logical choice to step back in.

“I care so much about this program,” Cimini said. “I think football is a big part of athletics here. I just know I can do the job of keeping it alive.”

Cimini served as coach from 2000 until the program was shut down some six years later.

He then played a huge part in bringing it back in 2009, even picking up a couple of wins that first season.

By 2010, the Knights had a 6-3 regular season and made the state playoffs.

Ray took over in 2011, and the Knights went 9-1 and 8-3 in his two seasons.

However, the number of kids playing in that time greatly declined.

In Cimini’s second year back with the team, 33 guys were on the roster.

At the end of last season, the squad had just 19.

“The goal for me is make sure playing football here is fun,” Cimini said. “We had fun even when we struggled with wins and losses. We’re going to come out, compete, work hard and enjoy our time as a football team. … We want an excitement about this program. We want kids to want to play for us and be part of this.”

With 11 seniors gone from the 2012 team, Cimini knows he’s taking on somewhat of a rebuilding project, again. But he said he’s already heard about good numbers for next season, where he hopes to field a team of at least 30.

“It’s going to take some time, and we know that,” he added. “But it can’t always be about wins and losses. My feeling is, if you generate interest, if you get kids excited and wanting to play for you, the winning will eventually take care of itself.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.