As Royal Oak High football coach Ryan Irish put it, he’s not going to be doing back flips just because the Ravens secured their second victory in the last five years after topping Ferndale High 18-13 Sept. 28.
“It was big. I know everyone has been talking about getting the monkey off of our backs, but realistically, I think the kids have been getting better every week, and I expected this three or four weeks ago. With the kids that we have and the schools that we play, I think we have some great matchups,” Irish said.
This is Irish’s first season as head coach. He was with the team last season as an assistant when it finished 1-8 overall. Previously, the Ravens had gone three seasons without a win.
The coach said the kids were, understandably, excited after the victory, their first road win since 2007, but he’s building this program to view wins as business as usual.
“The kids were going bonkers. They were enjoying it. But to be honest, I wasn’t that fired up, because I know there was more,” he said. “I’m trying to have them follow my lead. I told them that I expected it four weeks ago, and now I’m expecting another one.
“The thing I was excited about is the defense was playing physical football. I want us to be known as, ‘I don’t want to play Royal Oak next week,’ and ‘I’m glad we only play them once a year.’ That’s the mentality, and as coaches, we need to get the kids to be in it for us to be successful.”
Technically, the Ravens are guaranteed another win since Bloomfield Hills Andover canceled its season. Royal Oak’s final game is against Berkley High Oct. 19 at home. The Ravens lost to Birmingham Groves 80-59 Oct. 5 and are 1-6 overall, 1-5 in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.
Irish understands it’s been a difficult five years for the kids and those who follow the program, but he believes the tide is about to change.
“I give a lot of credit to my kids for the fact that I haven’t had any quit. That’s a testament to the kids. We’re not having a stellar season, but the kids are starting to feel that the momentum is changing,” he said. “There’s been a big rock sitting on Royal Oak football, and now I feel that moving in the direction that it’s supposed to move.”