Southfield High football coach Tim Conley knows the difficulties his two defensive linemen, Lawrence Marshall and Malik McDowell, present for opposing offenses.
He sees it firsthand.
“We go (first team) against (first team) quite a bit in practice, trying to improve our offensive line. It’s really difficult to block McDowell and Marshall. We usually have to hold them,” Conley said with a laugh Sept. 11. “They’re real big, strong and physical. They’re a load to block. It just puts a lot of pressure on an offensive coordinator.”
Southfield’s defense has allowed just more than eight points per game this season, leading it to a 2-1 record overall and 2-0 mark in the Oakland Activities Association White Division.
“We’re always trying to take over the game,” McDowell said.
Conley said the squad needs to improve on turnovers and penalties, two areas of the game that cost the Bluejays in week one against the two-time defending state champion Detroit Cass Tech. Southfield lost 18-14.
The Bluejays play in arguably the toughest division in the state, with the likes of Farmington Hills Harrison, Oak Park High, Rochester Adams, Oxford High and Farmington High, among others.
“We have a hard division this year, but we’re ready for it,” Marshall said. “We just have to play as a team; no one play as an ‘I’ guy. Just play as a unit.”
Part of that confidence comes from Southfield’s approach to its future opponents.
“All the teams are good. For us, even though we were playing the No. 1 team in the state (Cass Tech), we didn’t make a huge deal out of it,” Conley said. “We try to keep the kids even-keel so we can get them ready for the schedule ahead.
“Our main thing we talk about is improving every week. That’s our mantra, and to get the kids to understand what their job is on the field, whether it be special teams, offense or defense.”
Catch Southfield against Oak Park High in a battle for first place in the White at 6 p.m. Sept. 20 at Oak Park.