SOUTHFIELD — Southfield High wrestling coach Vernon Burden noted that his grapplers don’t know it yet, because they’re focused on winning a league title, but this season has the potential to garner a few more trophies.
“I don’t want to jinx us, but we’re looking at having a very special season,” Burden said as the team practiced Nov. 19.
The coach said the No. 1 goal every year is to win the league title, which the Blue Jays accomplished last season in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division — capturing the dual and tournament championships.
Beyond the regular season, Burden has his sights set on a district and possibly a regional title, especially now that Southfield has moved to Division 2 after competing in D-1 in the past.
The Blue Jays return six wrestlers from last year’s starting lineup, and three more who saw significant time.
Some keys to accomplishing those lofty goals include how quickly the younger wrestlers at the lower weights improve and if they can fill the void left at the heavier weights from graduation.
“Basically, our heavyweights were our leaders last year,” 135-pound senior Delando Davis-Wright said. “This year, it’s our middleweights, so we have to focus and be the leaders.”
Seniors Ken Daniels (152) and Daquan Taylor (135-140), and junior Davion Williams (130) join Davis-Wright as the core middleweights.
Daniels lost only four matches all of last season, and Williams has already logged more than 25 matches during the offseason going to various camps.
“The best thing about Davion: countless guys that he wrestled last year were on the podium at The Palace,” Burdent said. “He wrestled six minutes with them. He’s a six-minute wrestler and a tough kid.”
At the heavyweights, the Blue Jays are counting on three wrestlers new to the program in junior Roderick Tubbs, who wrestles between 189-215 and transferred in from Melvindale, and junior Mackenze Holder and sophomore Makene Culpepper, who will try to solidify 285. They came from Walled Lake Central and Hazel Park High, respectively.
Catch the Blue Jays against Birmingham Brother Rice at 6 p.m. Dec. 5 at Rice.