Former player announced as head coach of St. Mary’s football program

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published January 26, 2022

 Former Orchard Lake St. Mary’s football player Jermaine Gonzales has been named as the program’s new head coach.

Former Orchard Lake St. Mary’s football player Jermaine Gonzales has been named as the program’s new head coach.

Photo provided by Lisa Healy

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ORCHARD LAKE — After having just one head coach patrol the sidelines for the past 32 seasons, the Orchard Lake St. Mary’s football team will have a new leader next season.

It has been announced that Jermaine Gonzales will take over for George Porritt.

During his tenure with St. Mary’s, Porritt helped lead the football program to seven state championships and 14 league championships.

He was inducted into the Catholic High School League Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Michigan High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame last year.

In 2007, Porritt was selected as the Army National High School Football Coach of the Year.

Prior to last season, he announced it would be his last season coaching the Eaglets. He is also set to retire as the school’s athletic director at the end of the 2021-2022 school term.

Although he has a new role, Gonzales is not an unfamiliar face at St. Mary’s.

He is a Prep Class of 2000 St. Mary’s graduate who played for Porritt prior to joining the University of Michigan on a full football scholarship.

Gonzales joined the St. Mary’s coaching staff in 2005 as the freshman football assistant coach, also serving as the offensive coordinator.

He eventually became the junior varsity head coach, which is a position he held from 2007 to 2019.

According to a press release, during that time, he led the JV program to multiple Catholic High School League championships.

Gonzales also served as the school’s JV head basketball coach from 2015 to 2019.

“It was a blessing to attend OLSM,” he stated in the release. “I not only became a man of St. Mary’s, but learned a lot as an athlete. The St. Mary’s way emphasizes ‘the team’ and being part of a shared commitment. Under coach Porritt, I learned great values about football and life.”

After graduating from Michigan in 2004, according to the release, he built a “successful” career in sales, eventually becoming one of Xfinity’s “top-ranked, award-winning representatives.”

In 2019, Gonzales founded the Orchard Lake Cardinals Youth Athletics program, “so young people would have opportunities in a program that emphasizes integrity, sportsmanship and strong fundamentals.”

The football and cheer teams, with some 135 boys and girls, plus a waiting list, officially launched in 2021 in the Michigan Youth Football & Cheer Conference and came away with a championship in November.

Gonzales’ former coach shared some thoughts about him via the release.

“Jermaine is a man of great character that all St. Mary’s students, athletes and non-athletes will look up to,” Porritt stated. “He is a man of God of the highest integrity.”

St. Mary’s Preparatory Headmaster Bob Pyles also shared a lofty opinion of Gonzales.

“He’s a man of St. Mary’s,” Pyles stated. “He cares, reaches out to people and makes great connections.”

Gonzales and his wife, Stephanie, met in fifth grade, were married in 2007, and are raising three sons: Jabin, Caleb and Elijah.

“We are a team, especially in supporting each other in all that we do, including my new role at OLSM,” Gonzales stated. “Becoming the head varsity football coach of Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Preparatory is a dream come true. Life has come full circle for me, from being a young man from Pontiac who went to OLSM, then U of M, before returning to my alma mater to mentor young athletes. It is surreal to me.”

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