Lawrence Technological University named Clinton Township Chippewa Valley’s Scott Merchant the head coach of its football program on Dec. 19.

Lawrence Technological University named Clinton Township Chippewa Valley’s Scott Merchant the head coach of its football program on Dec. 19.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

Chippewa Valley’s Merchant named head football coach at Lawrence Tech

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | C&G Newspapers | Published December 28, 2023


CLINTON TOWNSHIP/SOUTHFIELD — Lawrence Technological University football has been on the upswing since its revival in 2017 after a 60-year absence, and the program just made a major splash by hiring a Hall of Fame coach.

Scott Merchant, a staple of Clinton Township Chippewa Valley football during his coaching tenure from 2009 to 2023, was named the head football coach at Lawrence Tech on Dec. 19.

“We believe Scott (Merchant) will be a fine leader for the young men in our football program,” Lawrence Technological University Director of Football Operations Lou Bitonti said in a press release. “The coaching staff he is putting together are people who have coached at a high level and are educators in their own right, who will teach our players what it takes to be great students, great athletes, and great representatives of Lawrence Tech, both on and off the field.”

Merchant was inducted into Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2022 after coaching 30 years at the high school and college level. Getting his coaching career started at Albion College as an assistant, Merchant’s tenure from 1993 to 1997 included a Division III national championship for Albion in 1994.

After Albion, Merchant was the head football coach at University of Detroit Jesuit from 1998 to 2006 and an assistant at Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice in 2007 and 2008 before landing at Chippewa Valley.

Merchant’s impact on the Chippewa Valley football program was immeasurable during his time with the Big Reds, compiling a 104-53 record and earning a Division 1 state championship in 2018. He was named a Regional Coach of the Year six times and Coach of the Year in 2018. He led the team to three Macomb Area Conference Red Division championships and four district championships. Chippewa Valley has made 12 consecutive playoff appearances under Merchant.

“The Chippewa community is special,” Merchant said. “They love their school whether they’re in it, parents or alumni. They have a lot of pride. They took a lot of pride in all their programs. Mike Carr, Bob Schroeder, and those guys really started the foundation of Chippewa football back in the late ’80s with coach Schroeder and then coach Carr. I was fortunate to kind of take over a good program and kind of put my own spin on it. It was great to be a part of the community. That’s one of the difficult things is when you leave a place you love, there’s people that you care about and a program you put 15 years of blood, sweat and tears into and you’re very happy. It makes it very difficult to leave.”

Merchant and the Big Reds also made a significant impact in the community as well, earning academic all-state accolades, the Steve Spicer Award for community service and raising thousands of dollars for the Van Andel Institute for cancer research and the Wounded Warrior Project.

It will be a difficult task for Chippewa Valley to replace Merchant and what he’s been able to accomplish during his tenure, but Merchant’s focus will now be on turning a Lawrence Tech team that has suffered back-to-back losing seasons into a consistent winner. The Blue Devils finished 3-7 in 2023.

“One thing about my job as the head football coach is to attract the right student athletes,” Merchant said. “It has to be the right fit. It has to be the right fit for them, and they need to be the right fit for us. The type of player I’m looking for is obviously someone who has ability not only on the field but in the classroom. Lawrence Tech is a strong academic institution, so if you don’t like school or you struggle in school, that’s not going to be a good fit for us. We want student-athletes who love to play football, enjoy school and are good students, and want to get a quality degree and graduate and go on to do great things with their degree when they graduate.”

Merchant said he is currently filling out his coaching staff while also preparing for national signing day on Feb. 7, when football recruits across the country will announce their collegiate commitment.

While the final chapter at Chippewa Valley has closed for Merchant, he said the Chippewa Valley community will always have a special place in his heart.

“I’m extremely grateful to the entire community — they were amazing,” Merchant said. “It was a wonderful experience and opportunity, and I feel humbled and honored to have been able to serve them and lead that program. I’d like to think that, hopefully, I had a positive impact on it and left it in a good place. I wish them all the success in the world. I’ll always be a Big Red.”