St. Clair Shores Lake Shore quarterback Kyle Celli hands the ball off to running back Terrance Walker during a preseason scrimmage.

St. Clair Shores Lake Shore quarterback Kyle Celli hands the ball off to running back Terrance Walker during a preseason scrimmage.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Lake Shore football coach talks strong start

By: Jason Carmel Davis | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published September 23, 2019

 St. Clair Shores Lake Shore football coach Rich Popp watches from the sideline during a preseason scrimmage. The Shorians’ next game is against St. Clair Shores South Lake at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at home.

St. Clair Shores Lake Shore football coach Rich Popp watches from the sideline during a preseason scrimmage. The Shorians’ next game is against St. Clair Shores South Lake at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at home.

Photo by Donna Agusti

Advertisement

ST. CLAIR SHORES — The 2018 season was special for the St. Clair Shores Lake Shore football team, as the squad advanced to the state playoffs for the first time since 2009.

But many of the major players from that group have moved on to make room for a new cast of characters.

At press time, the new Shorians were 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the Macomb Area Conference Gold Division despite what coach Rich Popp called a group of inexperienced players.

“We’ve begun to come together,” said Popp. “They’re beginning to develop an identity that’s all their own. It’s quite rewarding to be a part of this growth.”

After a 36-point season-opening loss to Port Huron Northern, Lake Shore rebounded to win its next two contests. Popp said he believes this year’s team features a good group of hardworking players. He said coaches knew the team would be young, and that it would be a challenge getting players up to speed on the scheme.

Popp said the squad is performing well in that respect.

He touted the offensive and defensive lines as the team’s strength. Leading the way for the team is a group of players who play on both lines: seniors Kristian Dushaj, Joe Calamia and Davion Kidd.

Senior defensive back Brett Marks, sophomore lineman Devin Myricks, sophomore defensive back Xzoiran Simmons and sophomore running back/linebacker Drue Robinson have also made major contributions so far this season.

On the outside, Lake Shore has a whole new receiving corps. Popp said the more comfortable those players get, the better it will be for the team.

“We’re developing our scheme around our players,” Popp said. “We believe in taking advantage of their strengths and putting them in positions where they can experience success. When that occurs, we can expand upon what (the players) do well and open up (the playbook) a little bit.”

That playbook expansion could go a long way in helping the Shorians bring home the MAC Gold title. The team missed out on a division title last season by one game, finishing second to Warren Woods Tower.

It’s been some time since Lake Shore won a division title. The team’s last undefeated run in league play came in 1980.

Popp said the MAC Gold is tough and noted that his players must play within themselves and maintain consistency in order to have a shot at the league crown.

“We have a positive outlook on the rest of the season,” Popp said. “We need to focus on what we do, improve and grow weekly, and we should be able to work our way back into the playoffs.”

Lake Shore’s next game is against St. Clair Shores South Lake at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at home.

Advertisement