Remember Coach Stephens

By: Christian Davis | Southfield Sun | Published September 8, 2015

 Lathrup fell to Royal Oak 21-7. Pictured, sophomore quarterback Bryce Veasley makes a throw. Veasley finished with 92 yards passing.

Lathrup fell to Royal Oak 21-7. Pictured, sophomore quarterback Bryce Veasley makes a throw. Veasley finished with 92 yards passing.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

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LATHRUP VILLAGE — Keith Stephens would have liked this.


That was the feeling among his family members as they walked off the Southfield-Lathrup football field Sept. 3.


The Chargers held a halftime ceremony during their game with Royal Oak High to honor the late coach, who passed away from pancreatic cancer last February.


“It’s nice to know that people are willing to continue his legacy and remember him,” said his daughter Eiyesha Stephens. “I know he would have liked this a lot.”


Stephens coached for two years at Lathrup, leading the Chargers to a 4-5 mark last season, the school’s most wins since 2009.


Part of the ceremony included Lathrup captains Eyiomo Uuozurike, George Mitchell, Sterling Alexander and Gregory Gilliam presenting flowers to the coach’s family.


The Chargers have dedicated their season to Stephens and are wearing his initials on their helmets. The coaching staff is also wearing khakis every game, which Stephens was apt to do.


Stephens’ daughter Marquita Crawl called it an honor to be there.


“For them to dedicate the season to him, it’s definitely a positive thing,” she said.


His career started in the mid-’70s as a freshman coach for Oak Park High before taking his first head coaching job in 1983. He spent nearly 30 years leading Oak Park. He then had stops at Pontiac Northern, Waterford Mott and Dearborn Heights Robichaud on his way to taking over the Chargers.


In his time, Stephens won more than 120 games, three division championships and was the state’s Division 4 Coach of the Year in 2012.


He also served as president of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in the most recent class. 


Stephens’ coaching wasn’t limited to the sidelines.


“He was a coach all the time. Even with (our) grades in school, I remember getting pep talks like we were in the locker room,” Eiyesha Stephens said, laughing.


Stephens’ widow, Donna, said he loved the sport.

“He had a passion for it. No vacations or anything unrelated to that football,” she said with a smile. “He gave it his all.”

Game time
The Chargers fell to Royal Oak High 21-7 in the first league game within the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.


Lathrup’s lone score came on a 92-yard drive, capped off by an 8-yard scamper by Alexander with 6:31 left in the half.


Up next, the Chargers take on Birmingham Groves at 7 p.m. Sept. 11 on the road.

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