Royal Oak High football making believers

By: Christian Davis | Royal Oak Review | Published September 28, 2015

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ROYAL OAK — It’s a fact the Royal Oak High football team doesn’t shy away from.

In the last nine seasons, four of them were winless.

But the Ravens believe that this year could make all of those hard times a distant memory.

      “I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had playing football in my entire life,” senior Brendan Beerer said. “I’ve been a part of a lot of different teams, but this one is special. We have a chance to change what Royal Oak football is all about.”

The Ravens are 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.

The three victories already make this the fourth all-time winningest season in the program.     

New coach Ray McMann, along with co-coach Jeff Ross, have been working to change the culture.

McMann knows the good days. He was an assistant when the team last had a winning season in 2007 and when the Ravens made
the second round of the playoffs in 2006. The past five years, he’s coached the middle school program.

“It’s exciting for these kids and the fact that they’re working hard makes it the most exciting,” McMann said of the start. “It’s not the wins, it’s how excited they are, how excited the fans are. There’s a different vibe in the school.

“There’s a buzz about Royal Oak football again.”

Beerer, a three-year varsity member, agreed with his coach’s assessment.

“(The fans) are all over it, and I’m loving it,” the running back said. “My friends and family members love coming to the games. It’s a lot more fun when you’re competing.”

The Ravens have made their turnaround with a stingy defense and an efficient offense. In the last four games, Royal Oak has let up an average of seven points per game. Offensively, it’s scoring nearly 25 points a contest in that time.

“They prepare us really well,” Beerer said of his coaches. “We have breakdowns of opposing offenses and defenses, and we watch film every day. They don’t settle for anything except for maximum effort. I think a lot has to do with our coaches.”

McMann said the players are playing for more than just themselves. This year’s motto is, “One town, one team, one tradition.”

“Before Royal Oak combined, everything was about Kimball and Dondero, and we still hear about Chiefs and Chargers (youth teams), so we’re trying to say, ‘It doesn’t matter,’” McMann said. “We’re trying to get that tradition of community. It’s not about the school necessarily, it’s about everyone.”

The Ravens readily admit there’s more work to be done.

“We definitely have to get better; it’s not good enough,” Beerer said.

McMann adds that the team needs to improve in the details.

“The little things that can take a team from good to great, we have to do those. We’re getting better,” he said.

For the first time since 2006, the last time the Ravens won a division championship, Royal Oak has a legitimate shot at the title. If the Ravens win the rest of their divisional games, they’ll be guaranteed at least a share.

“If we can come and do our job each and every week, everything we wanted at the beginning of the season is still there,” McMann said.

Catch the Ravens against Berkley High at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 on the road.

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