Birmingham Seaholm has started the season undefeated. The Maples are 3-0 for the first time since 2013.

Birmingham Seaholm has started the season undefeated. The Maples are 3-0 for the first time since 2013.

Photo by Donna Agusti

Seaholm football turning things around in 2018

By: Jacob Herbert | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published September 11, 2018


BIRMINGHAM — It’s a chilly Friday night at Maple Field. Birmingham Seaholm football coach Jim DeWald poses for a selfie with a student so she can prove to her worrying mother that she indeed was at the game.


Music blares from the locker room after a 47-6 victory Sept. 7 against North Farmington, improving the Maples to 3-0 overall, which is their best start since 2013.


Spirits are remarkably high, but it hasn’t always been like this. In 2017, the Maples finished 1-8. Their only win was against Berkley High, a team that finished with the same record.


“We had a lot of guys quit on us,” senior running back Chase Mentag admitted. “They couldn’t take it.”


The adversity the team faced did not stop after its 45-7 loss against Lake Orion High to end last season. The Maples had to spend all summer working out at a remote location as their gym underwent renovation.


As agonizing as traveling to a new location can be, senior linebacker Paul Jokisch was able to use that as a motivational tool going into the next season.


“I told everyone to stay with it,” he said. “That was super hard. I said, ‘if we keep working hard like this, we’re going to win some ball games,’ and that’s what we’re doing right now.”


Three games into the current season, the Maples have eclipsed the 40-point mark in each game and are outscoring their opponents 141-21. They scored 158 total points in all of 2017 while surrendering 241.


DeWald believes that there is not much of a difference between last year’s team and the current one. It’s just that the hard work of his 12 returning starters is finally starting to pay off.


“I think our senior class is a bunch of great kids who get along really well, and embrace the grind and playing football together,” he said. “It’s really fun to coach them. They really enjoy every day of practice. It shows their discipline, their toughness and their ability to keep on working.”


Jokisch points to the team’s overall mentality as a major difference.


“Coming into practice every day, we want to get in there,” Jokisch said. “We want to play even in the heat. We practice just as hard in 90-degree weather as we would in 60-degree weather. The mentality is awesome.”


DeWald and the Maples still have plenty of goals ahead of them this season. Both Mentag and Jokisch stressed the importance of beating rival Birmingham Groves for the first time since that 2013 season.


The matchup with Groves doesn’t take place until Oct. 19. For now, DeWald is focused on continuing to improve while enjoying time with his players every step of the way.


“To be honest with you, I’m probably the luckiest dude in the world,” he said. “This is a great school with a great community and great kids. We had issues last year, there’s no question. But when you would come to practice on a Monday, you wouldn’t know if we were 3-0 or 0-3. That’s a credit to our kids and how they were raised in the community. We’re very lucky.”