West Bloomfield High’s Donovan Edwards carries the ball against Oak Park High Aug. 30. At press time, the Lakers were 2-1 overall.

West Bloomfield High’s Donovan Edwards carries the ball against Oak Park High Aug. 30. At press time, the Lakers were 2-1 overall.

Photo by Donna Agusti


West Bloomfield football eyeing strong season

By: Zachary Manning | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published September 19, 2019

 West Bloomfield’s CJ Harris, while losing a shoe, evades a tackler against Oak Park. The Lakers won 20-14.

West Bloomfield’s CJ Harris, while losing a shoe, evades a tackler against Oak Park. The Lakers won 20-14.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — The West Bloomfield High football team entered this season with a lot of hype and expectations.

Having more than half of its starters return and making a run to a Division 1 regional final in 2018 will do that. Now it’s about proving the hype is real and showing West Bloomfield is a top contender in the state.

It didn’t take long for the Lakers to make a statement. In Week 1, they knocked off a highly touted Oak Park High program 20-14 and solidified their spot among the top teams.

While Week 1 gave West Bloomfield more confidence, Week 2 offered a different look. The Lakers fell 24-17 to Birmingham Groves, which humbled them and proved that there was more work to be done.

“I was hurt. I definitely wanted to go undefeated my senior season,” linebacker Cornell Wheeler said. “I know everything happens for a reason. I’m glad we lost early so we could humble ourselves and come out and practice better.”

The Lakers have since bounced back with a 17-8 win over rival Southfield A&T. The win pushed them another step closer to the playoffs and helped them inch closer to the final goal of competing for a state championship.

The road doesn’t get much easier for the Lakers. At press time, they were 2-1 and scheduled to play 2017 D-1 state champion and 2018 D-1 state runner-up Clarkston High.

After Clarkston, West Bloomfield will finish out the Oakland Activities Association Red Division schedule, along with a Catholic High School League crossover game.

Lakers coach Ron Bellamy sees the OAA Red as one of the toughest divisions in the state and a good test for what his team may see in the playoffs.

“It’s like Alabama playing in the SEC,” Bellamy said. “You come out of the SEC unblemished or one loss, you get to the College Football Playoff, you’re ready to go against anyone. We feel like our league is the toughest league in the state of Michigan, and it’s going to prepare you for whatever situation that you’re faced with.”

Defense has been critical to the Lakers’ success thus far, and it’s a unit the team relies on. Through three games, West Bloomfield has allowed its opponents to score just 46 points.

For quarterback CJ Harris, having a defense to rely on takes pressure off of him and the offense to score a lot of points game in and game out.

Through three games, the Lakers’ offense has scored 54 points, with the tough schedule playing a role in that. However, Harris sees the offense finding a rhythm, and when it finally clicks, the team will be tough to beat.

“Those guys are playing crazy right now. They’re playing out of this world,” Harris said of the defense. “I don’t think we’d be where we’re at in the season right now if it wasn’t for them.”

The ultimate goal for the Lakers is to be playing at Ford Field for a state championship. A few players on the team got a taste of that atmosphere in 2017 when they lost to Clarkston.

As sophomores, the loss stung, but with a team they can call their own, going out on top as seniors would be a great feeling.

“I always wanted that since we lost my sophomore year,” Wheeler said. “That kind of motivated me, humbled me, and made me more hungry to come out my senior year and definitely bring it out for West Bloomfield.”

The Lakers will hit the field again at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at Lake Orion High.

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