Coach Romano says Indians are ready to battle
Friday night football begins this week and Tecumseh High School head varsity coach Al Romano is all smiles once again. However, his smile usually fades as soon as the first whistle of the season blows. Then it’s all about getting down to some serious business.
“It’s just good to be here back at it again. The kids have been excited and so have we. It’s been a great week... We’ve made a lot of progress in camp, certainly,” Romano said during media day on Saturday, Aug. 16, at Tecumseh High School’s Indian Stadium.
“We’ve got great enthusiasm and their work ethic in practice and the weight room has been wonderful. We’re ready to go. We’ve got some things to iron out but we’re certainly looking forward to it. It’s the kind of team that our ball games are probably going to go down to the wire but we’re going to be in it.”
Last season the Indians went 8-3 with losses against Ann Arbor Pioneer, Ypsilanti Lincoln and Eaton Rapids, in the district final, falling 24-20.
“We have some things to fix and holes to replace from last year as everybody knows. But, you couldn’t ask for any more from these kids during practice,” said Romano. “I think our strength right now is probably our defensive line and that’s a good place to start. It’ll help our three new linebackers out because we lost all three. But the fact that we’re solid up front will help the linebackers for a while until they get their feet wet.
“Our secondary has some experience in certain spots. We just lost a ton of defensive guys last year but having a strong defensive line is going to make a difference.”
Tecumseh has two players battling for the starting quarterback position, junior Jacob Coker, who quarterbacked the JV team and senior Josh Treadway, who was a backup QB for the Indians last year. Romano said that Coker is throwing the ball better than the senior but Treadway runs the ball a little better.
Having two players share the position may be something Romano incorporates later, allowing the Indians to “mix it up a bit.”
“I think offensively we’re going to be a little more flexible than we were last year,” Romano said. “We’ve got some guys that can catch the ball and can run with it when they catch it so that’s exciting again. Last year, in our terminology, we were a phone booth team — we just packed it in and spread it out to run it up the middle, basically. But we did it quite well.”
Both of Tecumseh’s tailbacks return with Wyatt Cadmus and Mitch Meger on the field and Romano also mentioned Jimmy Terry, Nick Coffin, and Jeff Arnett as key ball carriers.
Romano added that his slot players can really run and he’ll go with Jaimen Glover and Jacob Black, who’s going to be out a couple weeks, and Zach Watkins, who was described by Romano as “a little bit of a shake and bake kind of guy.”
“We really like that fact that we can spread you out and throw it to different guys and they can make plays. That really helps you run the ball,” said Romano.
Tecumseh lost defensive coach Todd Thieken, who was hired as superintendent by Dearborn Heights School District No. 7. Al Schmidt has stepped into replace him this season.
However, Romano still feels his defense will remain strong with a few special players helping including standout Nate Brady.
“Nate Brady is a heck of a football player. He was an all-leaguer last year as a junior and is probably our best blocker as an H-Back tight end. He played quite a bit of defense but we primarily used him on offense last year and situations where we needed him on defense. It’ll be the opposite this year. He’ll play defense all the time and we’ll have some offensive packages for him because we like to two-platoon. He’s going to anchor a good defensive line, along with Doug Sheats and Chris Hawkins, primarily, and then we’ve got some younger guys who are stepping up in there.”
Landon Pelham moved from nose guard to linebacker this season after an entire year on the playing field as a sophomore.
“He will eventually have that little package like his brother [Preston] had in the back, because he’s aggressive and he can run it a little bit too,” said Romano. “We’ll get to that eventually once we’re pretty solid with all the things we want to get in. Him and Brady will be back there together. The runningbacks will like that. They’ll be good guys to follow.”
As far as the overall look of the team it will be different. Romano said it should be reminiscent of the team from two years back when the ball was in the air a little more and maybe 50-50 or even 60-40 run/pass ratio.
“People don’t understand that its not all about the quarterback its about the receivers,” he said. “When you have good receivers you can throw the ball and make that quarterback better. And I like our receivers. To be honest with you that’s the difference and that’s the reason that I’d like to get a 60-40 run/pass ratio. I think we can throw more screens this year with the speed we have in the slots.”
The Indians advanced to the district championship last season but lost by just four points. Romano would not predict whether or not the Indians would advance any further this season saying he is not looking that far down the road just yet.
“We just want to focus on playing good football. We really do because I know some of our opponents have really improved.”
Tecumseh’s opening game is against Monroe Saint Mary Catholic Central and is expected to be a tougher start than last year against Monroe Jefferson.
Last year the Indians’ motto was “one game at a time” and it didn’t matter who they faced, it was how they played.
“Well, this year its ‘the separation is in the preparation.’ So if we want to separate ourselves from the rest of the pack we’re going to have to prepare for it,” Romano said.