With the bright lights shining down on the 50-yard line and the roar of the crowd in the stands, the football season is nearly halfway through—but you already knew that if you're a fan of the Grosse Ile Red Devils.
This 30-man squad is the heart and soul of the Grosse Ile High School community during the fall months, and with three powerful wins already under its belt, the team does not disappoint its dedicated fans.
"We are not a big team in size or numbers but our kids play with great heart," said Head Coach John Bodner.
Bodner, an English teacher at the school, has been coaching the Red Devils since 2006 and along with his five assistant coaches, works day in and day out formulating drills and plays to keep his team in line.
With a 7-2 (10-3 final) record and an appearance in the state semifinals to boot, the Red Devils came off last season being ranked first in the Huron League. Though this football season has brought forth challenges including the loss of former third-year players quarterback Rob White and running back Alex Kisk, who is now playing at Wayne State University, the team has moved forward.
The losses of graduated seniors have paved the way for new talent being thrust into the spotlight, including returning players Jordan Nellenbach, Brian Christen and Derek Cuddy, as well as the introduction of several players from last year's undefeated junior varsity team such as Andrew Mitroka and Joe Vollerhausen.
"We hope to have a similar playoff run this year but we need to get through a very difficult regular season schedule," Bodner said.
Shutting out their first three opponents – Onsted, Flat Rock and St. Mary Catholic Central – the team fell short just seven points during a tough match at Milan last week.
This Friday, the Red Devils will return to their home field at Grosse Ile to take on the Carleton Airport Jets at 7 p.m.
Of course, the community's support cheering on their favorite team makes any game that much better.
"Our experience is similar to all high school football games on a Friday night: kids playing a game they love on the field and the community supporting them, no matter what," Bodner said. "There's a reason why football is such a popular sport both for kids playing and people as fans."
The team looks ahead to a challenging schedule that includes longtime rival, the Riverview Pirates, on Oct. 12. The two clubs will once again face off in a battle for the coveted Colvin Cup trophy.
Though the Red Devils are not ranked right now, don’t call it quits on the team just yet.
"Our kids work very hard both during the off-season and during the regular season," Bodner added. "This team hasn't had the opportunities to see how good they are.”
Check back with Patch Friday for more on the Red Devils and their complete season schedule.