Where is THE REAL Lake Orion Football???

Where is THE REAL Lake Orion Football???

By Sammy Taormina

 

 

Friday night was a reflection point that I thought I would never go back too.

As watching the Oxford student section, players, and administration celebrate with the Double O Trophy I watched in pure disgust, the embarrassed, and humiliated.

A lot of Dragons are basically feeling the same way as I am.

The Lake Orion Dragons football program has clearly hit rock bottom.

What has happened, what’s changed with this program??? This program has only beaten Clarkston once since 2010 and hasn’t beaten West Bloomfield since 2014 and has three losses to Oxford since the rivalry came back in 2010.

This didn’t happen overnight.

From 2000-2013 this program was 113-35 with each team from that era making the playoffs along with a State Championship, two State Final appearances, and three State semifinal appearances.

Since the 2014 season they are 34-34 with four playoff appearances but haven’t made it past the district final.

What changed???

 

There was a culture change which featured compliancy and entitlement.

The Dragon teams I was on (2004-2005) and a part of especially from 2000-2013 was clearly “Orion Tough.” They had the mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. They took names and blew people out. They knew losing was not tolerable or even acceptable.

The 2003 team was very talented and had to overcome adversity and they did that.

My senior year in 2005 when we had our fair share of adversity but we got through it. We can say that we were the first and sadly the only class to beat Clarkston twice in one season.

There was the five weeks from hell in 2008 where basically those five weeks where tense dramas from Rochester Adams, Clarkston, Utica Eisenhower, Romeo, and Sterling Heights Stevenson. That team had a freshman quarterback and a young offense that grew along with a pretty stout defense.

The 2010 team overcame a postseason injury and had tense dramas with Utica Eisenhower and Detroit Cass Tech before earning the Division One State title.

The 2012 team featured a very good game manager at quarterback, a few great running backs, a tall wide receiver, a stout offensive line, and a defense. They overcame adversity after losing to Clarkston. They went through Macomb County to get to the State semifinals.

All of those teams from 2000-2013 had team chemistry. Everyone was on the same page. No one was truly a star. It was clearly “The Team, The Team, The Team.”

There were a few years from 2017-2019 that it felt like the “Orion Tough” mantra was coming back with John Blackstock taking over the program for Chris Bell whom focused on being the Athletic Director. The 2017 team truly deserved better than their 3-6 record including winning two of the last three games and was a play away from knocking off the state champs. The 2018 team to overcome a lot with tough early season losses to Lapeer and Oxford but they had some monster road wins at Adams, Southfield Arts and Tech, and Monroe to turn their season around get back to the postseason. The 2019 team truly felt “Orion Tough.” They had big wins over Lapeer, Adams, Oxford, Southfield Arts and Tech, and beating Clarkston for the first time since 2010. That team had a stout quarterback, running back, strong offensive line, good wide receivers, and a defense.

The 2020 team took a bit of a step back given it was a COVID year. The offense had a ton of struggles and issues which put the defense in really bad situations. Again, the Dragons struggled against the Wolves and Lakers but made the playoffs and fell to a surging Grand Blanc Bobcats team who would also eliminate Clarkston that year as well.

The 2021 team had a lot of questions especially in the secondary. When I mentioned in the OAA Now football preview show I saw some signs of concern. I noticed not every player was attending the team camps, there were struggles to get everyone into the weight room. Players were going to college camps to get looks and exposure, I started to question what was going on with this group, why this group was not meshing the way past teams had done. It did not feel like the same fire and motivation was there. With some players, it was there but it has to be everyone, not just groups of players.

This summer was when I knew there could be trouble on the horizon.

The last three weeks have been very sickening and disturbing to watch. The defense has allowed 135 points in three weeks. As someone who takes great pride in being a defensive guy both as a player and an alum, this has been extremely hard to watch. It felt like every quarterback, we went against had a field day, throwing it at will, not seeing any pressure from our defense, it has been truly sickening and disturbing to watch. I know that they changed offenses, the offense can only do so much but even at times, that has been challenged.

As I watched helplessly on the sideline during the Oxford game. I looked in the stands to my future throwers who are going to be future football players, hoping this would never happen to them. Then I looked at the student section, drumline, dance team, cheerleaders, and band, please don’t get me started on them that’s for another day.

The freshman and JV teams have that “Orion Tough” mantra. They have the talent and mental toughness. Something special is brewing between the freshman and sophomore classes for the next few years.

As an alum, to see the players and coaches dejected after the Oxford game. I can only go back and think about what happened in the summer but it’s not just what happened in the summer. I always wondered what happened to the program, there was a gradual drop off in talent after 2012 but it was not as noticeable until 2014 when other schools especially West Bloomfield and Clarkston improved while Lake Orion stayed for the most part stagnant, just happy to be in the Red, simply happy to be there. What happened to having that chip on the shoulder??? “Orion Tough” has always been about playing with that chip, playing tough, physical, relentless, smart football. It’s been a while that “Orion Tough” has been consistent, that is very concerning. When should “Orion Tough” be taught??? Shouldn’t it be taught at the Youth levels and continue to expand into the Middle and High School levels??? Just seems like there are some years where “Orion Tough” is simply not there,

Isn’t Lake Orion’s rival supposed to be Clarkston??? Sure doesn’t seem like it, Orion has only beaten Clarkston once since 2010. It seems like that rival has been Oxford and that’s nothing against them, isn’t Lake Orion supposed to beat Oxford year in and out??? The Bronze Cup or the Double O Trophy should be staying in Lake Orion every year???

When did losing become acceptable???

Everyone within the program needs to be held accountable and should be held accountable, everyone, that includes even myself.

Something has to change.

Is this season salvageable??? Sure it is but they have a tough path ahead of them with West Bloomfield, Clarkston, Stoney Creek, Seaholm, and Saline looming. Saline and Clarkston at present are undefeated, West Bloomfield is extremely talented and has only one loss while Stoney Creek and Seaholm are proud strong tough programs.

Everyone needs to hit a complete reset and do some soul searching.

This program has clearly hit rock bottom but it can and will come back, the question is when and when it does, it’s going to take a lot of people and a lot of buy in for this program to clearly come back. Obviously this summer is going to be key but it really should start today, after the embarrassment and losing the Bronze Cup (Double O Trophy) to Oxford, hopefully that “Chip on the Shoulder” mindset should slowly start returning. Actions speak louder than words.

Blackstock talks about the ERO (Event Response Outcome), what is going to be, it will be up to everyone to decide what happens next for Lake Orion Football.

MHSAA NOW: The weekly newsletter

MHSAA NOW: The weekly newsletter

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MHSAA NOW: The weekly newsletter of the Michigan High School Athletic Association

THIS WEEK

We finish this week with salutes to our first “Performance of the Week” – Josie Bloom from Pontiac Notre Dame Prep – and to the Burton Atherton football program as it continues a successful comeback. We also preview this week’s football action and say good-bye and well done to a highly-respected and accomplished boys basketball coach.

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AROUND THE STATE

1st & Goal: 2021 Week 4 Preview

For the last 20 years, we would have entered Week 4 of football season discussing how many teams would have to win the rest of their games to guarantee making the playoffs. But the six-wins-and-in era is done (and never existed for 8-player), and there’s still plenty of time for every team to impact its destiny.

Performance of the Week: Notre Dame Prep’s Josie Bloom

The Sept. 8 match between host Pontiac Notre Dame Prep and Bloomfield Hills Marian featured two of the elite programs in Michigan – Marian is the reigning Division 1 champion and Notre Dame Prep made the Division 2 Semifinals last season, and both entered the evening undefeated.

Felix Leaving Hillsdale Having Blazed Path to Statewide Success, Respect

Every time Jordan Bollin would prepare his Dundee Vikings boys basketball team to play Hillsdale, he would rename all of his plays. That’s because Brad Felix, the longtime Hillsdale coach, knew them all. “He had his teams so prepared,” Bollin said.

‘Game Changers’ Making Major Strides to Revive Atherton Football

Terrieon Robertson had a choice to make this spring. The Burton Atherton senior could leave his school for an opportunity to play football elsewhere, or he could stay and risk the chance that Atherton’s low numbers would lead to a cancellation of his final season. After meeting with new Atherton coach Randy Young, that decision was easy.

Be the Referee: Catch or No Catch

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials. Here is this week’s segment – Catch or No Catch – Listen

Unforgettable 5ive: 2021 Football Week 3

 

MHSAA Football Week 3 Unforgettable 5ive

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This Week In High School Sports: 9/15/21

This week’s edition highlights a matchup of undefeated volleyball powers, awards Game Balls to high achievers in soccer and football, explains what is and isn’t a catch in football, and pays respects to a recently-deceased builder of Michigan high school tennis as we know it today.

GAME TIME

Girls Tennis (UP) · Finals: Sept. 29-Oct. 2
Boys Tennis (LP) · Finals: Oct. 14-16
Girls Golf (LP) · Finals: Oct. 15-16
Boys Cross Country (UP) · Finals: Oct. 23
Girls Cross Country (UP) · Finals: Oct. 23
Boys Cross Country (LP) · Finals: Nov. 6
Girls Cross Country (LP) · Finals: Nov. 6
Boys Soccer · Finals: Nov. 6
Girls Swimming & Diving (LP) · Finals: Nov. 19-20
Girls Volleyball · Finals: Nov. 20
Football 8-Player · Finals: 19-20
Football 11-Player · Finals: 26-27

MHSAA TV

For a complete list of all games and streaming options go to mhsaa.tv.

Click here for a schedule of available student broadcast video streams.
North Farmington cruises past Lake Orion

North Farmington cruises past Lake Orion

Recaps

Week 2: In first-ever meeting between two programs, North Farmington cruises past Lake Orion, 44-22

Meeting for the first time in the history of the two schools, the North Farmington Raiders jumped out to a two-score lead less than a minute into the second quarter and never looked back, defeating Lake Orion, 44-22, on September 3 at Ron Holland Field.

Sophomore Raider quarterback Ryan Shelby, who spent his freshman year at West Bloomfield and stars for North Farmington’s baseball team, as well, threw three touchdown passes – two to senior Aaron Rice, who is committed to the American Athletic Conference’s Navy Midshipmen – and tailback Jasper Beeler, another senior, ran for two scores.

Lake Orion senior quarterback Kyler Carson completed 5-of-9 passes for 94 yards and finished as the team’s leading rusher with 42 yards. Fellow senior CJ Witt ran for 30 yards, scored the Dragons’ first touchdown, and posted 40 receiving yards on three catches.

After Beeler’s final touchdown of the night, the Raiders took a 44-6 lead with 9:05 to play in the third quarter, leading to both teams removing most of their starters and giving their reserves an extended look.

Dragons junior Connor McCartan made the most of his opportunity, piloting two scoring drives, the first ending in a 13-yard pass to sophomore Joey DeBrincat and the second on a one-yard keeper.

Two plays before his one-yard plunge, McCartan delivered one of Lake Orion’s best offensive plays of the contest, finding senior Izaiah Marve for 37 yards down the left sideline on 3rd-and-22 from the North Farmington 40-yard line.

With this defeat, the Dragons now stand at 1-1, while the Raiders moved to 2-0.

“They’re a really good team, they’ve got really good athletes and we knew we would have to do a great job of keeping them in front of us and limiting and stopping big plays, and we didn’t,” Lake Orion head coach John Blackstock said.

“That first 3rd-and-long situation of the game really set the tone. We had them pinned pretty deep, I think 3rd-and-15 or 16, and one of their playmakers came up with a big play and we just never recovered from that.”

The Dragons totaled 311 yards of offense in this game, with 167 of those coming on the ground. Racking up this total on 34 attempts, Lake Orion averaged 4.9 yards-per-carry, but trailing on the scoreboard limited the unit’s ability to methodically possess the football like they prefer.

“We like to be in control of the game and move at our own pace,” Blackstock said. “When you go down that early, it makes it hard. After that long third down, we were chasing the whole night.”

Running for 153 yards in the season-opening victory over the Utica Eisenhower Eagles on August 26, sophomore Billy Roberson tallied 25 yards on seven carries in this one. One positive development from the night was freshman Trey Pochmara III ripping off a 29-yard run on his first varsity carry.

Lake Orion will look to rebound on Friday, September 10, against the Southfield A&T Warriors in another road game.

Southfield A&T will enter play at 1-1, having lost to the Cass Tech Technicians, 49-22, on August 27 and defeating the Birmingham Groves Falcons, 33-7, on September 3.

The Dragons and Warriors did not meet in 2020. In the last clash between the two programs, which came on September 6, 2019, Lake Orion won, 37-7.

Boys Varsity Cross Country: Dragons win Averill Invitational

Boys Varsity Cross Country: Dragons win Averill Invitational

Dragons win Averill Invitational for second-straight victory to begin 2021 season

After cruising to a 47-point victory in their season-opener at Anchor Bay High School on September 2, the Lake Orion boys’ cross country team traveled to Kensington Metropark for the Averill Invitational on September 11.

Facing tougher competition in the 12-team field, the Dragons took home their second-straight victory by tallying 41 points, 10 ahead of the second-place Brighton Bulldogs and 65 better than the third-place Milford Mavericks.

Senior Clayton Kuiper was Lake Orion’s top individual runner, finishing in second-place at 16:44, followed by classmates Hong Bing Tang in third at 16:46 and Will Houvener in eighth at 16:58.9.

A course the Dragons have been visiting for years, Kensington Metropark presents a challenge with its hilly terrain, but head coach Stan Ford – who is in his 40th season – knows how to prepare his young men for the task.

“It was interesting today because a lot of guys in the top group, they ran as fast on this course as they did on the flat, fast one last week, so we know there’s improvement,” Ford said.

“We train on hills, and we should be good at this course. I don’t take mile split times because last week, they’re fast, and this week, they’re going to be slower and I don’t want them to panic and think, ‘I’m 10 seconds slower than I was last week.’ No, you might be in great shape.

“I want them to race. You race the body and don’t worry about the time and that’s what happened, the group got out there and they were in the top of the field, then, a mile-and-a-half, they start spreading out and start asserting themselves individually.”

Lake Orion has a nice balance of experience and youth, as their top-10 runners this season presently consist of five seniors, three juniors and two freshmen.

Having five of these runners slated to return next fall is a plus, but the five members of the Class of 2022 – Adam Hafeli, Houvener, Kuiper, Ronnie Leonard, and Tang – figure to continue to be the leaders of the team.

Two meets in, Ford shared what he likes best about his group and how they continue to improve from here.

“Today was a better test, more competitive teams, so it tells us more about our team,” he said.

“It also puts a target on our back, so how we handle that pressure throughout the rest of the season is going to be important. It’s a senior-led group, so I think they’re going to handle it just fine.”

The Dragons will look to keep rolling in their first Oakland Activities Association (OAA) Red Jamboree on Tuesday, September 14 against the Birmingham Seaholm Maples, Clarkston Wolves, Oxford Wildcats, Rochester Adams Highlanders and Troy Colts at their home course at 4:30 p.m.

The first of three “Jamborees” that decide the league standings, Lake Orion became very familiar with their own course during the COVID-19-impacted 2020 season.

Following their first Jamboree, the Dragons will head to Springfield Oaks County Park in Davisburg on Saturday for the 53rd Annual Holly Invite/Duane Raffin Festival of Races at 11:20 a.m.

Seniors Hong Bing Tang (left) and Clayton Kuiper following the Dragons' victory in the Averill Invitational at Kensington Metropark on September 11. Kuiper finished in second-place individually at 16:44, while Tang was right on his heels in third-place at 16:46.
Seniors Hong Bing Tang (left) and Clayton Kuiper following the Dragons’ victory in the Averill Invitational at Kensington Metropark on September 11. Kuiper finished in second-place individually at 16:44, while Tang was right on his heels in third-place at 16:46.

 

MHSAA NOW: The weekly newsletter

MHSAA NOW: The weekly newsletter

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MHSAA NOW: The weekly newsletter of the Michigan High School Athletic Association

THIS WEEK

Today’s “Now” includes features on a pair of football teams off to fast starts and a preview of Week 3 games of note across the state. We continue our “Title IX at 50” series highlighting one of the highest achievers in MHSAA history, and we say good-bye to a longtime friend of Michigan high school tennis.

Do you know a high school sports fan who would enjoy this weekly newsletter? Share this link to register on MHSAA.com and be added to the MHSAA NOW mailing list.

AROUND THE STATE

1st & Goal: 2021 Week 3 Preview

Every week of the football regular season we learn something more about who we might be watching when playoffs roll around in November. And we should know quite a bit once we’ve reached the end of Week 3 this weekend. League play will have begun in almost every conference across the state, and with some particularly intriguing matchups of possible state contenders today and Saturday – a few of which we detail here.

Title IX at 50: Best-Ever Conversation Must Include Leland’s Glass

Labeling just one athlete the “greatest” of millions who have competed over a half century of MHSAA girls sports history – comparing the all-time best from multiple sports over multiple eras – is both bound to be unfair and ultimately impossible. But Leland two-sport star Alisha Glass should be part of any related conversations.

After Slight Delay, Veteran Spring Lake Impresses in Long-Awaited Launch

Spring Lake returned 17 starters and, understandably, couldn’t wait to get this season started. But just as the Lakers were revving up their engine for takeoff, they were idled for another week. Spring Lake picked up a forfeit victory in Week 1 after Muskegon Orchard View decided to not field a varsity team this fall, so the Lakers put in another week of practice and then unleashed all of their pent-up energy on Zeeland East last Thursday.

In Memoriam: Tiger Teusink (1936-2021)

Dwayne “Tiger” Teusink, a longtime Holland tennis legend and a prominent foundation builder for MHSAA tennis at the statewide level, died Monday, three days before his 85th birthday. A coach for nearly a half-century, he also continued to assist the MHSAA in administering the sport nearly until his death.

Grinding Ground Game Has White Pigeon Eyeing Memorable Run

With just a cursory glance at the 2020 results for the White Pigeon varsity football team, the Chiefs’ 4-3 record might not seem all that impressive. Their opponents this year, however, know not to discount a program that has the potential to both reshape the Southwest 10 Conference standings by the end of the fall, but also to shake things up once the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 8 playoffs get rolling.

Unforgettable 5ive: 2021 Football Week 2

 

MHSAA Football Week 2 Unforgettable 5ive

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This Week In High School Sports: 9/8/21

This week’s edition discusses rules changes for Fall sports, awards Game Balls to high achievers in soccer, golf and football from last week, explains football intentional grounding at the high school level, and concludes with the inspiring comeback story of an Adrian Lenawee Christian coach.

Be the Referee: Intentional Grounding

This week, MHSAA assistant director Brent Rice explains football intentional grounding at the high school level. Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

GAME TIME

Girls Tennis (UP) · Finals: Sept. 29-Oct. 2
Boys Tennis (LP) · Finals: Oct. 14-16
Girls Golf (LP) · Finals: Oct. 15-16
Boys Cross Country (UP) · Finals: Oct. 23
Girls Cross Country (UP) · Finals: Oct. 23
Boys Cross Country (LP) · Finals: Nov. 6
Girls Cross Country (LP) · Finals: Nov. 6
Boys Soccer · Finals: Nov. 6
Girls Swimming & Diving (LP) · Finals: Nov. 19-20
Girls Volleyball · Finals: Nov. 20
Football 8-Player · Finals: 19-20
Football 11-Player · Finals: 26-27

MHSAA TV

For a complete list of all games and streaming options go to mhsaa.tv.

Click here for a schedule of available student broadcast video streams.

 

Michigan High School Athletic Association Newsletter

1661 Ramblewood Drive, East Lansing, MI 48823

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MHSAA NOW: The weekly newsletter

MHSAA NOW: The weekly newsletter

MHSAA NOW logo

MHSAA NOW: The weekly newsletter of the Michigan High School Athletic Association

THIS WEEK

We begin this week with a tip-off to our celebration of 50 years of Title IX, which was signed into law June 23, 1972. We also take a look back at a memorable opening week for football and learn how life as an athlete from Beaver Island is in many ways unique compared to the lives of high school athletes elsewhere in our state.

Do you know a high school sports fan who would enjoy this weekly newsletter? Share this link to register on MHSAA.com and be added to the MHSAA NOW mailing list.

AROUND THE STATE

Title IX at 50: We Will Celebrate Many Who Paved the Way

Before the passage of Title IX in 1972, fewer than 300,000 females participated in athletics nationwide, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. During the 2019-20 school year – the most recent not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – nearly 76,000 girls competed in athletics in Michigan alone, filling more than 120,000 spots on teams for 750 high schools statewide.

1st & Goal: 2021 Week 1 in Review

Michigan high school football has been ripe for a fresh start after a COVID-rattled 2020 (and into 2021) season. Win or lose this past weekend, nearly 600 varsity football teams across the state should continue to have plenty to look forward to this fall – and of course, some have a few more reasons for early excitement.

Flights, Flexibility, Fun & New Friends All Parts of Beaver Island’s Sports Story

Chartered flights and overnight stays for all away games are part of the normal routine for one northern Michigan high school’s student-athletes. Opportunities to make lots of new friends always come with the games too. That’s the norm for Beaver Island athletes representing the Lakers in soccer, volleyball and basketball while competing in the Northern Lights League.

List of 2021-22 MHSAA Network Affiliates Growing as Fall Sports Ramp Up

More than 70 radio stations and web audio outlets have joined a growing list of Michigan High School Athletic Association Network affiliates for the 2021-22 school year, with more expected to come on board as fall sports schedules continue to build toward a busy September and October. Affiliates carry games and also the MHSAA Network radio show – “This Week in High School Sports” – which began its seventh season last week.

GAME TIME

Girls Tennis (UP) · Finals: Sept. 29-Oct. 2
Boys Tennis (LP) · Finals: Oct. 14-16
Girls Golf (LP) · Finals: Oct. 15-16
Boys Cross Country (UP) · Finals: Oct. 23
Girls Cross Country (UP) · Finals: Oct. 23
Boys Cross Country (LP) · Finals: Nov. 6
Girls Cross Country (LP) · Finals: Nov. 6
Boys Soccer · Finals: Nov. 6
Girls Swimming & Diving (LP) · Finals: Nov. 19-20
Girls Volleyball · Finals: Nov. 20
Football 8-Player · Finals: 19-20
Football 11-Player · Finals: 26-27

MHSAA TV

For a complete list of all games and streaming options go to mhsaa.tv.

Click here for a schedule of available student broadcast video streams.

 

Michigan High School Athletic Association Newsletter

1661 Ramblewood Drive, East Lansing, MI 48823

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