GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Union High School kicks off the season on Saturday against their old city league rival, Ottawa Hills.
The players are psyched:
“We’ve all been waiting all year for this game, really,” Union senior quarterback Jaquari Hayes said.
“It’s been really hype, playing music every day, just getting everybody hyped and getting ready for game week,” senior offensive tackle Kaharri Caldwell agreed.
The first game of the season is the chance to show all their hard work.
“The excitement that you see is genuine, because they’ve put the time in,” head coach Don Fellows said.
“There is no magic pill. At the end of the day, as much film as we watch, as much as we put into this stuff, it still comes back to the investment we have with the kids,” Jeremy Fellows, the offensive coordinator, said.
That’s not to say the coaches aren’t putting in the time, too. Once the season begins, Jeremy Fellows said, “There is no downtime. Zero.”
“People just don’t understand the back-end stuff of what goes into really trying to create scouting reports and game planning,” Don Fellows said.
The weekly process starts with coaches breaking down film on Saturday. Coaches often spend eight to 10 hours figuring out how best attack their next opponent, considering formation, coverage, blitz, etc. Gathering Sunday, they start to form a game plan.
“We see what they run versus every formation, every coverage, and then we’ll sit down on the board and say, ‘Based on this formation, this is what we’ve seen and this is what we really like out of our base offense,'” Jeremy Fellows said.
The day wraps up between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., and the coaches head home to prepare for Monday.
“We will draw up these scout cards based on all these formations to line up our scout team defense. We will have our ready list ready. So now we’re putting our plays that we think are good versus what they’re going to line up to. Which again, takes eight to 10 hours,” Jeremy Fellows said. “Monday’s the grind day.”
The players start learning the plan at practice. Scout team runs the opposition’s offense and defense and starters learn the keys to beat it.
“It’s definitely a real program,” Hayes said. “It feels like we’re a business and we’re there with a purpose.”
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the team breaks down opening plays, what to do on each down and goal line plays.
“Thursday, we go back as a coaching staff and start looking at, ‘What do we really like?'” Jeremy Fellows said. “What do our kids really feel comfortable with?”
Outside of the Xs and Os, the coaches have embraced a year-round commitment to the players, working and playing together.
“I think the biggest thing is you’re trying to make a difference in kids’ lives,” Don Fellows said.
It has paid off:
“We’re like a family,” Caldwell said. “We have the best team chemistry.”