35 returning veterans have Flint Hamady optimistic

35 returning veterans have Flint Hamady optimistic about returning to football playoffs
Posted on 08/01/2022
By Brendan Savage | [email protected]
FLINT – Gary Lee didn’t have to ask his Hamady football team how it felt about missing the playoffs last year.

He already knew the level of disappointment his players felt when they put together a 6-3 victory that included one-sided wins over Bendle, Flint and Bentley as well as a triumph over perennial playoff team Beecher.

The Hawks finished with a 6-3 record – one of their losses was to postseason qualifier Powers Catholic – yet they failed to make the playoffs for the first time in seven years.

Bendle coach Mike Jerisk, whose team finished 5-4 and lost 52-20 to Hamady, was one of the people who couldn’t figure that one out.

“The only thing that compared was my junior year in high school,” said Lee, who played quarterback at Flint Southwestern before going on to the University of Michigan. “The same thing happened. We went undefeated and didn’t make it.

“It still burns me. It was terrible for the kids. I thought they deserved to be there. You can only play the games that are on your schedule. You can’t play games that aren’t on your schedule.

“I think that’s going to be a motivator for our kids.”

Rest assured, the Hawks haven’t forgotten that they finished three games above .500 but saw their season end after nine games.

Delano Townsend
Hamady senior lineman Delano Townsend. (Brendan Savage | MLive.com)

“Some teams made it with losing records,” said senior lineman Delano Townsend.

Added senior lineman Tyrian Walton: “I wouldn’t say we were cheated but I felt like we deserved it.”

Two years ago the Hawks would have made the playoffs even if they went winless during the regular season. That’s because every team reached the postseason in 2020 after the season was shortened by COVID-19.

Lee would like to see every team make the playoffs these days, something that happens in every MHSAA sport except football.

“We should do it like they do it in Texas, where everyone makes it,” Lee said. “You cut down one regular-season game. That’s just me because too much of this is going to happen.

“It’s going to happen again to somebody.”

The good news for the Hawks is they have a strong veteran cast that should have them contending for a playoff berth.

Of the 45 players on the roster, 35 were on the team a year ago so experience won’t be lacking at Hamady. Seven players who made the All-Genesee Area Conference first team are back for at least another year and two others made honorable mention.

That group includes Western Michigan commit Delano Townsend, a 6-foot-4, 314-pound senior lineman; senior offensive lineman Tyrian Walton (5-11, 208); senior running back DeShawn Douglas (5-8, 185); senior running back DeQuayvius Buck (6-0, 250) and junior linebacker Francis Morgan (5-9, 185).

Sophomore DeQuarius Mayfield (6-0, 175) will be the starting quarterback after seeing significant playing time last year when Sean Byrd got hurt. Byrd will play wide receiver and defensive back this season.

Hamady enjoyed the best season in school history in 2018, starting the season with 11 straight victories before losing to Montrose in Division 6 regional championship game.

That team was loaded with talent and Lee sees similarities with this year’s group.

“I see the will to win just like those guys had,” Lee said. “They were very competitive. I think that’s going to carry this group a long way.

“There were some outstanding guys (on the 2018 team). We have some talent on this team also. The biggest thing is these guys have worked hard, our summer conditioning.

“They’ve got camaraderie. Everything they do, they’re doing it together. You build that trust in each other.”

The Division 5 Hawks open the season Aug. 25 on the road against Division 4 Lansing Eastern. Then they’ll host Powers Catholic Sept. 1.

“I think the experience is our strength,” Lee said. “Most of these guys all played last year so they understand what it takes to win these games now.

“I think that’s going to be the biggest thing.”
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