Brad Zube, Brandon Blackhawks head football coach, meets with players at Summer Youth Camp for third through eighth grade students. Photo by Miki Alderman.
Brandon Twp.- The Brandon Blackhawks football program opened last week with the annual summer team camp.
With temperatures in the mid-80s about 70 future Blackhawks participated in conditioning and football drills under the auspices of second-year Varsity Head Coach Brad Zube. Last year the Blackhawks compiled an 8-2 record which ended in a 34-7 first round playoff loss to the Linden Eagles. Zube will start his eighth year as a high school head coach following stints at Pontiac High School and Stoney Creek High School.
The high school football season starts on Aug. 7.
“We have plenty for varsity players,” said Zube. “But we could use more players on the JV and ninth grade team. It’s not too late, to come out for football. If you missed a few practices this summer it’s OK— you’re welcome to come out.”
“We have seven coaches on the varsity staff and all bring great talent to the team,” said Zube. “Our two former NFL players give us great incite to the game and an individualized skill set, broken down by position that is unique. They have a wealth of knowledge that goes a long way with the kids.”“They have stories and experiences that few players will ever have,” he said. “Also it gives the players some perspective into what a Division I player looks like, along with the talent and commitment needed to make it at that level.”
Matt Lentz, 34, is a 6-6, 320-pound former Blackhawks football star where he earned three school letters making the all-county, all-metro, all-league and all-state teams his senior year. He was a starting offensive lineman for the University of Michigan for three years and twice named an all-Big Ten offensive lineman before receiving his bachelor’s degree from the school in 2005. He signed as a free agent with the New York Giants in 2006.
“This is my first year as a coach,” said Lentz, now a Dexter resident and a mechanical designer at Sames Kremlin. “I’ll coach the offensive line and yes I miss playing. But I do have a smile on my face when I put the guys through the linemen drills and watch them huffing and puffing.”
Lentz also had stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and briefly with the Detroit Lions before leaving the NFL in 2009 to play in the United Football League. He retired following the 2010 season.
“Football is a big team sport— you don’t get that team camaraderie anywhere else,” he said. “Helping these guys with practice techniques, especially those skills that I did not learn when I was growing up is key to success on the field. That can make a huge difference in a game situation. While it’s early, I can tell you these Blackhawks have the ‘look’— they want to play football and improve. They know all this work has a reason, there’s technique behind it. They buy in.”
Starting his seventh year as an assistant coach for Zube, is Louis Adams, a 6-2, 244 pounds Pontiac native and all-state running back. A 1994 graduate at Pontiac Central High School Adams rushed for 1,457 yards and scored 17 touchdowns as a senior. The highly recruited blue-chip high school player attended Oklahoma State University where he played in 33 games.
Adams who ran a 4.3 second—40 yard dash started all four years at OSU. He joined the team as a freshman tailback moved to pre-safety as a sophomore and to linebacker his junior and senior years.
“I’ve been playing this game since I was 9-years-old,” said Adams, 43, who will work on offense. “Football is who I am. I still love the game and when I see players advance and improve with a skill that I helped them to achieve I feel success. It’s all worth it.”
Adams is now the assistant director of football operations for Legacy Football Organization in Pontiac, an off-season development program.
“Coming out of Pontiac (high school) we did not have a big weight program, I was a track guy out of high school,” he said. “I went to Oklahoma and earned a spot just on my speed, but kept getting nagging injuries. I tell youth today, ‘Wait until your sophomore year of college to play.’ For me that would have been better. A year on the team helps you understand the pace of the game better—(the game) speeds up after high school.’
As an 18-year-old freshman, Adams rushed for two touchdowns his first Division I football game.
“It was a lot of pressure,” he said. “You go from a crowd of a few hundred at a high school game to 100,000 fans.”
Adams was invited to play in the Hula Bowl, which featured the top college stars in 1997.
“My first year in the pros, 1997, was rough,” he said. “I lost my mother two weeks after I signed the NFL contract. It was one the biggest moments of my life and one of the hardest. The team moved from Houston to Nashville after mini camp.”
“I played a little bit that first year in the regular season,” he said. “Totally different than college. It’s huge to play at the NFL level. Of course the money is like icing on the cake, but I would play that game for free. You’re playing against the best players on the planet.”
After the 1998 season Adams played in the NFL Europe with the Rhein Fire and the Amsterdam Admirals. In 1999 he signed with the Green Bay Packers as a free agent. But a hamstring injury ended his career before he could play with the team.
“Green Bay is the place for any NFL player,” he said. “They love their players. That city takes care of us.”
For more information on Blackhawk football call High School Athletic Office, 248-627-1827