Brandon Blackhawks take aim at playoffs with new look

New coach. New season.

“It’s a whole new look,” said Brad Zube, who stepped in as Blackhawks head football coach in January. “On both sides of the ball, defense and offense, football is a physical game. We have the right kids to plug into our system.”

Zube, a 1996 Romeo High School graduate, was an assistant coach at Notre Dame Prep High School. He then was a defensive coordinator for one year at Pontiac High School, taking over as head coach at Pontiac High School in the 2010-11 seasons. At PHS he compiled a record of 11-8, which included a first round post season loss to Clarkston High School in 2011. In 2012, he took over as head coach at Stoney Creek High School in Rochester Hills. From 2012-2015, Zube had a record of 19-16 and a 2013 playoff first round loss to Rochester Adams. He brings a career football record of 30-26 in six years as coach.

Zube replaces Tim Pizzala, who announced after last season that he would step down following nine seasons at the helm of the Blackhawks.

“Since winter the team’s been lifting weights three days a week—we had 40 players in the weight room,”said Zube. “From a summer passing league to mini-camps, this group has worked hard this off-season. The team’s ready, but depth is going to be an issue this season—we have about 30-35 players and we need about 40-50. We are going to run an up-tempo, no huddle offense—it’s going to be a fast moving offense.”

The Blackhawks strength is the offensive line, featuring Nick Smarch, Ean Thompson, Matt Hill and Ryan Beauchamp.

“The O-Line are all underclassmen, but very tough,” Zube said.

The quarterback position will be a two pronged attack.

“We have two contrasting quarterbacks—Amarae Kittles— he’s fast, elusive, can run and pass. We also have Kevin Grigerit, he’s big and a pocket passer. They both had a great summer, we really like them both.”

“Carrying the ball is halfback Kevin Bickett—easily in the top 50 players in Oakland County,” he added.

Tailbacks will be Bryce Chamberlain and Dusty Dickens and Kittles will also be running the ball for the Blackhawks.

“Team speed is key,” Zube said. “They can all catch the ball and are very strong receivers. We also added Josh Manfioni over the summer at wide receiver to round out the offense.”

On the defensive side of the ball, look for a lot of movement.

“It’s a high pressure defense,” he said. “We are all about creating chaos for the offense. We have a lot of two way players—some are just too good to take off the offense.”

The D-Line is Nick Smarch, Clay Deboer, Travis Adams, Matthew Hill, Wayde Wilson and Beauchamp.

“Our linebackers include Michael Nicaj, a wrestler and sophomore who can really get it done,” he said. “Bryce Chamberlain at outside linebacker will be a strong pass rusher. Joey Lovasz and Jayden Gulledge will come in as strong outside linebackers.”

The Blackhawks secondary is very strong this year with Kevin Bickett and Dusty Dickens. The cornerbacks will be Kittles, Hutchinson and Manfroni.

“Finally, our senior kicker Zachary Clements is strong and accurate,” he added. “We believe in our blueprint and prided ourselves on getting the most out of our kids on the field. We will have a new plan mapped out starting from the Junior Blackhawks through middle school and the JV team. We’ve come here to build a winning football program from the ground up.”