Hanging with the big boys of Michigan high school football is no easy task, but the No. 21 Cass Tech Technicians (Detroit, Mich.) have proven more than able.
The 12-2 Technicians put an exclamation point on their season on Saturday by winning their second consecutive Division I state championship with a 36-21 win over Detroit Catholic Central.
“At the end of the season, you want to go out with a bang,” says senior linebacker Miles Felder. “We made a name for ourselves.”
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The team’s hard-earned success stemmed, in part, from dedicated weight workouts.
Enter the weight room at Cass Tech, and you’ll sometimes hear Waka Flocka songs playing as background noise.
“We want the weight room to be inviting — a place players want to come, not run from,” coach Thomas Wilcher says.
Wilcher likes to keep the weight room environment relaxed, but that doesn’t mean his athletes aren’t serious about working hard.
Felder credits bodyweight work like pullups, dips, calf raises, lunges and squats for helping improve and maintain his balance and strength. But Felder and his teammates don’t shy away from heavy lifting.
During the offseason, Wilcher’s athletes hit the weight room for hour-long lifting sessions five days a week.
For upper-body training, players target their chest and arms with the reverse grip bench, dumbbell bench and incline. They also perform pulldowns and reverse and regular curls to work their wrists.
Wilcher is heavy on core training, and sometimes his athletes will dedicate up to 40 minutes to situps, straight leg lifts, knee lifts, planks and med ball core exercises.
For their lower body, players focus on leg extensions, leg curls, front squats, box squats and step-ups.
Aside from the power clean as a training staple, Cass Tech also does core work with a med ball.
The Technicians will perform 4-6 sets of 15-20 situps while holding a med ball in front of their chest. Wilcher says the exercise is beneficial for developing strength needed for speed development, balance and endurance.
To advance the movement, his athletes will perform the exercise using a plate. Felder says the plate creates a greater resistance and also improves grip strength. The weight varies depending on the athlete — some use a 25-pound plate, while others hold a 45-pound plate.