With an explosive offense and a combustive defense, Westland John Glenn’s 2013 football team played in a lot of games that finished with basketball-like scores.
Rockets head coach Tim Hardin is hopeful that is about to change – at least on the defensive side of the ball.
After his team yielded over 30 points per contest one year ago, Hardin is confident the ship will be righted in year two of the program’s remodeled ball-stopping scheme.
“Our defense was awful last year,” Hardin emphasized. “We allowed the second-most points in school history. We put in a new defense last year and we had a lot of young guys starting. We have eight returning starters back and they’ve all played the defense for a year, so I’m expecting a lot of improvement.”
It will be hard to improve on the offensive side of the ball for the Rockets, who racked up a robust 339 points during their 6-4 season, but not impossible given their cast of returning standouts. Leading the charge will be massive and mobile tackle DeShawn Baker-Williams (6-foot-4, 310 pounds), who has committed to play college football for Central Michigan University.
“He’s big and very athletic for his size,” Hardin said of Baker-Williams, who was voted by his teammates to serve as a captain.
Wide receiver/defensive back Andre Brown (6-2, 197) is another captain who will rarely leave the field for the Rockets.
“Andre is one of those ‘lead by example’ kids,” Hardin said. “He’s an extremely hard worker who puts a ton of time in. He sets the bar high for everybody else.”
Junior quarterback Brendan Wetmore (5-11, 143) will be engineering the Rockets’ offense. A first-year varsity starter and captain, Wetmore isn’t flashy, but he’s more than capable of getting the job done, Hardin assured.
“Brendan is very smart, very dependable,” Hardin said. “He’s the kind of quarterback who may not win you a lot of games by himself, but he won’t lose any either with bad decisions.”
John Glenn’s most compelling captain is senior fullback Tyler Horde (6-0, 195), who Hardin labeled “the hardest-working kid on the team.”
“Tyler really emerged during the off-season,” Hardin shared. “He went from an average-sized kid to a very strong kid because of all the work he put in in the weight room. I told the kids I wanted them to put in at least 30 workouts during the off-season, and Tyler put in 50.”
The Rockets’ fifth captain is senior defensive back/linebacker Le’Jon Crawford (5-10, 198), who brings a supreme level of toughness to the gridiron.
“He’s a hard hitter and his motor never stops running,” Hardin raved. “He’s always flying around the field, getting everybody pumped up.”
A pair of running backs – Jamie Melchor (6-1, 195) and Leon Crawford (5-10, 185) – will have some big and fast shoes to fill with the graduation of Devon Spalding, who rushed for 1,761 yards (including 491 in one game) and a school record 27 touchdowns in 2013.
“They’re both talented guys who I’m confident can get the job done,” Hardin said.
Doug LaRowe (5-9, 170) will play fullback along with Horde and Nathan Szymanski (5-11, 175) will serve as Wetmore’s back-up at QB.
John Glenn’s receiving corps will be paced by a quartet of burners: Jaron Flournoy (6-0, 170), Deandre Barthwell (6-2, 170), CJ Guy (6-0, 175) and Tyrikh Hunter (5-11, 165). Brown will play tight end and split end.
“They all have good hands,” said Hardin. “Jaron is our big-play guy.”
The Rockets’ strength lies in their offensive line, which returns four starters from last season’s recording-breaking rushing show. The lone new-comer is junior center William Owens (5-11, 221).
Owens will be flanked by guards Anthony Williamson (6-2, 250) and Daniel Cobb (6-2, 220), while Edward Springborn (6-4, 273) and Baker-Williams will man the tackle spots.
The much-improved defense will be anchored by tenacious space-eating defensive tackles Renardo Brown (6-3, 318) and Baker-Williams. Defensive ends Javaughn Burns (6-3, 190) and Austin Clenney’s (6-2, 192) job will be to turn everything inside so that line-backers Leon Crawford, Dalton Crane (6-1, 211) and Le’Jon Crawford can clean-up.
“With Renardo and DeSean, we’re as big as anybody inside,” said Hardin. “They both bench over 400, so that’s a strong point for us.”
Barthwell and Jerimey Martin (5-10, 155) will provide lock-down capabilities at the cornerback position.