McCabe: Cory Chavis embraces challenge at Detroit Leadership Academy

McCabe: Cory Chavis embraces challenge at Detroit Leadership Academy

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McCabe: Cory Chavis embraces challenge at Detroit Leadership Academy

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Mick McCabe

Mick McCabe

Cory Chavis might have bitten off more than he can chew.

Chavis, 42, is the first-year head football coach for the first-year program at Detroit Leadership Academy, a charter school on the city’s far west side, near Ford Road and Evergreen.

Leadership Academy is in its fourth year of existence and will graduate its first class in the spring.

Because this is Leadership’s first year in the Michigan High School Athletic Association, it is ineligible to compete in the state playoffs.

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That won’t be a concern for the Cougars, who begin their eight-game schedule against Class A Detroit Western at 5 p.m. Friday at Mumford.

Things get worse from there for the co-ed school of between 140 and 150 in the high school.

In Week 2, Leadership plays Buchanan, which has 476 students and was 11-1 last season. And then plays Birmingham Detroit Country Day, with 692 students and an 11-2 record a year ago.

It also faces Division 7 powerhouse Detroit Loyola in Week 6 and concludes in Week 9 against U-D Jesuit, which has about 740 boys.

Are we sure Chavis knows what he’s getting himself into?

“We stacked up a pretty big list of games here,” he said. “It wasn’t that way to begin with, but at the end of the day we got what we got. We’re just going to push forward, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

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There are two ways you can approach a schedule like this. You can complain about the tough road ahead, or you can embrace the challenge.

Chavis is doing the latter.

“We’re teaching our young men that, yeah, this is a game and, yes, do you want to win? Absolutely,” he said. “But this is more about creating a family environment. Most first-year teams don’t win a lot of games, so it’s not about winning games.

“It’s about strengthening yourself physically and mentally. It’s about being able to get exposure. There’s a lot of opportunity in having programs where you’re playing big schools.”

Leadership Academy will get exposure and opportunity, while teams like Country Day and U-D Jesuit will get ridiculously easy wins in their pursuit of six victories to make the state playoffs.

In addition to coaching, Chavis is the director of external partnerships for Equity Education, which runs the school.

He said adding football is a way to help the school increase enrollment.

“The reality was, football is great for leadership training, team training for our young men,” he said. “At this point in Detroit, if you don’t have a football team, you lose your kids to schools that do. So it’s something that we want to provide, the mental, physical aspect of it. And we also wanted to provide something our kids would want to get involved with.”

The Cougars will enter the opener with 25 players on the varsity team, of which only three are seniors. And, by the way, there is no junior varsity or freshman team.

Again, does Chavis have any idea what he is in for?

“I hear you,” Chavis said. “Numbers don’t mean that much, though. It’s about heart. It’s football. A couple wins here and there. If we get four wins, I’d smile a great big smile.”

It is football, all right, and let’s hope Chavis can smile in nine weeks.

Mick McCabe’s top-25 teams: Nos. 11-15

Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or mmccabe@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.

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