The district title will be at stake when the Woodhaven Warriors head to the home of the Dearborn Fordson Tractors Friday night.
The Fordson Tractors (8-2) have had a great season with the pairing of Alex Osman and Antonio Gates Jr. on the field. Osman has had well over 1700 yards on more than 125 completed passes. Gates is committed to Michigan State University, and among the best receivers in the state, receiving offers from five BIG 10 schools and six Southeastern Conference schools.
The paring has helped the Tractors to become the 18th overall team in Michigan, and the 9th ranked team in Division I. The year has come with much conflict for the team of Fordson, though, after losses at the hands of Belleville and their across-town rivals; the Pioneers. The Pioneers fell to Woodhaven, but Belleville could await Fordson if they win.
Head Coach, Fouad Zaban, is not worried about what is behind the team, and is focused on this week against Woodhaven.
“I feel like in each win or loss there are teaching moments,” said Zaban. “We try to re-evaluate our performance in games, as well as during practice.”
The Tractors have a thick-skin mentality taught by their head coach, but also rely on leaders within the team to step forward. Coach Zaban acknowledges that leadership spreads around the locker room, but Osman, Gates, and Mohamed Zaban are the players that take point in that area.
COVID-19 has created difficult times for young sports players and coach Zaban knows one of the largest challenges the team faced was staying healthy all year. He also adds that this year has some extra meaning to the school as a whole.
“[This year] is special considering that the fans and students didn’t get to participate last year,” said Zaban. “It gives people a sense of normalcy.”
Coming into Friday, Coach Zaban has prepared his team as much as possible. Winning the opening round was the first step for his team that he would like to see go on a deep run into the playoffs. However, Zaban also holds a tremendous amount of respect towards Woodhaven, and anticipates a tough game.
“We expect a well-coached team,” began Zaban. “I have a ton of respect for Keith, the head coach. His teams always play hard and are well prepared. They’ve got some really talented kids, team speed, and I love how their defense gets to the ball.”
The Woodhaven Warriors (9-1) have had a season to remember, outscoring opponents 386-81 through ten games, including four shutouts. The Warriors have played great on both sides of the ball, in large part to Syracuse committee Cornell Perry and quarterback Ashton Mohlman. Mohlman has thrown for just over 1000 yards this season off of 65 completed passes.
The two players have helped lead the Warriors to an explosive offensive year that sets them at 31st in Michigan and 16th rank in Division I. After beating Dearborn, a team that Fordson lost to, they remain confident.
Head Coach Keith Christnagel is pleased with where his team stands, as their first goal is always to win the league, but the main goal is a state championship. It’s been a pleasant season for the Warriors, but Christnagel has admitted that the largest challenge is staying focused each week and not looking past a given game.
“Fordson is a very well-coached team.” said Christnagel, mirroring the rival coach’s sentiments. “They are extremely large up front, with outstanding premiere athletes.”
The winner of Friday night’s game moves on to play the winner of rank 11 Belleville vs. rank 46 Canton in the state quarter-finals.
Highlights of the Fordson vs Woodhaven game will air on Local 4 News Friday at 11 p.m. and Saturday at 6 a.m.
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