Who: Brighton vs. Belleville
Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor
Time: 7 p.m., approximately (it’s the second game of a doubleheader at Michigan Stadium)
The Bulldogs open their season at Michigan’s Big House for the second year in a row. “There’s tons of excitement,” Brighton coach Brian Lemons says. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. Everyone’s excited about it.”
Playing a second year in a row, however, has limited advantages. “For the kids who played last year, yeah,” Lemons said. “But half our roster disappears with graduation, and the other half is going to come in there wide-eyed as heck. It’s fun to see the expression on the kids’ faces and their reaction coming out of that tunnel. It will be a lot of fun.”
Senior Rudy Ramirez says last year’s experience will be a bit of a help. “A little bit,” he said, “but we have a lot of sophomores and juniors who are going to be new to this. For me to calm down it’s going to be tough, and to help calm down the underclassmen is going to be tough.”
But, Lemons says, once the game starts, it’s back to football.
“Before the whistle hits, everyone’s into it,” he said. “Pregame, warmup line, yeah, there will be people looking around and some pictures taken. But once the whistle blows it will be a football game like every one.”
And the game time of 7 p.m. is certainly familiar.
“We usually play 7 p.m. games,” quarterback Will Jontz said, “so it’s like any other game.”
The Tigers, who were 7-2 last year, like Brighton, and also went out in the first round of the playoffs, have a talented squad, including cornerback Davion Williams, a basketball standout who has committed to playing football at Michigan State.
“You see how highly recruited some of their players are,” Lemons said. “But we’re used to it. Every team we play is more highly recruited than us.”
The Tigers are spending a final season in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference, along with Dearborn and Dearborn Fordson, before moving to the KLAA next season.
NO MORE SHARING
Will Jontz, who shared time with Cameron Tullar at quarterback last season, took over the starting job when Tullar decided to not play this year.
Jontz says his biggest task is “just doing my part, really. Doing the things I can do, controlling what I can control. It’s a bigger part of the offense, but I think I can handle it.”
He mostly was used in running situations last year, his sophomore season. That experience, he says, will help him this season.
“Playing last year helped me with my confidence,” he said.