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September 11, 2013

Hazel Park High football looking forward to season on new field

By Christian Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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Hazel Park High football looking forward to season on new field
Hazel Park High’s Gary Tyner prepares to run through a drill during practice Sept. 4.

HAZEL PARK — As the Vikings stretched, Hazel Park High football coach Scott Guthrie walked on his new turf football field, setting up cones for the upcoming practice Sept. 3.

In years past, the Vikings practiced next to the football stadium on grass in between the baseball and softball fields.

“This is level ground, which we’re not used to. They did a great job of trying to keep up our old practice field, but there were leaks, so we’d have to avoid spots.

“We had lines on the field, but we didn’t have numbers out there. So the first game comes, and our alignment wasn’t the best,” Guthrie recalled. “It’s great out here; there’s nothing bad about it. It’s beautiful to be out here.”

When construction is completely done, the Vikings, who were 0-1 at press time, will also have a new turf practice field laid over the holes and patches of dirt that they used to practice on.

Guthrie said the new field has brought added excitement to the program. Last season, Hazel Park only fielded a varsity team. This year, it has enough kids to also field a freshmen squad.

Though the field the Vikings are playing on is new, the style of play isn’t.

Hazel Park again features a punishing run game in a two tight-end set with three running backs.

“It’s more of a power game. You run downhill, get 3 or 4 yards each play. You can score points that way,” Guthrie said.

The Vikings scored 30 points in their season-opening 34-30 loss to Madison Heights Bishop Foley. In the last two seasons, Hazel Park has exceeded that mark eight times.

“Another good thing about it is that you can really take some time off the clock. With the spread (offense) and passing offenses, every incomplete stops the clock. For us, the clock is running. We have a lot of guys that go both ways, so we can take a long time on offense, try to eat up the clock, and hopefully, wear down some defenses, too.”

Sophomore quarterback Jared Schultz agrees. He started last season as a freshman.

“If we can execute our offense, it’s unstoppable. If everyone can get to where they need to be and do their jobs, no one can stop this offense,” he said. “It’s been around for a while at Hazel Park. It’s gotten teams to the playoffs here. We’re a tough team, we’re a tough-running team.”

“We’re not fooling anybody,” Guthrie commented. “They all know what they’re going to get — a steady dose of the run against us.”

This season, Hazel Park is bringing its power game with a team a bit more undersized and inexperienced than Guthrie is used to, but one with plenty of speed in the backfield.

“Even our kids that have speed, some of them didn’t play last year. So we have a lot of new guys that need to step in and fill some spots,” the coach said.

Schultz said a goal is to win the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.

“That’s always a thought, but you have to put it in perspective. We have to work for it and put effort into it if we want it,” he said. “We need work still. Anyone would say that, but we’re getting better week by week. We’re progressing. It’ll come together.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Christian Davis at cdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1062. Twitter Follow Christian on Twitter.