Addition of Harper Woods makes already strong OAA football even better – The Oakland Press


ROCHESTER – When it comes to sharpening iron, it never hurts to add a little more raw metal to the mix.

The already mighty Oakland Activities Association will only go from strength to strength this fall with the addition of Harper Woods this fall, expanding the league’s slate of football programs to 22 teams and allowing football to go into four divisions for the first time. since 2003.

After a 7-3 season and a fourth consecutive playoff appearance, the Pioneers will slip into the OAA White Division with Birmingham Groves, Rochester and Oak Park, while OAA champion Blue Bloomfield Hills rebounds and Southfield A&T descended from the OAA Red.

“I think we are very excited about it. Last year was like OK, we came here, we got to look around and see how things were done, which opened our eyes and let us know what we were getting into. I mean, it’s definitely going to be great to see him on the pitch…so I can’t wait to see what the fall brings us,” said defensive coordinator Mike Booker, who attended the media day at the IAAF. OAA Friday for the second consecutive year in place. from head coach Rod Oden, acknowledging the solidity that being in a league brings to the scheduling process.

“That’s the best thing about the league. That’s why we kind of looked around to find a league we could get into. Coach Oden did a great job trying to find a place where we can be solid and where we won’t have to wait until March or May to finally finalize our schedule Our schedule was finalized in November By the time the league game was played we pretty much knew our job time. So that was the greatest thing of all.

2022 OAA Football Media Day Photo Gallery at Rochester HS

Harper Woods has spent the past two seasons as a freelance footballer after leaving the Michigan Metro Athletic Conference. The school’s other sports joined the league last year, with football waiting until this season.

It is the first football program added to the OAA since Oxford in 2010 – Ferndale University, a 2020 addition to the league, only has a cooperative football program with intercity rival Ferndale – and compensates the downward trend in league registrations. Since its heyday, OAA has lost four membership slots to mergers forming Royal Oak (2006), Pontiac (2009), Bloomfield Hills (2013), and Southfield A&T (2016), while Hazel Park departed in 2019 to follow Clawson and the Madison. Heights schools in the Macomb area conference.

Harper Woods’ enrollment has blossomed in recent years, growing the program from a Class C (420 students) in 2013 to a Class B (2014-19), and now a Class A program each of the last two . With 1,289 pupils in 2022, Harper Woods will be smaller than four of the five OAA White schools – only Groves (1,188) has fewer pupils – but online, in terms of size, for the most part.

And athletically, the Pioneers — who went 22-16 in Oden’s previous four seasons — have the horses to compete.

Harper Woods defensive back Jacob Oden is a four-star rookie and is considered one of the state’s top five players in the Class of 2024. (MATTHEW B. MOWERY – MediaNews Group)

“They’ve got a bunch of stallions running around here,” said Eric Royal of Ferndale, who took on the Pioneers in 7-on-7 action, singling out Oden’s son Jacob, a four-star rookie who is considered among the top five in the state class of 2024. “I think they’re going to do well in the OAA. They will face each other week after week. It’s just going to be a thumbs up game in this league. Every team is good. »

The addition also helps OAA’s other lower end schools. Rather than a bloated nine-team blue division, there are enough programs to split into blue and gold divisions.

Birmigham Seaholm and North Farmington descend from OAA White to form the core of Blue, along with Farmington, Troy and Troy Athens, while Auburn Hills Avondale, Berkley, Ferndale, Pontiac and Royal Oak will be in Blue.

This gives those final five the bonus of being able to fight for their own title.

” We are pleased. I think giving us the opportunity to compete for a championship now is awesome. You know, and the way it was last year, there were teams with almost triple registrations that we’re playing against, and they ran away with the division. So always trying to work out this issue of who would go down and I think going to four divisions gives all five teams…in our division an opportunity to win a championship,” said Corey Bell of Avondale. “We’re still going to be a young team, but there’s just a different edge to this team and they’re excited that we’re going to compete for a championship. Our goal is to win OAA gold and to have a playoff game, so those are two very achievable goals for us and the kids are thrilled.

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Auburn Hills Avondale coach Corey Bell speaks during the Oakland Activities Association football media day at Rochester HS on Friday August 5, 2022. Team Bell is one of five teams in the OAA’s new Gold Division, giving them a chance to compete for a title this season. (MATTHEW B. MOWERY — MediaNews Group)

Having another potential team in the playoffs only adds to the luster of a league that is full of contenders every year.

“I did a little research, we’ve had great teams, great coaches, very talented athletes, but to get a sense of the kind of football we’ve been playing in the OAA, over the last 14 years, an OAA team has played in or won the Division 1 state championship nine of those 14 years. And if you look at the other leagues in the state, no other league comes close,” said Chris Bell, who returns to the sidelines after a five-year hiatus as Lake Orion sporting director: “So we played some good football in the OAA.”

It’s the weekly, weekly grind that sharpens the iron of these contenders.

“I’ve coached in some really tough leagues…and the OAA is an amazing league with lots of competition every week,” said Greg Carter of Oak Park. “One of the things we learned is that if you lose on a Friday, you know, a lot of people dwell on the losses, you better forget about it. A little advice: get back to the game. work, because if you dwell on it too much, you will end up losing the following week, as the competition is great.


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