OAA MEDIA DAY: Farmington Hills Harrison remains focused on 2015 despite rumors of closing
Rochester – At the OAA Media Day on Friday afternoon, there was a different feeling surrounding Farmington Hills Harrison.
A feeling of uncertainty.
Not uncertainty regarding the upcoming season, but rather uncertainty of what the future of the high school and its football program.
Throughout the summer, Harrison has been at the center of rumors that the school may be forced to close its doors and its storied football program could be in its final years.
But for legendary coach John Herrington, who is entering his 53rd year as head coach, and the Harrison football program, the primary focus is on the upcoming football season.
Herrington acknowledged that the possibility has been something that has been on his mind all summer, but said he’s looking forward to turning his attention to coaching as football practices across the state begin on Monday.
“Every day, every night when I go to bed and when I wake up,” he said. “I’m trying to forget about it now that we’re going into doubles, just say ‘Hey, let’s have fun and coach this year.’ I’m not ready to retire and I don’t want to see our school split up.”
With the rumors swirling around Harrison, the Hawks have lost two returning starters, Tyrone Lyte and Brendann Brown, to transfers. Both have enrolled at Southfield.
Herrington noted that with the transfers as well as lower than usual expectations for his team has left a bit of a chip on his team’s shoulders and added that the players leaving the Harrison program haven’t been discussed.
“I think that’s true,” he said. “Some kids left and the kids that stayed, they don’t even comment about it.”
Harrison star defensive end and Alabama-commit Khalid Kareem said that the rumors and transfers have been harder on some more than others, but said he’s confident with the majority of the team still intact.
“A little bit,” he said. “There were some kids who transferred and some took it little bit harder than others, but for the main part, most of our team is still here and we’re ready to go.”
Herrington has 411 career wins as head coach and has been Harrison’s only head football coach.
Despite the possibility of the school closing, Herrington said he is confident that, at the very least, Harrison will remain open for at least two more years, and added he’s becoming more and more optimistic about the situation.
“We’ll have two years for sure, and I think it’s going to be more,” he said. “I do, I’m getting more and more optimistic that they’re going to keep us open. Our superintendent really doesn’t want to see it close.”
But as far as football is concerned, Harrison is focusing on the upcoming season and who are some players that will have to step up in increased roles due to transfers.
A couple of key returners this year for Harrison along with Kareem are quarterback David Vinsky and fullback Jared Charr as well as Anthony Giovanni, who will play at safety and swing back for the Hawks and may also see time at quarterback as well.
Vinsky and Giovanni saw time at quarterback in the playoffs last year after starting quarterback Jevon Shaw went down with an injury.
“It remains to be seen,” Herrington said of his team. “Somebody will step up, younger guys will step in and that’s why it’s going to take us a while for us to figure out where everyone is going to play.
Kareem added that with expectations not being quite as high for Harrison this year, he and his teammates will be out to prove themselves in the fall.
“A lot of people are underrating us right now,” he said. “But they don’t know what we have in store for them, so just wait until Friday and we’ll see.”
Harrison opens its season on Friday, August 28th at home against East Kentwood at 6:00 pm.