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Second annual KLAA media day sees reigning division champs back looking for more in 2014

By: Jeff Dullack, August 7, 2014, 6:15 pm

NOVI – For the second annual Kensington Lakes Activities Association media day, teams throughout gathered with the general feeling of optimism for the coming fall with practice just around the corner

But for four teams, the optimism also comes with a target on their backs after finding themselves atop the standings at the end of 2013

Reigning Division champions, Canton (KLAA South), Northville (Central), Grand Blanc (West) and Walled Lake Western (North) will look to continue their in-conference success from last year.

For Northville, the Mustangs will look to build off of a 2013 season where they not only won a division title, but also picked up the first ever conference championship in school history and also topped Western for a de facto association championship as well.

“That’s going to be the big question, are our seniors this year going to be happy just knowing that we had a great season when they were juniors, or do they want to build upon the legacy the last group of seniors left?” said Northville head coach Matt Ladach. “You can never be complacent and I don’t think these guys will be, they’ve worked way too hard since the season ended to just go out and go through the motions this year and I think we have the potential to have another special season.”

The Mustangs will have the help of Wisconsin offensive line commit David Moorman as well as tight end and defensive end Ryan Roberts (Northern Illinois) to help lead the way this fall.

Canton will also have its sights set on another big season with the help of its offensive line, which returns four starters from last year’s team.

Even with his team finishing with an 8-2 mark last season and a perfect division record, Canton head coach Tim Baechler believes that his team should be even better in 2014 because of the returning contributors the Chiefs have on offense.

“The big thing is the offensive line coming back,” he said. “We’ve got two running backs back, our quarterback is back for his third year, so offensively, we’re going to be way ahead of where we were last year.”

Among the key returners for Canton on offense are running back Chuck Turfe, who rushed for over 1,100 yards and 18 touchdowns last year and quarterback Greg Williams, who tallied 11 touchdowns of his own in 2013.

For Walled Lake Western, the Warriors lost several key contributors from years past and will look to fill the shoes of those players as Western is aiming for its third division title in four years.

There will be big shoes to fill for the Warriors, as quarterback and kicker Kyle Bambard (North Carolina State) as well as offensive lineman Alex Joss (Ball State) have moved onto the next level, but head coach Mike Zdebski expects several players to step up and fill spots early on in fall camp.

“I think they had the chance to work them for two and three years and you can’t replace that guidance,” he said. “That’s going to be the big thing this year, these guys are all going to be fine, it’s the new guys and how fast they pick up the speed and the tempo.”

Much like Western, Grand Blanc will also have shoes to fill as the Bobcats lost a handful of key contributors from last year, but head coach Joe Delaney said that he expects and has seen several other members of his team step up their efforts to fill those voids, but have key returners like quarterback Tre’Von Avery that will once again have Grand Blanc looking for another division crown.

“Our key is that we have a lot of kids stepping up to play,” he said. “We graduated some pretty good players, especially defensively at linebacker, and we’re going to have to replace some of those guys. I think we’ve got some talented kids who can do that, but it’s about how fast they can catch on and how confident they’ll be in their play. Offensively, we’ll be pretty defense, most of our line is back, our quarterback, who is probably one of the best around and we have a top receiver back.”

All KLAA teams will take to the field for the first day of practice on Monday, August 11.