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Walled Lake Northern makes name hire in former Arizona St. All-American, Lions RB Terry Battle

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, January 7, 2020, 2:53 pm

It’s a hire that fulfills a headline-writer’s dream.

But in Terry Battle, Walled Lake Northern is getting more than someone whose name would help make cute sportswriting puns — it’s getting a big name as the new coach of the football program.

Battle was an All-American running back at Arizona State, and was picked by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round in 1997 NFL Draft, as an insurance policy against the health of future Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, as well as a kick returner. 

Hired Monday as the new coach of the Knights, Battle — who spent two seasons with the Lions and another with the Arizona Cardinals, before playing for Barcelona in NFL Europe and San Francisco in the XFL — served most recently at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood as the running backs and linebackers coach, and the special teams coordinator. 

“When you look at coach Battle’s resume, what stands out is his playing career,” Walled Lake athletic director Brian Swinehart said in a release. “He was an All-American and played in the NFL. After meeting with him, what impresses me the most is his character, passion and leadership. I am very excited to have a man like coach Battle coaching in Walled Lake.”

Battle has also coached at Detroit Mumford (2016-17) as the offensive coordinator, Sunrise Mountain High School in Arizona, and Phoenix College, as well as serving as the running backs coach and passing game coordinator for the Michigan Elite player development program.

He’s taking over a program that was tabbed — along with Lakeland — to finish second in the Lakes Valley Conference, but lost six of its last seven games after a 2-0 start. Battle replaces Joe Boulus, who was fired in November after going 12-15 in three seasons. 

“I really appreciate the fact that WLN is known for strong academics,” Battle said in the release. “When you combine this with a large student population and athletic talent, a great foundation exists to help student athletes reach the next level through football. This total package and great opportunity for success is what excited me the most.”

Northern first fielded a football team in 2003, and the Knights went 11-43 over their first six seasons, before recording at least four wins per season for the next 10 years, a streak that ended last year, with a 3-6 finish. That 10-year span featured six winning seasons and four playoff berths, the last of those in 2016. 

The Knights won the KLAA North Division title in 2012.

“I am most excited about developing a program based on strong character, discipline and values that will serve these student-athletes as we compete week to week, working toward a state title,” Battle said. “The goal for this program will always be to win a state title. Our supporters can expect to see hard work on the field and community involvement off the field.”

Battle currently works as a resource room teacher assisting emotionally impaired students at West Bloomfield’s Roosevelt Elementary. He has a master’s degree in special education.