Cougers maul the competition

The Lakeshore Cougars have been sizzling hot this summer. The Grand Haven-based semi-pro football team is currently sporting an undefeated record at 6-0 and have risen to No. 1 in the Great Midwest Football League's power poll, which is based on victories and strength of schedule. There are a total of 36 teams in seven divisions in the GMFL. The team is also ranked No. 9 in the nation among all registered semi-pro teams, regardless of league, according to the Cougars' coach and co-owner Deirreio Duncan.
Nate Thompson
Jul 20, 2011

 

Victories have often been lopsided for the Cougars this season, as they’ve piled up 48 or more points in five of their six contests.

Two of their biggest blowouts have come at their home field of Buccaneer Stadium at Grand Haven High School — a 75-6 thrashing of the Kalamazoo Outlaws on June 25, and their most recent win, a 61-8 pounding of the West Michigan Tigers on July 16.

“To be honest with you, (our success) it’s based on faith,” said Duncan. “We have only two coaches (along with assistant Thomas Jablonski) but the veterans are

stepping in practice and helping run our offense and implement the game plan.

“We’ve got a lot of experience with guys playing in college or the semi-pro level. And it’s just all starting to gel.”

Duncan highlighted players such as Muskegon native Montrell Dockery, a former standout at Central State University in Ohio who tried out — but was cut — by the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. He’s now proving to be a lockdown cornerback for the Cougars.

Contributing to the defense’s dominance is Muskegon native Stephon Betts, a linebacker. He was one of the Cougars’ three All-Stars in the GMFL last season.

“He’s just crazy out there. That’s all I can say,” Duncan said with a laugh.

The offense has also been stabilized by experienced signal-caller Aaron James, a former Muskegon Big Red who played professionally in Europe beginning in 2006 in Denmark, France, Switzerland and Norway.

Duncan said the team’s run game has also really thrived, as players such as Ypsilanti native Eric James — who wasn’t a starter at the beginning of the season — has contributed 100-yard efforts in recent wins.

While the team is cherishing its undefeated start, there’s still unfinished business to achieve — including Saturday’s home contest against the Traverse City Wolves. Kick-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.
 

“Our last game, I thought we had a bad game, even though we put up 61 points on the board,” Duncan said. “We had turnovers and we were just sloppy in a few areas. Teams are going to be gunning for us now, and we’ve got to play every week like a championship game, regardless of the opponent.”
 

The Cougars, who have already clinched a playoff berth, have three more contests in the regular season after Saturday. The wildcard round of the playoffs are scheduled to begin on Aug. 20.

 

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