Skill position players will help power the Roosevelt football team in 2019

Jalen Pitchford is back under center for his sophomore year as Roosevelt’s quarterback.

Bears ready to rumble again

In his 14 years at the helm of the Roosevelt football program, coach Ron Adams has built the Bears into one of the dominant programs in the Downriver League.

Perennial conference contenders, the Bears have been to the state playoffs 13 years in a row. If they make it 14, it will likely be on the strength of their skill-position players, led by returning quarterback Jalen Pitchford. In 2018 Pitchford became the first sophomore to start at quarterback for a Roosevelt team headed by Adams. He is on track to become Adams’ first three-year starting QB.

“He’s a solid guy,” said Adams. “He’s at the top of his class academically and he’s already getting looks from Division 1 schools.”

But the Roosevelt signal caller is not alone in leading his team. Senior Hayden Loya has drawn raves from his coach.

“He’s one of the best players in the area,” said Adams.

Another high achiever academically, Loya, a receiver and safety, was Roosevelt’s defensive player of the year last season.

“He has great leadership abilities,” said Adams.

The Bears also have two excellent running backs to rely on in seniors Christian Cooper and Keyshawn Stanley. Both played last year and Adams hopes they are even better this year.

“They are pretty talented and the two together and a nice combination,” he said.

Also key to the mix are juniors Logan McGraw, a fullback/linebacker, and Richard Clark, a tight end/defensive end.

Clark is an especially intriguing player.

“He may have the most talent and ability on the team,” Adams said of the 6-foot-3 budding star. “With his size and ability, he causes match-up problems for opponents.”

But for an offense to go, it’s line has to be stout and the Bears are mostly a big question mark there, having graduated their entire offensive line.

To help anchor the new line, senior Nico Fernandez has accepted the challenge and moved from tight end to tackle.

“It speaks volumes about the kid,” said Adams. “He knows we have no returning offensive linemen and he unselfishly made the move. He gave up the chance to catch touchdown passes and have his name in the paper for the betterment of the team. Sacrificing for the team is one of the pillars of our program and I can’t say enough about that kid.”

Fernandez also plays defensive end. As on most good teams these days, the top offensive players also chip in on defense.

Adams said his team has some holes to fill and some questions to answer, but overall he said he likes the makeup of the 2019 Bears.

“This team has the ability to compete for the league title,” he said.

But it won’t be easy.

The truth is, the Downriver League has a few soft spots in it, but the teams at the top of the division are good and getting better.

Adams pointed to Woodhaven, Carlson and Trenton as being some of the toughest competition in the league.

“Woodhaven has a lot of skilled talent coming back, Carlson will be pretty good and Trenton with (Coach Bob) Czarnecki there is always well-coached and hard to beat,” said Adams.

Woodhaven is 22-8 over the past three seasons and has been in the playoffs all three years; Carlson is 17-4 over the past two seasons and been in the playoffs both years; and Trenton has been in the state playoffs the past five seasons.

And that does not even account for Allen Park, which except for a hiccup in 2017, has been one of the top teams in the league for a decade. He Jags were 9-3 last year and won two playoff games.

Things got a little tougher for the Bears when Melvindale bailed out of the Downriver League for the Western Wayne County Conference and Roosevelt filled the hole in its schedule with historic rival Monroe. The Bears and Trojans were league rivals back in the Border Cities, the Great Lakes 8, the Wolverine A and the Michigan Mega Red conferences. The teams last met in 2004, but their history stretches back decades.

Last year, the Trojans, who now play in the Southeastern Conference Red Division, were 7-4 and beat Woodhaven in the first round of the4 MHSAA state playoffs.

The Bears and Trojan kickoff the 2019 season Thursday, Aug 29 in Wyandotte.

2019 Roosevelt Bears

  • Hayden Loya
  • Keyshawn Stanley
  • Christian Cooper
  • Rhett Stevens
  • Jaylen Pitchford
  • Donavan Canterberry
  • Jared Deichelbohrer
  • Logan McGraw
  • Lu Peterson
  • Tyler Murasky
  • Anthony Peterson
  • Richard Clark
  • Nick Perry
  • Jalen Jackson
  • Daniel Cushman
  • Camari Garrison
  • Cody Bowser
  • Oscar Valenzeula
  • Jacob Denison
  • Dominic Duprie
  • Demaryia Nunn
  • Nick Biundo
  • Dylan Hall
  • Gregoria Moreno
  • Josh Hudson
  • Bandon Chaaban
  • David Cerda
  • Connor Sauve
  • Nico Fernandez
  • Dominic Nael
  • Dylan Sanderson
  • David Baker
  • Jordan Barrett
  • Vincent Loftus
  • Dale Moon
  • Brandon Givens
  • Dakota Camarda
  • Nate Hanson

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