PORTAGE, MI – They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Portage Northern football coach Pete Schermerhorn is said to be one of the first to disagree with this statement, and the longtime Huskies frontman has reaped the rewards of his creativity and willingness to change. things with district titles in 2018 and 2019.
These recent accomplishments and his continued success for 33 years, including 27 at the top of Northern’s program, have earned him recognition as the Detroit Lions Football Coach of the Week.
Schermerhorn joins Jermain Crowell of Belleville as this year’s recipient, and he is the latest in a long line of head coaches selected for the award since its inception in 1997, including John Schwartz of Mendon, Scot Shaw of Three Rivers, Tony Annese of Muskegon, Noel of Lowell Dean and Peter Stuursma of East Grand Rapids.
“Obviously it’s an honor to be selected for the award – not just for me, but for our program,” said Schermerhorn. “He recognizes the hard work of our staff and our players. You have to have a certain level of success over the years to get that kind of recognition, so I’m honored for our program and as an individual.
The Portage Northern football program will receive $ 1,500 as a result of Schermerhorn’s selection, which was based on his commitment to the team, school and community and his ability to develop character, discipline and footballing skills. players in addition to emphasizing the health and safety of players.
Northern’s 36-6 win over Mattawan in Week 2 improved Schermerhorn’s record to 142-114 in 27 years as the Huskies head coach. Before returning to his alma mater’s football program, he spent four years as an assistant coach under Huskies coach Joe Wood, then took his first head coaching position at Martin, where he led the Clippers to a record 11-8 from 1992 to 1993.
Schermerhorn returned to the North as head coach of the Huskies in 1994, took the program to new heights in 2018, when he led the program to his first District title, which the Huskies successfully defended. in 2019.
Schermerhorn credited his entire coaching staff for putting this District Championship in the trophy box material, and made sure to add his talented and confident team of athletes for many.
“One thing we’ve had here is a few consecutive years of consistency in our coaching staff from grade nine to the end,” he said. “We haven’t had a huge turnover, and these guys are doing a great job, and we’re working hard to plan and prepare as well as possible, but we’ve also had a nice set of kids who work hard and believe in it.
“We expect to be in the playoffs, to win district championships and to compete for regional titles, and that is achievable because they play with that level of confidence. They buy into the process and see how they can improve in each rep or play individually and not worry too much about the scoreboard as it takes care of itself.
Some of the players Schermerhorn guided to post-secondary success included Eric Mayes, captain of the 1997 University of Michigan National Championship team, current Kansas City Chiefs tight end Nick Keizer and countless others who have played college football at Division Levels I, II or III.
After 27 years at the top of the program, it would be easy for Schermerhorn to step into his shoes and laugh at the idea of revamping his plans, but the veteran coach said he is still learning and trying to find new ones. ways to help your players succeed.
“I like to think we’re sort of on that leading edge,” Schermerhorn said, adding some new pieces to his attack. “It was in 2001 that we started using a lot of shotguns, and we try to stay up to date and as up to date as possible, and to keep things as balanced and flexible as possible so that we can try to adapt the system to our children. , rather than forcing our children to adapt to the system.
“Being flexible offensively and aggressively defensively gives our kids the chance to be successful no matter what type of player you have in any given year.
Before becoming a coach, Schermerhorn graduated from Portage Northern in 1984 and played football for two seasons under Jack Harbaugh at Western Michigan University. He received his BA in Secondary Education from WMU and an MA in Education from Grand Valley State.
For young coaches starting in high school, Schermerhorn has three tips: be yourself, be honest, and work hard.
“You don’t want to try to be something you’re not because kids hastily figure it out, and integrity and hard work are things that you establish as a head coach and that your players are picking up, ”he said.