Few noticed when a school no one had heard of began the season with a 50-0 victory over Mt. Clemens, because Mt. Clemens’ glory days in football were decades ago.
But two weeks later — following a bye — when that same school was drubbed by U-D Jesuit, 65-0, and followed that with a 58-8 rout by Novi Detroit Catholic Central, people wondered what is Detroit Delta Prep Academy for Social Justice?
And better yet, what is that school doing playing U-D Jesuit and Catholic Central?
Delta Prep is a second-year charter school in the heart of midtown with a first-year football program — and a second-week coach.
A year ago, Marian Adams-Lawton was brought to Delta Prep, which then had only 50 students, to begin an athletic department, because administrators knew that nothing boosts enrollment like athletics.
She started with a track team, but knew that was not going to be enough. Then nearby Detroit Plymouth Educational Center closed, and that proved to be a viable resource.
“The biggest thing the kids wanted was football,” Adams-Lawton said. “Plymouth had all the new equipment, and they had a beautiful (turf) field over on Canfield at Forest in Midtown, so all that was going to go to waste.”
The problem was that Delta Prep didn’t begin its football program until August, just before official practice began.
A coach was hired, but the school did not have a schedule of opponents. And it was running out of time.
“We had to piece together and get on the phone,” Adams-Lawton said. “U-D didn’t have a game that week, they called us, and we just had to man up and go out there and learn. And Catholic Central was supposed to play a team in Canada but something happened. They called us and asked if we were willing to play them.”
Administrators also wanted a person who worked at Delta Prep to coach the team, so Barak Holmes stepped forward last week and became coach.
Holmes, 35, spent several years coaching youth football in Detroit. Last Saturday, he coached in his first high school game, a 41-14 loss to Detroit Consortium.
“This isn’t the traditional course into coaching,” Holmes said, laughing. “But nonetheless, if you love the game and love the kids and you’re trying to put a good program in place … I’d rather take something and start with it in its infantile state than grab something and try to correct it.”
Delta Prep, which has 310 students and 34 on the roster, is in more of an embryonic state right now. The school’s nickname is Pioneers — and these players are pioneers in every sense of the word.
In a couple of years, Delta Prep will have some new neighbors. The Red Wings’ new arena will be only a couple of blocks away.
By then the hope is the Pioneers will be an established program, so if they play schools like U-D Jesuit and Catholic Central it will be by choice, not necessity.
Holmes is philosophical about the lopsided losses and how they will help the program moving forward.
“I actually appreciated the fact that we got a chance to go see really, really two class programs because that’s where we aim to go,” Holmes said. “That’s the direction the athletic department and this coaching staff desires to take this program. It’s to become a true program.”