ONTV Volunteer Sammy Taormina blogs about OAA member schools.
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Friday, July 26, 2019
Written Friday July 26th at 5:30 PM
A lot of people ask me why the Ferndale Eagles are still in the OAA.
A lot of smaller schools like Hazel Park, Madison Heights Madison, Madison Heights Lamphere, and Clawson have left the OAA because they couldn’t compete against the bigger schools.
Ferndale is the smallest school in the league with 717 students but yet this program has been successful.
And continues to be.
It’s not just the boys sports that they are successful but it’s the girls sports as well.
A lot of credit goes to Ferndale Athletic Director Shaun Butler. Butler has done a wonderful job in hiring coaches and getting the Eagles in the right direction.
Usually in the postseason the Eagles compete in Division Two because of their enrollment but in football they have a Co-Op merger with Ferndale University. The MHSAA combines the enrollment of both Ferndale and Ferndale University which is why when they make the playoffs they are in Division Two and not Division Three.
In football, this is a program that has went 22-8 which includes three postseason appearances. Ferndale under coach Eric Royal has built the program into a competitive powerhouse. The Eagles aren’t afraid to play powerhouse programs like Birmingham Detroit Country Day, Allen Park, Oak Park, Warren De LaSalle, and Detroit Martin Luther King. Now they don’t have the numbers but this program competes at a high level each night and the numbers prove it.
In volleyball, they had a renaissance under second year coach Stella Johnstone taking home a district title at Hazel Park last season. Ferndale is loaded again this season behind a young core that is built to win not only now but in the future.
In boys basketball, the Eagles made a big splash by hiring Juan Rickman from Detroit East English Village Prep to take over the program. Ferndale won 16 games before falling to Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy in the Division Two regional final last season. The Eagles earned their first district title since 2012 by beating Warren Lincoln on the road. Ferndale made the move to the Red this season and is loaded with a ton of Division One talent along with experience in Rickman’s second season. The Eagles have been in the Red/OAA Division One before so this is nothing new to them.
In softball, the Eagles took home their first district title since 2005 by beating Warren Fitzgerald. Ferndale fell in a heart breaker to St. Clair Shores South Lake 4-3 in the Division Two regional finals. Ferndale only loses one senior next season for second year coach Pat McNally. McNally who also coaches swimming and diving at Ferndale has a loaded team returning next season.
In baseball, the Eagles won their first district title since 2011 on a winning single. Ferndale had lost three of the last four years in the district finals prior to last season. The Eagles would lose a heartbreaker in the Division Two regional semifinal to Livonia Clarencevile 3-2. Ferndale coach Chris Bailey has quietly turned this program into a sleeping giant.
A big reason for their playoff success has been competing in the OAA against bigger schools night in and night out. Their coaches also have said that they are happy to be in the OAA. Playing those bigger OAA schools prepares them for the postseason.
The Eagles recently named Keith Paris to coach the Girls Basketball team. Paris was an assistant last season for Ferndale. The Eagles have been a Girls basketball power but has struggled mostly with numbers in past years.
Ferndale is expected to compete for a division title in Boys soccer. They won the Gold last season in Girls soccer.
There is a lot of upside for Ferndale athletics.
The future is bright for the Eagles.
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