5 months after hiring, Canton coach discusses whirlwind transition

 5 months after hiring, Canton coach discusses whirlwind transition

Casey Bess was hired as Canton’s football coach in February after several years as a player and coach at Battle Creek Central.

Every morning for the past five months, Casey Bess has hit the ground running — and driving and, most importantly, hustling.

When you live and teach in Battle Creek, and take over the reins of a Division 1 high school football team 90-some miles away, there is little time to chill.

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The challenges that come with leading a storied gridiron program — and flipping its offense 180 degrees — and hiring an almost brand new coaching staff have energized Bess it seems, not drained him.

“The past five months have seemed like five minutes,” Bess said, smiling, following a late-July team workout at the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park stadium. “When I first got the job, I was living and teaching in Battle Creek, so I’d drive over here at least a couple days a week — whether it was after school or taking a day off.

Two places at once

“Being in two places at once was tough, but the transition has actually gone better than expected. A lot of the credit goes to the kids we have here. They haven’t missed a beat.”

Casey Bess looks on during a Canton workout Thursday afternoon
Casey Bess looks on during a Canton workout Thursday afternoon

Among Bess’s first football-related orders of business after securing the job was assembling a coaching staff, something he has accomplished with surprising efficiency.

“It really just came down to networking,” Bess said. “I have a pretty strong network of football coaches in the Detroit area thanks to the High School Coaches Association and just from being in the sport for so long.

“I have a lot of good friends and mentors who are coaches, so the word spread pretty quickly that I was looking to hire.

“Once I hired Marvin Robinson, who is going to be our defensive coordinator, things started moving pretty quickly because he reached out to guys he knew. We have a really good staff. We have a lot of young guys who have been excellent.”

Casey Bess explains pass patterns to players during a July 27 workout
Casey Bess explains pass patterns to players during a July 27 workout

Two members of Canton’s 2022 coaching staff — Richard Mui and Robby Daoud — are part of Bess’s staff.

Mui will continue as the Chiefs’ highly-respected freshman head coach.

New-look ‘O’

Known far and wide for its run-first full-house, two-tight end offense for the past two-plus decades, Canton will feature a full-spread, no-huddle attack this fall, the foundation of which were unveiled during the Chiefs’ 7-on-7 scrimmages this summer.

“It’s so new to these kids — they’re not used to throwing the ball — so we looked at 7-on-7 games as a learning tool,” Bess said.

“Early on, I’ll be honest — we looked scary bad. But we got a lot better as the summer wore on and the players have worked their tails off. We haven’t had one single workout since I was hired that had less than 50 guys.”

Canton will travel to Clarkston in August for a four-way scrimmage with the Wolves, Detroit Cass Tech and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.

“I think we’ll be able to learn more about where we’re at by playing really good teams than teams that aren’t as good,” Bess said.

Off-field changes

Off the field, Bess said he is close to purchasing a new home (he has been staying with Detroit-area friends off and on throughout the summer) and securing a teaching job in metro Detroit.

Bess had been a football coach and teacher for the past 12 years at Battle Creek Central, where he set several school passing records as the team’s quarterback before graduating in 2004.

Bess most recently served as the offensive coordinator for the Bearcats, who regularly averaged 30 points per game and made the MHSAA playoffs in 2018 and 2022. The Chiefs’ new coach is the son of Hall of Fame football coach Doug Bess.

Bess earned a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Central Michigan University. He holds teaching endorsements in Secondary Education 6-12 social studies and physical education.

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or edwright@socialhousenews.com.


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