Great off-season workouts, bonding make Mustangs legit threat
Is Northville’s football team the fastest in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association? No.
Are the Mustangs the most-talented team in the league? No.
Do these two realities intimidate Head Coach Matt Ladach’s squad? Heck no!
“Like Coach Ladach said, we’re a bunch of zero stars (when it comes to the five-star recruiting system), right?” said senior starting quarterback Luca Prior. “We’re a bunch of hard-working guys who go out every day and compete.
“There are going to be a lot of tests for us this year. We’ll be facing a lot of guys who are bigger than us and more talented than us, but this is a squad that has been working hard since December and we are a team that believes. When you believe, you can do great things.”
At the outset of his two-minute presentation at the KLAA football media event hosted by Northville on Aug. 12, Ladach looked around the school’s cafeteria and good-naturedly referenced the physical mismatches the Mustangs will face this year.
“We don’t have three cats that look like that,” nodding toward the table where a trio of multi-star Belleville players sat. “And we don’t have farmers who are sprinkling the cornfields with human growth hormone like they have out there in Howell and Hartland. What we have are a bunch of ordinary dudes like these two guys standing up here with me — Luca Prior and Nolan Thomson — who every single coach in this room would take on their roster.
“We will face some struggles and challenges this year, just like everybody else. We’ve got to compete in perhaps the toughest conference around — and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
The Mustangs’ admiration for their 15-year head coach matches his love for them, asserted senior wide receiver/defensive back Angelo Rodriguez, the third member of his family to play for Northville.
“I love his energy; he always brings it and he is so easy to talk to,” Rodriguez said. “When you need something or somebody to talk to, he’s always there. I had some family problems last year and he was the first one to come up to me and give me condolences.”
Northville plans to overcome any physical disadvantages it encounters this fall with an uncommon bond it has manufactured in the weight room and throughout the school and community.
“I like to say that we’ve developed into like a band of brothers,” said Thomson, a three-year varsity player and first-team All-KLAA honoree in 2021. “This team’s chemistry is as good or greater than the other two teams I’ve played on here.”
The Mustangs open the season Aug. 26 against Wayne Memorial, but the program’s biggest game is set for Oct. 14 when it squares off against arch-rival Novi.
“Our rivalry against Novi is as big as it gets,” Prior said. “For as long as anyone can remember, even if the season’s a failure, you have to beat Novi. That’s a game that is circled on the calendar months in advance.”
In addition to Prior, Thomson and Rodriguez, Ladach said Max Anderson, Graham Gilmartin, Zach Hoshaw, Hunter Ladach and Nathan Lee will be counted on for major contributions.
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