Tradition • Character • Service

Tradition • Character • Service

Monday, November 20, 2006

Great Read on Former Charger Dave Misfud

Band of brothers
Close-knit Pioneers have thrived
Terry Foster / The Detroit News
FERNDALE -- Five days before Dearborn's season opener, Pioneers coach Dave Mifsud called a private meeting with his team captains and key senior players. On the surface it seemed like just another football meeting that hundreds of coached have around the country.
But the talk was not about football. That weekend, Mifsud's brother-in-law, Chris Mayone, 44, died suddenly while training for a marathon. The Mifsud family was devastated. Mayone was his best friend and the brother of his wife, Corrine.
As the words rolled from their coach's mouth, a transformation began within the players.
For weeks they spoke about becoming more of a family. The day they were eliminated from the state playoffs last season they felt a disconnect. This goal of bringing whites and Arabs and blacks together was not working the way they wanted.
They vowed to become a band of brothers because deep inside, they felt love for one another, even during turbulent times. They talked about becoming blood brothers. They made up T-shirts that said "14-0" and "2006 state champions." They dreamed of being a family and riding that bond to a state title and gaining friends for life.
Team becomes a family
But this news changed everybody. Now it was more than putting words on T-shirts. Now it was time to put actions before words. From that day, the Pioneers turned from boys to men. More importantly, they learned the essence of being a family.
If you ask anybody why this team will face Warren DeLaSalle (10-2) in Saturday's Division II state semifinal at Ferndale, they will tell you the Pioneers became more than a team and a dream. They became a family.
The Pioneers (11-1) used that bond to avenge a loss to Allen Park, 21-7, to advance to Saturday's game.
The heartfelt talk was a defining moment. Players knew what their coach was going through. Earlier this summer, Mifsud's dad and Pioneers super fan, Joe, suffered a stroke in his home state of Florida. And the rehabilitation has been long and difficult. The players did not want to be a burden. They wanted Mifsud to focus on his own family and not worry as much about the team.
Assistant coach Jamie Griegnon offered to take a bigger role and reminded his friend to remember the three 'F' 's that mean so much to him -- family, friends and football.
"When something happens to your family I will be there to take care of the football aspect of it," Griegnon said he told Mifsud. "You just tell me what you want."
There were a couple of incidents early in the season that might have divided this team. But players and assistants took care of it. They kept it so close and fixed the problem so cleanly not even Mifsud is clear of all the details.
"They (players) took care of it right away," Griegnon said. "This was the kids' way of saying we are focused."
Little things mean a lot
The simple things counted.
It might have been as simple as linebacker Amir Rustom saying a prayer in Arabic just as he would if this were his own family member. It was as simple as defensive tackle Mike Ajami and wide receiver Danny McKae making sure there was peace in the dressing room or nose tackle Mohamad Kassab preaching brotherhood. And it was as simple as the rest of the players going up to quarterback Anthony Mifsud, Dave's son, or their coach and just asking how they were doing. They no longer talked to Anthony or Dave as a coach or teacher or teammate. They spoke to them as family.
"We did not want that to affect coach, so we had to step up as leaders and put more responsibility on senior leadership," Ajami said. "We wanted to make sure coach had an easier time in practice and he could stick to the basics."
Pioneers have matured
But this is something the team had to learn. Two years ago, many of these players were freshmen and sophomores or reserve players watching Dearborn reach the semifinals. Last year, they were too immature and divided to make the same run.
This year, things changed.
"It was like when we were on the practice field we were not white, black, Arabic or whatever," Joe Jakcsy said. "We were all Dearborn Pioneer orange."
Kassab's house often is a gathering place for players. He teaches his brothers Arabic so they can communicate in his household and to open them to his culture. He also learns from the other cultures in the dressing room.
"You have to trust each other off the field," Kassab said. "All this brotherhood leads to being a good team."
Like any other team, there were other mishaps. Rustom thought his season was over when he injured a shoulder. He might still require surgery but will return.
Jakcsy won't play in the DeLaSalle game because he suffered a broken leg in the second round of the playoffs, but he goes to each practice on crutches. Both were showered with love during their darkest moments.
"After I got hurt I never felt so much love from a group of guys," Jakcsy said. "Two of my brothers gave me a kiss on the cheek to show me how much they appreciated everything I had done up to that point."
Dearborn athletic director Roy Gurk said the family extends to the staff. He said at least two dozen teachers and administrators have asked to chip in and help Mifsud, whether it is watching a class or offering food.
"People have come out of the woodwork for Dave," Gurk said. "They ask, 'What can I do for Dave?' "
How tight are the Pioneers? Safety Scott Abramouski has a photo of him and Rustom tackling a Fordson player with the caption of, "Me and my brother making a tackle."
That is what makes this team work. Through the course of death and illness, pain and suffering the Pioneers learned that blood is thicker than water.
You can reach Terry Foster at or (313) 222-1494.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Korte, Gurica, Kell, 1st Team All-GLIAC

Junior Nick Gurica turned heads last season as primarily a punt returner. This year he made people around the GLIAC take notice by leading the conference in total receptions with 57. Gurica's 2006 performance has earned him a spot on the GLIAC first-team offense that was announced Monday evening.

Also earning first team all league honors are team MVP, sophomore linebacker Tom Korte and junior defensive back Jared Kell. both players led the GLIAC in tackles and interceptions respectively. Korte led the Chargers in tackles all 11 games while Kell had the amazing 2 interception, 2 fumble recovery game against Indianapolis.

Earning 2nd team honors are senior RB and Hillsdale's #2 all-time rusher Phil Martin, soph. OL Josiah Swartz, and soph. DL Eric Weber.

Chargers named as honorable mention include: Steve Balone (Sr./LB), Andy Dion (Sr./DL), Greg Dixon (Sr./HB), Mark Nicolet (Jr./QB), Mike Pavelich (Sr./TE), and Mark Scott (Sr./LB).

Congratulations to these Chargers.

Full Release from

Monday, November 13, 2006

Korte named MVP, other award winners named

The Hillsdale College football program announced the winners of its season awards at the annual banquet yesterday.

Roy Beck Most Valuable Player: Soph. LB Tom Korte (led GLIAC in total tackles with 134, led team in tackles all 11 games)
Offensive Freshman of the Year: Jared Veldheer
Defensive Freshman of the Year: Jared Knudsen
Leonard Urbonick Award for Scholarship, Leadership and Ability: Jr. WR Nick Gurica (led GLIAC with 57 receptions)
Every Player Every Play Award: Sr. TE Mike Pavelich, Sr. DL Andy Dion, Sr. MLB Steve Balone
One Play Warrior Award: Soph. DB Alex Wojcik
Outstanding Offensive Back: Jr. QB Mark Nicolet
Outstanding Offensive Lineman: Soph. Josiah Swartz
Joe Vijuk Outstanding Defensive Lineman: Soph. Eric Weber
Ralph Miller III Outstanding Linebacker: Tom Korte
Outstanding Defensive Back: Soph. DB Palmer Schoening
Howard Champ Messenger Award: Sr. RB Brett Neller
Captains Award: Sr. RB Phil Martin, Sr. LB Steve Balone, Mark Nicolet

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Chargers Hand Out Post-Season Awards

Special to
by Andy Brown
WCSR play-by-play

Another postseason banquet with much of what we have come to expect. Prime rib in the buffet line and plenty of interesting speeches by the senior players. I have always wished that they would have the senior speeches before the season. It would be nice to know these guys a little bit before watching them play. That would give us some context when broadcasting the games. The blurbs in the media guide are nice, but the insight we gain at these banquets is really special. Again, almost all of the players began to cry when thanking their families and teammates. The highlight of the speeches probably came when Coach Otterbein tried to cut off his son Steve whose speech was easily the longest of the afternoon.

It was interesting to hear about the trials and tribulations of guys like Steve Balone and Andy Dion. Andy Dion claimed that the training staff had to increase their budget to afford tape to keep him playing. Balone's speech about watching the last two games from the sidelines was particularly touching. He said that whenever Tom Korte made a big play, he came off the sidelines and told Steve he was doing it for him. I felt particulary bad for Aaron Scholl. That young man is a class act all of the way--and I wish he could have stayed healty this year. It would have been great to see him on the bussiness end of some Mark Nicolet passes.

I guess if there was a surprise, it was that Phil Martin was shut out of the postseason awards. The most valuable offensive back award went to Mark Nicolet, and the team MVP award was given to sophomore linebacker Tom Korte. Martin leaves Hillsdale as the second leading rusher in school history, but doesn't win an award? That was a surprise to me---but I totally agree. The team MVP award was voted by the players, and who can argue with their choice? Tom Korte was more than just the best player on this team, he was the emotional leader. It is perhaps a bit more surprising that Nicolet beat out Martin for outstanding offensive back. However, the way that Nicolet ran this offense, especially in the second half of the season, put him over the top. Martin will absolutely be missed, and his place in the record books is secure, but good quarterbacks are worth their weight in gold.

Looking back on the year one cannot surpress at least a slight feeling of disapointment. With the schedule the Chargers had this year, a winning season was not too much to expect, and 8-3 was not out of the question. Barry Fagan told me before the banquet he could not believe that they didn't finish at least 8-3, and would not have been surprised at an even better record. Coach Otterbein said that they were just a half dozen plays away from 8 or 9 victories and possibly a postseason birth. Unfortunately, after three seasons of 4-7, the Chargers were only able to muster their second consecutive year at 5-6. Perhaps with Korte and Nicolet coming back, along with the entire offensive line, and a similarly favorable schedule next year, we will finally experience that elusive winning season. I can tell you this much, the coaches and players have already begun working toward that end. Playoffs next year? In the words of Barry Fagan, we are this close to a breakout year--and next year is as good as any other.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


After leading Saginaw Valley by a 22-21 score in the 3rd quarter, the Cardinals rolled off 25 straihgt points to secure the victory.

Hillsdale falls 46 to 30 and ends up 5 and 6 on the season for the 2nd straight year.

Congratulations to all seniors for all they put into their Charger careers.

Phil Martin had 81 yards giving him 1014 for the season. Brett Neller scored twice in his final game.

More details will be posted on the main page when stats become available.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Chargers Beat Findlay

Hillsdale evens its record to 5-5 with a GLIAC victory over visiting Findlay.

Phil Martin scored Hillsdale's only touchdown in the 2nd quarter to put Hillsdale up 6-0. Mark Petro added the extra point.

Petro would end the first half by knocking through a fieldgoal to make it 10-0.

Findlay would score on their first possession of the second half, but the Charger defense preserved the win when Tom Korte picked off a pass inside 2 minutes that would have put the Oilers on top.

Steve Otterbein repeated the task with 16 seconds left to seal the victory.

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