MHSA(Q&)A: Football Coaches Jim Ahern and Brad Weber

August 31, 2012

Pewamo-Westphalia football coach Brad Weber and Lansing Catholic's Jim Ahern had experienced plenty of success long before the end of last season.

But this month marked the first time either had returned to the sideline after a trip to the MHSAA Finals.

Their teams faced off on opening night at Holt Junior High, the Cougars' home field. Gone were Lansing Catholic's all-state quarterback-receiver tandem that helped the Cougars finish Division 5 runner-up last fall, as well as the large group of standout seniors who guided the Pirates to the Division 7 Final.

But the coaches are back for more, and we caught up briefly with both after Lansing Catholic's 45-21 win. (Lansing Catholic fell to 1-1 this week with a loss at Saginaw Nouvel, while P-W improved to 1-1 with a win over Potterville.)

This has to be the most unfamiliar group you've had at Lansing Catholic?

Ahern: They're a good group from the standpoint that they have a lot of team chemistry. They're a close-knit group, and they've worked extremely hard in the offseason. I know every coach says that. But this, probably of all the groups I've had, has really worked hard. We were a little nervous. We had a lot of kids playing in spots where they hadn't been there, but they settled down a little bit.

Have the players approached things differently because of how you ended up last year?

Weber: A little bit. But it's still football, and they've been playing football since sixth grade. It shouldn't be too different. 

Are you (as a coach) approaching some things differently?

Weber: Yes and no. We're still getting down to business. Practices are the same. We still have a lot of energy at practice. But you do. You're looking for a little bit of the senior leadership to step up because it was so good last year. These guys kinda took it for granted, and they rode on their coat tails, and it's time for them to step up and be leaders of this team. It's 2012 now. 

Ahern: Not really. Every year I tell everyone the same thing. Our goal is to win the league. If we do that, good things will happen. That's our goal -- to win the conference. ... We're still running the same stuff pretty much. We haven't changed a whole lot.

Do you have to say things to certain guys who are replacing (all-staters), like 'Do you know what you're stepping into?'"

Ahern: You don't have to remind them about it. They know it. They don't need to hear it. I think that's why they work so hard in the offseason. The bar's set pretty high for them, so they want to continue that.

MHSAA, MHSFCA to Provide Spring Evaluation Camps for College Football Hopefuls

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 27, 2023

The Michigan High School Athletic Association, in partnership with the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA), will be hosting first-ever Spring Evaluation Camps to provide athletes with aspirations of playing college football opportunities to show their skills and abilities to college coaches at one of five locations.

The one-day camps will take place between May 15-18 at Jenison High School, DeWitt High School, Jackson High School, Brighton High School and Detroit Country Day High School. The MHSAA’s involvement will allow for the opportunity for Division I college coaches to attend, and representatives from college football programs at all levels are expected.

Athletes who will be juniors or seniors in Fall 2023 may register to participate via a link on the Football page.

“This is an attempt by the MHSAA to help our athletes get exposure during the spring evaluation period in a way that does not intrude on spring sports,” said Brad Bush, an MHSAA assistant director and past high school and college football coach. “We are working with the MHSFCA to help put together a first-class experience for the athletes and college coaches.”

Cost is $20 per player, and each registrant will receive a shirt to wear based on the athlete’s graduation year and registration number so college coaches in attendance can monitor their camp performance. College coaches also will receive registration information for each athlete in attendance.

All athletes must have a coach from the athlete’s school staff present at the camp, and that coach must be a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.

MHSFCA executive director Andrew Pratley called the Spring Evaluation Camps a tremendous opportunity for high school athletes in Michigan.

“We are very excited with the partnership with the MHSAA that allows our kids the opportunity to wear a helmet and do drills in front of college coaches in the spring at a minimal cost,” Pratley said. “College coaches are thrilled, and it's a unique opportunity to have the rules waived by the MHSAA at these events only in order to showcase the tremendous talent all over the great state of Michigan.”

The Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) has been devoted to the promotion of high school football since its inception in March 1972. The MHSFCA has more than 2,500 members and provides several educational and development opportunities for members and their athletes, including an annual coaching clinic, an annual leadership conference for coaches and potential team captains, and the annual summer East-West All-Star Game for graduated seniors. Additionally, the MHSFCA’s Leadership Development Alliance is in its third year of training coaches and offering veteran members of the association as mentors.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.