Farmington Hills, MI - It's impossible to think of Harrison Hawks football without thinking of Coach John Herrington.
At age 76, Herrington is in his 48th year as head coach. He has led the Hawks football team to a Michigan record 13 state championships.
Tonight, as Farmington Hills Harrison hosts Berkley, Herrington will have a shot at another Michigan record.
If his team wins tonight, Herrington will become the winningest head high school football coach in this state's history with 431 victories.
Herrington has been the head football coach at Harrison since it opened in 1970, and within a few years he had turned the program into one to watch. Herrington is Hawks football.
Fast forward to present day, and Herrington can now watch many of the athletes he had coaches play in the NCAA and even the NFL.
Devin Funchess is now a wider receiver for the Carolina Panthers. Running back John Miller went from Harrison to Michigan State, where he was part of the 1987 Big Ten Championship team. Running back Nick Williams played seven seasons in the NFL. Aaron Burbridge played for Michigan State and is now with the San Francisco 49ers. Drew Stanton -- who called Friday morning to wish his former high school coach good luck -- is currently a quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals.
These are just a handful.
Friday night has the makings of an unforgettable event. The Hawks play on home turf against a team statistics say they should beat. It's homecoming and parents night which means the stands should be full of Harrison families ready to celebrate. And as Herrington pointed out Friday morning, the weather couldn't be better. "60 degrees. It's perfect," he said with his characteristic smile.
Herrington expressed a bit of concern about his players' ability to focus on a night people have been talking about before the season even began. He said he hopes all the fanfare won't be distracting, but he understands it’s a big night for everyone involved.
After next year, Harrison High School will close its doors. Some of the players that will be a part of Herrington's historic night -- whether it's tonight or later this season or next -- won't even graduate from the school. Herrington says next season will most likely be his last as a football coach. He fought hard to keep the school open, and it's obvious it's not his favorite topic to discuss. But Herrington agrees that setting a new state record and becoming the winningest coach in history would be quite the way to wrap up his legacy at Harrison.
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