DEARBORN — At Dearborn Fordson, expectations for the football team are always high, and the 2008 season is no different.
The Tractors return a ton of experienced seniors, especially on defense, and a handful of their players have even been contacted by college scouts. But to take the next step and advance past the second round of the playoffs, they know they’ll have to stick together as a team.
“We do our talking on the field,” said Jamal Agemy, the defensive tackle who has received letters from colleges like Michigan, Michigan State, and Cincinnati. “Coach Walker (the nickname for head coach Fouad Zaban) is a great coach. He makes sure we’re a team first and not individuals.”
According to Agemy, the Fordson players have been a team both on and off the field as many of the players spent the off-season working out together in the weight room. Many of them even spent some extra time studying film together of their week one opponent, Dearborn Divine Child.
When the Falcons come to Fordson High Friday night for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff, they will have to be ready to face a team that appears as strong as any in recent years on both sides of the ball.
The strength of the team according to Zaban is the defense, starting up the middle with the athletic senior Agemy, who uses his quickness to disrupt opposing teams’ running games. Agemy is backed up by Abdallah Homayed, the hard-hitting middle linebacker who works well in tandem with Agemy. Throw in players Agemy calls “shut-down corners” in seniors Ali Alaboody and Hassan Amen and the Tractors have the makings of one of the best defenses in Michigan. Last season, Fordson gave up an average of just 13 points per game.
To advance farther in the playoffs, however, Fordson will need to show a little more consistency on offense. They started the season on fire but struggled a bit down the stretch and lost 20-8 to Livonia Franklin the second round of the playoffs.
Alaboody suffered a broken ankle the week before against Taylor Truman, however, so if he and Amen can stay healthy, Fordson could have all the offense it needs to make a long playoff run. Alaboody is the speed back who makes big plays and also catches the ball well out of the backfield while Amen is the thunder to Alaboody’s lightning with his ability to run between the tackles with power. Amen said he expects the carries to be even for each back with Alaboody also spending time at the slot receiver position.
There is some element of the unknown going into the season with new junior quarterback Ali Baidoun getting the keys to the offense, but early reports have been positive. Baidoun is a pocket passer who has done a nice job in practice managing the offense according to his backfield mate Amen.
Baidoun’s favorite target in 2008 could be junior wide receiver Bacquer Sayed, who has turned heads in practice and has received letters from colleges like Michigan, Purdue, and UCLA already.
The offensive line is also expected to be strong, led by 6-foot-4, 270-pound Mohamad Elkatry, a junior who played junior varsity last year but has stepped it up in practices.
Put it all together and it’s easy to see why this could be a breakthrough season for Fordson. But Zaban isn’t quite ready to proclaim his team Mega Red Champions just yet.
“Football is football to me, I love it and we’re excited for it,” he said. “We’re raring to go and focused on the team and season; getting prepared to play.
“At the end of the year you can look back and be proud of your accomplishments but I think right now it’s the beginning of the season and we need to see how we perform; we can’t look back on stuff we did in the past and be satisfied.”
Whether or not the Tractors make a run for the conference championship will probably be decided in a span three weeks from September 26 through October 10 when they play league powers Allen Park, Monroe, and Dearborn High in consecutive weeks.
Each game is huge, but rest assured that the Dearborn rivalry game is already circled on the calendar.
“The Dearborn game means everything to all of us, there’s no game bigger than that,” said Alaboody. “I don’t care if we lose to every other game this season if we win that game.”
Zaban was a little more diplomatic when asked how important the Dearborn game is to his team, however.
“We look at it one game at a time,” he said. “If we put all our concentration on that game we’re only setting ourselves up for failure.”
On the flip side, if the Tractors manage to bring maximum effort each week, they just might be setting themselves up for a special season. It all begins Friday against Divine Child.