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Eastern Michigan University is Looking to be Bowl

By Raymond Rolak

special to ClearysNoteBook

Dominique White gains some of his 88 yards for EMU against Ball State at Rynearson Stadium.  Photo by Steve King, Rolco Sports Network


   Reghi and Graber Talk up Detroit PSL and EMU on ESPN Broadcast


YPSILANTI--  Coach Ron English (photo) has to get the defense on track to finish the Doug-Graber-Football-Coach2011 season with a winning record and hope for a Bowl bid.  On Saturday’s ESPN Plus (Detroit Channel-7) television broadcast, the TV team talked about how Eastern Michigan has not been to a Bowl since 1987.


Former Rutgers football coach Doug Graber


Native Detroiters both, former coach Doug Graber and play-by-play voice Michael Reghi went over all the scenarios for EMU to get to a Bowl game.  They would be a perfect fit for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl December 27, at Ford Field.  “George Perles started the tradition of keeping the football money in the great State of Michigan, when he would schedule local teams to play Michigan State,” said Reghi.  The former Cass Tech alum also went into the Michigan High School playoff brackets citing how deep his Technicians were advancing.  “I am coming from Cleveland to watch De LaSalle and Cass Tech.  It will be war.  The Pilots will have to throw and Cass will have to contain Shane Morris at quarterback.  He is a lefty and can option,” added Reghi.  “I heard he has committed to Michigan already.”  


“Eastern Michigan coach Ron English is a defensive specialist.  He had been Defensive Coordinator at the University of Michigan previously and stresses defense.  He will find a way for his staff to get two more wins,” said Graber.


They mentioned how EMU president Susan W, Martin would like a Bowl for the alumni.

“She is a great ambassador for Eastern Michigan and told me that the 100,000 metro Detroit area alumni are hungry for an Eagle Bowl appearance,” said Reghi.  “President Martin is at every game here at Rynearson Stadium and is available to talk with student and parents and alumni, that pretty special,” he added.  “That’s accountability,” he stressed.   


Reghi talked about Bryan Pali after his interception in the Ball State game.  He first went the California Community College route.  Now he is making a name as a linebacker and defensive back for Eastern Michigan University.  Bryan Pali, the 6’0” junior from Kamehameha Schools has played in every game for the Eagles this season.  He made the leap from Orange Coast Community College to Division-I football after two seasons. “The Mid-American Conference is definitely a step up.  Everything is faster,” said Pali.


Pali and three other JC transfers have transformed EMU to a potential Bowl team.  Pali had a nifty interception that stalled a drive by sophomore quarterback sensation Keith Wenning.  Next week’s game against Buffalo will decide the season for EMU (5-4).  The Eagles need two more wins to be Bowl bound.  They have not been to a Bowl since the 1987 upset win over San Jose State in the California Bowl.


The Kihei native son credits his success to his junior football development days on Maui.  “We had a great youth program before high school that let me grow at my pace.  We had great coaching.  Football is king on Maui.  If we win two more we will be Bowl eligible.  That will give us 13 more practices for next season.”


He said after the Ball State game, “Pali has an instinct for the ball carrier.  He knows how to stick.  Toughness is a learned trait and he has it, added English.”  


Besides the interception, Pali had two tackles and assisted on three more.  EMU, in front of 6,000 on a warm sunny football Saturday, lost a heartbreaker to the Cardinals, 33-31 on Steven Schott’s 44 yard field goal with nine second left.  It was dramatic as Schott had to do it twice, when the Eagles called timeout right before Schott made the first try.  He nailed the second attempt with room to spare.  Ball State is also in the hunt for a Bowl at 6-4.  


The EMU defense had limited the Cardinals to just 91 yards rushing on 22 carries, but Wenning picked up the slack for Ball State, completing 20-of-35 passes for 284 yards and two scores. 


Coach Graber the longtime NFL Europe and former Rutgers head coach was an assistant at EMU in the 70’s.  Both broadcasters were diplomatic in their highlights regarding EMU and Ball State.  Reghi has a long history with the Toledo sports scene and spoke knowledgably about Kamehameha Schools and the EU-Sports Maui Basketball Invitational.  


Graber has a 35 year football coaching pedigree that started in Detroit at Allen Park Cabrini in the Detroit Catholic League.  His football journeys got jump started at Wayne State.  He later coached the Frankfurt Galaxy to the 2003 World Bowl Championship for NFL Europe and was named Coach of the Year.  “Leonard Neimowitz was my mentor at Cabrini, he knew all the Polish tavern owners downriver.  He had been a Carlings Black Label beer distributor, knew everyone.  A real true sports ambassador.  I had him address my Rutgers team in the locker room at half-time in 1991 when we beat Michigan State at Spartan Stadium, 14-7.  That was a great thrill for both of us, super memories.  His wife Virginia was special also.  She was a great lady of Allen Park.” 


Coach Graber who had been a long time assistant in the NFL went down the list of pro players that played at EMU.  Graber had Ron Johnson visit the broadcast booth at halftime and they had an affectionate reunion.  “When Johnson played for the Pittsburg Steelers they had to slow him down in practices because he hit too hard,” said Graber.  The longtime coach laughed as he told everyone around, “You know he got his nickname here at Eastern- ‘Pee-Wee’.”  Johnson is now an educational consultant in the area for Perfection Learning.  


EMU has already won the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame Trophy by besting Central Michigan and Western Michigan.  The Michigan MAC Trophy was created in 2005 by the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.  Pali added, “We are not satisfied, our pre-season goal is a Bowl Game.  The MAC Championship game and a Bowl game, that is our team goals.”  


The Eagles will stay in Rynearson Stadium for a second straight week when they host East Division rival University at Buffalo Saturday, Nov. 12, at 1 p.m.  It will be senior day with the 16 upper classmen and parents honored at halftime.





No.      Name          Pos Ht Wt Class          Hometown-Previous School


2 Latarrius Thomas DB 6-1 210 Sr.   New Smyrna Beach, Fla.-Smyrna Beach-Louisville

3 Willie Williams* DB 6-0 190 Sr.   Los Angeles, Calif.-Dorsey-Glendale J.C.

6 Martavius Cardwell** DB 5-11 200 Sr.   Flint, Mich.-Carman-Ainsworth

11 Nate Paopao* LB 6-0 230 Sr.   Oceanside, Calif.-El Camino-Palomar J.C.

13 Austin Karcher QB 6-1 183 Sr.   Saline, Mich.-Fellowship Christian (Ga.)-Defiance

26 Corey Welch*** WR 5-9 179 Sr.   Akron, Ohio-Green

28 Nate Wilson** DB 5-11 185 Sr.   Mentor, Ohio-Mentor

42 Marcus English*** LB 6-1 228 Sr.   Dayton, Ohio-Trotwood-Madison

51 Herb Waits*** LB 5-11 203 Sr.   Saginaw, Mich.-Swan Valley

76 Bridger Buche*** OL 6-3 305 Sr.   Portland, Mich.-Portland

84 Trey Hunter*** WR 6-0 205 Sr.   Pemberville, Ohio-Eastwood

90 Javon Reese*** DL 6-1 250 Sr.   Ft. Wayne, Ind.-Southside

93 Brad Ohrman*** DL 6-4 275 Sr.   Adrian, Mich.-Adrian

94 Jabar Westerman* DL 6-2 285 Sr.   Brampton, Ontario-Notre Dame-Dodge City JC

96 Brandon Slater*** DL 6-2 280 Sr.   Southfield, Mich.-Lathrup

98 Jasper Grimes* DT 6-2 290 Sr.   Rivera Beach, Fla.-Dwyer-Wisconsin-Fort Scott C.C.


*Letters won



Editors Note:  Raymond Rolak is a longtime and well traveled sports broadcaster who writes often about Detroit sports.   



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