Monday, October 22, 2007

Okemos: A Wing and Playoff

A Wing and Playoff
Okemos Qualify For Playoff

Good news travels fast and far -- even into the Upper Peninsula.

Before midnight Friday, the e-mail from Menominee had arrived in Okemos, only a few hours after Okemos knocked off Haslett, 21-7.

Menominee coach Ken Hofer was congratulating Okemos coach Paul Palmer for doing what many thought was impossible -- qualify for the Division 2 state playoffs to face Farmington Hills Harrison in the first round.

It was only a year ago that Okemos scored just 70 points in a disappointing 2-7 season, and Palmer was looking for something to energize his program. He settled on the single-wing.

The single-wing basically eliminates the quarterback spot because the ball is snapped directly to a running back. The offense essentially gives you an extra blocker at the point of attack.

No one in the universe -- or at least Michigan -- knows the single-wing better than Hofer, who has used it for decades and won last year's Division 5 state championship.

Palmer and an assistant went up to the UP last spring and spent time with Hofer and his staff and brought back what they learned and put it to use.

"For the most part, the offense gave us an element of surprise," Palmer said. "The offense gave us an opportunity to control the ball."

The single-wing grabbed most of the headlines and people overlooked the fact that the Okemos defense played considerably better than it did a year ago. The defense was sensational against Haslett, scoring one touchdown and setting up another.

"We gave up some big plays, but if you take away those big plays, we were in the game against Holt and in the game against Everett," Palmer said. "The defense has definitely played well and the probably had their best performance against Haslett."

That performance gave Okemos its sixth win and its first state playoff berth since 1999.

Contact MICK MCCABE at 313-223-4744 or


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