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Experienced line, dynamic backfield to power West Bloomfield offense

David Goricki   | The Detroit News

West Bloomfield — Ron Bellamy was guiding West Bloomfield’s football team through its first day of practice in 90-degree weather early Monday afternoon, learning just hour before taking the field that the Big Ten Conference was close to pushing its season to spring.

MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl in late July pushed the first day of high school practice with pads back a week to Aug. 17, and Bellamy and the rest of the high school coaches across the state hope to see that practice take place with the Mid-American Conference shutting down its season Saturday with the news of the Big Ten coming just days later.

So, does Bellamy feel West Bloomfield will have a chance to take the field for its season opener later this month?

“A couple of days ago my answer would be a little different than what it is right now,” Bellamy said. “It’s our obligation as coaches that every time we’re out here to put a smile on our face, run around, stay engaged with the kids and make sure they are enjoying their experience.

“This morning I was in a group text with some coaches and they shared the Big Ten was going to cancel. I can’t say I’m shocked, but I’m saddened by it. It’s the first time in my life; it’s the first time in all of our lives that there probably won’t be collegiate football in the fall.”

Bellamy played for the Wolverines from 1999-2002 before signing a free-agent contract with the Dolphins under Nick Saban in 2003.

“Let’s keep our fingers that we have football; maybe it will give us a bigger stage to show that we play good football here in the state of Michigan,” Bellamy said. “If we do have football, I think it will accelerate all of our kids throughout the state our recruitment for college coaches because their eyes will be on us.”

West Bloomfield was following the MHSAA’s protocols with temperatures taken before players could take the field, sanitizer everywhere and coaches wearing masks.

So, how will West Bloomfield be this season?

“There are certain areas where we wish we had more depth, but you just build what you have and go from there,” Bellamy said. “We’re returning four out of five starters on the offensive line and we’re happy about that. We’re bringing in a new quarterback and you always want to make sure he’s protected, so we have an older group and we’ve got some great running backs running behind them.”

West Bloomfield has the best running attack in the state in four-star back Donovan Edwards, considered the No. 2 running back in the nation by 247Sports, and four-star junior Dillon Tatum who holds 30 offers, including Michigan, Michigan State, USC, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Baylor and Penn State.

“What’s neat about those two guys are that they’re versatile,” Bellamy said of Edwards and Tatum. “You can see them returning punts right now. They can play receiver, play outside receiver, slot and wildcat, so we’re definitely going to showcase their abilities and their versatility.”

Alex Short, a 6-foot-4 senior, will replace C.J. Harris (Ohio University) at quarterback.

“He’s a big boy, a 6-4, 220-pound quarterback,” Bellamy said of Short. “We’ve been fortunate to have big quarterbacks over the years and he’s another one. He has a big arm, very deceptive athlete where he’ll run away from you. He’s a strong, powerful guy and he’ll be a great leader.”

Edwards still hasn’t narrowed his list to a top five or even top 10, still hoping to take official visits. He just wants to get to Ford Field to play for a state championship after West Bloomfield was eliminated in the regional championship game the last two years, losing both times to Belleville.

“We’ve just been staying focused because we have a heck of a talented team, we’ve got older guys who are great leaders and younger talented guys, so everybody is just paving their way for themselves and for the others that’s with them,” Edwards said. “I can say I really hope we have a season. I’ve seen that they canceled the Big Ten season today. I can’t see why we wouldn’t have a season because we’re not doing all that traveling, so I definitely feel we deserve to have a season.”