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Walled Lake Western hires Alex Grignon to run football program

By By Scott Burnstein, The Oakland Press, 06/20/18, 10:15AM EDT


WIXOM >> In a bit of a shocker, Walled Lake Western has handed the keys to its highly-regarded football program to Alex Grignon.

The 31-year old Grignon comes over from South Lyon where he was the offensive coordinator last season. Between 2012 and 2016, he helped his dad Jamie bring Lincoln Park back from the dead, snapping a state-record 66-game losing streak and qualifying the Railsplitters for the playoffs for only the third time in school history.

Grignon leapt on the scene in the Western coaching search seemingly out of nowhere. After longtime head coach Mike Zdebski stepped down to accept the job at Arizona state-power Chandler Hamilton five months ago, Western administrators have engaged in talks with candidates from as far away as the Grand Rapids area and as close to home as the PSL, OAA and Catholic League.

It wasn’t until Friday that Grignon applied for the gig. On Tuesday, he got the nod.

“I didn’t really know it was a possibility before late last week.... when I found out, I pursued it,” Grignon said. “This is a well-oiled machine of a program. To say there is a solid foundation to start from would be an understatement. There’s a lot of elite talent on this roster. We’re built to win now and for the future and that speaks to the tremendous situation I’m stepping into and the kind of job Coach Z and his staff did. I’m going to let these guys do what they do. I’m going to adjust to them, not the other way around.”

Asked to describe his style on the sidelines, he didn’t hesitate in his response.

“I’m a motivator, I’m about being prepared, paying attention to detail, playing fast, playing tough, playing smart and having fun when we’re out there doing it,” Grignon. “Just like the teams under Coach Z, we want to be equally respected and feared. We’re going to strive for excellence in everything we do and we’re not going to be afraid of expectations. The goal, like always around here, is a state championship. We won’t shy away from that goal just because we’re in our first year as a staff.”

Grignon has expressed a desire to have a number of Zdebski’s assistants remain with the team going forward. While a prepster himself in the 2000s, he captained his Dearborn squad to the 2004 final four. He started in the secondary at Northern Michigan.

Zdebski led Western to five final fours and a state crown in 1999. Two years ago, his Warriors fell to Detroit Martin Luther King in the Division 2 state championship game. Western has claimed league titles in six of the past seven campaigns.

The 2018 Western club Grignon is inheriting from Zdebski boasts more than a half-dozen Division I college recruits, including Boston College-bound quarterback Sam Johnson and Michigan State-commit Spencer Brown anchoring his protection on the line. Last fall, the Warriors went 8-2, won a share of the newly-formed Lakes Valley Conference and got upset by Livonia Franklin, 35-28, in the district opener.

Unlike Zdebski, Grignon won’t be in the building as a teacher. He’s the Director of Quality Control at the Legacy Center training facility in Brighton.