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Walled Lake Western hires Alex Grignon to replace Zdebski as Football Coach

By Perry A. Farrell, Detroit Free Press, 06/20/18, 10:15AM EDT


It took Walled Lake Western nearly five months to hire a football coach, but Alex Grignon officially got the job Tuesday morning.

Grignon, 30, had been offensive coordinator at South Lyon High School. He said the job and the opportunity happened in a matter of days this month. Western's former coach, Mike Zdebksi, resigned on Jan. 20 to take a similar job in Arizona.

“I was over at South Lyon and we all heard it was an internal thing and we heard they had a guy lined up,’’ Grignon said Tuesday afternoon. “I didn’t apply for it. I didn’t think it was an option. I was approached on Friday night to see if I would be interested. I talked to a couple of people on Saturday, went in and interviewed on Monday and got the job. I don’t know what happened to the other guy, but I’m sure glad the opportunity came to me.’’

Grignon attended Dearborn High School and graduated in 2005. He played safety at Northern Michigan University from 2005 to 2009 and was a four-year starter.

He met his wife, Vanessa, at NMU in the Upper Peninsula, where she ran track and played basketball. The couple have three children: Quincy, Kirby (5) and Jozie (7).

“Quincy turned 10 today so it’s a nice present,’’ Grignon said.

Grignon started coaching at Lincoln Park with his father, Jamie, and the two helped turn around a program that was on a 66-game losing streak when they took over in 2012. He left for South Lyon in 2016 when his father resigned.

New Walled Lake Western coach Alex Grignon (left) helped

New Walled Lake Western coach Alex Grignon (left) helped son Quincy celebrate his birthday with a new job. (Photo: Special to the Free Press)

“We are excited to welcome Coach Grignon to the Warrior family,’’ athletic director Brian Swinehart said in a press release. “Alex brings energy, passion, integrity and a tremendous amount of football knowledge to the Western program.”

Grignon has been around football all his life.

“I grew up as a son of a coach sitting on the sideline,’’ said Grignon said. “I’ve been sitting in meetings my whole life. I’ve waiting for my opportunity. We came in that first year at Lincoln Park and broke that streak and three years later made the playoffs and set a bunch of records. It was the third time in history that team made the playoffs. My father and grandfather (Ted) had coached there. I grew up on the sideline as a water boy. To be able to coach there with my dad was super special.’’

He’s coming to a super program a day before 7-on-7 drills can officially begin.

“Coach Grignon brings energy, experience and the natural leadership that will continue the winning tradition of Western football far into the future,’’ Western principal Joe Bell said in a press release.

Western has at least eight Division 1 prospects on the roster, including quarterback Sam Johnson III (Boston College), wide receiver Abdul Yaseen, speedster Malcomb Baker, safety/wide receiver Calvin Brown, receiver Kevin Jackson, offensive tackle Spencer Brown (Michigan State), athlete Kobe Meyers and offensive tackle Jacob Dean.

 “We’re pretty talented,’’ Grignon said. “I snuck over to the field and got to see some of our lifting and running this morning. We’re behind, but that’s part of the challenge. That’s what attracted me to the job. I think a lot of people didn’t want to put their name into it because of the short notice. I’m looking at one of the best programs in the state. I wouldn’t have come if I didn’t think I could help get them to the next level.

“Just like any other good team we’re going to have to run the ball, especially down the stretch. We open with (Novi Detroit) Catholic Central, who is a heavy ball-control team. I think whoever wins the possession battle there has a great chance. We’re going to capitalize on Sam’s leadership and ability and talent. At the same time the whole team is talented. We’re not just going to lean on him and make him have to win the games for us. We’re bringing a team mentality. No coach or player is above the team, that kind of Bo Schembechler attitude.’’

Contact Perry A. Farrell: Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.