By: Nate Schneider
Farmington Hills Harrison's Ovie Oghoufo is a man among boys
If Farmington Hills Harrison automatically qualifies for the MHSAA playoffs this season, the sixth victory will be a huge milestone for a legendary head coach.
Hawks head coach John Herrington, who has been at the helm since 1970, enters the 2017 campaign with 425 career victories. That ranks him second all-time to former Royal Oak Shrine and Birmingham Brother Rice coach Al Fracassa who retired after the 2013 season with 430 wins.
Following a 5-4 season that ended with the rare occurrence of Harrison missing the postseason, the focus throughout the offseason and into the summer has been to once again get back to the playoffs and compete for a state title.
It was only the fifth time since 1980 that Farmington Hills Harrison has missed out on the postseason.
“I think they’re all disappointed with how last year went,” Herrington said. “We lost four games by 19 points. We thought we should have been in the playoffs and didn’t make it, so obviously that’s a big goal for this team.”
Among the leaders on this year’s Hawks team will be senior linebacker and tight end Ovie Oghoufo, a Notre Dame commit who has put his focus toward getting Harrison back into the playoffs.
“It was out of the ordinary for us to not make the playoffs,” Oghoufo said. “It kind of puts pressure on this year’s team so we don’t repeat last season. Our defense should still be strong this year, but I believe our offense will be better and that’s the key for us to get back into the playoffs.”
Playing for such a well-respected head coach is certainly not lost on Oghoufo, who makes sure to listen intently to someone who has compiled so many life experiences.
“It’s great,” Oghoufo said of playing for Herrington. “He’s really wise and I’ve learned so much from him, not only through football but also things I can take in life. He’s a really cool dude and his experience teaches us a lot about both the game and life.”
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Oghoufo is a menace on the defensive side of the ball and over the offseason has improved as a tight end to make himself a two-way force.
“He’s got good toughness and quickness,” Herrington said. “He can run and we believe he’ll be a big leader on our defense. What people don’t know is he’s a really good tight end too. He’ll be playing both ways. He can really catch the ball now. And he’ll play special teams too, so Ovie will be on the field all the time.”
Oghoufo has a pair of cousins - Mario and Michael Ojemudia - who have already taken the path to play Division I college football. Mario played at the University of Michigan through 2015 and is now with the Baltimore Ravens, while Michael will be entering his redshirt sophomore season at Iowa.
The Division I offers for Oghoufo are too extensive to name here, but it was a no-brainer for him to settle on Notre Dame after his visit blew him away. In fact, he verbally committed during the summer of 2016 before his junior season although he says his reasoning for deciding so quickly had nothing to do with putting his focus on prep football.
“I went there and fell in love with it,” Oghoufo says. “I felt I would have committed there anyway even if I waited. All the opportunities were laid out for me as soon as I got there. From the highlight video to the academics, it’s special. Even if I don’t play football, the degree would be crazy for me. It would give me a job and a path in life. Plus on the football side of it, Notre Dame produces linebackers so that also factored in.”
Farmington Hills Harrison opens the season with a non-conference matchup at East Grand Rapids Thursday night.