In the 2005 high school football season, East Lansing finished 0-9 under second year head coach Bill Feraco. He'd gone 3-6 in his first season, 2004, after being elevated from an assistant to succeed the legendary Jeff Smith. That meant he had a 3-15 record in his first two seasons. East Lansing's program then began to grow and Feraco hung in there despite a great deal of community and parental criticism. His team last year made the play offs and finished 6-4 and this season's team has won seven straight and is 8-3 heading into Friday's division three quarter final play off game at tough Chelsea.
Feraco is winning for a variety of reasons but he has a playmaker to build around in running back Issac Harper, who averages more than 200 yards per game. DeWitt handled Harper for a half, then he ran wild, gaining 219 yards total to go with four touchdowns in a 42-35 win at previously unbeaten DeWitt last Friday. Harper is being recruited by a number of division one schools. Senior quarterback Cam Bruce has improved through the course of the year and East Lansing's offense has averaged 36 points per game during its winning streak. Feraco has now improved his career record to 17-22, including a 14-7 mark in these past two seasons.
Replacing a legendary coach isn't easy. Ask Matt Byrd at Grand Ledge. Since succeeding Pat O'Keefe, who led the Comets to the 2000 state title, Byrd has fashioned a pair of 3-6 seasons. And Paul Palmer struggled until this season succeeding Keith Froelich, a steady winner, at Okemos.
To me, Fulton, Jackson Lumen Christi and Holt stand the best chance to advance to the semi-finals with wins this week end. Sexton and Leslie have the toughest roads and East Lansing, I believe, has an upset chance.