Detroit Lions give Saginaw United Phoenix football program a hand

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Saginaw United has a new name, new uniforms and new colours.

Now all he needs is a win.

Thanks to the Detroit Lions, that moment could come sooner rather than later.

The Saginaw United Phoenix is ​​entering its second season of college football after the combined team of Saginaw High and Arthur Hill went 0–9 in 2021. The Phoenix no longer has the combined colors of the two merged teams, instead adopting a logo with black and silver. Last season, the team had no nickname.

Still, it doesn’t matter if the team is again winless in the Saginaw Valley League South.

“There are expectations now that weren’t there before, things that we do that all the other schools do but that weren’t normal for us,” United manager Lee Arthur said on the matchday on Thursday. MLive Saginaw football media.

“We make it normal for players to lift in the summer. Workouts are no different. They are normal. They are expected. It has not always been the case. »

The Detroit Lions are doing their part to help. The Saginaw United football program received a $24,000 grant from the Lions, along with $2,000 in chocolate milk.

“We’ve used the milk to help other programs, other students, younger students,” Arthur said. “But the money for the football program was huge for us. For all the things we need with the new school, new uniforms, new helmets… the money allows us to use our resources for other things which we need.

“In the grant application, I made sure to highlight our situation and needs, which are likely unique compared to other programs. With schools merging and the need for new uniforms and helmets, this is something few other schools need. I wrote the grant myself and didn’t tell anyone about it, just in case we didn’t have it. When we got it it was huge. I was very happy to inform (Saginaw Superintendent) Ramont Roberts.

Arthur used Lions money to buy new uniforms and helmets, adding training gear.

“We had a sled and some cones…that was all we had,” Arthur said. “Our goal was to achieve what the other programs have. It’s not just for this team or for me. It’s for the next coach, the players who are in primary school right now.

“We are using this money to invest in the future of the program. Players who are here now know they are building something for the future. We are doing our part for these students who are committed to the future. We have to engage with them. »

This commitment may not bear fruit immediately. According to Arthur, the team has a talented senior class, but there are only six of them. The good news is that the program has over 50 players, including 23 freshmen.

“And once school starts, that number could go up to 75 players in the program,” Arthur said. “We would like to have a freshman program, and we think that could happen.

“Lions money is one of them. We tell incoming players that you are going to be taken care of if you play here. We’re going to give you the coaching and the equipment and the things you need to be successful, the same things you’d get in the most successful programs.

The new school, located at 1903 Niagara, where the current Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy is located, is set to open for the 2023-24 school year, with the school also christening a new football field.

The Phoenix are returning strong seniors, including lineman Lionel Baldwin. His brother, Mike Baldwin, will start at linebacker and guard, with the brothers also expected to dominate the fight this season. Devin Bennett is expected to move to wide receiver from quarterback, with rookie Jordan Allen gaining plenty of on-court experience as a newcomer to quarterback.

The Phoenix open the season Thursday, August 25 at Saginaw High against Romulus Summitt North, who were 7-3 in 2021. Arthur pitches the game as a Black-Out, Back-to-School game, with fans invited to watch and cheer in black clothes.

“We have great kids and parents,” Arthur said. “Kids are doing the right things, from community service to classroom work. And they got to work. For some of them, they know that they play mainly to lay the foundations for future players.

“For some of the others, we expect them to be the first to play at our new school on our new ground. We are building something that can be built by the next coach, by the next group of players.

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