By Charles Sercombe
Football is back in Hamtramck.
After suffering a 5-6 year losing streak, the Hamtramck High School Cosmos have restored the roar in Hamtown. The team has undergone a miracle turnaround, winning their first two games and losing a heartbreaker last Friday, 44-42.
And unlike previous years, there are now enough players to field two separate squads. So why the change?
Well, there’s a new head coach in charge and a whole new coaching staff, except for Coach Leo Wells who’s been on board for several years.
HHS Athletic Director Adam Mused credits former Head Coach Don Mullens with recruiting his replacement, Tarif Kumasi, who played football at Eastern Michigan University.
Mullens is now retired.
“He toughed it out,” Mused said about Mullens’ unlucky string of defeats.
Mused and Coach Kumasi spent several months prior to the beginning of the season recruiting players and working them out with lifting weights. The response was amazing.
“The kids bought into what we were doing,” Kumasi said.
There are now about 20 players and Kumasi is holding tryouts on Saturdays to establish a junior varsity team.
One of the attractions to the players is that Kumasi likes a passing game.
“We throw the ball a lot,” Kumasi said. “They see the ball in the air and it’s exciting.”
And it’s also paid off for quarterback Omar Thabet, a senior. He’s now the top passer in the state, having thrown 1,063 yards.
And that’s just in the first three games.
Thabet also has a 68 percent completion rate. The pros have a completion rate in the low 70 percent range, so he’s in good company.
The Cosmos’ success has not gone unnoticed. There is now active interest in the community and you’ll see adults who have no kids in the school attending games. The team even has its own rooting section of female students, who each wear a white Cosmos T-shirt.
It’s beginning to feel that way.
“We’re having a ball,” Kumasi said. “The kids show up every day for practice and there’s an excitement.”
Decades ago, business owners along Jos. Campau would close up each Friday afternoon and head down to Keyworth Stadium to see the game. Kumasi said he wants to reconnect with the business community and get the kids involved.
As for the rest of the season (there are six more games to go), Kumasi said he won’t predict how it will go as far as the number of wins, but he promises one thing: “We’re going to put points on the scoreboard.”