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Free Press EK Coverage

Posted Monday, September 07, 2009 by Mick McCabe, Detroit Free Press

Original text of the article can be found here:
http://freep.com/article/20090907/HSS1201/909070317/1238/HSS/With-win-over-Inkster-and-Gardner--East-Kentwood-turns-a-few-heads

With win over Inkster and Gardner, East Kentwood turns a few heads

BY MICK MCCABE
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER

East Kentwood was playing at home Thursday when Inkster and highly touted quarterback Devin Gardner came rolling into town, but it didn't seem like a home game for coach Greg Hudkins.

"It was almost like a circus atmosphere," Hudkins said. "Two local news channels were there and during the warm-ups, everybody had their cameras on them. There were almost 60 people in Michigan shirts lined up along the fence watching him warm up."

Gardner is the Elite 11 QB who committed to Michigan, and Hudkins saw why he is such a hot commodity when he ran 66 yards for a touchdown on the game's first play.

"We were at Inkster's game at Eastern Michigan last week, and we were up in the press box scouting," Hudkins said. "After that first play I thought: 'OK, that's what it looks like up close.' "

Hudkins was equally impressed with Gardner's passing (19-for-30, 389 yards), which some people questioned after his junior season.

"I didn't see a glitch," Hudkins said of Gardner's throwing motion. "He has such velocity on the ball. Our kids were taking angles to receivers, and they couldn't get there. He's throwing 35-yard posts on the line. He was something else."

Gardner helped Inkster put 33 points on the board against Kentwood, but that wasn't nearly enough, as the Falcons drilled Inkster, 52-33, in one of the shockers of Week 2.

This is Hudkins second season in Kentwood after building the program at Livonia Clarenceville into a state finalist and resurrecting the Monroe program and returning it to the state playoffs.

At 2-0, the Falcons have already equaled their win total of a year ago and have done so with an explosive backfield featuring running backs Jamaal Thomas, Deonte Hurst and DeShawn Nelson and quarterback Jon Henry.

"We've got those kids in the backfield, and all four of them, including the quarterback, are threats at any time," Hudkins said. "They've been working at it long enough that we'll figure it out. If they take one thing away, we should be able to have an answer. Our offensive line is all returnees from last year. We took our lumps with those guys, but they're figuring it out, making the right calls and adjustments. It was fun to watch."

Hudkins' teams at Clarenceville were always fun to watch as they ran the jet wing-T to perfection. Making the right calls now is Henry, who won the Division 1 100-meter state championship last spring.

Henry isn't going to make anyone forget Gardner, but he is a talented youngster who has made big strides this season.

"He kind of got thrown into the fire at last minute last year," said Hudkins. "Last year was such a huge learning curve for him, and he's worked his tail off and he's done everything he was asked to do, and now it's paying off for him."

The victory over Inkster, coupled with last week's overtime win against Caledonia, may have changed a few mind in the Kentwood locker room about how quickly this team can be good.

"We're still a young program; we're still learning every week," Hudkins said. "Our kids are buying in. They're working hard. They're believing. These wins help legitimize some things in their heads and the coaching staff's as well. Now they're thinking: 'Maybe we are pretty decent.' "

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