When Colin Parachek heads out of class and walks down the halls at Dexter High School these days he feels quite a different vibe in the air from last year. The Dreadnaughts’ starting quarterback no longer has to stare at the top of his shoes as he walks or ignore successful swimmers, field hockey players and soccer players.
Football has moved from the punch line to the head of the line when it comes to Dexter athletics.
“It is way different now,” says Parachek. “It’s actually cool to be a football player.”
Instead of jokes or questions or simply indifference, it’s high fives, handshakes, congratulations and incredible school pride.
“We were the joke of the school,” Parachek said. “Now everyone is looking forward to each game and congratulating us. It’s really nice to feel that support and know they believe in you and have your back.”
Dexter students have always turned out in big numbers to support the football team, especially at home games. Their student section has long been considered the best in the area and their voices and encouragement have only gotten louder in recent weeks as the football team has been piling on the victories.
“Yeah, we certainly feel their support at games,” Parachek says. “It’s awesome to see the stands packed and to have the students and community support us both at home and away.”
The Dreadnaughts knocked off visiting Pinckney 17-14 last Friday to improve to 5-2 on the season, just one victory away from locking up the school’s first trip ever to the state playoffs. The Dreadnaughts host a Lincoln team that started off 4-1 but have lost two straight.
Leading the way for Dexter has been Parachek, a sophomore quarterback who not only has the physical skills but incredible poise and growing confidence not often attributed to a tenth-grader. His numbers are off the charts: 102 of 176 passing for 1,640 yards with 18 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He also has 32 carries for 148 yards and two more touchdowns.
But the most impressive number is five – as in five wins.
“Everybody has been stepping up and playing well,” he said. “Whatever happens I try to find the guy who is hot and get him the ball. The offensive line has been amazing. The five of them play the whole game and make everything we do possible.”
One of the more difficult challenges Parachek overcame quickly was in being a leader. It’s not easy for a sophomore to step into a high-pressure role with the added responsibility of being a team leader. But he’s handled that part of the game with pinpoint accuracy.
“It was a little difficult at first,” said Parachek, who also got moved up to varsity basketball last year as a freshman which helped build his confidence in football. “I’ve always been a leader so that helped. I felt like going into the season that I had earned their trust. Everyone believed in me and that really helped.”
Parachek says winning the Ypsilanti game in week two really got the wheels on this machine rolling.
“We felt like we were a different team than years past and winning that game against Ypsilanti really solidified that feeling,” he said. “The playoffs have always been the goal but we haven’t gotten there yet. We have to get one more win and just keep taking things one game at a time.”
The season didn’t exactly start out with a bang as the Dreadnaughts lost their opener to rival Chelsea. But Parachek says the team didn’t hang their heads or think, “here we go again.” There was a different response to the loss – one of fixing some things, improving on others and staying not only motivated but positive.
“The Saturday after the game there was disappointment because going in we felt like it was a game we could win,” Parachek said. “But as the week went along we realized that Chelsea was a very good football team and we were not going to let that one game define the whole season.”
Instead, the whole season has been defined by playing together – with and for one another. And playing with a purpose – getting better each week and preparing the best they can for each play, each series, each game.
“We have gotten a lot closer as a team,” Parachek says. “Each week in practice we attack our weaknesses and try to make them our strengths.”
Parachek was the starting quarterback last year on the Dreadnaughts’ junior varsity team which finished with a “disappointing” 1-8 record. But sometimes, like this time, the record doesn’t always tell the whole story.
“We had mostly freshman on the team last year so despite being younger than the other teams we were still very competitive and from that standpoint it was encouraging,” Parachek said. “It was frustrating because of our record but we were playing good football and improving as the season went along. So there were good signs.”
Parachek says he enjoys playing for Coach Phil Jacobs, who in just his second year with the program has not only put games in the win column but pride into the program.
“He is awesome and has helped me and everyone on the team so much,” Parachek says. “He puts together a great game plan every week that gives us the best chance to win.”
One more win sends the Dreadnaughts to a place they’ve never been – the playoffs. And that’s no joke!