February 12, 2014 - They used their skills to help their team win Clarkston's first MHSAA Division 1 Football State Championship and now six gridiron heroes are ready to use their skills on the collegiate level.
From left Ian Eriksen, Caine Watlington, Tim Cason, David Beedle, Nick Matich and Shane Hynes celebrate signing their letters of intent last Wednesday. Photo by Wendi Reardon (click for larger version)
Seniors David Beedle, Tim Cason, Ian Eriksen, Shane Hynes, Nick Matich and Caine Watlington signed their letters of intent and celebrated the moment with friends and family last Wednesday.
Beedle, a lineman who has always been a Michigan State University fan, signed to be a Spartan.
"It's exciting," he said. "I have been waiting for this day for a while ever since junior year."
It wasn't being a fan which drew him in but visits to the campus where he enjoyed the campus and the family atmosphere.
"I could just tell that's where I wanted to go," he said, adding he is leaning towards studying kinesiology and becoming a physical therapist.
Cason, wide receiver and defensive back, is heading to Purdue, where he will follow in his dad's footsteps and study electrical engineering.
"I am happy to start my new journey," he smiled as he explained why he chose Purdue. "It was the academics, athletics and I always wanted to play for the Big Ten. My parents loved it."
Eriksen was also smiling as he became a runningback for Eastern Michigan University, which was the first college he received an offer.
"After visiting and seeing the campus, feeling the community and the school I really liked the campus and what EMU football had going on," he added. "I am excited to see how we are going to do in a couple of years."
He plans to study economics and possibly business.
Kicker Hynes is heading to Kent State to study nursing and will join Clarkston alumni Matt Dellinger.
"It's awesome," he said about signing. "I really liked the college and the staff. It felt like they were part of my family and knowing Matt is also at Kent was a good support. It's good to have someone there and I can always ask him for advice."
Matich will become a linebacker for Western Michigan University where he will study pharmaceutical sales.
"It's good to have the recruiting process finally over," he said. "It's a big relief off my chest. The class we are bringing in is just ridiculous. I got to know them and met the guys since I committed in the summer. They are the guys I want to be around. I know we will do something special."
The draw for Matich was the coaching staff with head coach P.J. Fleck and assistant defensive line coach Vinson Reynolds.
"Fleck is hands down one of the best coaches I have ever met," he said. "He definitely knows what he is talking about. I think Western and the coaching staff will give me the best shot to do what I need to do."
He added another reason Western was a good pick for him is because he would be a starter his freshman year.
"I am proud of him," said sister, Amber Matich. "I am proud to be his big sister."
Watlington, wide receiver and defensive back, was the last to sign and had the biggest smile as he joined the Air Force Academy to study finance.
"It feels good to finally be committed to a school and it is a great school," he said. "It was the academics and the athletics - basically the things I hold for the future which can't be measured."
A draw to the Air Force Academy was he always thought about going into to the military.
"The Air Force presented an option with football, school and military all into one," he added.
Beedle began playing football in fifth grade when his dad convinced him to try it.
"I was always a baseball kid growing up," he admitted before he tried football ended sticking with the sport. "I was always an aggressive, physical kid when I was younger - football was a place to take it out."
Through the years and learning from the Clarkston Football Program, Beedle feels the coaches have prepared him for college.
"They especially prepared me this year they worked me harder," he said. "Normally if you have a Division 1 kid they would be the centerpiece of the team. They did a good job of keeping everyone level-headed and looking at the bigger picture instead of just the college aspect of it."
Cason began playing when he was nine-years-old when his dad also got him into it. He stuck with it because he developed a passion for it.
"I was never good at it but once I started hitting I got better," he said, adding being part of the Wolves' program also helped him.
"It will help out academic wise and also football because of the work ethic I learned from KR (Head Coach Kurt Richardson)."
Eriksen had the drive for football since he was in third grade when he told his dad he wanted to play.
"He wasn't going to have me play until seventh grade," he said. "But I said I wanted to play so he let me."
The draw for him was the high impact and intensity of the game
"Every play is a chance to do something amazing," Eriksen smiled. "Not many games are like it."
As he heads to Eastern the Clarkston program in a number of ways.
"There has always been a winning mentality in Clarkston," Eriksen said. "There is a good sense of family and great coaches with a winning mindset. It has helped me to have a winner's mentality."
Hynes started off with soccer but started playing football with encouragement from his uncle, who once played for Clarkston.
"He wanted to see me play football," he said. "I don't think my mom was too happy about the first time I switched over but I think she is happy it paid off now."
For Hynes, the Clarkston coaching staff has helped him out to play on the college level.
"The coaching staff is unlike anyone else," he said. "They expect the most of you and it will help because college coaches expect more work out of you than high school. The coaching staff we have always pushes you and wants to see you reach your full potential."
Matich began playing football when he was eight-years-old explaining he was a big kid and always watched the varsity games.
"Seeing those guys play while I played for the Clarkston Chiefs was the best thing ever," he smiled. "Then, playing for varsity, winning the state championship and having those younger guys look up to us is crazy to think about."
Matich added being part of the Clarkston program and playing for a Division 1 school definitely will help because of the level of competition he has seen.
"The competition is the best in the state," he said.
Watlington began playing football with the Clarkston Chiefs when he was eight-years-old. He added growing up with the Clarkston program has taught him not only the fundamentals of the game but the fundamentals of life.
"It taught me how to bounce back from big negatives and taught me how to stand up and be one as a team," Watlington added. "It taught me more cooperation with people around me and also taught me how to balance school and football."
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007. Follow Clarkston sports on Twitter @CNewsWRSports.