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Gridiron heroes sign on to play at college

Tyler Scarlett and Dakota Bender sign their letters with their coaches Rich Porritt, Phil Price, Head Coach Kurt Richardson, Pete Gallagher and John Bennink. Photo by Wendi Reardon Photo by Wendi Reardon. (click for larger version)
February 10, 2010 - Teammates Tyler Scarlett and Dakota Bender have shared a lot of memories during the last few years.

They added one more as they signed their letters of intent to continue playing football in college on Feb. 3.

Scarlett will aid Michigan Tech as a quarterback and Bender will be a running back for Grand Valley State University.

"It is awesome," Wolves Head Football Coach Kurt Richardson said about watching his players sign. "They have a great chance if they want to play at the next level. They have two great universities, two great football programs."

Bender had seen a few schools and was still undecided until GVSU approached him.

They asked him to look at the school. He visited and met some of the players.

"I am really excited to go to the good program. They have won so many national championships," he said.

His parents, Kris and Mike, were excited to see him sign.

"He was nervous about the whole thing but when he saw Grand Valley he knew it was a good fit for him," said Kris.

Bender joined the Clarkston Chiefs when he was seven, but had the ball in his hands long before then.

"He was born with a ball in his hands," said Kris. "When he was tiny he couldn't sit still to do anything, unless you gave him a ball."

Kris used to bring Dakota to the high school when she would watch her cousin play volleyball. He would be memorized and stay still.

"If there was a game with a ball he would stay still," she said.

He started playing the sport because his family has always played football and after he watched his uncle play.

"It was what he always wanted to do," Kris said.

He has held the running back position throughout his entire football career.

He has yet to decide what he is going to study in the fall.

Scarlett has chosen to study engineering, stating it was one of the reasons why he chose Michigan Tech.

"I am excited to get the decision out of the way," he said. "It seems like it has been a long time I have been thinking about this."

Other reasons why he chose Michigan Tech were the coaches, the players and the atmosphere.

"It is kind of far away from here but I can deal with it," he said. "They have good coaches and good players."

"It is a good fit for him," said dad, Todd.

"I am very happy for him," said mom, Kim. "He was throwing the football when he was two or three."

Tyler began his football career in fourth grade when he joined the Clarkston Chiefs.

He started out as a running back but moved into his current role when his teammate Greg Keller was injured.

Both joined the varsity team in their sophomore year.

"We were talking about how it seems like it went really fast. Especially to see them as sophomores and kids and now they are young men," said Richardson.

For their last season, they aided the team to a 12-1 record, and took the team past the district finals, regional finals and quarterfinals.

Dakota assisted the team during the winning season by scoring 27 touchdowns. He had 1,200 yards rushing and 340 receiving yards.

Tyler had 1,700 passing yard and 1,286 rushing yards and ten touchdowns.

"It is a great day for Clarkston football," said Richardson.

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.
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