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BLOCK PARTY: Churchill lineman thrives in the trenches

 BLOCK PARTY: Churchill lineman thrives in the trenches

Livonia Churchill junior MIchael Malek embraces his role as blocker and lane creator for the Chargers.

Those who know Livonia Churchill junior Michael Malek well will not be surprised to learn that he doesn’t watch televised college and professional football games like the rest of us.

“I like watching the linemen more than the running backs and quarterbacks,” said Malek, a 6-foot-2, 260-pound two-way interior lineman.

“Even though they’re using techniques I’m not real familiar with, it’s interesting to see how they move. I’ve found I can learn a lot from watching how the players at the highest stage play.”

Malek, whose father Michael was a left guard (like his son) for Dearborn Fordson back in the day, started his sophomore season on the Chargers’ junior varsity team until earning a promotion mid-season.

A six-year veteran of the gridiron — he started playing for the Livonia Orioles when he was 10 — Malek is OK with his non-glorious position as long as he can help his team win.

“It would have been cool to play a position that gets to carry the ball once in a while,” Malek said with a smile.

“But I knew from how I was built that I was born to be a lineman. I was huge when I started playing. I stopped growing, but I’m still too big to play running back.”

Bounce-back season

Malek can’t wait to help the Chargers turn the page on last season’s uncharacteristic (for Churchill) two-win season.

“We have a big group of hard workers this season,” said Malek. “We have a new coach this season (Allen Feigel), but the transition is going well because Coach Feigel has been here as an assistant for a while so we know what he expects.

Michael Malek finishes a block during a recent Churchill practice
Michael Malek finishes a block during a recent Churchill practice

“Coach Feigel has made a few changes here and there, like we’re getting more conditioning with more reps on the field compared to running sprints. He was our offensive line coach last year, too, so nothing has changed for me as far as blocking schemes and things like that.”

Malek is a rare three-sport athlete, wrestling in the winter and competing in the throwing events for Churchill’s track-and-field team in the spring.

Football and wrestling definitely play off each other well because you’re always trying to get leverage on your opponent, whether it’s blocking, tackling or trying to take a shot,” he said.

Excelling on the mats

After compiling a record close to .500 as a sophomore wrestler, Malek peaked during the post-season when he captured an individual district title.

Malek turns to a wide range of musical motivation to get fired up before games and matches.

“I have a song rotation that includes everything from rap to Metallica,” he said. “I like a lot of the new rappers.”

Malek is looking forward to playing nose guard on defense for the first time this season.

“I’m not starting on defense, but I’ll get some time over there, which is nice,” he said. “Anything I can do to help this team win, I’ll do.”

Spoken like a true gladiator of the trenches.

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or edwright@socialhousenews.com.

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Ed Wright

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