Life in the
trenches is not for everybody.
To survive very long in the three-yard space on either side of a football field's line of scrimmage, you'd better be strong, tough and fiercely competitive.
In order to thrive, you'd better be a lot like Plymouth senior Darrell Cohn, a 6-foot-2, 255-pound package of tenacity and talent.
"Darrell is relentless," said Plymouth coach Mike Sawchuk. "His hands and his get-off are incredible. He makes incredible plays every game. He's been an impact player for us since the first day he stepped on this practice field."
In September of 2007, Cohn transferred from Melvindale to Plymouth. Although the Wildcats were already two games into their season, the personable new-comer fit right in with the players and coaching staff.
"Darrell has a great personality -- he's fun to be around -- which helped him fit in here," Sawchuk said. "The first day he practiced it was a Wednesday, and he practiced without pads; just a helmet. By the following Wednesday, he was in pads and that Friday he played -- and played well -- against Canton."
When asked what it takes to be an effective defensive lineman, Cohn paused for a couple seconds, flashed a million-dollar smile and offered a descriptive essay on what he experiences most Friday nights.
"During the games it's crazy," he said. "You have to be real passionate about what you're doing. Playing on the D-line is chaotic, it's hectic; you have to be on top of your game.
"It's a lot like a jungle. If you don't do your job, you'll get eaten up."
Two-thirds into this season, Cohn's work rate doubled when he was inserted into the Wildcats' starting offensive line. He said the move has heightened his respect for the blockers he goes up against when he's playing on the other side of the ball.
"Playing on the offensive line is a lot tougher than a lot of people think," he said. "It's a lot of work; I give them a lot of credit.
"I like playing offense, but I prefer defense. There's not as much thinking, just a lot of hitting."
Cohn's strength and speed have increased dramatically during his two-plus seasons at Plymouth. He bench-presses 345 pounds and can nearly keep up with the linebackers in the 40-yard dash.
Cohn's talent has drawn the attention of some Division 1 colleges, including Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan University.
"Absolutely," Sawchuk said, when asked if Cohn could play at the next level. "They'll probably have him put on 20, 30 pounds, but maybe not. He's so fast now, he can get away with being lighter."
During his down time on autumn weekends, Cohn enjoys watching college and professional football.
"My favorite player used to be Warren Sapp before he retired," he said. "I tried to get his number (99), but I couldn't. Now I like Julius Peppers. He's a defensive lineman like me. I like the way he plays the position."
Cohn said he is looking forward to the challenge of playing against cross-campus rival Canton in the Wildcats' first-round playoff game Friday at 7 p.m.
"It's a tough offense to play against because they play peek-a-boo with the ball and there are always a lot of traps going on," he said. "You know what to expect, but the problem is, 'Can you stop it?' The big question when you play them is, 'Can you stop the trap?'"
Ed Wright can be reached at email@example.com or (734) 453-1980.