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Monroe semipro football team mixes a variety of backgrounds

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Timberwolves coach Dick Clark addresses the team. The season is from June through October.

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MONROE - JuJuan Mosby is hardly a typical football player.

Mr. Mosby played for Romulus High School in Michigan and was an all-state defensive tackle. He went on to graduate from the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago.

Mr. Mosby lives in Monroe and works as a prep chef at Dolce Vita restaurant. Mr. Mosby said he hopes to establish his own program for children and adults in Monroe and teach them about cooking and food safety, as well as open his own restaurant in Monroe.

When he's not in the kitchen, Mr. Mosby is a defensive lineman for the Southern Michigan Timberwolves, a semipro football team based in Monroe.

The Timberwolves are a part of the Mid-Continental Football League, a conference of teams in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.

Some of the Timberwolves players, who range in age from 18 to 47, never have played football in an organized league.

Rob Cripe, 47, of Point Place is an offensive lineman and never had played football prior to starting with the Timberwolves.

"I was drawn to the reputation of this team," he said.

"The coaches and the staff are great. I enjoy it," he said.

Not everyone is happy with the team.

Kierra Fountain, 11, isn't thrilled that her father, Charles Fountain, is a wide receiver for the Timberwolves.

"It's embarrassing," she said. The Fountains lives in Monroe.

Coach Dick Clark said the team attracts players who are serious about the sport.

"These people want to play at a high level. They don't want to play for a backyard football team," he said.

Mr. Clark said great coaching helps attract a variety of players.

"We have great coaches - the coaches that we have are able to give our guys individual attention to get them up to playing speed," he said.

Kent Smith, the team's quarterback, graduated from Start High School and played quarterback for Eastern Michigan University, from which he received a degree in business. He was signed by the NFL's Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent but was released after the 2006 season. He then signed with the Tennessee Titans but was released during training camp.

The Timberwolves have won the Mid-Continental Football League championship three times.

Many of the coaches and players have many roles.

Mr. Clark is a mortgage broker for American Nationwide Mortgage. Defensive lineman Lance Hazlitt is molecular biologist for Assay Designs Incorporated in Ann Arbor. He lives in Britton, Mich. "He's the smartest guy in the league. He's a walking encyclopedia," Mr. Clark said.

Two of the team's members commute from Canada

The club is organized as a not-for-profit organization and is actively involved in the community.

Mr. Clark of Sylvania said the team helps build homes for Habitat for Humanity and visits local classrooms where the players read to young students.

Team members also host high school coaching clinics and participate in YMCA and YWCA programs.

The team sponsors a Boys and Girls Amateur Athletics Union basketball team for 9 and 10-year-olds in the Monroe area.

"Kids look up to the Timberwolves as their professional players. They come to our games and see these players as role models," Mr. Clark said.

Willis Barringer, a defensive back from the University of Michigan who graduated in December, 2006, with a degree in English, said playing with the Timberwolves is exciting.

"The game is more pure. These guys are more hungry. These guys have a passion," the Scott High School graduate said.

The first person in his family to graduate from college, Mr. Barringer runs a Boys and Girls Club at Newbury Elementary School.

"It's important to give back to youngsters and show them the rights and wrongs," he said.

Both Mr. Barringer and Mr. Smith said they would be interested in coaching at the high school level.

Mr. Clark said the team is important to Monroe residents.

"Monroe doesn't have a major sports team. The Timberwolves are it. The people of Monroe really love their Timberwolves and the community support is really strong," Mr. Clark said.

The players try out and complete a series of drills to measure their athletic ability. There is a $60 player's fee per person, but Mr. Clark said this is mostly to cover transportation and fuel.

The team practices twice weekly during the season, which runs from June through October. The first preseason game took place Saturday against the Indiana Cardinals, with the Timberwolves crushing the Cardinals in a 30-0 victory.

The team's next game is against the Northwest Ohio Raiders on Saturday. The game will take place at the Frost-Kalnow Stadium at Tiffin University.

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