Muskegon football’s defensive line coach leaving team to join Air Force

MUSKEGON, Mich.-- One of the top ranked high school football teams in West Michigan is preparing to say goodbye to one of their own on Friday night.

Jake Mitchell, who's helped coach for the Muskegon Big Reds for two years will have his last game under the Friday night lights before he leaves for Air Force basic training next week.

It's a place Mitchell calls his second home.

"I've been walking around this stadium since I was old enough to walk," explained Mitchell.

Thursday marked his last time on the practice field. His last game will be Friday night at Fruitport High School.

“I’m leaving on Tuesday to go to basic training for the Air Force, so I’ll be in for six years and I guess we’ll see how it goes after that,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell graduated from Muskegon High School in 2011 after playing two years of varsity football under head coach Shane Fairfield.

“We have good coaches, we have a lot of great guys, but Mitchell is very special and it’s going to be emotional” said Fairfield.

Mitchell's decision to serve his country wasn't easy, especially after coaching on the very field he once played, but it was made easier with his team having his back.

“I’m sure it’ll be emotional," said Mitchell. "I’m just going to try to do one play at a time. I’m going to try to embrace it one play at a time."

“I’m so proud of him because when we know our military is supplied with those types of guys then this is a very safe country," said Fairfield.

Mitchell's commitment to country is only boosting the legacy he's leaving behind.

“We want to win every game we can so every time he turns on the news or goes on the internet he can put a big smile on his face and that he’ll know we’re sticking to the grind here and he’ll stick to the grind there” said Fairfield.

Fairfield hopes Mitchell will be back from basic training in time to see the team in the playoffs. He will likely be back in time to see the last two weeks, as long as Muskegon makes a deep playoff run, which as history has proven, is nothing new for this team.

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