Mensing leaving Whiteford to become head football coach at Westland John Glenn

By DOUG DONNELLY

OTTAWA LAKE – Jason Mensing, who elevated the Whiteford football program into a state powerhouse, is leaving the district for a new job.

After winning 93 games in a decade of coaching the Bobcats, Mensing will be the head football coach at Westland John Glenn next season. Both schools made the announcement Tuesday morning. Mensing met with the Bobcat football team Tuesday morning to tell them the news.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “We’ve had a great stay here,” Mensing said. “It’s been a really, really good experience. I can’t imagine having a better experience than the one we had.”

The Bobcats have had an unprecedented string of success since Mensing took over the program in 2012. Whiteford has won four Tri-County Conference championships, five District titles, four regional championships and a state title in just 10 years. They have made the playoffs every season he’s coached at Whiteford and won 21 playoff games in that short span.

“It’s been a blessing at Whiteford,” he said. “We’ve had so many great kids – really high character individuals – who have come through here. Hopefully the experiences they’ve had have been meaningful.”

Mensing came to Whiteford in 2012 and immediately turned some heads when the Bobcats opened the season with a 26-22 win over Blissfield, a team the Bobcats hadn’t beaten in years. It led to an impressive 3-0 start that included an important 42-0 win over Sand Creek.

“That was huge for our program,” he said. “Sand Creek had been really good the year before and was a good program.”

The Bobcats went 8-1 during the regular season and qualified for the Division 7 playoffs. Whiteford won nine games his second season and in his fourth won the first regional championship in school history by beating Climax-Scotts, a team known for its football history. The following week the Bobcats played Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes in the state semifinals and although they lost, Mensing called it a break-through performance.

“It was the moment we knew we belonged, and we were close to winning it all,” he said.

Whiteford reached the state finals in 2016, losing to Muskegon Catholic Central in the Division 8 championship game at Ford Field. The Bobcats not only returned to Ford Field the next season, but they also won the state championship, the first in school history. In a stunning 14-0 season, the Bobcats scored 737 points, scoring fewer than 40 points just once. A dominant win over Mendon in the semifinals stands out on the path to the state finals.

“We played really well and beat a great football team that day,” he said.

Whiteford opened the next season by winning its first 10 games as the Bobcats set a Monroe County Region record for the longest win streak in region history at 27 games.

After going 5-5 and 6-3 in 2019 and 2020, the Bobcats returned to state prominence last year, going 11-2 and reaching the state semifinals before bowing out to Hudson, the eventual Division 8 state champion. Whiteford had only five seniors on that team.

“We have such great kids coming back,” Mensing said. “The ’22 football season is going to be a special one at Whiteford. It’s bittersweet knowing I’m not going to be a part of that.”

Mensing is a native of Tecumseh and played football at Adrian College. His first coaching stop was at Addison, where he coached one season and led the Panthers to the playoffs.

Mensing is 131-73 in his 19 years as a varsity football coach in Michigan. That includes the one year at Addison, one year at Grayling, three at Owosso and four at Tecumseh. He was an assistant coach at Siena Heights University when he was hired at Whiteford. In 2017, Mensing won a Detroit Lions Michigan Prep Football Coach of the Week honor and has won multiple coach of the year awards in his career.

Mensing credited a great staff he’s worked with during his time at Whiteford. Three coaches – Kristopher Hoag, Tony DuPree and Bob Ondrovick, have been on his staff the entire 10 years. Todd Thieken, one of the assistants for the last several years, was named interim head coach by the district, effective immediately. Thieken was one of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association’s assistant coaches of the year after last season.

“We’ve had so many great coaches throughout my time here,” Mensing said. “That was a big piece of our success.”

Off the field, Mensing is in a leadership position with the MHSFCA and a member of the Michigan High School Athletic Association Representative Council. He has been athletic director and director of student advancement at Whiteford since 2016.

While he will finish out the school year at Whiteford, he will start as football coach immediately at John Glenn. He will take a job with the district starting in the fall.

“I’ve been yearning to get into a situation where I’m working more directly with kids,” he said. “This gives me the chance to do that.”

Mensing will try and rebuild the program at John Glenn. Westland is located between Detroit and Ann Arbor.

John Glenn, with an enrollment above 1,500, plays in one of the toughest football conferences in the state, the Kensington Lakes Activities Association. They are slotted in the East Division for football.

The Rockets, who wear red, white and blue uniforms, went 2-7 last year and 2-5 in the COVID-shortened season of 2020. Other than 2020 when all prep football teams in Michigan qualified for the playoffs, the Rockets haven’t been in the post-season since 2014.

“When you look at the history of the program, they have had some great eras of football,” Mensing said. “I’m excited for this new opportunity. I’m going to go there a start building relationships, build a staff and get to know the kids.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s