Shawn Windsor of The Detroit Free Press writes:
"Hawkins thinks of Beecher as a state of mind; it is also a 5-square-mile rectangle on the outskirts of metropolitan Flint. It is a place that is, in some ways, unrecognizable to Hawkins, who graduated from Beecher High when the town still survived on the auto industry.
"Since he left for college, Beecher has lost its McDonald's, its Wendy's, its Arby's, its Kmart. 'All that is left are party stores selling liquor and Lotto tickets,' said Brenda Bauer, whose 15-year-old son, sophomore Matt Bauer, plays offensive tackle for Beecher.
"When Hawkins was winning state championships in basketball and track in the middle and late 1980s, some 900 students attended Beecher High School. This year, only 455 students are enrolled. That high school is now shuttered, an empty shell home to crickets, pigeons and weeds, except for Hawkins' office, which the district keeps open because the gym and lockers are used for sports, as is the football field that's still on the property.
"High school students were shipped to the middle school, where a metal detector is the first thing they see every morning.
"'It's sad,' said Hawkins, not sure what else to say."
Beecher is currently 7-3. The Bucs play their final game Saturday against St. Charles.