December 11, 2008 at 9:37 am


All-East football team


Jim Martinez, Warren DeLaSalle: Martinez caught 36 passes, including seven touchdowns, and averaged 15.8 yards per catch during his career. He also had five interceptions and returned two for touchdowns, and set a school record with 16 career interceptions. He had 71 tackles, 42 unassisted, and 169 tackles in his career. Coach Paul Verska said Martinez is a gifted athlete who refuses to lose. DeLaSalle advanced to the state finals two of the three years Martinez was a starter.

Tyler Danna, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley: Danna had 43 catches for 753 yards and eight touchdowns. Coach Mike Carr said Danna is the best blocking receiver he ever had. At defensive back, Danna had an interception and did not give up a touchdown. He has a 4.0 GPA.

D.J. Mershman, Sterling Heights Stevenson: A two-year starter, Mershman caught 67 passes for 1,446 yards and 21 touchdowns, an average of 20.8 yards per reception. Coach Rick Bye said Mershman makes the big play when the pressure is on, adds the great ability to catch the football in traffic and runs extremely disciplined routes.


Mike Verbeke, Marysville: Verbeke was a two-year starter at right tackle. "If we needed a big play on the ground we would go through his hole" coach Mark Caza said. "He was a leader up front with the ability to open up a hole for our running backs." The team rushed for 2,086 yards in 10 games. Caza said he received several compliments from area coaches on Verbeke's ability to dominate a defensive line. Marysville made the state playoffs for the first time since 2005.

Rob Venditti, Utica Eisenhower: Coach Bob Lantzy said Venditti is an exceptional pass and run blocker. Lantzy was also thrilled with Vendittis durability. Playing on both the offensive and defensive lines, he never missed a play in two years. He finished with 59 tackles.

Jeff Fantuzzi, Macomb Dakota: Fantuzzi, an offensive tackle, started on last year's undefeated Division 1 state championship team. Coach Mike Giannone said Fantuzzi's a tough kid with good feet and a great punch that allows the offense to run his side. He also has the ability to pull and trap along with pass protect, making him a well-rounded player. He had 17 pancake blocks. Fantuzzi signed with Central Michigan.

Steve Chuhran, Marine City: Marine City, which rushed for 3,122 yards, ran behind Chuhran 75 percent of the time. Coach Tony Scarcelli said Chuhran is a big, strong lineman with great feet. Though he's only a junior, colleges are already expressing interest in him. He plays offensive guard and also plays defensive tackle.

Brandon Cathey, Clinton: Township Chippewa Valley

Coach Mike Carr said Cathey is a tremendous trapping offensive lineman. Cathey also plays on the defensive line. Carr said Cathey is the best defensive lineman he's coached at Chippewa Valley. Cathey finished with 54 tackles and three sacks and led the team with 13 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.


Jason Fracassa, Sterling Heights Stevenson: Fracassa, a three-year starter, passed for 1,463 as a freshman and 1,366 as a sophomore. This season he completed 210-of-350 passes (a 61 percent completion rate) for 3,357 yards and 34 touchdowns and two two-point conversions. He threw eight interceptions. Coach Rick Bye said Fracassa's a great decision maker and runs the offense with great precision. Fracassa is the co-MVP of the MAC Red.


Ben Brown, Romeo: Brown rushed for 1,597 yards and 20 touchdowns on 201 carries (7.95 yards per carry). He caught 10 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Chris Tatti, Port Huron: Coach Ryan Mullins said Tatti did everything for Port Huron. He rushed for 1,404 yards and 14 touchdowns on 199 carries. He was 36-for-40 on extra points, 3-for-3 on field goals and averaged 40.6 yards per punt. He had 305 return yards and 117 yards receiving.


C.J. Olaniyan, Warren Mott: Olaniyan had 77 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, six hurries and nine sacks. He also broke up two passes and forced two fumbles. Playing tight end on offense, he caught 28 passes for 424 yards and two touchdowns. Olaniyan has the unique ability to take control of a game, coach Tom Milanov said.

Reid Fragel, Grosse Pointe South: Fragel had 61 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, four sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception. A thumb injury limited him offensively, but playing tight end, he had 21 receptions for 409 yards for his career.

Mike Laamanen, Macomb Dakota: Laamanen had 54 tackles, eight sacks, seven tackles for loss, two blocked punts, eight hurries and an one interception. He was named co-MVP of the MAC Red.

Ben Hayes, Warren DeLaSalle: A two-year starter, Hayes led the team with 78 tackles (including 40 solo). During his career, he had 26 tackles for loss. 8 1/2 sacks and deflected seven passes.


John Neveux, Grosse Pointe North: Neveux is second in North's record book for tackles in a season (127) and career (193). His brother Michael holds both records. John had 32 solo tackles this season, including 21 for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, two knock downs and four hurries.

Dan Sawicki, Clinton Township Clintondale: Sawicki set school records for touchdowns in a season (25) and game (five). He had 141 tackles and two sacks and blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown. He intercepted two passes and returned one for a touchdown. He rushed for 1,003 yards.

Austin Gray, Warren Fitzgerald: Gray had 97 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and six sacks. Just a junior, he has 201 career tackles and led his team in tackles each of the last two seasons. He's a two-time first-team all-MAC Silver selection.

Robert Detkowski, Richmond: Detkowski had 122 tackles, tipped five passes and blocked eight kicks. He rushed for 489 yards on 72 carries. He was named the most valuable defensive player of his conference.

Zurlon Tipton, Sterling Heights Parkway Christian: Tipton had 121 tackles, including eight for loss and three sacks. He also forced three fumbles and recovered one. Tipton rushed for 1,607 yards and 25 touchdowns on 152 carries. He returned ten kickoffs for 452 yards and four touchdowns (82, 75, 72, 68). Tipton committed to Central Michigan.


John Martinez, Warren DeLaSalle: Martinez, a three-year starter, played on two teams that advanced to the state finals. He had 41 tackles (including 17 unassisted) and finished his career with 118 tackles. He returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown and had 11 interceptions for his career.

Robert Strong, Sterling Heights Stevenson: Coach Rick Bye said Strong is one of the finest leaders he has has coached in 34 years. He had 22 solo tackles and assisted on 48. He had eight interceptions and deflected 10 passes. The only two-way player at Stevenson, he also had 20 receptions for 279 yards and two touchdowns as a tight end. He also returned two punts for touchdowns.


Chad Allemon, Marine City: Allemon rushed for 1,134 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 61 passes for 597 yards and six touchdowns. He scored a touchdown on a punt return and a kickoff return and was 48-of-51 on extra-point attempts. He was named MVP of the MAC Gold Division.


Robbie Flinn, Romeo: Flinn was 39-of-39 on extra points and 11-of-16 on field goal tries, with a long of 49.