Quarterback Matthew Hartwick is just one of a majority of starters back for a New Boston Huron team with high hopes. (Jose Juarez / Special to Detroit News)
Predicted order of finish
(Consensus of coaches)
2013 record in parentheses
1. Milan (10-1, 7-0), 2. Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (10-2, 6-1), 3. New Boston Huron (5-4, 3-4), 4. Grosse Ile (5-4, 3-4), 5. Riverview (7-3, 5-2), 6. Carleton Airport (3-6, 3-4), 7. Monroe Jefferson (1-8, 1-6), 8. Flat Rock (0-9, 0-7).
Top four players
■St. Mary quarterback-cornerback Bryce Windham (6-foot, 170) did a good job of operating a run-dominant offense while keeping teams honest with his passing. He also intercepted several passes, including two returned for touchdowns in a win over Lansing C.C. and another to secure a 44-40 district-title win over A.A. Gabriel Richard.
■Grosse Ile quarterback Andrew Mitroka (6-1, 190) suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 4 against St. Mary after helping his team to a 3-0 start. “He’s our best player,” coach John Bodner said. “He was our leading rusher and passer and on track to have a great season when he tore his ACL. He’s running, but his biggest challenge will be once he gets contact in game situations.”
■Milan receiver-defensive back C.J. Duffiney (5-8, 180) has the speed and hands to be a threat on offense and proved he can do the job defensively last year to help his team to a league title and state playoff appearance.
■New Boston Huron tackle Chase McKay (6-2, 220) is one of the premier linemen in the league. He will be opening holes for running back Ian Robinson while giving Matthew Hartwick time to operate the offense.
Top four story lines
■How well will St. Mary bounce back from giving up a 60-yard TD with 12 seconds left in a 21-20 Division 4 regional title-game loss to Livonia Clarenceville? St. Mary, which has won the district title three times in the last four years, definitely lost a lot of talent from that team, but returns quarterback Bryce Windham for another possible playoff appearance.
■Milan enters the season with a 14-game league winning streak. Jesse Hoskins has guided Milan to consecutive 9-0 regular seasons, including spotless 7-0 league records. Sure, dual-threat quarterback Robert Kanitz (2,283 all-purpose yards) has graduated, but Hoskins returns talent, including transfers from Ypsilanti Lincoln to fill some holes, led by junior linebacker Cortez Gray.
■Former Southgate head coach Derek McLaughlin takes over Riverview’s program. He inherits talented players in center Adam Dorgert and tight end Steve Pinkava up front and an experienced quarterback in third-year starter Andrew Kroll, but has to replace the outstanding backfield combination of Josh Smith and Marcus Samuels.
■Don’t be surprised if New Boston Huron knocks off Milan or St. Mary … or both. Veteran coach Dan Kalbfleisch has the majority of his starters back, including skilled players in running back Ian Robinson (4.5 speed), receiver Devin Collins and junior quarterback Matthew Hartwick.