Walled Lake Western and Waterford Mott have developed a strong rivalry in the past several years, with the winner putting itself in the hunt for the Lakes Valley Conference championship.
After suffering one-sided losses to Western in his first two years as head coach at Mott, Chris Fahr has guided Mott to a pair of victories over Western in the past four years, including 47-37 last season.
Mott (3-0, 3-0) — ranked No. 20 in The News Super 20 poll — will play host to No. 19 Western at 7 p.m. Friday.
“We have similar kids, and obviously when we got the job they were the standard in the league and we kind of set our sights on that from Day 1,” Fahr said. “In order to get to that level you have to climb the ladder and then beat them.”
Western (2-1, 2-0) has won two straight since a season-opening 28-7 loss to Detroit Catholic Central in Alex Grignon’s first year as head coach. Grignon replaced Mike Zdebski, who guided Western to the Division 1 state championship in 1999 and a Division 2 state title appearance two years ago. Zdebski stepped down after last year to take a head coaching job in Arizona.
Mott’s defense has posted a pair of shutouts — 41-0 over Milford, and 42-0 over Walled Lake Central — and defeated White Lake Lakeland, 26-19, in Week No. 2, avenging a 29-27 loss from a year ago.
Fahr knows Mott’s defense needs to slow down Boston College-bound quarterback Sam Johnson and junior receiver Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen, who had six receptions for 189 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 43-7 rout of Waterford Kettering, but feels the most important thing is taking care of its own offense and making sure it’s executing at a high level.
“We have to push our tempo and don’t get caught up in any of the nonsense — just have controlled aggression, play good, smart football and play at a high pace,” Fahr said.
“We’ve had a lot of guys contribute on offense, and it all starts with the line. Our running back Marcus Guerrero is strong (benches 330), fast (4.6 speed) and is averaging 10 yards a carry. We have four receivers with 10 or more catches, and our quarterback Matthew Castillo is playing great after waiting his turn.”
Pick: Mott by 6.
Birmingham Brother Rice (3-0) vs. Warren De La Salle (2-1), Friday, 7 p.m. at Wayne State
Brother Rice second-year head coach Adam Korzeniewski has to feel good about how well his defense is playing, earning wins over Indiana perennial power Mishawaka Penn, 13-7, in Week No. 2 after a season-opening 28-0 win over U-D Jesuit.
Korzeniewski also has to be impressed with the play of junior quarterback Greg Piscopink, who threw three touchdown passes and scored on a 50-yard run in last week’s 42-21 win over Windsor Holy Names.
Now, the stakes get higher for No. 13 Brother Rice, with a Catholic League Central Division showdown with No. 10 Warren De La Salle, the defending league champs who went on to win the Division 2 state title last year.
De La Salle, which defeated Brother Rice, 36-14, last season, has bounced back from a season-opening 36-21 loss at Division 3 state champion Muskegon with a 28-7 win over Grandville and last week’s 57-0 rout of London (Ontario) Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Pick: De La Salle by 2.
Dearborn Fordson (3-0) at Livonia Churchill (2-1), Friday, 7
Fordson’s move to the Kensington Lakes Activities Association has been a good one so far for veteran head coach Walker Zaban.
Fordson (3-0, 3-0) will have its toughest test of the season when it travels to Livonia to play Churchill (2-1, 2-1) on its new turf.
Churchill showed off its new turf field last Friday with a 48-24 win over Westland John Glenn, with senior running back Darrell Mason Jr. scoring four touchdowns.
Churchill's lone loss came at the hands of No. 1 Belleville, a team it racked up 295 first-half yards against and held a 24-21 lead before suffering a 48-24 setback.
“We’re excited to head to Churchill,” Zaban said. “They have a solid team and are extremely well coached. I’m really impressed with the way they play. They are a fundamentally sound club.
“Their quarterback (Drew Alsobrooks) is a player, but he is not the only one. We have our hands full. We will have to play our best and take care of the football to have a shot at pulling off a win.”
Pick: Churchill by 1 (OT)
Harper Woods (3-0) at Warren Michigan Collegiate (3-0), Friday, 7
This should be an interesting game with Harper Woods showing it is a top-20 team in the state with its 3-0 start in Rod Oden's first year as head coach.
Warren Michigan Collegiate also is off to a 3-0 start, including a 26-14 season-opening win over Grosse Pointe North and an impressive 54-7 victory last week over a Riverview Gabriel Richard team which finished 9-2 last season.
Harper Woods has outscored its opponents by a 161-13 margin and looks for another double-digit win while facing its toughest opponent of the season.
Pick: Harper Woods by 12.