Curt Rienas has done an outstanding job as head coach at Romeo after owning the title as co-head coach with Jason Couch the previous 15 seasons, including the 2015 state-championship season in 2015.
While Couch moved on to take the head-coaching position at Alma College, Rienas stayed at Romeo and has guided the team to five consecutive wins after a season-opening 24-21 loss to Oxford.
Romeo (5-1, 3-0) will host No. 15 Macomb Dakota (5-1, 2-1) on Friday. A win puts it in a Macomb Area Conference Red championship game against No. 3 Chippewa Valley (6-0, 3-0) in Week No. 8.
Romeo has won two of the last three games in the rivalry with Dakota, including 61-33 last year.
“We have a lot of good coaches working with the offense,” said Rienas, who primarily had worked with the defense in past years.
Rienas talked of his top players.
“Brock Horne is definitely our top guy, has had a great season,” Rienas said of the 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior linebacker/running back, who has a grey-shirt offer from Michigan State, along with an offer from Iowa State and multiple Mid-American Conference and Ivy League teams. “He’s done a great job at linebacker and has also played well at running back for us.
“Brock has 4.6 speed and runs angry. He had three carries last week for 140 yards, every game he’s had at least one 50-plus yard run in key situations, a 55-yarder against Eisenhower that sealed the door on it.
“Mitch Hardy, our defensive end, has had a really good season and we have a tight end who might be the most dominant blocker that I’ve seen in a long time in Eric Fraeyman (6-4, 225).”
What Rienas is most impressed with is the depth, Romeo had 22 of 46 players held out of practice last week with injury or illness. He is pleased to have two-way starter Ryan Heimbuch — younger brother of Western Michigan tight end Mitch Heimbuch — back in the lineup.
So, what does Romeo have to do to beat Dakota?
“We’re pretty physical up front on offense and we’re going to try to keep the ball, control the clock and limit their possessions,” Rienas said. “They have the ability to make big plays in the passing game so it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”
Pick: Romeo by 2.
Dearborn Heights Robichaud (6-0, 5-0) at D.H. Crestwood (6-0, 5-0), 7 Friday
Crestwood is off to its first 6-0 start since 1980, the year after it had a perfect 9-0 season, assuring itself its first state playoff appearance since 2005. But for Crestwood to have an unbeaten regular season, it will have to get past a talented Robichaud team in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference showdown for the league title.
Crestwood’s defense, led by linebackers Gus Murray and Jaquan Smith, will try to slow Robichaud freshman quarterback David Williams, who has thrown for 1,884 yards and 15 touchdowns, throwing for 341 yards and four TDs last week in a 26-14 win over Redford Union.
“This is for the league championship and we’re excited about it,” Crestwood fourth-year head coach Mike Berry said. “They’re pretty loaded. They have a lot of weapons and the receiver, No. 10 is the real threat. They spread it out and like to throw bubbles, and if that kid (No. 10) catches it in the bubble he has so much speed that if we don’t lock him up right away he can make something happen with it. We want to control the clock by running the ball and keep them off the field.”
Pick: Robichaud by 8
Rochester Adams (3-3) at Farmington Hills Harrison (5-1), 7 Friday
No. 13 Farmington Hills Harrison will try to lock up a state playoff spot with a victory over Adams.
No doubt, Northwestern-bound Rod Heard is playing well in his senior year for Harrison, rushing for 286 yards (37 carries) and three TDs in last week’s 27-24 win over Rochester.
Adams needs a win to keep its playoff hopes alive after losing a heartbreaker, 24-20 last week to No. 9 West Bloomfield.
Pick: Harrison by 4
Dearborn Fordson (5-1, 4-1) at Livonia Franklin (4-2, 4-1), 7 Friday
Franklin advanced to the Division 2 state-championship game last season, but now needs some wins to earn a state playoff spot.
A Franklin win over Fordson would set up a Kensington Lakes Activities Association East Division showdown for first place in Week No. 8 against Belleville.
Fordson played tough at Belleville last week, falling short, 29-26, despite holding a 10-point first-half lead, led by the running of standout Abraham Jaafar.
Look for Fordson kicker Ali Saad to be the difference in this one.
Pick: Fordson by 6