Projected order of finish by consensus of coaches; 2018 records in parentheses.
1. ECORSE (8-3, 4-1)
New coach Jovan Olafioye returns one starter on offense, and it’s senior TE/DE Deandre Gaines who returns from injury. Junior Darrius Cross takes over at QB and will look to find junior WR/DB Darryl Cooper. The defense returns three starters, including senior DB/RB Jamal Hamiel. The performance of junior DB/slot receiver Marcus Walker will be key in Ecorse staying on top in the Red Division.
2. DETROIT COMMUNITY (8-2, 3-1)
Senior athlete Terrian Ayers will factor big into an offense that returns three players, including junior C Kyler King and senior G Dartanyon Webster. Four starters return on defense for coach Del Humphrey, including sophomore LB Willie Rush and senior LB Jamario Jones. Senior S Corey Watkins transfers in from Ecorse to try to help Community return to the playoffs.
3. DETROIT UNIVERSITY PREP SCIENCE & MATH (2-6, 1-2)
Science & Math has six returning starters on offense, led by senior QB/DB Maurice Jones, senior RB/slot Tommy Kyles, sophomore WR James Banks and sophomore OT Brandon Lockhart. On defense, six starters return, including senior LB Corey Robinson and junior DT Steve Mitchell. New coach Raymard Haggard takes over after 19 years as an assistant on four different Metro Detroit teams.
4. MELVINDALE ABT (0-8, 0-4)
Senior Jovawn Brown had 15 catches and three receiving touchdowns in 2018, but he’ll move to quarterback and join two other returning starters on offense in senior OL Devon Evans and junior RB DeMarco Coats. New coach Demetrius Spicer’s defense also returns three starters and will be highlighted by junior LB Reggie Taylor and sophomore DB Dylan Head as ABT tries to recover from last season’s winless campaign.
1. RIVER ROUGE (8-2, 4-0)
Eight starters return on offense for coach Corey Parker, led by senior RB De’Andre Bulley, senior WR Xavier Smith and senior WR R’montaye Caldwell. On defense, three starters return, spearheaded by senior LB Deshawn Walker, senior CB David Carter, senior DT Amasia Geeter and junior CB Leroy Watson. Loaded with returning starters, River Rouge will stay on top in the Blue Division.
2. HARPER WOODS (8-3, 4-1)
Harper Woods has five returning starters on offense, a unit that will be highlighted by sophomore RB Christion Stokes, senior WR Curtis Jackson, junior OL Davion Weatherspoon, OL JerMarlowe Sykes and junior RB DaVeon Turner. Senior CB Lemuel Neely-Watley, senior DB Joshua Broaden, senior LB Jaden Cummings and senior DEs Deovion Brown and Tommie Boyd will lead a defense that returns six starters for coach Rod Oden.
3. HAMTRAMCK (2-7, 1-4)
First-year coach Matthew Alexander comes over to Hamtramck after being an assistant under Greg Carter at Oak Park last season and inherits three returning starters, including senior RB Dorian Grimes. Things look a little better on defense where senior DE Deshawn Morris, junior S Kemari Anderson and senior OL/DT Justin Collins highlight four returning starters. Hamtramck will be hard-pressed to crawl into the top of the Metro.
4. DETROIT UNIVERSITY PREP (1-8, 0-3)
Five starters return on offense, including WR/RB Darien Green, who had two touchdowns and 20 receptions for 300 yards in 2018. Senior QB Marcus Hode is back after rushing for 500 yards and throwing for eight touchdowns last season. Coach James Pollard’s defense returns four starters and will be led by senior OLB Curtis Snerling and senior DT Tyrone Ruff.
Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer.