Predicted order of finish
(Consensus of coaches)
2013 record in parentheses
1. Wyandotte (11-1, 9-0), 2. Allen Park (7-3, 7-2), 3. Woodhaven (4-5, 4-5), 4. Gibraltar Carlson (2-7, 2-7), 5. Melvindale (9-3, 7-2), 6. Trenton (4-5, 4-5), 7. Southgate Anderson (4-5, 4-5), 8. Taylor Truman (8-3, 7-2), 9. Taylor Kennedy (0-9, 0-9), 10. Lincoln Park (1-8, 1-8).
Top four players
■Wyandotte quarterback Donovan Stewart (6-foot-2, 195) helped his team to league and district titles last season by taking care of the ball and making good decisions. He threw for 1,750 yards and 25 touchdowns while getting intercepted just one time.
■Trenton quarterback Christian Mercure (6-1, 170) is a dual-threat player. He rushed for 1,297 yards and 15 TDs last season while throwing for 523 and five TDs to give him an average of 202 total yards of offense per game. “Christian can do it all for us and we expect to throw the ball more this season,” said coach Bob Czarnecki, who thinks his team has the ability to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
■Allen Park running back Manny Andrade (6-1, 205) has the power to run through a defense and the speed (4.55 40) to get to the outside and run for big yardage. He is being recruited by several Division II schools and should get attention from Mid-American Conference schools by season’s end.
■Woodhaven quarterback Niko France (5-7, 195) should have a big year in his second season as a starter in the option attack. He rushed for close to 800 yards last season, averaging five yards a carry. He is being recruited by Ivy League schools and owns a 3.9 grade-point average with a 29 on his ACT.
Top four story lines
■Tom Hoover enters his 21st season as head coach at Allen Park and he should be enjoying it with a large senior class capable of challenging Wyandotte for the league title. The defensive line should be a strength, led by seniors Mark Mullins (5-11, 300-pound noseguard), Tyler Beggs (6-2, 240) and Ethan Kubik (6-3, 210).
■Paul Nappo has been looking forward to his third year as head coach at Kennedy, feeling his large 40-member senior class can improve the program to an upper-half finish after 1-8 and 0-9 seasons his first two years. “We have a lot of third-year starters and I feel that experience will make a huge difference.” The right side of the offensive line is huge: guard James Slone (6-3, 305), tackle DeJuan Hussey (6-3, 297) and tight end Lonnie Barnes (6-3, 260).
■Ron Adams resigned as Wyandotte’s head coach after the completion of last year’s strong season (11-1), which included league and district titles before a 6-0 regional loss to Detroit King. He decided to return for his 10th season, but has a challenge in replacing a large senior class (27), including every starter on defense. He also has lost receivers Brandon Sowards (walk-on MSU) and four-star recruit Donnie Corley (transfer).
■Carlson could be a team on the rise this season while Truman could be slipping a bit. Carlson returns eight starters on offense, including running back Marvin Franklin (6-0, 185), who has 4.5 speed and rushed for more than 700 yards despite missing three games with an ankle injury. Truman lost 28 seniors and head coach Eric Stiegel, now head coach at Grandville. Ellis Slaughter takes over Truman’s program and will use the spread, replacing Stiegel’s double wing-T formation.