Independents and others football preview

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

(2013 records in parentheses)

Ann Arbor Huron (1-8), Ann Arbor Pioneer (3-6), Ann Arbor Skyline (4-5), Armada (2-7), Clarkston Everest Collegiate (7-3), Dearborn Heights Star International (3-6), Detroit Cesar Chavez (3-6), Detroit Consortium (4-5), Detroit Country Day (8-4), Detroit Edison (1-8), Detroit University Prep Science & Math (0-9), Detroit Westside Christian Academy (8-1 in Christian Athletic League), Harper Woods (3-6), Holly (4-5), Marine City Cardinal Mooney (2-7 in North Central Thumb 8-Man League), Melvindale Academy for Business & Tech (4-5), Memphis (4-5), Monroe (5-4), Ortonville Brandon (4-5), Richmond (9-2), Ypsilanti (4-5), Ypsilanti Lincoln (7-3)

Top four players

■Country Day senior offensive lineman Justin Hunter made an immediate impact in his first year as a starter and helped bolster an offense that averaged 37 points. Hunter (6-foot-5, 295) primarily played tackle but is capable of sliding over to guard, and may possibly spend some time on the defensive front this season. “He’s very agile for as big as he is,” coach Dan MacLean said.

■Detroit Consortium senior defensive back/receiver Cameron Lewis was a standout on both sides of the ball last season. Lewis (5-10, 170) put up 2,466 total yards of offense (1,423 receiving and 1,043 rushing) while tallying 52 tackles, five forced fumbles and three interceptions on defense. The Buffalo commit also had two kick returns for TDs.

■A.A. Pioneer senior running back Bryce Young (5-8, 190) posted 1,700 all-purpose yards last season, has great speed (4.4 40) and has an undeniable leadership quality. “His presence alone is a big change for us,” second-year coach Jari Brown said.

■Ypsilanti junior quarterback Marquis Smith (6-0, 175) threw for 663 yards and six touchdowns last season and rushed for 743 yards and nine scores. He also lined up at receiver, catching 10 passes for 116 yards and a TD. “Marquis has great vision and the ability to make you miss,” coach Rufus Pipkins said.

Top four story lines

■Country Day has made the playoffs every year since 2006 and hopes to push the streak to nine straight, but has a daunting schedule that includes three-time defending Division 2 champion Birmingham Brother Rice and defending D-3 champ Zeeland West. Country Day also must overcome the departure of three weapons from last season’s record-setting offense (444 points) — WR Maurice Ways (Michigan), QB Tyler Wiegers (Iowa), RB Richard Wilson (Boston College).

■Everest Collegiate coach Mike Pruchnicki and his squad are out to prove that last season (7-3, playoffs) wasn’t a fluke. It returns six starters on offense and eight on defense but will have to rely heavily on its six seniors and faces a more challenging schedule.

■A.A. Skyline, Cesar Chavez and Ypsilanti Lincoln were all dealt a blow when they found out they would be without key players from a year ago: Lincoln WR K.J. Osborn (all-state special mention), DL/LB Jeff Stokes and TE Tyler Mabry left for IMG Academy in Florida, Skyline QB Askaree Crawford (1,800 total yards, 20 TDs) moved to Belleville and Cesar Chavez QB Omar Salih (all-state honorable mention) transferred to Detroit Cody.

■Cardinal Mooney will be making its return to 11-man football after spending the past three seasons playing 8-man. The switch back has been met with open arms by second-year coach Jared Greenia and his players. “They are all for it,” said Greenia, who is in his first head-coaching gig after spending a year as defensive coordinator at Memphis and three years as an assistant at Richmond.

James Hawkins, Special to The News