High school football 2014 preview: Michigan Independent Athletic Conference

Geoff Robinson
Special to The News

Predicted order of finish

(Consensus of coaches)

2013 record in parentheses

1. Southfield Christian (10-2), 2. Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (5-5), 3. Auburn Hills Oakland Christian (5-5), 4. Sterling Heights Parkway Christian (5-5), 5. Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest (2-7), 6. Lutheran Westland (2-7)

Top four players

■Southfield Christian running back Bobby Banks (6-foot, 195) is the one that opposing defenses fear most. Banks, who’s committed to play at Central Michigan, is going to be a workhorse back this season. He ran the ball 164 times for 1,153 yards (7.03 average) and 10 touchdowns in 2013.

■Southfield Christian defensive back/wide receiver Kam Garner is a playmaker on both sides of the ball. Garner had 11 interceptions in 2013. He also notched 26 receptions for 652 yards and 10 touchdowns.

■Oakland Christian quarterback Javarian Smith, a four-year starter, is a dual threat with excellent vision in the pocket and the speed to excel outside of it. He passed for 1,339 yards, rushed for 416, and recorded 15 total touchdowns in 2013. Smith is being recruited by 12 schools, including Eastern Michigan, Wayne State and Grand Valley State.

■University Liggett running back Thomas Jackson performed well at quarterback in the first four games in 2013, but the coaching staff moved him to running back in order to get more of its best players on the field. Jackson ended the season with over 1,000 yards both through the air and on the ground. He rushed for 14 touchdowns, threw for 10, caught two and returned two kicks for scores.

Top four story lines

■With the graduation of star quarterback Jonathan Springer, the burden to carry the Southfield Christian offense will fall on Banks and Garner, both of whom seem up for the challenge. The team hasn’t yet named its starting signal-caller, but whoever ends up in that role is going to have some big-time weapons at his disposal.

■Connor McCarron will be starting from Day 1 this season for University Liggett as a sophomore. McCarron wasn’t the starter in 2013 until the fifth game. He’s going to need to show poise in the pocket if he hopes to quarterback this team to a conference championship. Liggett is strong at the skill positions, but it lost three starters off last year’s offensive line.

■For the first time in his four years at Oakland Christian, coach Bill Schaffer claims to have a true running back in junior Ryan Kostich, who has added some size since last season (6-1, 205) and dedicated himself in the weight room. How much help Kostich can give star quarterback Smith will go a long way in determining if Oakland Christian is ready to take the next step and compete for a conference title.

■Parkway Christian is going to field a team without a single senior starter. With very little experience, the team is in a transition period. One thing to watch, though, will be the development of 6-4, 320-pound junior offensive lineman Jack Hensley, who is turning some heads at the next level.