High School football preview: Oakland Activities Association

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Blue Division

Predicted order of finish

(Consensus of coaches)

2013 record in parentheses

1. Farmington (2-7, 1-6), 2. Auburn Hills Avondale (5-4, 3-4), 3. Birmingham Groves (7-3, 6-1), 4. Southfield-Lathrup (1-8, 0-7), 5. Berkley (3-6, 3-4), 6. Ferndale (1-8, 1-6), 7. Hazel Park (0-9, 0-7), 8. Pontiac (0-9, 0-7)

Top four players

■Farmington junior Dez Fitzpatrick (6-foot-3, 185) is one of the premier receivers in the state for 2016 recruits, already being offered by Big Ten (Purdue, Indiana, Illinois), SEC (Kentucky) and ACC (Wake Forest) schools. He has 4.6 speed and had 34 receptions for 514 yards last season.

■Avondale running back Joshuwa Holloman (5-11, 195) is arguably the fastest player in the state — clocking a 4.23-second 40-yard dash at Alabama and twice winning a state track championship at 100 meters. He rushed for 1,200 yards, averaging 10 yards a carry last season, and will play next year at Cincinnati.

■Farmington junior linebacker/fullback David Reese (6-2, 230), a three-star recruit according to rivals.com, has received offers from a handful of MAC schools, including Central Michigan, Toledo and Western Michigan. He was the county’s leading tackler with 117.

■Groves senior Davion Curry (5-10, 160) has the ability to make the big play as a receiver, kickoff returner and defensive back. Curry, the son of former Michigan player Julius Curry, has 4.6 speed and grabbed 28 passes for 500 yards last season.

Top four story lines

■Groves was 7-0 last season before losing its final three games, including one to crosstown rival Seaholm which was the difference in the Blue Division championship. Groves lost 27 players to graduation but returns a big threat in Curry.

■Avondale, which averaged 33.9 points last season, looks for a seventh straight winning season behind an outstanding backfield led by breakaway threat Holloman and three-year starter Chase Lalla. Avondale looks to earn a playoff spot after getting one in 2012 but coming up just short last season. Holloman and Lalla should get some room to roam behind the blocking of 6-2, 245-pound lineman Tiroca Battle.

■Kyle Rowley (Hazel Park) and Eric Royal (Ferndale) are new head coaches and they will have some work to do. Rowley inherits players from a program which went winless last season, and Royal takes over a team which won just once. Rowley learned from one of the best coaches in the state, playing and then coaching under his father, Bud Rowley, at Oxford.

■Pontiac, Farmington and Lathrup are all new to the Blue this season. Pontiac dropped two divisions from the Red after going winless last season and just 1-8 in 2012. Farmington and Lathrup dropped from the White. Farmington slipped to 2-7 last season after earning a playoff spot the previous year. Seaholm, which went unbeaten in Blue play in 2012 and ’13, moved up to the White to compete in a strong division with Southfield, Oak Park, Rochester Adams and Farmington Hills Harrison.

White Division

Predicted order of finish

(Consensus of coaches)

2013 record in parentheses

1. Southfield (7-3, 7-0), 2. Oak Park (6-5, 4-3), 3. Farmington Hills Harrison (10-2, 6-1), 4. Rochester Adams (8-4, 4-3), 5. Birmingham Seaholm (9-2, 7-0), 6. Rochester (4-5, 3-4), 7. Royal Oak (4-5, 4-3), 8. North Farmington (5-4, 4-3).

Top four players

■Oak Park running back John Kelly (5-11, 180) used his 4.4 speed to run for 1,258 yards and 15 TDs last season, averaging more than six yards a carry. He has been offered scholarships by Michigan State, Minnesota, Maryland, Cincinnati, Western Michigan and Central Michigan. “He can play any position well and he plays physical with the desire to win,” coach Greg Carter said.

■Southfield safety Dior Johnson (6-2, 195) is a heavy hitter with great speed, running a 4.5 40 as a third-year starter. Johnson is being recruited by Big Ten (Illinois, Indiana) and ACC (Wake Forest) schools, along with Cincinnati and several MAC schools.

■Oak Park linebacker Junior McMullen (6-2, 225) is a dominant force on defense and can also play tight end. “He’s a fierce competitor, extremely fast and a great hitter,” coach Carter said of McMullen, a three-start recruit who will play at Western Michigan.

■Southfield receiver/defensive back Ray Buford (6-1, 200) is expected to have a big year after missing some of last season with a leg injury. When healthy, Buford is one of the best athletes in the division, capable of playing multiple positions. He runs a 4.5 40 and will play his college ball at Minnesota.

Top four story lines

■This division should be fun to watch with Southfield, Oak Park, Harrison and Adams all capable of coming out on top. Southfield won the White division title for the first time in a decade last season. The White has a number of new teams competing this season, including Seaholm, which is coming off consecutive 7-0 Blue Division titles, and Rochester, which finished 3-4 in the Red last season. Royal Oak and North Farmington also are moving up from the Blue.

■Southfield has eight players likely to receive college scholarships, highlighted by an all-star secondary led by seniors Johnson and Buford. Junior defensive back Matt Falcon has received offers from Ohio State and Cincinnati.

■How good is Adams? Well, Tony Patritto’s Highlanders defeated Division 1 state champion Clarkston, 12-7, in the season opener last season before getting beat by Clarkston in the regional final in November. Adams will be led this year by three-year starter Paul Moceri at defensive end and Jacob Okarski at linebacker.

■John Herrington enters his 45th season as a head coach, having put together a 403-93-1 record at Harrison, including 13 state championships. He returns a lot of talent from a 10-2 team which advanced to the regional finals, led by a three-year starter at quarterback in Jevon Shaw, who threw for 1,145 yards and 11 TDs last season while rushing for more than 500 yards. Mike Ojemudia (Eastern Michigan), Iwarri Smith and transfers Tyrone Lyte and Jamison Scarber compose a talented receiver group.

Red Division

Predicted order of finish

(Consensus of coaches)

2013 records in parentheses

1. Clarkston (13-1, 7-0), 2. Lake Orion (7-3, 5-2), 3. Rochester Stoney Creek (6-4, 5-2), 4. Oxford (5-5, 4-4), 5. West Bloomfield (5-4, 4-3), 6. Troy Athens (2-7, 2-5), 7. Troy (3-6, 2-5), 8. Bloomfield Hills (3-6, 2-5).

Top four players

■Clarkston quarterback D.J. Zezula (6-0, 185) showed great leadership and a strong arm to help his team win the state championship last season. He threw for 2,156 yards and 17 TDs, including a 10-for-15 performance (154 yards, 2 TDs) in the state championship victory over Detroit Catholic Central.

■Lake Orion running back Matt Krause is expected to be one of the premier running backs in the division after being plagued by an ankle injury last season. Krause has 4.45 speed and the ability to break the long run.

■Stoney Creek linebacker Andrew Price is a sack machine in his team’s defense, using his speed to get 15 last season. “He’s a multi-sport athlete who placed third in the state as a wrestler last year,” coach Brad Zube said. “We play a blitzing defense and he gets a lot of sacks for us.”

■West Bloomfield defensive end Eddy Wilson (6-4, 250) is a force from the edge, using his size and quickness (4.85 speed) to get to the quarterback. He had eight sacks and will play his college ball at Bowling Green.

Top four story lines

■The Red is arguably the toughest division in the state, challenging the likes of the Catholic League’s Central Division. Lake Orion won the Division 1 state title in 2010 and Clarkston won last season, defeating Detroit C.C., 32-14. Clarkston has the talent to make another run at the title this year.

■Veteran coach Bud Rowley brings his Oxford team into the Red, moving up from the White. Oxford’s biggest rival is Red power Lake Orion. Oxford will showcase quarterback/defensive back Glacier Wallington, who can do some damage with his arm and feet. He is being recruited by a number of MAC schools and is a four-year starter with the program.

■West Bloomfield’s defense should be a strong one with defensive end Eddy Wilson putting pressure on the quarterback, rushing opposing signal-callers to make mistakes on which standout cornerback Obbie Jackson can snare some interceptions. Jackson, who has 4.4 speed, is being recruited by a number of MAC schools and also doubles as a receiver.

■Stoney Creek returned to the playoffs last season after failing to earn a postseason berth in 2012 after a loss in the regular-season finale to Southfield. Now, Stoney Creek has its sights set on beating crosstown rival Rochester Adams, something it hasn’t been able to do in past years. Linebackers Joe Platz (6-2, 210) and Andrew Price (6-1, 190) will try to combine to make things tough on Adams this time around.