Detroit News teams ranked 2-20: Hall leads Cass Tech stars

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Rodney Hall

Detroit King is The Detroit News' No. 1-ranked high school football team in the state. Here are scouting reports on teams 2-20.

2. Detroit Cass Tech (12-1)

Cass Tech is the defending PSL champion and definitely a threat to win the Division 1 state championship after falling to Saline in the semifinals last year.

Cass Tech lost Dream Team running back Mike Weber to Ohio State, but the Technicians return strong-armed junior quarterback Rodney Hall, whom coach Thomas Wilcher plans to run the ball when given the opportunity.

Hall completed 70 percent of his passes, throwing for more than 1,200 yards and 22 TDs last season. He will have plenty of weapons to work with, including four-star junior receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, who caught two TD passes in the Detroit PSL title win over King before missing the state playoffs with a hand injury.

"Coach didn't want me running my sophomore year since we had Mike (Weber) and our backup quarterback was a freshman," Hall said. "I'm 20 pounds heavier now, benching 310 and squatting 385 so I'm bigger, faster and stronger. We have a lot of great receivers and will take advantage of mismatches and if the run is there, I'll take it."

Cass Tech's offensive line will be led by Michigan-bound Michael Onwenu (6-3, 360), junior Jordan Reid (6-4, 290), who has offers from Florida and Louisville, center Alvin Clemons (6-3, 280, Indiana State), senior guard Edrick Matthews (6-3, 285, offers from Toledo and Kent State) and guard Ostell Martin (6-4, 330).

The defense will be led by Michigan State-bound safety Demetric Vance; four-star junior cornerback Donovan Johnson (offers from Tennessee, Cincinnati); junior cornerback Jaylen Kelly-Powell, who has 4.48 speed and 18 offers, including one from Michigan and another from Ohio State; and linebacker Tim Walton (Illinois, Cincinnati).

Michael Onwenu

3. Orchard Lake St. Mary's (12-2)

The defending Division 3 state champion is loaded with talent, starting with the senior leadership of returning quarterback Brandon Tabone and Northwestern-bound tackle Cameron Kolwich (6-5, 275), who will open holes for 1,000-yard backs Brandon Adams and Justin Myrick. Also, junior Ryan Johnson showed his ability this summer at Arizona State's camp.

OLSM has a strong junior class, led by four-star linebacker Joshua Ross (offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee, Oklahoma) and linebacker Dwayne Chapman, who helped the Eaglets limit their five state playoff opponents to a total of 28 points, including a 7-0 title-game win over Muskegon.

Junior receiver/kick returner Kahlee Hamler has offers from Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State and is one of the most dangerous players in the state with his 4.4 speed.

Safety Tyler Cochran has great speed and is the leader of the secondary.

Brendan Tabone

4. Warren De La Salle (11-3)

De La Salle returns 13 starters from its Division 2 state championship team, which ended Birmingham Brother Rice's 33-game winning streak in the regional championship game. However, the Pilots were dealt a severe blow when Western Michigan-bound defensive end/linebacker Eric Rogers suffered an ACL injury in June during 7-on-7 drills.

Junior running back Allen Stritzinger (offers from Michigan, Cincinnati) rushed for 1,356 yards and 20 TDs last season, including 175 yards and a TD in the 44-8 title-game win over Muskegon Mona Shores. He will be running behind a talented line that includes Western Michigan-bound tackle Jordan Asbury (6-5, 270), tackle Tom Evans (6-3, 240) and Bowling Green-bound tight end Drew Beesley, who doubles as a defensive end (11 sacks last season). Josh Wilk, who started at safety last year, will start at quarterback.

Safety Tru Wilson, defensive back Reggie Irby and linebacker Austin Potter are among the seven returning starters on defense.

5. Muskegon (12-2)

Coach Shane Fairfield's Big Reds are familiar with Ford Field during Thanksgiving weekend, playing for the state championship the last three years, coming up short to Brother Rice in 2012 and '13 in Division 2 and to Orchard Lake St. Mary's in Division 3 last season.

Look for Muskegon to make another long playoff run with seven returning starters on each side of the ball. Fairfield wants to pound the ball and Muskegon should with great success behind a trio of three-year starters in right tackle Juanye Johnson (6-2, 285), right guard Dericus Brown (6-1, 260) and left guard Dylan Oplinger (6-1, 255). Junior Kalio Pimpleton is a first-year varsity starter at quarterback after going 17-1 on the freshman and JV teams. He will have 6-2 junior receiver Jacorey Sullivan and running back Jared Pittman to work with.

The Big Reds return three of four starters from their secondary, led by strong safety Keonte Carpenter, A.J. McClanahan and Jacarius Scott.

6. Saline (12-2)

The Hornets reached the Division 1 state championship game for the first time in school history last season, losing to two-time champion Clarkston, 33-25.

Virginia Tech-bound quarterback Josh Jackson (1,860 passing yards, 780 rushing) and receiver Jeb Palka (77 receptions, 940 yards, 9 TDs) are among six starters back on offense, along with senior linemen Alex Bromley (6-5, 300), Tyler Schrzan (6-3, 240), Brandon Brown (5-11, 240) and junior tight end Bryce Wolma.

Jackson was at his best in a 42-35 regional-final comeback win over Canton, completing 27 of 32 passes for 319 yards and 4 TDs.

7. Southfield (9-4)

Southfield will be one of the most intriguing teams to watch this season after having 20 players move on to play college ball following last year's regional championship run.

The Blue Jays return Michigan-bound running back Matt Falcon (843 yards rushing), who missed the last half of the season and the entire postseason with a knee injury.

Junior Eric Eldridge (6-4, 350) anchors an offense which will be run by freshman quarterback Sam Johnson III, who already has seven offers, including Cincinnati. Johnson has several receivers to work with, led by 6-5, 185-pound sophomore Brandon Gray (offers from Bowling Green, Ohio and Akron), along with seniors in Tim Brown, Josh Pickens and Tyrone Lyte, a transfer from Farmington Hills Harrison who was MVP of the Wayne State 7-on-7 camp.

8. West Bloomfield (9-2)

Ron Bellamy guided West Bloomfield to its first state playoff win in school history. Now, the Lakers will be looking to dethrone Clarkston for the OAA Red Division title while also trying to earn their first district championship.

The Lakers have eight starters returning on offense, including Michigan State-bound quarterback/receiver Trishton Jackson (1,500 yards passing, 800 rushing), Purdue-bound receiver Navon Mosley and receiver Garrett Winn.

Left tackle Jacob Phillips (6-5, 275) and guard Tony Kay (6-4, 270) will anchor the line. Theo Majette (6-0, 250) will clog up the middle on defense. The secondary will be led by Bowling Green-bound strong safety Evan Foster and cornerback Justin Clark (Toledo).

9. Clarkston (14-0)

Clarkston enters the season with a 27-game winning streak and the title of two-time defending Division 1 state champion.

Quarterback D.J. Zezula (Wayne State), tackle/defensive end Cole Chewins (Michigan State) and offensive lineman Adam Matich are gone, but the Wolves still have their share of talent with 2,000-yard running back Nolan Eriksen (4.5 speed) returning and running behind a line comprising tackles Sam Bullen (6-3, 265) and Nathan Troutvine (6-0, 260) and junior center Carter Gale (6-0, 250). Eriksen rushed for 172 yards and three TDs in the 33-25 state-title win over Saline.

Antony Reiner, who started at quarterback on Clarkston's unbeaten JV teams, will replace Zezula. He will have tight end Mitch Heaton and receiver Jacob Fisher to work with.

Kicker Alex Kessman, who has an offer from Pittsburgh, will be another weapon.

10. Detroit East English Village Prep (7-4)

Rod Oden guided East English to the PSL semifinals — where it fell to Cass Tech, 19-12 — and to a state playoff victory before a 21-14 district-final loss to eventual Division 2 state champion De La Salle.

East English returns 17 starters, nine on offense in addition to strong-armed junior quarterback Delvin Washington (6-3, 230), a transfer from Harper Woods Chandler Park. Washington will have multiple weapons in receiver Lindrell Mitchell (63 receptions, 750 yards) and four-year starting running back Nathaniel Boleware.

Oden thinks his team's strength is in the trenches. Defensive ends Chauncey Golston (6-5, 245) and Cedrick Lattimore (6-5, 265) are both Iowa commits. They are two-way players with Golston playing tackle and Lattimore at tight end. They're joined by 6-4, 275-pound junior tackle Emani Mason (Cincinnati offer) and 6-3, 295-pound sophomore center Tyrone Sampson (Akron offer).

11. Muskegon Mona Shores (12-2)

Mona Shores returns 12 starters from its Division 2 runner-up team, including seven on defense, led by the outstanding secondary of Hunter Broersma (Western Michigan), Kobe Burse (Miami University) and Darece Roberson (Western Michigan).

Broersma (30 receptions, 500 yards, 8 TDs), Burse (35, 513, 6) and Roberson (37, 347, 2) all double as receivers. Coach Matt Koziak will have to replace talented quarterback Tyree Jackson (Buffalo).

Three-year starter Mike Bordeaux (6-3, 275) anchors the line. He will be joined on the defensive line by Christian Boyd (6-2, 285) and Dom Shermeta returns at linebacker.

12. Lowell (10-2)

Lowell is loaded with 18 starters back from last year's district championship team.

Quarterback Ryan Stevens (1,500 yards passing, 500 rushing) will have receiver Gabe Steed and running back Max Dean to work with while being protected by 6-1, 300-pound guard Karson Murley.

The defense will be led by all-league cornerback Zeth Dean — a state champion wrestler — and Derek Massey. Defensive end Nick Kloosterman also returns from a team which lost to Zeeland West, 30-27, in a regional-final game.

13. Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (8-4)

Chippewa Valley has 40 seniors on its roster and 11 starters back from a team that upset MAC Red rival Macomb Dakota, 28-27, for the district title before pushing Detroit Cass Tech to the limit, falling 48-35 in a regional final.

Expect a high-scoring offensive unit with quarterback Patrick Briningstool (1,851 yards) and receiver Stefan Claiborne (25 receptions, 10 TDs) returning. Briningstool set school records for TDs in a game (six) and season (27) in just nine games after stepping up to No. 1 following an injury.

The offensive line is led by left tackle Jon Anderson (6-2, 275) and guard Trevor Vergauwen (6-2, 285). The defense — anchored by defensive end Nicco Moroso and safety Stanley Williams — must improve after giving up 407 yards rushing to Matt Krause of Lake Orion in the season opener and 404 to Mike Weber of Cass Tech in the regional.

14. Macomb Dakota (8-3)

Dakota will carry its run of three straight MAC Red outright titles into the season.

Mike Giannone believes this is the most depth he's had in his 18 years as head coach.

Kiser Carleton (1,250 yards, 4.45 speed) and Sonny Cooper, a transfer from Ohio, lead a strong running game. They will be running behind a talented line, led by 6-1, 285-pound tackle Collin Shock. Blake Brady (6-2, 230) and linebacker Brendyn Pittman (6-1, 225) anchor the defense.

15. Zeeland West (12-1)

Three-year starting quarterback Casey Brinks and fullback Darius Perisee (1,387 yards, 21 TDs) are among four starters back from last year's Division 3 semifinal team.

Brinks, who directs the wing-T offense, was quarterback on a state championship team his sophomore year. He rushed for 800 yards last season, throwing for 700.

Two-way linemen Zach VanValkendurg (6-4, 240) and Jayk Slager (6-5, 230), a tight end, also return. Dakota Geurink (6-0, 185), who last season intercepted four passes and forced eight turnovers, is the leader in the secondary.

16. Canton (9-3)

Canton returns half of its starters from a Division 1 district championship team which came up just short in the regional final at Saline, falling 42-35.

Junior running back Marcus Sanders (2,000 yards rushing) is among five starters back on offense. Coach Tim Baechler will be looking at Joel Foster to replace Greg Williams at quarterback.

Baechler feels Canton's defense will be strong, led by 6-4, 230-pound linebacker Jalen Cochran and safety Jared Stephens.

17. Walled Lake Western (9-2)

Longtime coach Michael Zdebski has six starters returning on each side of the ball from a team that advanced to the district finals.

The offense will be led by quarterback Kyle Thomas (1,560 yards passing, 920 rushing), running back Jake Prokes and receiver Cody White with a line consisting of center Dan Barrett, guard Alex Gammo and tackle Tyler Shreve. The Warriors also have a weapon in Dream Team kicker John Camilleri (12 field goals, 80 points).

All-Conference (KLAA) linebacker Darnell Lanier (112 tackles, six sacks), cornerback Jackson Neracher and Shreve (lineman) anchor the defense.

18. Rockford (8-3)

Ralph Munger has guided the Rams to 20 consecutive state playoff appearances and is just two victories away from 300.

Rockford should have a strong defense with third-year cornerback Tyler Bradfield, lineman Gabe Baumann (6-3, 265, 10 tackles for loss) and linebackers Brendan McKellar and Cole VanSetters.

Munger has to replace the entire offensive line and quarterback from last year's team. He will have a weapon in Penn State-bound kicker Quinn Nordin. Sophomore Jason Whittaker will start at quarterback.

19. Plymouth (7-3)

Plymouth has made the state playoffs nine of the last 10 years and should make yet another appearance with 13 starters back.

Running back Cam Stella (1,100 yards rushing, 6.1 average) is among seven starters back on offense and will have a big offensive line in front of him, including Ohio State-bound tackle Michael Jordan (6-6, 305), Austin Scheffer (6-2, 270), Matt Wayne (6-2, 240) and Elie Atallah. The offense will be run by quarterback Chris Walls.

Safety Victor Abraham and junior linebacker Darius Timmons lead the defense.

20. Ann Arbor Skyline (0-9)

Expect Skyline to be battling for a state playoff appearance this fall after a winless season a year ago.

That happens when you bring in a few highly touted transfers in five-star linebacker Daelin Hayes (USC), junior receiver Hunter Rison (Michigan State) and strong-armed quarterback Joe Bob Walker.

Skyline already had some talent, led by 6-0, 210-pound running back Charlie Jones, who is being recruited by Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Bowling Green.