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East Division I

Predicted order of finish

(Consensus of coaches)

2014 records in parentheses

1. King (8-2, 6-0), 2. Cass Tech (12-1, 6-0), 3. East English Village Prep (7-4, 5-1), 4. Denby (5-5, 3-3)

Top four players

1. King senior receiver/defensive back Donnie Corley shined on both sides of the field and has the gaudy numbers to prove it. He had 62 catches for 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns, and also returned seven of his 11 interceptions for scores. Heralded as one of the best receivers in the nation, Corley (6-foot-2, 180) holds over 30 Division 1 offers but has narrowed his list to seven, including Michigan and Michigan State.

2. Cass Tech senior lineman Michael Onwenu started both ways last season and helped create gaping holes on offense while clogging them on defense. At 6-3 and 365 pounds, the Michigan commit is an imposing figure up front, ranked a top-five player in the state by multiple recruiting services.

3. Cass Tech junior receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones lit up the camp circuit this summer. At The Opening in Oregon, he ran a 4.42 40 and posted a 42-inch vertical leap en route to winning the Nike Football Rating Championship. Ranked as the state's top player in the 2017 class, Peoples-Jones (6-2, 190) is a handful to cover and will play a more prominent role this season.

4. King senior running back Martell Pettaway rushed for 1,383 yards and 14 TDs, averaging 8.6 yards per carry as a junior at St. Clair Shores South Lake. The transfer will bolster the run game and add another dimension to a team that was knocked out in the first round of the state playoffs. Pettaway (5-10, 205, West Virginia commit) is ranked the state's No. 2 running back by ESPN.

Top four story lines

1. King and Cass Tech have clashed in the city playoffs the past three years, but after the Detroit PSL switched from one division to four, the rivals will face one another in the regular season for the first time since 2011. "Everybody wants to see the game," Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher said. Plenty of Division I talent will be on the field when King hosts Cass Tech Sept. 26.

2. Denby drew the short straw being grouped in the same division as Cass Tech, East English Village and King. Rather than complain, coach Tony Blankenship views it as an opportunity for his players to prove they can hang with the big dogs. "We know it's difficult, but we'll be well prepared," he said. The bad news is Denby will have to play all three within a four-week span.

3. The big question is who's going to replace all-state running back Mike Weber at Cass Tech? Weber (Ohio State) was practically a one-man wrecking crew in the backfield last season. According to Wilcher, it will be running back by committee with six players battling for the starting job. No front-runners have emerged yet.

4. The talk of the town during the offseason was about the numerous King transfers. In addition to Pettaway, the team added high-caliber players in Penn State-bound cornerback LaVert Hill (Cass Tech), receiver Armani Posey (East English), linebacker/running back Malik Lewis (East English) and linebacker Lawrence Bryant (Grosse Pointe South). King was dealt a blow, though, when starting quarterback Mikale Washington moved to Virginia.

West Division I

Predicted order of finish

(Consensus of coaches)

2014 records in parentheses

1. Mumford (6-4, 4-2), 2. Cody (5-4, 4-2), 3. Western (4-5, 2-4), 4. Renaissance (6-4, 5-1)

Top four players

1. Mumford senior receiver/safety Tee'Ondre Harvey is a two-way starter and playmaker on both sides of the ball. The Central Michigan commit flourished in coach Donshell English's spread offense, recording 41 receptions for 611 yards and eight touchdowns as the team's leading receiver. Harvey also used his explosiveness to disrupt plays, break up passes and create turnovers.

2. Renaissance senior offensive tackle Alaric Jackson burst onto the scene in his first year playing football. At 6-7 and 285 pounds, he's hard to miss on the field and even harder to get around on the line. "He's athletic, he's big, he's got a good head, he's got a lot of confidence and he's got an edge to him," coach Lou Beatty said. Jackson has received 15 offers, including from Michigan State.

3. Cody senior receiver/defensive back Rodney Graves Jr. is the definition of a speed demon. He runs a 4.4 40 and placed third in the 200 at the Division 1 track finals with the time of 22.26 seconds despite pulling his hamstring at the finish line. Graves (6-2, 180) also won MVP at a couple camps during the summer, most notably as a receiver at the Midwest Elite Camp.

4. Western senior tight end/receiver Jaye Patrick posted some eye-popping numbers in just seven games, racking up 54 catches for 764 yards and 12 touchdowns. Patrick (6-4, 220) was also a major contributor and started some games on Western's undefeated Class A championship basketball team. "He's that new-age hybrid type of tight end," defensive coordinator Peter Brown said.

Top four story lines

1. For the first time since 2007, Cody will play all of its home games on its own field, ending six straight years of away games. But even with the completion of Hope Field in late September, Norman hasn't seen a bump-up in numbers this year. "It's exciting to have your own field in your own backyard to go out to play," he said. "But everybody talks about Cass, King and East English Village. I got several kids in the neighborhood who don't go to Cody because they feel they can have a better opportunity at those schools for college."

2. In three short years at Mumford, English already has elevated the program to new heights. After making back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in program history, English said the key to his success simply comes from turning his players into men. "We spend a lot of time with these young men and we try to build their character. Football is a byproduct."

3. There will be a new face pacing the sidelines at Renaissance as Beatty inherits a team that returns 12 starters, including all-city receiver/defensive back Mark Wilson and a massive offensive line. "It's the dream job," said Beatty, who's been a member of Cody's coaching staff since 2008.

4. Western will rely more on its passing game to start the season while it tries to fill the void left behind by all-state running back and workhorse Romello Ross (Central Michigan). "He was a natural leader, very coachable and that rubbed off on the other kids," Brown said.

East Division II

Predicted order of finish

(Consensus of coaches)

2014 records in parentheses

1. Pershing (4-5, 2-4), 2. Central (6-4, 3-3), 3. Southeastern (0-9, 0-6), 4. Osborn (3-6, 2-4)

Top four players

1. Pershing junior running back/strong safety Nyassinu Crowell Jr. was one of two sophomores named to the PSL All-City team. He racked up 1,300 yards rushing, 200 yards receiving and 12 total touchdowns on offense, and averaged eight tackles a game on defense.

2. Central junior quarterback Darius Lynaum is a name to watch this season. The left-hander started all 10 games as sophomore, throwing for 1,500 yards, running for 600 and scoring 12 touchdowns. Lynaum (6-5, 200) guided a team that went winless in 2013 to the Division 5 playoffs in 2014.

3. Osborn senior receiver/safety Cortez Chisolm (6-0, 170) is a two-way starter and the complete package with his speed, athleticism and playmaking ability. "When he gets downfield, he has the great ability to catch the ball in traffic and make big plays," coach Bert Henderson said.

4. Southeastern senior cornerback Raymond Blevins is one of five returning defensive starters and will be one of the anchors in the secondary. Blevins (5-10, 165) runs the 40 in the 4.4-4.5 range.

Top four story lines

1. It wasn't long ago that Southeastern reached back-to-back Division 1 regional finals in 2008-09, so it seemed fitting that Jason Smith, a coach on those teams, returned to revive a program coming off its first winless season since 1987. "The challenge is changing the culture around from a losing mentality to a winning one," said Smith, who spent the past four seasons as defensive coordinator at Detroit University Prep.

2. There's a first time for everything, even for John Thompson. The former Detroit Crockett and Michigan standout will take over at Central in his first stint as head coach after spending last season as an assistant at Ecorse. "I played in the PSL, so of course I want to coach in the PSL and give those kids a shot at what I know and what I did."

3. Henderson spent 10 years as head coach at River Rouge and Flint Southwestern before taking a couple years off. But the coaching bug bit him again when the position opened up at Osborn. "I always wanted to coach in the PSL because of the athletes," said Henderson, who was an all-state running back at River Rouge and three-year starting cornerback at Western Michigan in the '80s.

4. When Kareem Sadler took over at Pershing last year, he was well aware of the school's rich tradition on the hardwood and lack of it on the gridiron. With 15 returning starters, Sadler believes his team is poised to change that. "Pershing has never won a city championship or anything," he said. "So that's our goal; try to get a city championship, make state playoffs and make a run."

West Division II

Predicted order of finish

(Consensus of coaches)

2014 records in parentheses

1. DCP-Northwestern (4-5, 3-3), 2. Douglass (1-8, 1-5), 3. Henry Ford (1-7, 1-5), 4. Communication & Media Arts (1-8, 1-5)

Top four players

1. Northwestern senior Danny Whitt Jr. earned PSL All-City honors after throwing for over 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns with seven interceptions and running for 200-plus yards and four scores in his first year ever playing quarterback. He was previously a receiver. "He's the best returning starter in the entire league," coach Jimmy Hill said.

2. Douglass senior defensive end/linebacker Kamar Graves is a jack of all trades. In addition to being the commander on defense, Graves (6-4, 240) also provides a boost on offense at fullback and tight end. He won MVP at the Lomas Brown Big Man Camp in July and has offers from Illinois, Central Michigan and Western Michigan.

3. Northwestern senior receiver/defensive back Michael Marion is a three-year starter and has the reputation of being a home-run hitter. He has six special teams TDs in his career as the team's kick and punt returner. "He's our long-ball guy," Hill said.

4. Henry Ford senior running back/linebacker Keonte Lott should be the bright spot on the team. He's expected to get the bulk of the carries and be among the team leaders in tackles. "He's a relentless player, a true throwback guy," defensive coordinator Richard Kiel said. Lott had roughly 650 total yards and three touchdowns last year.

Top four story lines

1. CMA took its lumps and suffered growing pains in its first season with a varsity program. "We learned a lot and we grew," coach Jackie Muhammad said. "That's what I was looking for." CMA was held scoreless in six games last year.

2. Northwestern's defense gave up 214 points in six league games (35.7 per game), the most in the PSL. As a result, the team will switch from the 3-3-5 to man-to-man. "Reasons why we've had average seasons the last two years, you don't have to look no further than points against," Hill said.

3. Douglass has had to battle constant turnover with players transferring and coaches leaving, leading to back-to-back one-win seasons. And being a low-enrollment school hasn't helped. Assistant coach Duane Carter hopes to carry 28 players, but says the team usually averages 22.

4. Henry Ford established itself as a consistent winner and playoff team from the early 1980s to the late 2000s, suffering just four losing seasons in a 30-year span. Over the past three seasons, though, it has won a total of three games. A dwindling enrollment and revolving door of principals have contributed to the struggles, so Kiel hopes he and the coaching staff can become mainstays.

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