Goricki’s prep picks: Backyard tilt adds spice

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Rivalries are an integral part of football.

Michigan-Ohio State. Notre Dame-USC. Texas-Oklahoma.

Count Chippewa Valley-Macomb Dakota among the high school rivalries.

The early season MAC Red showdown tonight, a rematch of Division 1 district championship game, will be featured as “The Backyard Brawl,” part of the nationwide Great American Rivalry Series. The series, in its 12th year, and features 100 must-see matchups in 40 states.

“It’s an honor to be a part of the Great American Rivalry Series,” Chippewa Valley coach Scott Merchant said. “The schools are separated by two miles, Dakota has the biggest enrollment in the state, we’re sixth largest, and a lot of these kids attended the same middle schools.

“Both schools are passionate about their football, so it should be a fun game played in front of 7,000 or 8,000 fans.”

The winner also receives a trophy from representatives of the Great American Rivalry Series.

While Dakota has dominated the rivalry, winning 16th straight, Chippewa Valley had the last laugh last year, ending a 10-year losing streak with a 28-27 district title victory. Stefan Claiborne stole the spotlight, scoring off a blocked punt, blocking a field goal, then blocking a kick conversion with three minutes remaining.

And he’s back.

“He’s a big, strong athlete who can play and he won’t be sneaking on the field against us, that’s for sure,” Dakota coach Mike Giannone said. “He’s an impact player and we’ll make sure we know where he is on the field at all times.”

Dakota has it’s share of talent, too. Specifically Kaiser Carleton, who had 307 all-purpose yards (205 rushing) and three touchdowns last week in a victory over defeated two-time defending Division 1 state champion Clarkston 35-10.

And Merchant is well aware of Carleton.

“We have to find a way to slow down Kaiser Carleton because we can’t afford to give up the big play,” Merchant said.

Pick: Dakota by 3

OTHER TOP GAMES

(Games at 7 p.m. Thursday unless noted.)

Canton (1-0) at Hartland (1-0): Canton, which had 396 yards rushing against Dearborn Fordson, wants revenge after losing 24-21 last year. Canton by 6

Allen Park (1-0) at Wyandotte (1-0): Wyandotte dominated the series until Allen Park’s 34-14 victory last year. Look for Allen Park to win again behind QB quarterback Antonio Mangiapane. Allen Park by 8

Utica (1-0) at Utica Ford (1-0): Don’t expect Utica senior Kumehnnu Gwilly to match his 397-yard rushing effort from Week 1 ... but a 200-yard effort is possible. Utica by 2

Detroit East English (1-0) at Detroit Renaissance (1-0), 4 p.m. Friday: Look for East English’s passing combination of Delvin Washington-Lindrell Mitchell to be the difference. East English by 12

Rochester Adams (1-0) at Southfield (0-1), 7 p.m. Friday: Southfield will need to get its running game going after the loss of Matt Falcon (injury). Adams proved it has a big-play back in sophomore Chase Kareta. Adams by 6