Prep insider: Brighton on rise under new coach Lemons

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Brighton is on the rise under first-year coach Brian Lemons, who is no stranger to winning.

Lemons guided Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard to state playoff appearances each of his seven years as coach before taking over at Brighton.

And at 3-0, Brighton seems to be making a smooth transition.

“He’s a player’s coach,” senior running back Joey Clifford said. “I love Coach Lemons and all the guys he brought from his staff.

“The offensive line has always been good during my three years on varsity, but we’re passing the ball more than we have in the past and that’s opened up the running game.”

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Clifford entered his senior season as a two-time 1,000-yard rusher. He could well be on his way to better that mark — he has 542 yards in three games.

“It’s not like we’ve had to have a total rebuild here,” said Lemons, 58-19 at Gabriel Richard. “A lot of things were in place so I could hit the ground running. The biggest thing was putting our system in place, and the kids have bought in from the beginning.

“We run a pro-style offense and we’ve seen similarities from the past, but the terminology is different. We try to control the ball and it’s a lot easier when you have a good running back like Joey Clifford.”

Brighton was picked to finish third in the KLAA West behind Grand Blanc and Hartland. Brighton hosts Grand Blanc on Friday and plays at Hartland on Oct.2.

David Goricki's prep football rankings: Week 4

Baechler bliss

It’s been a big week for Tim Baechler.

■ His team is 3-0 after a 27-17 victory over Livonia Franklin.

■ He traveled to Mount Pleasant with his family Sunday to be inducted into the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame.

“I was inducted into the Michigan High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame a few years ago, and felt honored to be nominated for this, an all coaches combined hall of fame,” said Baechler, in his 24th year as a coach and 18th at Canton. “I don’t know if this trumps the other honor, but it sure is sweet.”

What’s even sweeter, though, is having his son, Lou, starting at middle linebacker as a sophomore. He had four tackles against Franklin.

“I can tell you it’s awesome to have him on the team,” Baechler said. “We were very lucky to have him at Canton since it’s a random draw type of thing (between Canton, Salem and Plymouth).”

This week's top games: U-D Jesuit faces St. Mary's test

Injuries hurt Clarkston

It’s one thing to lose your standout running back Nolan Eriksen for the first three games with an injury.

But losing your starting quarterback, too — that’s a whole new problem, one two-time defending Division 1 state champion Clarkston has after losing Anthony Reiner to a hand injury in a loss to West Bloomfield.

“It’s always a shame that one of our big starters like Anthony goes down,” backup quarterback Alex Kessman said. “I’m mostly a kicker, but I did what I could for the team.”

Eriksen, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards last season, has been out all season with an ankle injury. He could return Friday at home against Rochester Stoney Creek.

Clarkston is 1-2.

Fun on the road

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and coach George Porritt had a trip to remember.

First, they visited South Bend, Ind., to tour Notre Dame last Thursday.

Then on Friday, they played at Mishawaka Penn, one of Indiana’s best teams ...

And returned to Metro Detroit with a 24-21 victory, snapping Penn’s 26-game regular-season winning streak.

Porritt said last week his team would need to improve its passing game to be successful.

Mission accomplished.

Senior quarterback Brendan Tabone finished 9-for-10 for 138 yards and a touchdown.

By the numbers

5 -- TDs scored by West Bloomfield senior Trishton Jackson in 35-21 victory over two-time Division 1 state champion Clarkston. The Michigan State-bound dual-threat quarterback threw for one TD and ran for four.

9 -- TD passes thrown by Clinton Township Chippewa Valley senior QB Patrick Briningstool this season, including four in a 32-28 comeback victory over Sterling Heights Stevenson

800 -- Games that Muskegon has won, most in the state

Top performer

Omar Salih, Detroit Cesar Chavez Academy

The senior quarterback finished 30-for-43 for 543 yards and seven TDs in a 50-19 victory over Bay City All Saints.