Goricki’s prep picks: U-D Jesuit braces for stiff test
Coach Oscar Olejniczak will get the opportunity to see how his 3-0 U-D Jesuit team matches up against defending Division 3 state champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s on Friday night at Jesuit.
St. Mary’s is 3-0 and ranked No. 3 in The News Super 20 after a 24-21 win at Mishawaka (Indiana) Penn last weekend.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity,” Olejniczak said of the Catholic League Central Division opener for the teams. “We can’t give up the big plays and we have to match their physicality.”
St. Mary’s has an outstanding running game with a trio of running backs in Justin Myrick, Brandon Adams and Ryan Johnson running behind a line led by Northwestern-bound tackle Cameron Kolwich. Senior quarterback Brendan Tabone completed 9-of-10 passes in the win over Penn.
Jesuit has some stars of its own, led by junior receiver/safety Scott Nelson, who has eight touchdowns, two interceptions and an offer from Northwestern. Junior running back Yusuf Lewis has rushed for 337 yards and eight touchdowns, and 8 and Brian McNamara has played well at linebacker.
Pick: St. Mary’s by 12
Grand Blanc (3-0, 1-0) at Brighton (3-0, 1-0), Friday, 7: This KLAA West Division showdown should be a good one with Brighton’s strong defense going up against Grand Blanc’s passing attack.
Oh, and Brighton also has an outstanding running back in 6-foot-2, 210-pound Joey Clifford (542 yards, six touchdowns).
Grand Blanc senior Zach Leedom has thrown for seven touchdowns this season, including four last week in a 49-7 rout of West division opponent Milford when he completed 30-of-36 for 433 yards.
Brighton will need to put some pressure on Leedom or it could be a long night with Leedom slinging the ball all around. Three receivers — Blake Witnauer (six catches, 106 yards), Robert Mora (five, 110) and Dennis Smith (six, 100) — had 100-yard receiving games for Grand Blanc against Milford and Blake Bogan had the most receptions (11, 88 yards).
Pick: Brighton by 2
Redford Thurston (2-1, 1-0) at Dearborn Heights Robichaud (3-0, 1-0), Friday, 7: The stars will be coming out to play in this Western Wayne Blue Division game.
Robichaud has an outstanding passing attack in 6-2, 200-pound junior quarterback Jairus Grissom and receiver Traivon Clayton.
Grissom already has offers from North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Houston, Toledo and Eastern Michigan. Clayton is a threat to score whenever he touches the ball, scoring already this season off of receptions and kickoff returns.
Robichaud’s passing game has been helped by the return of running back Michael Carter, who missed most of last season due to an ankle injury.
Thurston’s Alonzo McCoy can make things happen on both sides of the ball. He will run the ball out of the shotgun and has scored numerous touchdowns after catching bubble screens. He is also an excellent cornerback, showing that by picking off six passes last season, three during the playoffs.
Pick: Robichaud by 8
Warren Cousino (3-0) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (2-1), Friday, 7: Cousino is the defending Macomb Area Conference Blue champion and is averaging 44 points, but it has yet to face a defense or an opponent as talented as MAC Red power Chippewa Valley.
Chippewa Valley receiver/cornerback Stefan Claiborne is an impact player in all three phases of the game.
Cousino’s defense also will be tested by Chippewa Valley’s passing attack in quarterback Patrick Briningstool (800 yards, nine TDs) and Claiborne in this MAC crossover game.
Pick: Chippewa Valley by 10
Warren De La Salle (2-1) at Birmingham Brother Rice (1-2), Saturday, 7: This was arguably the best rivalry in the state last season when Brother Rice defeated De La Salle, 28-21, in Week No. 4 at Wayne State and De La Salle avenging the loss by ending Brother Rice’s 33-game winning streak in the regional final, 26-21.
Brother Rice lost a big senior class from a year ago, including its brilliant passing combo of Alex Malzone and Grant Perry, now both playing at Michigan.
De La Salle has a game-breaker in running back in Allen Stritzinger, who will be the difference in this Central Division opener.
Pick: De La Salle by 12