David Goricki of The Detroit News previews this week's top high school football semifinal playoff matchups. All games at 1 p.m. Saturday
Detroit Cass Tech (10-2) vs. Canton (10-2) at Troy Athens: The pressure will be on sophomore Aaron Jackson, getting his first start as quarterback of Cass Tech following the injury to Rodney Hall (fractured ankle) in its 16-10 regional-final win over Macomb Dakota. Canton has the ability to play keep-away with its ball-control offense, led by junior Markus Sanders, who has rushed for more than 2,200 yards in the wing-T style.
Grand Ledge (12-0) vs. Romeo (11-1) at Brighton: Romeo, making its first semifinal appearance since 1992, is winning with defense, limiting opponents to 9 points a game. It will have to play mistake-free to defeat a Grand Ledge team which had three interceptions in the second half of a 36-16 regional final win over Rockford.
Walled Lake Western (12-0) vs. Lowell (11-1) at Alma College: This will be the game of the day if the semifinal matches the play between the teams in Week 1, when Western came back to hand Lowell its lone loss, 42-40. Kyle Thomas threw for 345 yards and three TDs and ran for another score in that Western win. Lowell is coming off a dominating 36-7 win over Muskegon, which had advanced to Ford Field the previous three years.
Detroit King (12-0) vs. Livonia Franklin (9-3) at Dearborn: This is a David vs. Goliath matchup with No. 1 King facing a Franklin team which was 2-7 last year and started this season at 2-3. LaVert Hill is coming off a two-interception game, including a Pick 6, for King, which will look to slow down Franklin junior Jacob Clark, who has run for 731 yards and 10 TDs in the postseason.
Detroit Loyola (10-2) vs. Pewamo-Westphalia (12-0) at Fenton: Loyola's defense has been strong all season, including a 50-0 shutout of Dansville in the regional final. Now, it must slow down Pewamo-Westphalia junior Jared Smith, who has rushed for 2,899 yards and 50 TDs this season, attempting to become the first 3,000-yard rusher in MHSAA history. Smith got 103 yards in Loyola's 41-21 state semifinal win last season.
Last week's top games
Romeo 40, Detroit Catholic Central 29: Romeo held a commanding 239-91 edge in total offense in the first half, then used a 13-play, 86-yard drive to open the third quarter to take a 28-7 lead on Paul Hurley's 7-yard TD toss to tight end Mitch Heimbuch. Romeo finished with 312 rushing yards.
Detroit Cass Tech 16, Macomb Dakota 10: Cass Tech junior quarterback Rodney Hall was dangerous with his legs, rushing for 138 yards on 13 carries before suffering a fractured ankle with eight minutes left. Dakota led 10-0 in the first half with a 32-yard field goal by Dominic Nardozzi and a 7-yard TD run by Sonny Cooper, who finished with 117 yards rushing.
Detroit King 26, Detroit East English Village 12: King's secondary came up with the big plays, including Pick 6s by LaVert Hill in the first half and Armani Posey in the second. Hill had two interceptions and Donnie Corley, who doubles as a cornerback, scored on an 18-yard TD reception from Posey on the opening play of the fourth quarter, coming on a fourth down play, for a 13-0 cushion. King had defeated East English, 20-15, during the regular season.
Canton 27, Saline 7: Canton's defense played well in defeating No. 2 Saline, limiting quarterback Josh Jackson to 71 yards passing. Junior Markus Sanders (195 yards) and senior Jared Stephens (116) combined for 311 yards rushing, and Canton scored twice on 70-plus-yard drives after fourth-down stops.
Detroit Country Day 20, Milan 13: Country Day (11-1) used a 13-play, 79-yard drive for the winning score with 51/2 minutes left, scoring on a 3-yard run by Chris Bergin. Larry Penson had 147 yards rushing on 23 carries. Demetrius Barnes rushed for 124 yards and Trace Lindeman had 94 yards and two TDs for Milan (9-3).