Prep football preview for independents, other area teams

Al Willman, The Detroit News

Adrian (2-7, 1-4 Southeastern White)

Algonac (10-2, 6-1 Bluewater Area)

Almont (8-3, 5-2 BWAC)

Ann Arbor Huron (0-9, 0-5 SEC Red)

Ann Arbor Pioneer (7-4, 4-1 SEC Red)

Ann Arbor Skyline (4-5, 1-4 SEC Red)

Chelsea (12-2, 4-1 SEC White)

Dearborn Heights Star International (1-8)

Detroit Cesar Chavez (7-3)

Detroit Consortium (3-6)

Detroit Country Day (11-2)

Detroit Edison Academy (5-4)

Detroit Westside Christian (0-9)

Dexter (0-9, 0-5 SEC White)

Harper Woods (5-4)

Holly (5-5, 4-3 Flint Metro)

Memphis (1-8)

Monroe (5-5, 2-3 SEC Red)

Mount Clemens (0-9)

Ortonville-Brandon (6-4, 4-3 Flint Metro)

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (8-3)

Richmond (10-2, 6-1 BWAC)

Saline (10-1, 5-0 SEC Red)

Tecumseh (4-5, 3-2 SEC White)

Temperance Bedford (4-5, 3-2 SEC Red)

Ypsilanti (4-5, 4-1 SEC White)

Ypsilanti Lincoln (4-5, 3-2 SEC White)

Top four players

1. Detroit Country Day is returning 13 players, who will play on both sides of the ball. Leading the way will be quarterback/safety Steve Mann — one of three quarterbacks who can expect playing time, according to Country Day coach Dan MacLean. “We may have situations where we have more than one of them on the field at the same time,” he said.

2. Notre Dame Prep tackle Kyle Sassack, a 6-foot-7, 285-pound senior, is back after making first team all-state. He is committed to play at Western Michigan.

3. Senior tight end Bryce Wolma (Arizona commit) leads a Saline offense that rolled through the Southeastern Conference last season, going 5-0 in league play, and losing to Canton in the D1 regional finals. Wolma had Power Five offers from Northwestern in the Big Ten and West Virginia in the Big 12, and mid-major offers from Buffalo, Ball State, Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Toledo in the Mid-American Conference, and FCS school Eastern Kentucky.

4. Richmond junior quarterback Chase Churchill is back after leading his team to a 10-1 record in 2015. Richmond likely will have a chip on its shoulders, after its only loss came to eventual D4 champion Flint Powers Catholic in the regional finals.

Top four story lines

1. Notre Dame is one of two teams that dropped out of a major conference in the offseason. It was removed from the Catholic League after backlash for refusing to play a nonconference crossover game against Birmingham Brother Rice. Mount Clemens (Macomb Area) is the other, after forfeiting the last two games of 2015 for not having enough players to safely field a team.

2. First-year Ypsilanti coach — and former Michigan running back — Fred Jackson takes over a team that went 4-5 last season, with losses to Ann Arbor Pioneer and Saline, and a win over city rival Ypsilanti Lincoln. Jackson’s schedule is heavy in the back end. Ypsi plays at Lincoln on Sept. 30, before heading to Chelsea on Oct. 7, and wrapping up the regular season with games at home against Skyline (Oct. 14) and on the road against Pioneer (Oct. 21).

3. Country Day, which lost in the Division 4 semifinals to Flint Powers Catholic, has four players who are either offered by, or committed to Power Five and Group of Five schools for football or baseball. The most notable is senior linebacker/halfback Colin Demens, the younger brother of former Michigan safety Kenny Demens, who has offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Pittsburgh.

4. Harper Woods went through a major turnaround, finishing 5-4 a year removed from an 0-9 finish in 2014. On paper, the toughest game for the team is Sept. 23, against Clinton Township Clintondale — which was 5-5 last year. Dexter (SEC White) is looking for a similar turnaround. It is winless in the last two seasons, and has won only twice since 2012.