Oakland Activities Association prep football preview

By Geoff Robinson
Special to The Detroit News
Southfield A&T's Eric McArn, Brandon Gray, Andre Carter and Loren McCaskill are expected to win the Red Division.

RED DIVISION

Predicted order of finish

(Consensus of coaches)

2015 record in parentheses

1. Southfield A&T

2. Clarkston (7-3, 6-1)

3. West Bloomfield (9-1, 7-0)

4. Lake Orion (4-5, 3-4)

5. Oxford (3-6, 3-4)

6. Rochester Hills Stoney Creek (3-6, 3-4)

7. Troy Athens (5-4, 5-2)

Top four players

1. Senior running back Davion Johnson is part of a two-headed monster in the backfield at West Bloomfield. Johnson is the most explosive back in the OAA and he holds offers from a bevy of Division 1 schools, including Iowa State, Syracuse, Central Michigan and Western Michigan.

2. Senior running back Garrett Winn is the second guy in West Bloomfield’s backfield and is a force to be reckoned with in his own right. He and Johnson will shoulder the load for an offense that lost starting quarterback Trishton Jackson (MSU) to graduation.

3. Southfield A&T junior defensive end Andre Carter (6-foot-4, 237 pounds) is a massive force on the defensive line for the newly formed school. His ability to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks makes him a game-changer. Colleges are lining up for the 2018 prospect.

4. Lake Orion senior guard Nick Novak is sure to clear running lanes for his tailbacks. Novak, a Naval Academy commit, is a beast of a high school lineman at 6-4, 265 pounds.

Top four story lines

1. Clarkston lost its first conference game in nearly three calendar years in 2015, falling to West Bloomfield in an early-September game. After a first-round exit in the state playoffs, can Clarkston bounce back for one of its patented deep runs?

2. West Bloomfield has to replace 14 starters lost to graduation. It has the talent to compete, but with six teams that made the state playoffs last year on its schedule, the road ahead will not be an easy one.

3. The closure of Southfield and Southfield-Lathrup following the 2015-2016 school year forced two student bodies together. Now with a bigger talent pool (126 kids showed up for tryouts), Southfield A&T could be the new juggernaut in the OAA.

4. Stoney Creek finds itself with a rejuvenated legend stalking its sidelines, as former Utica Eisenhower coach Bob Lantzy (302-116 career record) takes over the program. It will be interesting to see if Lantzy can make his mark in Year 1 with 11 starters to replace and a sophomore quarterback.

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WHITE DIVISION

Predicted order of finish

(Consensus of coaches)

2015 record in parentheses

1. Farmington Hills Harrison (7-3, 7-0)

2. Oak Park (5-5, 5-2)

3. Rochester Adams (4-5, 2-5)

4. North Farmington (5-4, 3-4)

5. Birmingham Groves (10-1, 7-0)

6. Farmington (5-5, 4-3)

7. Birmingham Seaholm (3-6, 2-5)

Top four players

1. Oak Park senior offensive tackle Ja’Raymond Hall plows the lanes for his running backs and makes being a defensive end in this division one tough job. Hall (6-5, 255) is committed to Michigan.

2. Oak Park junior offensive lineman Marquan McCall stands out on his own despite playing on the same line as Hall. McCall is a four-star prospect with offers from a number of schools, including Michigan.

3. Harrison junior linebacker Ovie Oghoufo is another defensive gem to play under coach John Herrington, and is a verbal commit to Notre Dame as part of the class of 2018.

4. Oak Park junior Robert Daniel is a shutdown corner, plain and simple. Opposing quarterbacks will rarely throw his way.

Top four story lines

1. With just three years remaining until the school closes, Harrison will look to win its third consecutive division championship under legendary coach John Herrington.

2. Adams looks poised for a good season as it brings back Kyle Wood, who has started at quarterback since he was a freshman. With all that experience, he’ll be charged with leading Adams back to the state playoffs.

3. Groves moves into the White after dominating last season in the Blue. Coming off the best season in school history, it will be interesting to see how it fares against better competition.

4. Seaholm and Farmington will be fighting an uphill battle this season. Seaholm returns just five starters from last year’s team, while Farmington returns just four.

BLUE DIVISION

Predicted order of finish

(Consensus of coaches)

2015 record in parentheses

1. Berkley (9-3, 6-1)

2. Bloomfield Hills (1-8, 1-6)

3. Rochester (1-8, 0-7)

4. Royal Oak (4-5, 4-3)

5. Avondale (4-5, 4-3)

6. Troy (0-9, 0-7)

7. Ferndale (2-7, 2-5)

8. Hazel Park (1-8, 1-6)

9. Pontiac (0-9, 0-7)

Top four players

1. Berkley senior receiver/defensive back Chauncey Bridgewater starts on both sides of the ball and always seems to find himself in the right place at the right time.

2. For a kid who won’t graduate high school for another two years, Hazel Park junior defensive tackle Paris McCurtis sure stacks up well against the competition within the division. McCurtis (6-0, 259) is quick off the ball and able to stuff the run.

3. Berkley senior Ross Herron II is a dual-threat quarterback who routinely drops dimes into his receivers hands despite his long windup. He’s nifty in the open field and has the ability to go the distance anytime he takes off.

4. Troy senior receiver/defensive back James Lundy has good ball skills and size (6-1, 190). He doesn’t mind making catches in traffic and is a good bet to win jump balls on offense or defense.

Top four story lines

1. This division is full of question marks. Three new teams move down to the Blue (Rochester from the White, Troy and Bloomfield Hills from the Red). It will be interesting to see how some programs that have been down on their luck in recent years respond to the change.

2. Berkley is still the class of the division. With 26 seniors and a solid core returning, it’s the runaway favorite this season in the Blue.

3. Former Detroit Central Collegiate coach John Thompson was named the new coach at Pontiac late this summer. He says he’s eager to revive the program and looks forward to the challenge.

4. After going winless in 2014, Royal Oak bounced back in 2015 with a 4-5 record. With 11 starters returning, this could be the year Royal Oak makes it back to the state playoffs for the first time since 2006.

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