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Top high school football games for 2016 season

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Orchard Lake St. Mary's opens the season with a key showdown against Macomb Dakota Thursday night.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s at Macomb Dakota, Thursday, 7 p.m.

Dakota has been MAC Red champions the last four years, but has a new head coach in Greg Baur who had been the program’s defensive coordinator. He will have his work cut out in his debut, going up against the two-time defending Division 3 state champion Eaglets, led by Michigan-bound linebacker Josh Ross.

Detroit Catholic Central vs. Sterling Heights Stevenson, Saturday, 1 p.m., at Michigan Stadium

Kevin Frederick has quickly brought Stevenson back to being a factor in the MAC Red. The Titans lost three games last year, losing fourth-quarter leads in each of them. Frederick would love to be in that position in this opener against a tough Catholic Central team anchored by 6-4, 265-pound Blake Bueter.

Oak Park vs. Detroit Cass Tech, Saturday, 6 p.m., at Wayne State

Quarterback Dwan Mathis, a transfer from Belleville, will have the luxury of being protected by a massive offensive line and will need Michigan-bound tackle JaRaymond Hall & Co. to be at their best against a talented Cass Tech defense.

Southfield A & T vs. Detroit King, Saturday, 3 p.m., at Wayne State

Sam Johnson is just a sophomore quarterback for Southfield A&T, but has a dozen offers and is looking forward to the challenge of going up against the defending Division 2 state champs, led by four-star cornerback Ambry Thomas.

Muskegon vs. Ann Arbor Pioneer, Saturday, 7 p.m., at Michigan Stadium

High school football makes it way to the Big House for the first time and Ohio State-bound running back/linebacker Antjuan Simmons and Pioneer will take a walk across the street to face one of the top playmakers in the state in 5-7, 160-pound quarterback/receiver Kalil Pimpleton (Virginia Tech).

Wyandotte at Allen Park, Sept. 2, 7 p.m.

The teams have been the class of the Downriver League and now Tom Danosky will be leading Allen Park’s program for the first time after being a longtime assistant since 2002 and offensive coordinator in past years. Wyandotte won last year’s game, 28-14.

Saline at Ann Arbor Pioneer, Sept. 30, 7 p.m.

Saline has been the dominant team in the SEC Red in past years, but Pioneer showed it is gaining on the Hornets, pushing them to the limit before falling 27-23 in a Division 1 district title game last year. Pioneer has a strong linebacker duo in Antjuan Simmons and Derrick Hubbard.

Detroit King at Detroit Cass Tech, Oct. 1, noon

The teams have been the premier powers in the city, playing a pair of classics last year with King coming out on top both times, 31-28 and 27-25, then carrying the momentum on to earn the Division 2 state title. Cass Tech is loaded with Division 1 talent while King is led by four-star cornerback Ambry Thomas.

Rockford at East Kentwood, Oct. 14, 7 p.m.

This showdown could well decide the OK Red Division championship. East Kentwood has won the last two meetings, including 30-29 last year. The game will showcase a pair of talented quarterbacks, three-star junior Jason Whittaker of Rockford and Evan Maday who threw for 2,000 yards last season for East Kentwood.

Oak Park at Southfield A&T, Oct. 21, 5:30 p.m.

Oak Park and Southfield were intense OAA White Division rivals in years past, but Southfield merged with Southfield Lathrup and is now known as Southfield A&T, competing in the Red Division. A pair of talented sophomore quarterbacks will be on display in Dwan Mathis of Oak Park and Sam Johnson of Southfield A&T.