Prep Insider: River Rouge rolling behind Grissom

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Jairus Grissom

Jairus Grissom is getting the job done at River Rouge, trying to help it finish the job of winning the state championship after losing in the Division 5 title game at Ford Field last year.

Grissom, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound dual-threat quarterback, has put River Rouge — ranked No. 7 in The News Super 20 poll — into a Division 4 regional final with a chance to have a potential semifinal showdown with No. 18 Detroit Country Day.

Grissom had big shoes to fill with the graduation loss of Antoine Burgess, who threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns in last year’s 40-34 title-game loss to Grand Rapids West Catholic.

Grissom has done an outstanding job, throwing for 1,395 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushing for 1,246 yards and 13 more scores for a high-powered River Rouge offense that averages 51.3 points.

“Things have been going well for us,” said Grissom, who transferred from Dearborn Heights Robichaud after throwing for 2,624 yards and 25 touchdowns and running for 700 yards and 14 touchdowns last year. “My expectations was to lead my team to the state championship. I wanted to build great relationships with my teammates, which I’ve done so far, just play hard every game and make a difference.

“I have a lot of weapons to work with, great players like our running back Alexander Carter and receivers Keron Williams, Giovanni Turner and Sekou Doukoure. Sekou runs great routes and can get away from people, Giovanni has great moves and can get away from people and Keron has great speed, really they all do.”

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Grissom has displayed the ability to make big plays while scrambling out of the pocket, starting with the season-opening 34-16 win over Division 3 state runner-up Chelsea, a game River Rouge forfeited for using an ineligible player.

Grissom is an Eastern Michigan commit, but also has been offered by several other schools, including Houston.

“He’s done a great job for us, really doing a great job of running the offense,” coach Corey Parker said. “We’ve won three straight district titles and four in the last five years and we’re excited about that.”

River Rouge defeated Detroit Mumford, 34-22, and will host Adrian, which upset Milan, 28-13.

McCaskill to the rescue

Lorenzo McCaskill, a standout linebacker, doubled as running back to help Southfield A&T to a 41-6 rout of West Bloomfield.

With sophomore Lew Nichols and junior Eric McArn out with injuries, McCaskill took over and rushed for 133 yards (eight carries) and three touchdowns — all in the first half — including TD runs of 60 and 56 yards for a 28-0 halftime lead.

“I wasn’t surprised that he ran for 100 yards, but it was amazing how he scored on those long runs,” Southfield A&T coach Tim Conley said. “The previous week he came in for Lew in the second half and ran for 92 yards on 17 carries and that’s what I expected him to do again, grind it out. He has strong hands and holds on to the ball, doesn’t turn it over.”

Junior John Darby also stepped up while filling in for injured Sam Johnson, throwing for 246 yards and three TDs.

Conley hopes Nichols could return for the regional final game at unbeaten Utica Eisenhower.

Divine Child on upswing

Dearborn Divine Child earned its first district title since 2003 with a dominating 31-7 win over Redford Union

Next up for Divine Child is a Division 3 regional final showdown at unbeaten Allen Park.

With Redford Union loading the box to stop the run, quarterback Theo Day picked the defense apart, throwing for 272 yards and four touchdowns behind an offensive line anchored by Aidan Hutchinson.

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“We weren’t particularly good at the beginning of the year, but we kept getting better and that’s what you want to do,” third-year Divine Child coach John Filiatraut said. “We had two one-score games in the fourth quarter of Week Number 5 and 6, games against Loyola and De La Salle, lost them both, but turned the corner after that.”

Divine Child (9-2) lost to Loyola, 34-24, and De La Salle, 24-14, but went on to win five straight, including a 35-24 upset win over Loyola in the Prep Bowl.

“Our success all starts up front,” said Filiatraut, pointing out that Hutchinson, a junior, has offers from Michigan, Michigan State and LSU, and that tight end-defensive end Liam Soraghan is a Northern Illinois commit.

Now, Divine Child is in the role of underdog against Allen Park.

“They are a confident, well-coached group and they play fast,” Filiatraut said.

Divine Child’s last regional title came in 1985, when it won the Class B state title.