Top storylines as prep football kicks off in Metro Detroit

David Goricki
The Detroit News

The high school football season kicks off with the first day of practice Monday for teams throughout the state, with their ultimate goal of playing for the state championship during Thanksgiving weekend at Ford Field.

There will be a number of big stories heading into camp, with new coaches and new players trying to make a name for themselves while leading their teams to league titles and state playoff appearances.

Detroit King quarterback Dequan Finn (5) threw for more than 1,900 yards last season.

Anderson takes over Catholic Central

Longtime defensive coordinator Dan Anderson is replacing a coaching legend at Detroit Catholic Central, taking over for Tom Mach, who guided the Shamrocks to a state record 17 state championship game appearances, winning the ultimate title 10 times.

Mach had been head coach at Catholic Central since 1976, finishing with a 370-97 record, including a 13-1 record last season when the Shamrocks advanced to the Division 1 state championship game, losing to Detroit Cass Tech, 49-20.

“I’ve been a part of it for so long and when Tom decided to retire, I was thrilled to get the head coaching job,” said Anderson, who was an assistant coach at DCC for 18 years, the last 10 years as defensive coordinator. “I know it’s not easy to follow a legend, but it’s a good challenge.”

Catholic Central returns an outstanding linebacker trio in Isaac Darkangelo, Cam Ryan and Matt Young.

Korzeniewski new head coach at Brother Rice

Former Brother Rice defensive coordinator Adam Korzeniewski takes over as the school’s head coach after working the previous two years as defensive coordinator at Birmingham Seaholm.

Korzeniewski replaces Dave Sofran who had the unenviable job of replacing the legendary Al Fracassa, the state’s all-time winningest coach (430 victories).

Brother Rice finished 7-4 last season, losing to Birmingham Groves in a Division 2 district final.

Korzeniewski is well aware of Brother Rice’s tradition, last coaching the Warriors in 2013 when they won their third straight Division 2 state championship.

“We want to be tough, relentless, physical football players who are competitive and prepared because that’s how you win games,” Korzeniewski said.

Detroit Central quarterback El Julian Jordan (5) threw for 3,000 yards and 31 TDs while rushing for more than 700 yards to lead Central to a 7-5 record and Division 6 regional final appearance.

PSL boasts top-flight QBs

El Julian Jordan of Detroit Central, Dequan Finn of Detroit King and Aaron Jackson of Detroit Cass Tech are elite quarterbacks in the PSL.

Jordan, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior, transferred to Central last year from King. He is a Western Michigan commit.

Jordan threw for 3,000 yards and 31 TDs while rushing for more than 700 yards to lead Central to a 7-5 record and Division 6 regional final appearance.

Finn threw for more than 1,900 yards to help King win its second straight Division 2 state championship.

Jackson, an Eastern Michigan commit, will try to lead Cass Tech to its third consecutive appearance in the Division 1 state title game. This will be his first season as a full-time starter, replacing Rodney Hall (Northern Illinois).

Johnson new Walled Lake Western QB

Sam Johnson had multiple Division 1 offers before he started his freshman year at Southfield.

Now, Johnson is in his first year at Walled Lake Western as a junior, replacing Johnny Tracy who helped Western reach the Division 2 state championship game last year, losing to Detroit King.

Western coach Mike Zdebski has been impressed with Johnson during 7-on-7 competition, saying he has improved his mechanics with better over-the-top throwing.

Johnson has recovered from a leg injury suffered midway through the 2016 season with Southfield A&T and is now bigger and stronger at 6-4 and 195 pounds.

Sure, Western lost Dream Team receiver Cody White (Michigan State), but it has a big weapon returning in Justin Thomas.

Southfield A&T quarterback John Darby will be in his first season as the team’s full-time starter.

Darby in spotlight at Southfield A&T

Southfield A&T head coach Tim Conley is looking forward to seeing what John Darby can do as the team’s full-time starting quarterback during his senior season.

Darby took over for an injured Sam Johnson and had a hand in 15 TDs without throwing an interception in the last five games of the season to help A&T reach the Division 1 regional final while earning a share of the OAA Red division title.