2016 record in parenthesis; listed by predicted order of finish.
ORCHARD LAKE ST. MARY’S (10-4, 2-1)
The two-time defending Division 3 state champion has a strong nucleus back in quarterback Caden Prieskorn, running backs RaShawn Allen (2,131 yards, 22 touchdowns) and Ky’ren Cunningham, and Anthony Enechukwu being a weapon at receiver. Nathan Kolwich (6-foot-3, 240 pounds) anchors the defense. Kicker Ben Fee, who had field goals of 32, 35 and 49 yards in last year’s 29-28 state-title game victory over Muskegon, also returns.
DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL (13-1, 3-0)
Dan Anderson takes over as head coach and replaces the legendary Tom Mach, who guided Catholic Central to the Division 1 state-title game last year and finished with a 370-97 record and 10 state championships. Anderson inherits a defense led by linebackers Isaac Darkangelo (144 tackles), Cam Ryan and Matt Young. Senior Jake Hinshaw and junior Marco Genrich are in competition for the starting quarterback job.
WARREN DE LA SALLE (4-5, 0-3)
De La Salle will be looking to bounce back after a rare sub-.500 season a year ago. Running back Cordell Tannyhill (700 yards) returns behind a line anchored by junior Danny Motowski (6-2, 280). Other key players include linebacker Brendan Madigan and kick returner/cornerback Jake Badalamenti.
BIRMINGHAM BROTHER RICE (7-4, 1-2)
Adam Korzeniewski is the new coach at Brother Rice, replacing Dave Sofran. Korzeniewski was defensive coordinator in 2013 when Al Fracassa guided Brother Rice to its third straight Division 2 state championship. Receiver/cornerback Caleb Jackson, linebacker Rubin Williams, safety Mac Menard and defensive tackle Michael
Laurencelle are among the top players.
U-D JESUIT (6-3, 1-1 CENTRAL)
Jesuit showcases one of the premier players in the state in running back/linebacker Elijah Collins, along with three-star prospect and two-way lineman Carlos Vettorello (6-4, 285), who has Division I offers from Iowa, Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Oregon State and Illinois. Walter Reynolds and Nolan Kimmey also will be key performers at both receiver and defensive back.
DEARBORN DIVINE CHILD (10-3, 1-1)
Divine Child, which reached the Division 3 state semifinals last season, will have an explosive offense led by four-star quarterback Theo Day (Michigan State), 6-6 receiver Quinn Blair, running back Marcus Owens, and Michigan commit and defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (6-6, 255) doubling as a tight end.
DETROIT LOYOLA (11-3, 2-0)
William Tandy will have a major challenge trying to replace longtime coach John Callahan, who guided Loyola to the Division 7 state-championship game four of the last five years and one championship in 2014. Loyola will be led by defensive end Keith Johnson (6-2, 250), safety Jimmie Chappell, cornerback Nathan Hayes and quarterback/safety Omar Pagan, a transfer from Detroit Mumford.
ANN ARBOR GABRIEL RICHARD (3-6, 0-2)
Michael Engelhardt returns as starting quarterback and has weapons at his disposal in receiver Andrew Kendzicky and fullback Joe Plencner, with Sean anchoring the line.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS CRANBROOK-KINGSWOOD (7-3, 3-0)
Coach Joe D’Angelo brings back six starters on offense, including senior quarterback Trevor McConnell, who received valuable playing time last year after Cranbrook-Kingswood lost its starting quarterback in the first game. On defense, Chris Smith (6-2, 253) returns for a unit that gave up just 17 points in league games in 2016.
ALLEN PARK CABRINI (2-7, 0-3)
Despite a disappointing finish to the 2016 campaign, Cabrini expects to be plenty competitive as it returns seven starters on offense and nine on defense. Matt Bzura will be entering his third year as starting quarterback, and coach Ken Briere expects Bzura to be a coach on the field and have complete control of the offense. Senior linebacker Jack Freeman anchors a defense that figures to be a force this season.
MACOMB LUTHERAN NORTH (4-5, 2-1)
First-year head coach Dave Daniels comes into 2017 with a host of weapons for young quarterback Tyler Davey, who got his feet wet as a freshman last year. Senior tight end Paxton Meyer (6-4, 180) gives Davey a big red zone target. Davey also figures to get the ball to senior receiver Joel Vandermeer quite often. North still is in the early stages of figuring out who will lead the charge in the running game.
RIVERVIEW GABRIEL RICHARD (3-6, 1-2)
Gabriel Richard could be a sleeper in the division, as head coach Tom Michalsen returns seven players on both sides of the ball. The core of the team is a 17-player junior class that Michalsen said will allow him to use a platoon on the offensive line and give Gabriel Richard the opportunity to wear teams down in the trenches.
GROSSE POINTE WOODS UNIVERSITY LIGGETT (10-1)
Liggett enters the Catholic League on the heels of its best season in program history. That’s the good news. The bad news is that head coach Dan Cimini returns just five starters from last year’s squad. Defensive tackle Desmon Darby (6-5, 280) will tower over a lot of the competition in the division.
CLARKSTON EVEREST COLLEGIATE (8-3, 2-2)
After picking up the first state playoff victory in the program’s four-year history in 2016, coach Michael Pruchnicki’s team will look to keep the momentum going this fall. Senior quarterback Grant Burgess returns after throwing for 1,500 yards, 27 touchdowns and two interceptions last season.
ROYAL OAK SHRINE (9-3, 3-1)
John Goddard is entering his 49th season as coach at Shrine and he’s yet to show signs of slowing down. After a successful 2016 campaign saw Shrine reach a Division 8 regional final, things are a bit n flux entering 2017. Shrine lost a lot of skill players on the outside, but it returns its entire offensive line and star junior running back Daniel Romano, who rushed for more than 1,100 yards last season. The running game will have to handle the load early on as sophomore quarterback Anthony Massucci takes his time to learn the offense.
WATERFORD LAKES (6-4, 4-0)
With just four returning seniors, Lakes is going to have to rely on a strong junior class to carry the load in 2017. Luckily for coach Josh Sawicki, a lot of those players saw time as sophomores. Linebacker/receiver Vince Oliver, defensive back/receiver Noah Robak and linebacker/tight end David Valent are part of the core 2019 class that figures to play a big role for Lakes this fall.
MADISON HEIGHTS BISHOP FOLEY (3-6, 1-3)
Sean Cobb enters his first season as coach at Bishop Foley, where three players are returning on each side of the ball. Cobb will have his work cut out for him with just five seniors on the team, and his biggest focus coming into this season is finding leadership. Senior center Franklin Lama (6-3, 250) will anchor the offensive line.
MARINE CITY CARDINAL MOONEY (1-8, 0-4)
Numbers always are an issue at Cardinal Mooney, but that doesn’t mean coach Jared Greenia is going to make any excuses for a school that he figures will turn out about 25 football players this fall. Greenia’s son, junior Quincy Greenia, is a dual-threat at quarterback. While Cardinal Mooney returns 20 starters from last season, Greenia said it is just the second year most of those kids have even put on pads. Cardinal Mooney’s defense gave up 41 points or more in eight of its nine games in 2016.
Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer