Prep notebook: Carlson believes latest coach is keeper

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Jaylan Franklin has had four head coaches during his career at Gibraltar Carlson and he is thrilled to be finishing it with Jack Giarmo calling the shots.

Giarmo, who guided Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central to the Division 6 state title in 2014, ending Ithaca’s 69-game winning streak, has quickly instilled confidence in Carlson and made it a legitimate threat to win the Downriver League following wins over preseason favorite Woodhaven (31-28) in the opener, then Trenton (42-14) Thursday night.

“He’s so highly qualified for the job and is doing a great job so far,” said Franklin of Giarmo. “He’s my fourth head coach and my final head coach of high school. I’m super excited, just being able to change the culture. He’s doing a phenomenal job.

“I felt deep down we’d be successful because of how much talent we had and how much hard work we’ve put in. I feel as a team we’re closer than any other Carlson team has ever been. We’ve all been best friends since we were kids, went to the same elementary school, all played Downriver football, Little League football together. We’ve grown up together and having Coach Giarmo come in, bringing in a whole new staff has just been great for us.”

Carlson’s win over Woodhaven was its second in the last 12 meetings between the teams.

Franklin is a 6-foot-4, 195-pound three-star athlete who plays quarterback/safety and linebacker at Carlson, but will play tight end at Wisconsin. He has gotten used to the wing T offense after operating out of the spread in past years.

“He threw two touchdown passes and had one running score, even had a couple of sacks on defense and we took him out early third quarter because we had a pretty good lead and wanted to get him out of the game,” said Giarmo of Franklin in the 42-14 rout of Trenton. “I think the kids are grasping some of the concepts that we’re teaching. I’m the new guy, so I have different philosophies on things and I think we’re starting to come together. We still need to get better quality practices because I’m old school about you play how you practice.

“They ran more of a spread offense and we’re running the power T, you know the wing T and we’ll spread out of it a little bit when we need to. Jaylan’s pushing the edge on most plays. We try to stretch the defense with our quarterback instead of lining somebody out at the split end and stretching them that way.”

Franklin is thrilled with Carlson’s start after going 0-2 to start the season last year, finishing 4-5 and missing the playoffs for the seventh straight year.

“Being able to beat both of them (Woodhaven, Trenton) has been impressive and now we’re just looking forward to getting more wins, keep learning and master this offense so we can be able to manipulate the defense in the way we run and control the ball and control the time,” said Franklin, who runs a 4.5 40 and has a 3.4 grade-point-average. “I think once we master that we can go deep into the playoffs. We’re versatile. We can do so many things both offensively and defensively. I want defenses to come after me because once teams double and triple team me, focus on me, other guys will make big plays.

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“A lot of people said when we run the T you’re going to have no purpose (as quarterback), but I think that has been completely wrong because so far I threw for 100 yards in my first game, then 65 on nine throws last game so I just need to make one read and one throw to keep the defense off balance.”

So, why did Franklin pick Wisconsin? He had more than a dozen offers, including several from Power Five conference schools like Kentucky and Vanderbilt (SEC), Washington State (Pac 12), Iowa State (Big 12), Syracuse (ACC) and Michigan State, Minnesota and Indiana (Big Ten).

“I had a lot of schools on the board, Michigan State, which was previously one of my dream schools, but I just felt Wisconsin was the best situation for me to develop as a player and I think I have the best chance to do what I was supposed to be and that’s ultimately win games,” Franklin said.

Another Alsobrooks stars at Churchill

Drew Alsobrooks has emerged as one of the biggest surprises so far in the 2017 season.

Oh, no, Alsobrooks hasn’t been a surprise to Churchill head coach Bill DeFillippo, but to the rest of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association.

Alsobrooks, a junior left-handed quarterback, led Churchill (2-0) to scoring drives on nine (seven TDs, two field goals) of 10 possessions in a season-opening 53-13 rout of Monroe, then to TD drives of four of its first five possessions Thursday in a 34-14 victory at Northville.

“Everybody that knows him, he’s got a great arm and a strong arm, but he runs the offense and he’s a big enough kid to carry some of that load with our QB runs and some of our slots that can run and our tailbacks that are pretty good, it’s a great compliment to be able to have the inside-outside run game mixed in with the passing attack,” said DeFillippo of the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Alsobrooks, who has the physical running style that brings back memories of former Central Michigan star Dan LeFevour and he will only get bigger and stronger in the years ahead.

Alsobrooks has learned from watching his older brother, Brian Alsobrooks, who was a first-team All-West quarterback for Churchill in 2014 when he threw for 2,258 yards and 23 TDs, then signed with Eastern Michigan before transferring to Division II California University of Pennsylvania.

Alsobrooks has thrown for 480 yards and rushed for 160 yards in the first two games, including 92 yards on eight carries and three TDs against Northville.

“Brian was a great player,” said Alsobrooks. “He works with me all the time, all winter, all off season he was on me, working with me. He watches my games and talks with me, telling me what I need to fix. He’s a great brother.”

DeFillippo is excited with the development of the senior class, trying to get Churchill back in the state playoffs after finishing 5-4 and missing the postseason last year.

‘I’m proud of our guys,” DeFillippo said. “Our senior class was 0-and-9 as freshman and this is how far they’ve come. There a great bunch of kids to coach. They were 0-and-9 on that freshmen team, started with 18 kids so the miles they’ve come in three years has been just awesome to see.”

Churchill will play at Livonia Stevenson (2-0) Friday with Stevenson also having a quality dual-threat quarterback in Parker Graham.

Graham found George Ferguson three times for 145 yards and two TDs in a 14-13 comeback win over Livonia Franklin in the opener. He then rushed for 142 yards and three TDs and threw for 251 yards, including a 66-yard TD toss to Ferguson who also had two interceptions, one for a 70-yard score in a 44-21 rout of Novi Thursday.

De La Salle’s turnaround

After dropping a 36-6 season-opening loss to Division 2 state semifinalist Lowell, Warren De La Salle came back to crush Grandville, 31-0, Thursday.

And, it was a major step backward for Grandville, which crushed Holt 53-13 in the opener after advancing to a Division 1 regional final last year, losing to Detroit Catholic Central.

“We had a good defensive game plan against them and our defensive line played very well,” said second-year De La Salle coach Mike Giannone. “One of our defensive coaches Bob Schroeder came up with a good game plan and we stuck with it.

“They (Grandville) used a straight T, kind of like Canton, and we made some defensive line movement against them, but one of the biggest thing was our guys tackled. They gang tackled and in one-on-one situations they made plays, kind of the type of effort we felt we could get.”

It was the 74-year-old Schroeder who hired Giannone as an assistant coach at Chippewa Valley in 1989 before Giannone moved on to Macomb Dakota where he guided the Cougars to consecutive Division 1 state championships in 2006 and ’07.

Another new No. 1

Belleville is the third No. 1 team in The News Super 20 rankings in as many weeks.

Detroit Cass Tech was the preseason No. 1 team, but dropped its opener to Pickerington (Ohio) Central 24-21 before a 17-12 win this past Friday against Chicago Simeon.

Detroit King took over the top spot last week but then lost to Toledo Central Catholic, 21-13, Friday.

Now, Belleville (2-0) owns the No. 1 spot following its impressive 55-6 rout of Redford Union after coming back from a 28-16 fourth quarter deficit in the opener to defeat Brighton, 34-31, in overtime at the Big House.

A number of top 10 teams from the preseason poll are off to 0-2 starts, including No. 4 West Bloomfield, No. 7 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and No. 9 Southfield A&T.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, the three-time defending Division 3 state champions, will need a strong effort this week to prevent its first 0-3 start since 1984 when it plays a Mishawaka (Ind.) Penn team that crushed Birmingham Brother Rice, 38-0.

OLSM came back from a 1-2 start last season, which included a 10-7 loss to Penn, to finish 10-4 while winning the state title. It was 0-2 in 2009, rebounding to lose in the D3 title game.