Here are 10 games to watch in the 2018 Michigan high school football season:
OAK PARK VS. UTICA EISENHOWER
Thursday, Aug. 23, 3 p.m., at Wayne State
What a game to open up the 2018 season with No. 4 Oak Park going up against No. 13 Eisenhower. Both teams made long runs last season with Eisenhower getting beat by West Bloomfield in a Division 1 regional final, while Oak Park was beaten by eventual state champ Warren De La Salle in a Division 2 regional final. This matchup will showcase Oak Park’s explosive offense, led by Ohio State-bound quarterback Dwan Mathis and junior receiver Maliq Carr against Eisenhower, which returns a 1,000-yard rusher in Caleb Oyster.
CHIPPEWA VALLEY AT SALINE
Thursday, Aug. 23, 7 p.m.
Chippewa Valley is the top team in Macomb County and a threat to make a deep run in the Division 1 playoffs with three-year starting quarterback Tommy Schuster leading the way and having multiple weapons to work with in CMU-bound receiver David Ellis and Miami of Ohio-bound running back Ja’Von Kimpson. Saline is a perennial state power and has an outstanding defensive back in M.J. Griffin, who could make things tough on Schuster & Co.
EAST KENTWOOD VS. MUSKEGON MONA SHORES
Saturday, Aug. 25, 4 p.m., at Grand Valley
This should be a good one with No. 7 East Kentwood going up against No. 14 Mona Shores. East Kentwood has the top talent on the west side of the state and should make a long run in the postseason in Division 1, led by Wisconsin-bound offensive tackle Logan Brown and Michigan commit defensive tackle Mazi Smith. But Mona Shores is capable of pulling off the upset with quarterback Caden Broersma and tight end / linebacker Jacob Wahlberg on the field.
DETROIT CASS TECH VS. RIVER ROUGE
Saturday, Aug. 25, 3 p.m., at Wayne State
No. 3 Cass Tech will get a big test against No. 10 River Rouge. Clemson-bound defensive end Ruke Orhorhoro will give Cass Tech’s Jalen Graham a challenge in Graham’s debut as the No. 1 starting quarterback. Graham has the luxury of Cass Tech owning a strong running game in the 1-2 punch of Jaren Mangham (Colorado) and Lew Nichols (CMU). River Rouge senior Daraun McKinney (Northern Illinois) could make things interesting since he set a state record by returning 12 punts or kickoffs for TDs last season.
DETROIT KING AT MUSKEGON
Friday, Aug. 31, 7 p.m.
No. 2 King goes up against a No. 8 Muskegon team that finished 14-0 last season with a Division 3 state championship in its pocket. King, the Division 2 state champ in 2015 and 2016, has one of the premier passing attacks in the state with three-year starter Dequan Finn (CMU) throwing to four-star junior Rashawn Williams and three-star junior Lemuel Neely-Watley. Muskegon will put out a strong defense, led by linebacker Ali’Vonta Wallace.
FARMINGTON HILLS HARRISON AT OAK PARK
Friday, Sept. 7, 6 p.m.
No. 20 Harrison will be playing its final season and Oak Park is a fierce rival. The teams have played close games in four of the last five years with Harrison winning three, including 60-52 five years ago and 17-14 last season en route to a Division 3 state championship game appearance, a loss to Muskegon. Harrison is led by Northwestern-bound Rod Heard, who rushed for more than 1,500 yards last season and could be playing some quarterback this year. Oak Park has a strong defense, including Corion Montgomery and Enzo Jennings in the back end.
WALLED LAKE WESTERN AT WATERFORD MOTT
Friday, Sept. 14, 7 p.m.
Western has been one of the best programs in the state in Division 2 the past several years and advanced to the state championship game in 2016. Western is ranked No. 12 this season and will be the favorite in the Lakes Valley Conference. Still, Mott will be a big challenge since it has beaten Western in two of the last four years, including 47-37 last season. Western is led by Boston College-bound quarterback Sam Johnson while Mott has a solid nucleus in 1,000-yard running back Marcus Guerrero and standout receivers in Christian Fitzpatrick and Nikobe Myers.
MUSKEGON MONA SHORES AT MUSKEGON
Friday, Oct. 12, 7 p.m.
Expect more than 10,000 fans to come out and see this one, especially after Muskegon had to come back from a second-half deficit to earn a 35-24 win last season. Muskegon owns a 4-2 record in the series during the last five years with Mona Shores winning the regular-season game between the teams in 2015 before Muskegon came back to win the district 2 final battle.
LIVONIA FRANKLIN AT BELLEVILLE
Friday, Oct. 12, 7 p.m.
No. 1 Belleville wants what No. 17 Franklin has already accomplished – a long postseason run. Belleville earned its first state playoff win in 15 years last season before falling to Canton in a Division 1 district final while Franklin advanced to the Division 2 state championship game at Ford Field, losing to Warren De La Salle. Belleville has seven of the top 30 players in the state. Franklin returns quarterback Jake Kelbert and running back Jacob Simmons.
PSL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Friday, Oct. 19, at Detroit Renaissance
Of course we don’t know who will be playing in the PSL championship game, but it is likely to be a battle between No. 2 King – the defending PSL champ – and No. 3 Cass Tech. King won the PSL title last year with a win over East English and also defeated King for the title, 27-25 in 2015 with Cass Tech defeating King for the PSL title in 2016. In last year’s lone meeting between the teams, King came out on top, 17-7, in a semifinal game.