Football previews: Western Wayne Athletic Conference
Connor Muldowney of The Detroit News previews the Western Wayne Athletic Conference football season. Teams listed in predicted order of finish.
REDFORD THURSTON (7-4, 4-1)
Looking to get back to the playoffs, Bob Snell returns 10 total starters to a squad that went 7-4 last season with a near-perfect record in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference. Running back Leonard Funchess leads the way on offense after posting 967 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He will be aided by two returning linemen, Tim Owens and Atonio Mathis. All three linebackers return, a unit consisting of Xavier Coleman-Patillo, Marvus McWright and Javonne DuBose, who combined for a total of 142 tackles. Keysean Ware and Davon Hedwood will patrol the defensive backfield and Jamari McCroyand Shawn Harris will return to the defensive line.
DEARBORN HEIGHTS ROBICHAUD (6-3, 2-3)
First-year head coach Donny Scott comes over from Hamtramck, looking to lead Robichaud back to the playoffs after a disappointing conference showing last year. He’ll have plenty to work with, including incoming freshman quarterback David Johnson and receivers Cameron Underwood and Carlos Porter, who combined for 1,300 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. The offense returns four total starters. On defense, five starters return, including cornerback Cory Hastings, who had five interceptions last season, linebacker Dyzek Fleming, nose guard Keondre Robinson and team captain and outside linebacker Keonte Adams.
ROMULUS (6-4, 5-0)
Though it finished just 6-4 overall, Romulus was unscathed in conference play last season and head coach Thom Patterson will look to continue that trend in 2018. Romulus returns eight starters on defense, an area that Patterson calls a strength, and three on offense, including starting quarterback Kazmer Bell.
REDFORD UNION (3-6, 3-2)
Ian Iler’s offense will once again be run-oriented in 2018, led by senior quarterback Carl Ware, who had 200-plus rushing yards and three scores last season, and he also plays some defensive end. He’ll get some assistance from running back/receiver Jajaun Stokes, who also played some quarterback and had three touchdowns and 400 yards of total offense. Derion Gould is making the switch from offensive line to tight end while playing some defensive end, and Andrew Draper should have a major impact at receiver as one of eight returning offensive starters. Linebackers Cameron Wells and Tre Williams account for two of the six returning defensive starters.
DEARBORN HEIGHTS CRESTWOOD (3-6, 1-4)
The tough 2017 schedule did a number on Crestwood, but coach Mike Berry is poised to lead his team to the playoffs in a revamped Western Wayne Athletic Conference. Crestwood returns seven starters on offense and five on defense. Jaquan Smith is a versatile senior running back who can also play linebacker and defensive back, Gus Murray is a senior linebacker and tight end who returns for his third year as a starter, senior defensive end Kasem Jomaa had nine sacks and four forced fumbles, and Mahdi Fadel is the lone returning starter in the secondary. Hussein Fakih had four sacks in 2017, but is also the most experienced offensive line starter. Linebacker Adam Cassab is back after leading the team with 74 tackles, Ali Alkhalil is a rising junior left tackle and sophomore receiver/safety Kevin Clayton is a strong breakout candidate.
DEARBORN HEIGHTS ANNAPOLIS (0-9, 0-5)
Annapolis hopes to get back into the win column after getting blanked in 2017 with an 0-9 record and head coach A.J. Linares has some key returners. On the offensive line, Connor Gardiner and David Doney are back. In the backfield, Joey Zarka, Davionne Paul and Quinton Wilson return along with junior quarterback Avery Ismail. Defensively, Paul also plays some cornerback, Wilson doubles as a safety, Zarka stands in at middle linebacker and Gardiner at defensive end. Santana Guervara also returns at safety and Austin Newman will play a big role at nose tackle.
GARDEN CITY (0-9, 0-5)
Garden City, too, is hoping for a better outcome after a winless 2017 season. Coach Jim Baker returns 15 starters, losing just two on defense from last season. Linebacker Jay Castonguay led the team in tackles last season and should repeat that in 2018. He will be joined by Nick Janisse at middle linebacker, Joe Grove and Ryan Reed will be back on the defensive line, and Mike Dropsey is set to lead the defensive backs at safety. Offensively, Chase McGraw had 593 all-purpose yards and seven touchdowns, running back David McDaniel 489 all-purpose yards and four scores, and wide receiver Ithan Cholewa 300 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns. Hunter McDaniel and Zack Orsette will pave the way on the offensive line.
LIVONIA CLARENCEVILLE (2-7, 1-4)
Clarenceville loses eight starters on each side of the ball from last season’s 2-7 team, so the reset button will be in full force. Head coach Ryan Irish is prepared to lead his young, inexperienced team, but still has some key players back. Lineman Jordan Perfect can play on both sides of the ball along with Erick Rosas. Each started six games on the offensive line last year. Zac Jones will be a do-it-all player for Clarenceville with the ability to play a handful of positions.