Friday was a night of upsets, with four of the top 13 teams in The News Super 20 poll getting knocked off, including defending Division 1 state champion and No. 6 Clarkston, No. 9 West Bloomfield, No. 12 Detroit Catholic Central and No. 13 Farmington Hills Harrison.
Three teams playing at Ford Field in state title bouts last season — Clarkston, West Bloomfield and Harrison — were upset victims.
Oxford (5-2) defeated Clarkston 20-17 in a Oakland Activities Association Red Division battle to end Clarkston’s unbeaten season while climbing within a win of clinching a state playoff spot for the first time since 2014, playing host to Bloomfield Hills this Friday.
Southfield A&T defeated West Bloomfield 37-35 in another OAA Red Division battle, with a safety early in the fourth quarter proving to be the difference. West Bloomfield (5-2) needs a win against No. 2 Oak Park on Friday to clinch a postseason spot while Southfield A&T (3-4) need road wins at Rochester Adams this Friday and at River Rouge in Week No. 9 to have a chance to make the playoffs.
Adams (4-3) defeated Harrison 24-17 to keep its hopes alive for the postseason, needing wins against Southfield A&T and Rochester Hills Stoney Creek in Week No. 9
A year ago, Clarkston hung a 48-0 loss on Oxford.
“Our team played really well, played great defense,” said Bud Rowley, who has been head coach at Oxford since 1976. “We gave up two kickoff returns, but we came back and won it, just a big win for Oxford High School.
“Our kids were ecstatic after beating the state champs. Our defense played outstanding, held Clarkston to 37 (total) yards.”
Rowley — who is 260-143-1, 22nd most wins in state history — had high praise for seniors in Evan Brunning, Jerome Robinson, Gideon Sparks, Tom Wandrie, Sam Barrott, Austin Schlicht and Marcus Hufnagel up front, along with defensive backs Trent Myre, Joe Backaro and Caleb Tabert.
“This group of seniors has won at every level, at the freshmen level, then at the JV level and now they are playing well again,” Rowley said. “Two days after the season ended they were in the weight room. They had a great summer. They are friends. They hang around with each other and they want to win.”
Southfield A&T junior quarterback Anthony Romphf threw for 260 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 100 yards in the win over West Bloomfield.
“Anthony had a great game, his best game of the season — just made a lot of great decisions,” A&T coach Tim Conley said. “He had a little extra incentive because he played for West Bloomfield last year and then moved to Southfield.
“We’ve been playing at a high level. I know we had a three-game losing streak, but we’ve played against such great competition. It was just a matter of us limiting our mistakes so it was really nice to see us do that and play a complete game.”
Adams defeated Harrison with an impressive game-winning 80-yard drive with quarterback Carter Farris completing five straight passes, including a six-yard TD toss to Jack Bishop with 39 seconds left.
Detroit Osborn earns PSL Gold title
Detroit Osborn defeated Detroit Southeastern, 16-6, Friday afternoon to win its first PSL division title in program history.
Osborn pushed its record to 6-1 and clinched the Gold Division title after going 1-8 a year ago.
“People were saying Osborn is a place that you can’t win at and me and my coaches have been over there for three years, just showing the kids something different, how to prepare properly, how to watch film, how to break down film and just to believe in themselves,” Osborn head coach Marlon Baker said. “I told them it can be anybody, doesn’t just have to be King, Cass and Denby. Why not Osborn? And, the kids bought into it, worked hard and the results showed.”
Osborn was 5-5 in Baker’s first year, losing in the first round of the state playoffs to River Rouge.
Baker, 40, played his high school ball at Osborn, then played at Wayne State. He was a junior varsity coach at Harper Woods Chandler Park before moving back to Osborn. His staff includes defensive coordinator Ralph Sewell, offensive coordinator Michael Bailey and assistant coaches Damon Turner, Thomas Drake, Trevor Denson, Daniel Davis and David Godwin.
Now, Osborn has punched its state playoff ticket again, with senior dual-threat quarterback Isiah Watts has led the way.
“Isiah Watts has played with a chip on his shoulder because a lot of people weren’t talking about him,” Baker said. “He’s been in my system for three years. He’s a long kid, runs a 4.6 40, has a good arm and is a great leader.
“Josiah Lewis is probably one of the top receivers in the country that nobody’s heard of. He has hands like glue, makes phenomenal catches all over the field. Cortez Weeks is a hard-hitting safety who also plays receiver."
Watts has thrown for 1,507 yards and 15 touchdowns, also rushing for 325 yards. Lewis, a senior, is his primary threat (1,001 receiving yards, nine TDs), with Weeks (438 receiving yards, four TDs) and senior RJ Carter (16 receptions, 311 yards, five TDs) other weapons.
Watts has enjoyed outstanding protection from a line that includes junior center Jordan Jackson and senior tackle Kristan Harshaw.
Osborn’s defense is led by linebackers Malik Brown (83 tackles, 14 sacks), Tony McCary (81 tackles, 14 tackles for loss) and Dewayne Windham (64 tackles, five sacks), and defensive backs Kawan Carter (five interceptions) and Weeks (62 tackles, seven interceptions).
Loyola clinches Catholic League’s AA title
Detroit Loyola (5-2, 4-0) defeated U-D Jesuit 26-21 to clinch the Catholic League’s AA Division title after finishing 2-6 a year ago, including a 31-12 loss to U-D Jesuit.
The reason for the turnaround? Well, John Callahan returned to Loyola after coaching last season at New Haven.
Callahan had a 86-16 record in eight years at Loyola, including four state championship game appearances, winning the Division 7 state title in 2014.
Loyola has a physical running back in D’Vaun Bentley, who has rushed for more than 1,300 yards, including 332 yards and four TDs against U-D Jesuit.
Loyola already has clinched a state playoff spot, since it will get a forfeit win this week over a Detroit Delta team that closed its school last month.
Watson new QB for Harrison
Farmington Hills Harrison will be closing its doors for good after the 2018-19 school year.
Detroit Delta closed its doors last month, enabling 6-foot-3 senior quarterback Keel Watson to come to Harrison and be immediately eligible.
Watson had two practices last week before starting Harrison’s game against Rochester Adams Friday, a 24-17 loss.
Watson replaced an injured Max Martin (knee), who also is expected to miss Friday's game with Birmingham Groves.
Watson struggled in the first half — 2-of-11, 27 yards — before completing 4-of-6 passes in the second half for 77 yards to rally Harrison back from a 17-0 deficit into a tie before Adams’ winning TD drive in the final minutes.
“He’s been with us for a couple of practices,” Harrison coach John Herrington said. “We didn’t have anybody else because the other guy, (David) Hiser is hurt. We would have had to play Rod (Heard) at quarterback the whole way and I wanted to use him at tailback.
“He (Watson) had so much adrenaline he was overthrowing in the first half. He has a strong arm, gave us a chance to win.”
Watson threw a perfect pass in the left corner of the end zone with just over three minutes left that could have given Harrison the lead, but the pass was dropped and no interference was called. Harrison settled with a 41-yard field goal to pull even.
Harrison can clinch a playoff spot with a win over Groves (5-2).
Walker runs wild for Canton
Canton senior running back Steven Walker had a night to remember in Canton’s 48-29 win over Howell.
Walker rushed for 377 yards and five TDs and was named homecoming king. He ran for 327 yards (12 carries) and four TDs in the first half alone before being crowned at the intermission.
Walker now has 1,497 yards and 18 TDs for Canton (5-2).