Projected order of finish by consensus of coaches; 2018 records in parentheses.
1. GIBRALTAR CARLSON (8-2, 8-1)
Coach Jack Giarmo has the offense to be on top of the Downriver League in 2019. With six returning starters on offense including senior QB/WR Ian Stewart (Michigan State), and senior RBs Bryce Stewart and Julian Poole, Carlson could hang some crooked numbers. Senior MLB Dylan Rachoczy, senior S Anthony Estrada and junior DL Nick McArthur anchor a defense that returns five starters.
2. WOODHAVEN (8-2, 8-1)
Junior DB Joseph Brothers and senior LB/RB Justin Evans are the only returning starters on defense for Coach Keith Christnagel. Things are a little brighter on the offensive side of the ball where Woodhaven returns four starters, including senior RB Clarence Corbett, who had 10 touchdowns in 2018. Senior QB Josh Waters and senior OL Tyler Melfi also will be big contributors.
3. ALLEN PARK (9-3, 7-2)
Five starters return on offense for coach Tom Danosky, including a three-year starter at RB, Nico Tiberia. Senior TE Blake Gilliam will be joined in the starting lineup by new QB Colton Caswell. Senior LB Jon Ball, DL/OL Andrew Rozman, junior DL/OL Max Alvarez and sophomore DL/OL Brady Montie will look to control the middle of the field for a team that won two playoff games last season.
4. TRENTON (7-4, 6-3)
Coach Bob Czarnecki has five returning starters on offense, including senior WR Angelo Czarnecki, who had 11 touchdowns in 2018. He’s joined by senior QB Gabe Cavazos, senior WR Jack Miller and senior G Marco Calo. Senior LBs Brendan Matusik and Spencer Witt highlight a defense that returns six starters and will have to lean on that experience to break out of the Downriver League’s middle class.
5. DEARBORN EDSEL FORD (3-6, 3-6)
Ford returns seven starters on offense including senior QB Ty Wyka, who moves over from WR, and senior RB Anthony Marano. Senior SS Tyler Szostek and senior LB Ethan Leadbetter lead six returning starters on the defensive side of the ball for new coach Lee Grizzell. Ford will find out what it’s made of when it hosts Carlson on Sept. 27.
6. WYANDOTTE (6-4, 6-3)
Coach Ron Adams has senior DB Christian Cooper, senior LB Logan McGraw and junior DE Richard Clark back on a defense that only returns four starters.Junior QB Jalin Pitchford returns along with four other offensive starters including senior WR/S Hayden Loya and senior T Nico Fernandez. Defensive experience is a concern, but Wyandotte is only two years removed from an undefeated regular season.
7. SOUTHGATE ANDERSON (3-6, 3-6)
Senior WR Matt Thomas led Anderson in touchdowns last season, and is hoping to improve an offense that returns four starters including senior WR/RB Aaron Jaciuk with senior QB Cole Hinzmann looking to step up. On defense, Jaciuk had 28 tackles for loss and nine sacks from his DE spot in 2018. Senior MLB Kelly Mickel will join Jaciuk as a player to watch for Mitch Dobek’s squad.
8. TAYLOR (2-7, 2-7)
Three starters return on offense for coach Jeff Morrow. Both QBs with experience from last season graduated, so in steps senior Derrick Hollis to steer Taylor’s new spread wing-t. He’ll be supported by junior RB Aaron Carr, junior TE Seth Kutz and senior WR/TE David Sumler. Senior LB Kortez Streeter is the only returning starter on defense for a team that only has six seniors.
9. LINCOLN PARK (0-9, 0-9)
Coach Brian Amorose only has two returning starters on offense to try and recover from a winless season. Sophomore Dwaine Watkins and senior Robbie Black will take snaps at QB while junior Wanya Lindsey holds down the RB spot. Experience is more plentiful on defense where senior OLB Ronald Myers, junior S Malik Gill and senior CB Jacob Berkowski spearhead five returning starters.
Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer.