Prep football preview: Western Wayne Athletic Conference
Projected order of finish by consensus of coaches; 2018 records in parentheses.
1. DEARBORN HEIGHTS CRESTWOOD (8-2, 7-0)
Crestwood only loses five starters on each side of the ball from last season’s 8-2 team, so expect it to stay on top of the Western Wayne. Coach Mike Berry will rely on senior FB Adam Cassab, senior C Hassan Chami, junior wingback Kevin Clayton and returning senior QB Adam Husseini on offense. The defense will be led by LB Tronice Hammond, CB Marwan Bazzi and senior TE/DE Belal Beydoun.
2. DEARBORN HEIGHTS ROBICHAUD (6-4, 5-2)
Robichaud might be able to climb into the Western Wayne’s elite with 13 total returning starters. Coach Donny Scott returns six starters on offense, including senior all-state WR Cameron Underwood (Ferris State), all-conference QB David Williams and senior RB DeShawn Prather. Senior SS Cor'Vonta Ballard had five sacks last season and will be supported by junior MLB Andrew Thomas and junior NG Anthony Sanders.
3. GARDEN CITY (6-4, 6-1)
Garden City hopes to retain its winning ways after a surprising 2018, and coach Jim Baker has some key returners. On the offensive side of the ball, senior RB Ithon Cholewa, junior C Hunter Ohman and senior TE Derek VanDeWater lead five returning starters. Defensively, three-year starters Ryan Reed and Joe Grove will be ones to watch along with senior MLB Ian Will.
4. REDFORD THURSTON (5-4, 4-3)
Coach Bob Snell will have a tough time leading Thurston to the playoffs after only returning nine starters total, five on offense and four on defense. Senior QB Jordan Buxton, senior FB Marvus McWright and junior OG Paul Brissett will lead the offense while senior DB Maki Dunigan, senior DB Keith Lovelady and senior OLB Adrian Boyer spearhead the defense.
5. REDFORD UNION (2-7, 2-5)
Coach Ian Iler’s offense returns six starters and will be paced by junior QB Andrew Draper and senior QB Amir Rashed, who will split time time under center. Their main target if throwing will be senior WR Terrell Hallman. Junior SS Alonzo Wilson, junior DT Marcel Lake and junior DE Robert Boone account for three of the eight returning starters on defense.
6. ROMULUS (3-6, 3-4)
New coach Charles Searcy will try to bust Romulus out of the Western Wayne’s middle class in 2018, but only returns two starters on defense. Junior QB Dior Brown, senior TE Jherron Johnson and senior RB Tyvonn Claypool highlight four returning starters on offense. On defense, Romulus will be relying on the talents of junior LB Jaylen Culver, junior CB Eric Massey and junior CB Christian Chambers.
7. DEARBORN HEIGHTS ANNAPOLIS (2-7, 1-6)
If Annapolis is going to crawl out of the Western Wayne basement, coach Anthony Linares has plenty to work with, including senior QB Avery Ismail, senior RB/ILB Joey Zarka and senior RB/SS Davionne Paul, who Linares describes as his smartest player. Annapolis returns seven starters on offense and five on defense, led by junior DL Evan Frederick. Annapolis has the experience to squeeze out another win or two in 2019.
8. MELVINDALE (2-7, 2-7 Downriver)
Coach Derek Anderson returns 10 total starters to a squad that struggled last season in the Downriver League. Junior QB Malachi Jones leads the way with junior RB Omarion Fleming, junior WR/S Alex Hinojosa. Junior OLB Floyd Frandsen, and junior DL Xavier Goines highlight a defense that returns five starters, but Anderson, in his third season, will only be starting two seniors.
Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer.