Prep picks: Oak Park, Clarkston clash with 1-2 mark on the line
There are a number of big matchups on Friday, led by No. 10 Oak Park playing at No. 13 Clarkston, Utica Eisenhower traveling to No. 3 Clinton Township Chippewa Valley and Plymouth walking over to play at cross-campus rival Canton.
Oak Park and Clarkston were ranked among the top five teams in The News' Super 20 preseason poll, but the loser of Friday’s game will be 1-2 after the first third of the regular season. Both teams lost their respective openers, with Oak Park falling to then-No. 1 West Bloomfield, 20-14, and Clarkston to then-No. 8 Southfield A&T, 28-14.
The teams then earned much-needed victories in Week 2 with Oak Park blanking Rochester, 53-0, while Clarkston took care of business against Bloomfield Hills, 51-7.
Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson couldn’t be more pleased with how his sophomore quarterback Mike DePillo has performed, throwing for 250 yards and two touchdowns — both scoring tosses going to Matt Miller — while playing just one half against Bloomfield Hills.
“He’s starting to grow a little bit and he didn’t even play the second half,” Richardson said DePillo who completed 10 of 14 passes against Bloomfield Hills.
Oak Park has several elite players, including the state’s No. 1 player in two-way lineman Justin Rogers (Kentucky), along with Penn State-bound defensive back Enzo Jennings and receiver Maliq Carr.
“We have to stop the big play since they’re very talented and very explosive,” Richardson said. “They’re very good up front. They’re the real deal.”
Richardson was thrilled to have four-star junior tackle Garrett Dellinger back after missing the opener due to a nagging shoulder injury which required surgery during the offseason.
“He can only play one way and can only play a certain number of plays,” Richardson said. “It’s huge to have him back. We’d be a lot better if we could have him on defense too.”
Pick: Oak Park by 2
Other top games
Plymouth (2-0) at Canton (1-1), 7 p.m. Friday: Brian Lewis feels right at home during his second year as head coach at Plymouth and he wants nothing more than to end Canton’s three-game winning streak in the rivalry.
Canton has earned lopsided wins of 47-26 and 47-14 the last two years against Plymouth.
“Mike Mathias is playing well, Ivan Davis is playing well and so has Alec Beshears, and our defense has been pretty good, so we’ll get tested this week for sure just because what Canton does,” Lewis said of Canton’s full house backfield which is similar to the Wing T.
“I expect an absolute battle, just a war. These are two teams that know each other well, and the kids know each other so well from going to school all these years together. We’re excited and looking forward to the challenge and competition.”
After a 21-6 loss to Dearborn in the season opener, preseason KLAA West favorite Canton defeated Northville, 37-14, last week with quarterback Ben Stesiak running for two touchdowns and throwing for another.
Plymouth’s defense has forced five turnovers this season, defeating Wayne Memorial in Week 1, 43-0, followed by a 38-7 win over Howell in Week 2.
“Mathias has been our leading rusher and Nick Downs is our second-year starter at quarterback, just a real heady kid who gets us in the offense,” Lewis said of his offensive leaders.
“Having an offseason was just massive, just to get to know your kids. We got the job in June last year and it was really hard to look at kids and tell them what to do without having any relationship built. Our kids are feeling better about it and we’re feeling better about it, so we can demand more out of them since we know them.”
Pick: Plymouth by 4
No. 16 Romeo (2-0) at Sterling Heights Stevenson (2-0), 7 p.m. Friday: Sophomore dual-threat quarterback Jordan Ramsey has played well in helping Stevenson to a 2-0 start. But he will face his toughest challenge as a starter when he goes up against a strong Romeo defense that was dominant in a 41-14 season-opening win over Oxford and an impressive 37-6 rout of Port Huron Northern and Michigan-bound defensive end Braiden McGregor last week.
It was Stevenson head coach Justin Newcomb who was sitting with Michigan coaches Wednesday afternoon before practice, talking about four-star junior right tackle/nose tackle Giovanni El-Hadi, another Michigan commit.
While Ramsey scored on an 86-yard run and running back Nick Wingfield scored on an 11-yard touchdown behind El-Hadi for a 14-7 lead with 3:40 left in the third, it was El-Hadi who brought down St. Clair Shores Lakeview’s Tristan Witt for no gain on a fourth-and-1 from Stevenson’s 33 with 2:03 left to secure the victory in Week 2.
Romeo has averaged 39 points, led by the strong running of Ryan Czapski and Brian St. Clair.
Pick: Romeo by 6
Utica Eisenhower (1-1) at No. 3 Chippewa Valley (2-0), 7 p.m. Friday: Defending Division 1 state champion Chippewa Valley picked up right where it left off from a year ago, displaying a high-powered offense in wins over Saline, 35-21, and Roseville, 54-6, to start the season.
Next up is a defensive power in Eisenhower which has allowed just seven points all season, with those points coming in a 7-0 loss to Birmingham Brother Rice in Week 1.
Chippewa Valley swept the season series last season, 45-24 during the regular season and then 34-7 in a predistrict.
Look for quarterback Josh Kulka and running back Myren Harris to continue their outstanding play for Chippewa Valley, with Harris picking up his third straight 100-yard performance.
Pick: Chippewa Valley by 8