Farmington football has been in the shadow of Farmington Hills Harrison for the past several decades.
And for good reason since Harrison won 13 state championships under the guidance of the state’s all-time winningest coach John Herrington — 443 victories — from the time the school opened its doors in 1970 until it closed them for good last June.
The majority of Harrison’s staff went a few miles up the road to North Farmington with Jon Herstein taking over as head coach with Herrington and Mill Coleman helping him out.
North Farmington is off to an impressive 3-0 start after going 5-22 the previous three seasons.
Farmington is also 3-0, and the teams’ Week 8 matchup could be for the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division championship.
Farmington has one of the top young coaches in the game in 30-year-old Kory Cioroch, who is in his third year of running the show.
Cioroch was defensive coordinator under John Bechtel in 2015 and 2016, then took over as head coach in 2017. Farmington won the OAA Blue title in 2014, then slipped to 5-5 and 2-7 before posting a 3-6 record in Cioroch’s first year as the head man.
Cioroch quickly turned things around last season with a strong 8-4 showing and second-place finish in the OAA Blue to Birmingham Seaholm.
Cioroch has developed a smashmouth identity which was apparent in Friday’s 35-14 win at Ypsilanti Lincoln, piling up 350 yards on the ground while holding Lincoln to under 100 yards rushing.
“We’re all about getting better every day, preparing for every week, not falling in love with ourselves and just playing football,” Cioroch said. “I felt we came out (against Lincoln) and had an unbelievable game plan on defense that really, really worked. We got them out of their stuff fast. I thought we imposed our will on offense. I felt our kids and coaches did a great job. It was an overall great day.”
Cioroch’s game plan was to slow down Lincoln senior running back Kyjuan Rice.
“We wanted to stop No. 2 (Rice),” Cioroch said. “That kid is a heck of a football player, ran for 250 yards the first week, 180 the second week. We said he wasn’t going to beat us. I’m proud of the kids. They played tough.”
Farmington is looking to win its first league title in five years and first regional title ever this season. It won its first district championship since 2002 last season, defeating South Lyon East before losing in a Division 3 regional final to DeWitt.
Farmington has an experienced offensive line and a pair of solid quarterbacks in senior Stevie Guerriero and Max Martin, who started at quarterback for Harrison last season, along with a running back in Keion Shaw who showcases great speed and rushed for 152 yards against Lincoln.
“We had Kendall Williams with us last year and he’s at Wayne State after breaking all of our records (1,335 yards rushing, 20 TDs). Keion had been waiting his turn and I’m sure he’s happy that his time has come,” Cioroch said of Shaw, who has rushed for 385 yards and seven scores this season. “I have four guys who have started three years for me that are up front, all of them are seniors and all of them have kicked butts.”
Farmington’s offensive line is anchored by Jeremiah Smith (6-foot-1, 275 pounds), David Palushaj (5-10, 250), Engelbert Vela (6-2, 220) and Sam Zervos (5-10, 215).
And don’t forget Wisconsin-bound linebacker Jordan Turner, who has been sidelined with a foot injury but could return in the next few weeks to lead Farmington to that first regional championship.
Brother Rice's hot start
Birmingham Brother Rice is winning with great defense.
Brother Rice has given up just 10 points all season, starting with its season-opening 7-0 win over Utica Eisenhower. It defeated U-D Jesuit, 27-7, Friday.
“The linebackers have been outstanding so far, very active in all phases, in the pass game, pass rush and against the run,” Brother Rice coach Adam Korzeniewski said of seniors Cam Terrill, Jimmy Phillips and Manny Betrus, along with junior Ohannes Sarkisian.
“Cam is mobile and athletic, but he’s aggressive. He’s not afraid. He’s willing to be physical and is reckless in a good way. He’s getting in the backfield and is creating havoc.”
Korzeniewski feels Brother Rice will have to get a push up front to slow down Warren De La Salle’s running game on Friday. De La Salle, the defending Division 2 state champion and Catholic League champs, shut out Brother Rice last season.
Korzeniewski talks highly of his secondary.
“Two guys have been very good this year. Rocco Milia, a junior safety, is a stud, a smart, athletic kid,” Korzeniewski said. “Gio Murad has also played well, has two picks this season. He’s playing confident.”
Korzeniewski is looking for senior quarterback Greg Piscopink to spread the ball around more against De La Salle. Sophomore Cole Lacanaria is his primary weapon.
Brother Rice will be challenged the next few weeks with matchups against De La Salle, Detroit Catholic Central and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
So, what does Brother Rice have to do to be successful against De La Salle?
“Our D-line has been great to this point, but we’re going to face a downhill team, a Wing-T, smashmouth football type of team and we haven’t faced that yet,” Korzeniewski said. “We’re going to have to have some guys really step up.”
If a team puts up 41 points, it has to feel confident it will come out a winner. But that was not the case for Clarkston.
No. 10 Oak Park put up 64 points on Clarkston Friday night in a 23-point win.
It’s obvious Clarkston — which advanced to the Division 1 state championship game last season — needs four-star junior lineman Garrett Dellinger on both sides of the ball, not just at offensive tackle.
The 64 points were the most points given up by a Clarkston team in Kurt Richardson’s 30-plus years as head coach. Clarkston gave up 56 points in a Division 1 regional final 20 years ago, but won that game over Macomb Dakota, 57-56.
Things don’t get any easier for Clarkston as it must get a win at No. 9 West Bloomfield this week or start 1-3 for the first time since 2001 when it finished 2-7.
West Bloomfield and Clarkston have developed a strong rivalry with West Bloomfield winning the regular-season game in 2017 before Clarkston avenged the loss with a win in the Division 1 state title game. Clarkston defeated West Bloomfield, 28-25, last season.
Oak Park hosts No. 5 Birmingham Groves in an OAA White Division showdown Friday.
Perennial state powers Detroit King and Detroit Cass Tech play Friday at King.
After both teams opened the season with consecutive losses, each put a 'W' in the column with Cass Tech defeating Detroit Western, 24-6, while King blanked Detroit Osborn, 48-0.
Cass Tech defeated King in last year’s PSL title game.