No. 2 Belleville will try to push its regular-season winning streak to 30 games Friday night when it travels to Dearborn to play No. 10 Fordson in the KLAA East Division showdown between unbeaten teams for first place.
If Belleville (5-0, 4-0) stretches that streak, fifth-year head coach Jermaine Crowell will know his team earned it.
After all, Fordson (5-0, 4-0) was the last team to have beaten Belleville during the regular season, coming up with a 34-25 victory in Week 3 in 2016.
Last year, Belleville had to battle back from a 10-point deficit – on its home field – to earn a 29-26 win with Christian Dhue-Reid throwing for three TDs and running for a 7-yard, go-ahead TD with 7:38 remaining for the difference.
Dhue-Reid is now a junior, but could possibly be watching from the sidelines. He sat out last Friday’s 55-0 rout of Wayne due to a slight ankle injury and is battling the flu this week.
Still, with Dhue-Reid out, junior Maurice Hitchcock came in and three for three TDs.
“We’re hoping Christian is ready to go, but he didn’t play last week and has this crazy flu,” said Crowell of Dhue-Reid. “Maurice Hitchcock looked good, threw for three TDs. It was good to get him out there and let him go behind the starting offensive line. I felt he did good.
“Really, a lot of guys haven’t played a lot of plays because a lot of games have gotten out of hand, so we’ll see what happens Friday. Coach (Walker Zaban) at Fordson is one of the best in the state, has been for a long time. They’re multiple now where they can throw it or run it and they play a really good defense.”
If it’s Dhue-Reid or Hitchcock throwing the ball, Zaban knows Fordson will have to keep its eyes on Belleville junior receiver Deion Burks, who has multiple offers, including Kentucky, Toledo and Eastern Michigan, while also getting looks from Notre Dame and Duke.
“Belleville presents a big challenge,” said Zaban. “They are big up front and very skilled in other places. Their team speed presents a major challenge, so we must control and secure the ball and not allow big plays. That will be easier said than done.”
Pick: Belleville by 6
Other top games
►Southfield A&T (3-2) at Clarkston (2-3), 7 p.m. Friday:
What, they’re playing again? Yes, the season-opening game between the teams happened because the teams needed Week 1 opponents and couldn’t find them.
A&T (3-2, 1-2) took Game 1 – with Clarkston four-star junior tackle Garrett Dellinger sidelined – with a 28-14 win, piling up 460 total yards, 343 coming on the ground on 35 carries, led by junior Rae’Quan Lee’s 196 yards on 12 chances, including a 64-yard TD run. Lee has rushed for more than 800 yards.
Florida Atlantic-bound quarterback Anthony Romphf threw for 118 yards and rushed for 110 yards on 15 carries for A&T in that win over Clarkston (2-3, 2-1).
“They kicked our (butt) up front,” said Kurt Richardson, whose Clarkston team won the Division 1 state title in 2017, lost to Chippewa Valley 31-30 in last year’s state championship game and needs a win Friday to climb to .500. “We couldn’t block them, and we couldn’t stop them either way.”
Richardson hopes things change with Dellinger in the lineup, although just on offense.
“This is like a playoff game, they all are from now on,” Richardson said. “Delly will be playing, but just on offense. We have to stop the big play. He (Romphf) can turn it around real quick, have him all boxed in and he takes off, so you’re better off not even rushing him at times.”
Pick: Clarkston by 2
►Birmingham Brother Rice (4-1) at No. 4 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (5-0), 7 p.m. Saturday:
After missing the state playoffs the last two years, St. Mary’s (5-0, 1-0 Catholic Central) is closing in on a postseason spot after showing its ability to pull out close games.
St. Mary’s and Dakota were tied at 14 before St. Mary’s scored a pair of fourth-quarter TDs to win 28-14 in the season opener. St. Mary’s has earned close victories the last two weeks, including a 38-35 comeback win over No. 18 Walled Lake Western and a 16-14 win over two-time defending Division 2 state champion Warren De La Salle.
Brother Rice (4-1, 1-1) has played strong defense all season, allowing just 31 points, including seven in its lone loss, a 7-3 setback at Detroit Catholic Central Sunday.
Pick: St. Mary’s by 7
►Rochester Adams (4-1) at No. 7 West Bloomfield (4-1), 7 p.m. Friday:
West Bloomfield will put its 3-0 OAA Red Division record on the line against an Adams (2-1 Red) team that is always dangerous.
In fact, this rivalry is a great one with West Bloomfield pulling out 17-16 (2017) and 24-20 (2018) victories the last two years.
West Bloomfield showed it is never out of a game, rallying back from a 31-17 deficit in the final two minutes of regulation to force OT at 31, then pulling out a 59-52 four-overtime win over Lake Orion Saturday with Ohio-bound quarterback C.J. Harris throwing five TDs in the final minute of regulation and the OTs.
Pick: West Bloomfield by 4