Prep picks: Dearborn Fordson first of two 'big games' for Livonia Franklin
Livonia Franklin head coach Chris Kelbert is excited with where his team is at – 6-0 and ranked No. 6 in The Detroit News Super 20, and with its goal of a KLAA East Division title still alive heading into the final weeks of the season.
Franklin will play at No. 10 Dearborn Fordson Friday, and a win will set up Week 8 showdown with No. 2 Belleville for the division championship. Belleville defeated Fordson 20-19 last Friday.
“It’s very exciting,” Kelbert said. “We’re very happy to have ourselves in the position to play these two big games. It’s where we wanted to be at the start of the season, so it’s good to be at this point.
“They (Fordson) are really talented on offense. They have a lot of weapons, roll out three to four different running backs and all of those guys are pretty special. In the passing game, (sophomore receiver Antonio) Gates is a guy you have to pay attention to, as well as the guy (Andrew Holston) in the slot. They make you defend the entire field, so they’ll definitely be a challenge for us.”
Kelbert’s son Jake, is Franklin’s three-year starting quarterback.
“He has thrown for almost 1,300 yards and rushed for more than 600,” said Kelbert of his son. “His dual threat really puts pressure on defenses, because us being able to throw the football the way we have this year. It’s the same thing of what I’ve said about Fordson – it makes the defense cover the entire field.
“We have some weapons who have been very good. We’ve been very good where we’ve been able to spread the ball to guys like Connor Hatfield, James Carpenter and Brandon Reinpen.”
Kelbert knows the importance of preventing Fordson from making the big play.
“Our run defense has been very good all season long,” Kelbert said. “We have to limit the amount of big plays since that has caused us problems, and they are a big-play team.”
Pick: Fordson by 2.
►No. 12 South Lyon (6-0) at No. 16 Walled Lake Western (5-1), 7 p.m. Friday:
This one is for the Lakes Valley Conference championship.
The teams met twice last year with South Lyon earning a 29-19 regular-season victory to win the conference title before falling to Western, 35-14, in a Division 2 district championship game.
Western second-year coach Alex Grignon is familiar with South Lyon since he was the school’s offensive coordinator in 2017 before moving on to become head coach at Western.
“We’re excited, played them twice last year, and it’s shaping up where we could play them twice this year – now and again in the playoffs,” Grignon said. “So not only is the conference title on the line, but homefield for the playoffs could be on the line.
“Connor (South Lyon quarterback Fracassi) is very good at extending the play and he’s as slippery as anybody you’ll find in the pocket. Jack Schafer is probably the best back we’ve seen all year, including those St. Mary’s guys we played against, and he makes plays on both sides of the ball. And Brenden Lach has to be excited for the game because he hurt his knee and sat out the playoff game, so I’m sure he’s amped up and ready to go. He’s a deep threat and a kick return guy.
“We’re looking at this as an opportunity to knock off the first-place team, so we have nothing to lose and we’re playing at home. We played both games against them on the road last year.”
Western has an outstanding aerial attack in junior quarterback Zach Trainor and multiple weapons, including Northwestern-bound receiver/defensive back Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen, who has 38 receptions for 850 yards and seven TDs.
“Zach’s playing well, last week finished with four TDs,” said Grignon of Tranior, who has thrown for 19 TDs. “He’s making good decisions.”
Pick: Western by 6.
►No. 4 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (6-0) at Detroit Catholic Central (3-3), 7 p.m. Friday:
St. Mary’s can clinch the Catholic League Central Division championship with a win over Catholic Central, which would mean a lot since St. Mary’s won a combined five games the previous two years.
St. Mary’s defeated CC 31-29 last year and has one of the premier rushing attacks in the state, led by the 1-2 punch of Anthony Anton and Garnett Davis.
Pick: St. Mary’s by 8.
►No. 9 Davison (6-0) vs. Warren De La Salle (3-3), 7 p.m. Friday, at Wayne State:
Two-time defending Division 2 state champion De La Salle needs to pick up some wins if it has any hopes of making the playoffs to defend its crown.
Davison’s offense averages 55 points and is led by junior quarterback Brendan Sullivan.
Look for De La Salle to pull off an upset to keep its hopes alive.
Pick: De La Salle by 2.
►Port Huron (5-1) at Port Huron Northern (5-1), 7 p.m. Friday:
Port Huron Northern will try to make it three straight wins in this MAC Blue rivalry.
Northern has averaged 43 points during the last three weeks behind the strong play of quarterback Seth Klink, running back Theo Ellis and Michigan-bound tight end/defensive end Braiden McGregor.
Pick: Northern by 10.