Prep notebook: Belleville flexes muscles while other state powers falter in Week 2
Belleville showed why it is ranked No. 1 by The News on Friday night with a dominant 69-0 win over Kensington Lakes Activities Association East Division rival Dearborn Fordson.
And while No. 2 West Bloomfield escaped with a two-point win over then-No. 12 Southfield A&T and freshman phenom quarterback Isaiah Marshall and No. 8 Sterling Heights Stevenson slipped past No. 9 Macomb Dakota, other state powers weren’t as fortunate.
Michigan-bound receiver Andrel Anthony and East Lansing upset No. 7 River Rouge, No. 11 Muskegon Mona Shores defeated No. 10 Muskegon, and Northville took down last year's Division 1 state runner-up Brighton.
Belleville scored on all eight first-half drives to take a 56-0 halftime lead, led by Christian Dhue-Reid’s six touchdown passes to five different receivers.
Dhue-Reid — who is still without a Division 1 offer — showed his agility by rolling right out of pressure and finding his receivers with pinpoint accuracy on several occasions.
And Dhue-Reid’s TD passes were usually perfectly thrown over-the-top tosses, dropping into his receivers’ hands while they were in stride or in the end zone.
“They all felt good. I just wanted to get all of my receivers going because the week before all of them didn’t play,” said Dhue-Reid, who threw for two TDs while turning the ball over twice in a Week 1 win over Livonia Stevenson. “I’m pretty confident with my deep ball. I feel like if I just put it out there that I have playmakers on the outside and they can make plays.”
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Dhue-Reid had seven TD passes before exiting late in the third quarter. He now has 104 career passing TDs and is 20 away from matching the state record held by Stockbridge's Mason Gee-Montgomery (124).
“I’m coming into every game with the state record in mind. I don’t want to hold nothing back for no team and nobody,” said Dhue-Reid, who has multiple weapons to work with, including Purdue-bound receiver Deion Burks who had TD catches of 38 and 9 yards.
Belleville’s defense was equally impressive. It held Fordson to negative-16 yards, recorded six sacks and had two interceptions — including a 39-yard pick-six by junior defensive back Jeremiah Caldwell — while building the 56-0 lead.
Rose to the rescue
Brady Rose showed his explosiveness during Muskegon Mona Shores' Division 2 state title run last season after being forced into duty at quarterback following an injury to the starter.
Rose rushed for 205 yards and five touchdowns and scored on a 2-point conversion with 17 seconds remaining for the difference in a 57-56 state semifinal win over Walled Lake Western. He then led Mona Shores to a 35-26 state title game win over Detroit King, rushing for 90 yards and three TDs while throwing for 122 yards and a score.
Rose is getting things done again at quarterback during his senior year, leading Mona Shores to a 21-14 upset win over Muskegon at Hackley Stadium.
Why was it considered an upset, a No. 11-ranked team defeating a No. 10? No doubt, it’s because Muskegon dominated Mona Shores, 53-0, last year before going on to face River Rouge in the Division 3 state championship game.
And Muskegon had earned 36 consecutive regular-season wins against state opponents, last getting beat by Mona Shores in 2015.
Rose threw for 118 yards, rushed for 105 yards and had three total TDs, including a 20-yard scoring run with 4:49 left when he broke loose up the middle, cut outside and dove for the pylon. He also had 12 tackles, intercepted a pass in the final minute to seal it and was offered by Ferris State after the win.
“Brady Rose is a Mr. Football candidate,” Mona Shores coach Matt Koziak said. “We’ve had some great players here, but this is just a unique situation because he’s not a big 6-foot-2, 4.4 40 kid. He’s just a kid who plays high school football the right way. He’s a coach’s son so he just has football in his DNA.
“This was just a big win because beating them at Hackley is not easy to do. The last team from the state of Michigan to beat Muskegon at Hackley was Mona Shores in 2014. They just don’t lose there so to go in there after a shellacking from last year, which was obviously in the back of our mind, was pretty special.”
East Lansing impresses
River Rouge coach Corey Parker was well aware of East Lansing receiver Andrel Anthony and made sure to take him out of the game as much as possible.
Anthony still had three receptions for 84 yards while being double-teamed and his teammates took advantage by making big plays to earn the 21-6 victory over the defending Division 3 state champs.
“It was a huge win for us...and it came in our first game since we didn’t play last week because one of Portage Central’s coaches tested positive for COVID,” Anthony said. “I got double-teamed a lot, so it opened things up for other receivers and the running back because they had two or three DBs on me. I just took them out of the play and things were wide open for the running back, who had a big game.”
East Lansing junior running back Asher Gregory rushed for 115 yards and two scores, and quarterback Ambrose Wilson added a rushing touchdown.
So how difficult was it to sit out the opening week?
“It was like a punch to the stomach because you know how the summer has been where you’re going to play, we’re just working out, we’re not going to play, cancel, postpone for two weeks — it’s just been a rollercoaster," Anthony said. "We were really ready for that game (against Portage Central), just to play against somebody else, but you have to keep adjusting and fight through adversity. We handled it great and I’m so proud of my teammates and coaches.
“I’m proud of everybody and we have to keep it up. It made that win over River Rouge that much bigger. I wish we played more teams like that. The focus this week has been amazing, then during the game it’s more exciting.”
Brighton had dominated its KLAA West Division series with Northville in recent years, earning a 34-0 win last year and a 21-0 victory in 2018.
Northville made sure it would put some points on the board this time around while limiting Brighton in the 24-14 triumph.
“We had a tremendous team effort,” said Northville coach Matt Ladach, whose team finished 3-6 each of the last three years. “Offensively, we distributed the ball to everybody, and everyone contributed in a meaningful way. Our O-line and D-line battled against kids bigger than them all night long.
“Cayden and Kai Saunders both made big plays to answer a Brighton TD. James Burbar and Parker Ladach made some big sticks to get us off the field. Nate Cotter had a huge fumble recovery and a long return to put our offense in great field position. Anna Kasapis was perfect on her extra points and Grady Zoroya made a big field goal (24-yarder) in the fourth quarter to put us up by two scores.”
Brighton, which played its season opener after Novi had to cancel due to positive COVID cases in its school system, will play unbeaten Canton this week.
Playoffs format changes
The MHSAA's Representative Council has approved an adjusted format for this season’s football playoffs to accommodate the shortened regular season that began late due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Teams will have a six-game regular season with all teams eligible to play at least one postseason game.
There will be as many postseason games as regular-season games for the first time in history, with three district rounds, a regional final, a semifinal game, and a state championship game on the weekend of Dec. 4-6.
Teams have been placed in prearranged divisions based on enrollment. Teams in districts will be seeded Nos. 1-8 based on playoff-point average and the teams with highest averages will host at the district and regional levels.
Postseason play will get underway on Oct. 30 with district finals set for Nov. 13-14, regional finals on Nov. 20-21 and state semifinals on Nov. 28.
Longtime Detroit Country Day coach Dan MacLean made up a new term when he said two of his tailbacks who also started as cornerbacks were placed on the COVID disabled list.
The players didn’t test positive for COVID-19 but they were around students who had, forcing them to be quarantined for two weeks.
Country Day, which didn’t play in Week 1 since it had students testing positive, defeated U-D Jesuit, 21-12, on Saturday.