In Play with Tom Markowski


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Top 10 Games: Brother Rice-C.C., and the battle of Grosse Pointe are headliners

By: Tom Markowski, September 22, 2016, 6:02 pm


Forget the state playoffs for a minute. This week there are at least six teams that will do just that.

The tradition that is high school football will rise to a level the playoffs can’t touch in places like Grosse Pointe, Montague and for two of most storied programs.

Let’s begin in Berkley where Birmingham Brother Rice (3-1) will play No. 2-ranked Detroit Catholic Central (4-0) in a Catholic League Central Division game on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Hurley Field in Berkley is Brother Rice’s home field.

These teams have combined for 18 state titles and, once upon a time, met in what is known as the Boys Bowl. Although the Boys Bowl, as we used to know it, no longer exists, due to the bad behavior of a number of the student body, Brother Rice and C.C. continue to play each season.

(Note: Catholic Central continues to host its annual Boys Bowl but the opponent, from the Central Division, changes from year to year. This season Warren De La Salle will be C.C.’s opponent in the annual event.)

Brother Rice leads the series 30-29-1. C.C. won last year, 35-7, but Brother Rice won the previous four.

In Grosse Pointe no game in any sport is bigger than North-South. At one time there was just one public high school in Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe High. In the late 1960s Grosse Pointe North opened its doors and the school began sponsoring varsity football in 1968. Grosse Pointe South and Grosse Pointe North have played 47 games and North, which competes in the Macomb Area Conference Blue Division, leads the series, 29-18. South (4-0), a member of the MAC White, has won five of the last six and is favored to make it six of seven.

“It’s definitely a playoff game,” longtime North coach Frank Sumbera said. “It’s to see who can smile for the next 365 days in Grosse Pointe.

“South has turned it around the last few years. It’s a great rivalry. Everybody knows everybody. The coaching staffs know each other. Four of their coaches used to be on my staff. Sometimes you look over on the other sideline and it seems like you’re playing yourself.”

South coach Tim Brandon spent 14 seasons as part of Sumbera’s program.

The game could be decided when North has possession. Sumbera returned four offensive linemen from last season and senior running back Jared Jordan has rushed for 930 yards and 10 touchdowns on 107 carries. South returned all four defensive linemen and they’re a physical bunch.

When asked what plans Sumbera has after the game he replied that he’ll either be with friends or near the Ambassador Bridge.


“If we lose I’m going to jump off,” he said.    

North (3-1) is the host team for Friday’s 7 p.m. start.

On the state’s west side, just north of Muskegon, the Montague-Whitehall game has been played 72 times with each program claiming victory 36 times.

Montague (4-0) will host Whitehall (4-0) on Friday at 7.

Both are members of the West Michigan Conference and Montague has owned its neighbors recently winning eight of the last nine.

Statewide Montague has also been the dominant of the two. The Wildcats won Division 6 titles in 2008 and ’09. Whitehall has never won more than nine games in a season.


C.C. by 19.

South by 7.

Montague by 8.


Here are some of the other top games this week. All games are Friday at 7 p.m. unless noted.


Ann Arbor Pioneer (1-3) at Monroe (2-2): This is a must-win for both Southeastern Conference teams. Both have Saline (4-0) left on their schedules and a loss here could eliminate the losing team from the playoffs. Pick: Pioneer by 6.

Grand Rapids Christian (4-0) at Cedar Springs (3-1): This O-K Conference crossover should unveil more information on both teams. Christian has been scoring points at a torrid pace (averaging 38.5 points per game) but some its competition has been suspect. Cedar Springs lost to Zeeland West, 14-9, and, with 4-0 Lowell next on its schedule, could be had-pressed to qualify for the playoffs should it slip to 3-2. Pick: Christian by 5.


Grand Ledge (3-1) at Jackson (2-2): Two-way back Shonte Suddeth spearheaded Jackson’s 2-1 start but he suffered an injury in the first half last week as Jackson lost to Lansing Sexton, 41-28. Suddeth is expected back in the lineup this week. Grand Ledge has been steady all season. Losing to Hudsonville (21-14) in the opener is no disgrace. Pick: Grand Ledge by 6.


Rochester Adams (3-1) at Farmington Hills Harrison (3-1): These OAA White Division foes were involved in two noteworthy games last week. Adams lost in overtime to Oak Park, 44-43, and Harrison surprised West Bloomfield, 28-0. It was Harrison’s margin of victory that forced many to take notice. Pick: Harrison by 6.


Romeo (3-1) vs. Utica Eisenhower (4-0) at Utica High: Eisenhower has been impressive in each of its four games. Romeo stumbled in its opener losing to Oxford, 27-26. Last season Eisenhower handed Romeo its only loss, 17-14, in the regular season finale. Pick: Eisenhower by 9.


Trenton (4-0) at Woodhaven (3-1): Woodhaven’s loss was to Allen Park (24-0) and Trenton needs a victory to keep pace with Allen Park. Trenton has exceeded expectations through four games. Woodhaven had won five straight in this series before Trenton’s 48-12 victory last season. Pick: Trenton by 4.


Detroit East English Village Prep (3-1) at Detroit Cass Tech (4-0), Sat., noon: Cass Tech has been tested one time and that came in its opener against Oak Park (42-27). The Bulldogs lost their opener to Brighton, 14-8. East English has been the odd-man out in the Detroit Public School League with Cass Tech and Detroit King ruling the roost. The Bulldogs play King next week. Pick: Cass Tech by 14.


Last week’s record: 6-4

Season record: 27-13