Top games: Dearborn attempts to end three-game losing streak to Fordson
Dearborn – If you’ve ever lived in Dearborn or attended the Dearborn public schools there is nothing like the Dearborn-Dearborn Fordson week.
The teams will renew their rivalry on Friday when Fordson (7-0), ranked No. 10 in State Champs’ top 25 rankings, hosts Dearborn (6-1) at 7 p.m. An added incentive is that the winner will claim the Western Wayne Athletic Conference championship. Dearborn (5-0) is the Blue Division champion, Fordson (5-0) won the Red.
Fordson won last season’s game, 28-14, and there are those in the Fordson camp who would state that this series is not a rivalry in its true sense. The reason they would give is that in order to have a true rivalry each side would have to test the other on a regular basis.
Fair or not, let history be the judge. From 1979 through 1996 the schools never played each other in football. It could be argued that Monroe was Fordson’s biggest rival during this time (both were members of the Border Cities League, which ceased to exist after 1972, and also the Great Lakes 8 Conference). Should one point to a city rivalry Dearborn Edsel Ford, the third public high school in Dearborn, could be considered a rival but even Fordson and Edsel Ford didn’t play eight seasons during Dearborn’s absence.
Since ’96 Dearborn and Fordson have played every season, sometimes twice due to the playoffs. Fordson has won three straight after losing 24-14 in a Division 1 pre-district in 2012. The last time Dearborn won during the regular season was 2010 (30-12). Fordson owns the series record, 26-11.
Fordson is led by quarterback/defensive back Hamze Elzayat, a State Champs Mr. Football candidate.
Dearborn counters with Mikey Phillips at quarterback. Phillips has thrown 18 touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Phillips’ father, Michael Phillips, was Fordson’s starting quarterback in the early 1990s and Dearborn coach John Powell coached 10 seasons at Fordson under Jeff Stergalas and Fordson’s current coach, Walker Zaban.
“This group of seniors are so good,” Powell said. “They work hard. They took their lumps early. When they were sophomores I brought seven of them up (to varsity) after their first two games on the junior varsity. When they got together in the weight room they created a bond.” Pick: Fordson by 6.
All games are Friday at 7 p.m. unless noted.
Byron Center (6-1) at Zeeland East (6-1): Byron Center can clinch at least a tie for first place in the O-K Conference Green Division title with a victory. East will clinch a share with a victory and another one next week against Zeeland West. Easier said than down. Pick: East by 2.
Clarkston (5-2) at Lake Orion (5-2): One of the top rivalries in the state has been one-sided lately. Clarkston has won five straight in this series. The streak continues. Pick: Clarkston by 7.
Grand Rapids West Catholic (6-1) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (7-0): These teams are 4-0 in the O-K Blue Division with another division game still remaining. These teams haven’t played since 2009. Before that they had played every season since 1964. It’s great this rivalry is back. Pick: W. Catholic by 6.
Menominee (7-0) at DeWitt (6-1): The Panthers won the CAC Red Division title and now they get ready for the state playoffs by playing a team that could well win the Division 5 title. Last two seasons DeWitt played Kingsford from the Upper Peninsula. Menominee is a step up. Pick: DeWitt by 4.
Rockford (5-2) at East Kentwood (4-3): Not necessarily a win or else game for East Kentwood. If the Falcons lose here they can still get in with a 5-4 record with Caledonia (3-4) still on their schedule. The Rams are playing their best right now and that trend continues. Pick: Rockford by 8.
Sterling Heights Stevenson (1-6) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (4-3): The Big Reds were supposed to be in a rebuilding season and here they are, two victories from clinching a playoff spot. Coach Scott Merchant deserves much of the credit and the big payoff will come next season when his young team matures. Pick: Chippewa Valley by 8.
Wyoming (4-3) at Greenville (5-2): Greenville had better treat Wyoming, and this game, as its most important game of the season. Wyoming defeated Greenville 44-34 last season. A Greenville victory would put the Yellow Jackets in the playoffs for the first time in 2010 and sixth time in school history. Since Wyoming Park and Wyoming Rogers merged after the 2011 season Wyoming High has not qualified. Should Wyoming win the Wolves just might get in as they play Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern (2-5) in the ninth week. Pick: Greenville by 3.
Traverse City Central (7-0) vs. Birmingham Brother Rice (4-3) at Berkley: Brother Rice needs this game to keep its playoff hopes burning. Central has played a competitive schedule (defeated state ranked Portage Central and rival Traverse City West). Brother Rice’s defense has been consistent all season. Pick: Brother Rice by 3.
Detroit King (6-1) vs. Detroit East English Village Prep (4-3) at Detroit Northwestern, Sat., 3: Yeah, I know. These teams played last week. And if East English makes the state playoffs they could meet a third time as they will both compete in Division 2. This is a PSL semifinal and the winner advances to…well, we haven’t got that far. Pick: East English by 2.
Last week’s record: 8-2.
Season record: 48-22.