Top games: Seaholm, Brother Rice to play rare regular season game
Birmingham – Coach Jim DeWald is not a doomsayer when he says that the future of high school football could be in trouble.
If fact what he did by scheduling his Birmingham Seaholm team to play Birmingham Brother Rice during the regular season for the first time since the late 1960s is good for high school football in southern Oakland County, and the state overall.
Seaholm will host Brother Rice on Friday at 7 p.m.
Bother Rice leads the series, 7-1. The teams last met in the 2013 Division 2 playoffs and Brother Rice won, 34-7.
The last time they played during the regular season was in ’69 and Brother Rice won, 38-14.
Seaholm’s victory was a memorable one. Doug Fraser was the coach and the Maples scored a major upset with a 14-13 victory in a 1993 Class A first game (pre-regional) game.
This is DeWald’s fifth season as Seaholm’s head coach. The perception is that those who ran the program before DeWald were fearful of Brother Rice. That playing one of the state’s premier programs would somehow be detrimental to their own.
The schools are a mile apart yet still they seemed worlds away. One school (Seaholm) is public, coeducational with an enrollment of 1,375. The other is an all-male private school with an enrollment of 650. Therein lies the difference. This situation is not unusual. Would one not expect Warren Mott or Warren Cousino, two Class A, coeducational public schools in Macomb County, to schedule Warren De La Salle, an all-male private school.
DeWald said that this was the first time both schools could fit this game into their schedules, at least since he took over. He said he wants his players to prepare for Brother Rice just as they would for any team in the league (Oakland Activities Association) and not treat Brother Rice like a team on a pedestal.
Brother Rice was 2-7 in 2015, the program’s worst record since 1964 (1-7) so it would seem this is a good time for Seaholm to match up with the Warriors.
That leads us to another program facing DeWald and that’s participation. He was 18 seniors, 15 juniors and three sophomores on his team. He said he will likely move two or three of those juniors to the junior varsity to give them more playing time and better prepare them for next season. DeWald had 105 players last season split up among the three levels. He has 82 this season. This has become the norm. In an unscientific survey conducted by State Champs of approximately 60 coaches in the preseason, 85 percent said participation is down.
“I hope it’s not a trend,” DeWald said. “We’re in a dogfight trying to get kids to play multiple sports. It’s specialization. It’s a combination of (the fear of) concussions and specialization.”
Specialization in sports like lacrosse, volleyball, baseball, softball and soccer has effectively eliminated many potential multisport athletes.
Concussions that take place in numerous sports is akin to the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Few want to look the beast in the eye. It’s there and won’t go anywhere. In football part of the solution is to continue to teach the student-athletes how to block and tackle properly. DeWald hired a rugby coach, Jim Clawson, to do just that. If the topic of concussions isn’t approached properly the growing trend of students not wanting to participate in football is likely to grow. Pick: Brother Rice by 16.
Here are nine other top games this weekend.
All games at 7 p.m. unless noted.
Holt at Grandville: There are better games on opening night but this game will go far in determining the fate of each team. Holt gave up 105 points in its final two games last season to miss the playoffs. Grandville won its last four to get in at 6-3. Holt has Hudsonville the following week. Pick: Grandville by 5.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s at Macomb Dakota: No. 2-ranked St. Mary’s might have picked the wrong opponent to open the season. Defensively, St. Mary’s is as good as any. Offensively the Eaglets aren’t nearly as impressive. Junior quarterback Cayden Priestkorn will start his first game for St. Mary’s after transferring from Lake Orion. There’s certain to be a transition period. Dakota has better depth and home field advantage. Pick: Dakota by 4.
The Battle of the Big House
Detroit East English Village Prep vs. Brighton at Michigan Stadium, 4: Early in the season one would be wise to go with the teams with more experience. East English returns its entire offensive line. Brighton is young and a year away from seriously contending for the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West Divisions title. Pick: East English by 6.
East Grand Rapids at Grand Rapids Catholic Central: Finally. Finally, Catholic Central has a home field. No more playing at Houseman Field or some school’s field that the Cougars would call home for a day. And what better way to open the new facility than to host another Class B power in the area, East Grand Rapids. Let the tail-gating begin. Pick: Catholic Central by 2.
The Battle of the Big House
Clarkston vs. Lapeer at Michigan Stadium: Two top 25 teams find out quickly just where they stand. It would appear that Clarkston has the edge because the Wolves return more starters. Lapeer will need a couple of weeks to give its young players time to get used to the speed at the varsity level. Pick: Clarkston by 8.
Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State
River Rouge vs. Chelsea, noon: The Panthers reached the Division 5 final and Chelsea made it to the Division 3 final. Both lost. As far as personnel, Chelsea lost more. River Rouge should be better than it was a year ago. Pick: River Rouge by 9.
Southfield for the Arts and Technology vs. Detroit King, 3: Will King play Detroit Cass Tech in the Detroit Public School League final again? Possibly. East English might have something to say about that. Southfield A&T has so much depth and talent it could field two competitive teams. Pick: A&T by 13.
Oak Park vs. Detroit Cass Tech, 6: The Technicians have some unfinished business to attend to. Losing in the PSL final and the Division 1 final left them wanting for more. Anything less than those two titles will be a disappointment. Oak Park could start slowly on the offensive side as the Knights are going with a sophomore (Dwan Mathis) at quarterback. Mathis had better keep his poise as he’s going against the state’s top secondary. Pick: Cass Tech by 7.
Battle of the Big House
Ann Arbor Pioneer vs. Muskegon at Michigan Stadium: Two top 10 teams finished the weekend off in style. Muskegon will have its hands full trying to stop Pioneer’s running backs, up to five or six, led by Antjuan Simmons. Pioneer will have its hands full trying to stop Kalil Pimpleton, at quarterback, slot receiver and returning kicks. Pick: Muskegon by 1.