Clarkston set to repeat with Lake Orion Ready to Challenge
Rochester – The first Oakland Activities Association media day gave a few clues as to which teams would be the favorites in each of the three divisions – Red, White and Blue.
Clarkston is the defending champion in the Red Division and after the Wolves went on the capture the school’s first state football title in Division 1 they are the team to beat again in the Red.
Coach Kurt Richardson made a brief appearance at Friday’s news conference having had to fulfill a school related function but Richardson doesn’t need to spend much time promoting this year’s team. Led by D.J. Zezula, a three-year starter at quarterback, Clarkston will be a serious contender for another state title.
One publication already picked the Wolves as the state’s top-ranked team in the preseason.
Richardson said his offensive line, a force last season, will again be a strength of this year’s team.
Look for Lake Orion to take the title away from Clarkston should the Wolves slip. Lake Orion is coming off of a disappointing 7-3 season and has seven starters returning on defense. This unit is led by senior outside linebackers Jack Luby and Logan Shadia. Junior nose guard Justin Cathers will man an improved defensive line.
Bell said his team will “be big up front” and this will enable Lake Orion to be more physical. Three starting offensive linemen weigh 260 pounds or more.
The question is who will play quarterback. Bell might go with a two-quarterback system with senior Cameron Kostiz sharing time with sophomore Max Horneffer.
Bell said the sleeper in the division could well be West Bloomfield. The Lakers finished 5-4 last season.
The White Division has a newcomer in last year’s Blue Division champion Birmingham Seaholm. Seaholm is expected to find the going a tad tougher in what was considered one of the most competitive divisions the past two seasons.
Oak Park is the team to beat here as the Knights lost just one starting offensive lineman and return one of the state’s most dynamic players in John Kelly. Kelly, an all-purpose back, has been offered a scholarship by Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota, Cincinnati and Maryland. He is expected to take an unofficial trip to Minnesota this weekend.
Of Oak Park’s five losses last season none were by more than eight points.
Southfield, Farmington Hills Harrison and Rochester Adams, in that order, are the most serious challengers for the division title.
The decision to move Farmington from the White to the Blue makes selecting the Falcons as the favorite quite easy. Yes, Farmington did finish 2-7 last season but one can point to a number of injuries as a major source to that outcome. The Falcons return nine starters on defense and seven on offense. Junior
David Reese led Oakland County in tackles last season and quarterback Kyle Collins is a dual threat.
Coach John Bechtel would prefer his team make hay running the ball but when Collins does go to the air look for junior receiver Dez Fitzpatrick to be his main target. Though just a junior Fitzpatrick has received scholarship offers from Purdue, Indiana and Kentucky among others.
With Josh Holloman, one of the county’ top running backs back, Auburn Hills Avondale appears to be an upper division team but the Yellowjackets must replace all five starting offensive linemen.