New Southfield school, Clarkston and West Bloomfield top teams in the OAA Red
Rochester – The Oakland Activities Association is now a 23-member league, down one from a year ago.
Due to the Southfield/Southfield-Lathrup merger into Southfield A&T the OAA will be a team lighter this fall but, nonetheless, heavy in the talent department as always. Rochester High School hosted OAA football media day on Friday welcoming in several squads with chances to challenge for spots in the state finals in late November.
“We’re excited to start a new tradition of winning, we’ve become a family fast” said Southfield A&T assistant Vernon Burden, who was on hand in place of coach Tim Conley, of the city’s new blended football program. “We’ll represent the whole city of Southfield with pride when we finally get out there on the field for real later this month.”
Conley and Burden come from Southfield’s program, which advanced to two Division 2 state semifinal appearances since 2008. Jason Solomon, Southfield-Lathrup’s coach last year, has joined Conley’s staff. Southfield went 7-4 in 2015. Southfield-Lathrup was 6-4.
A&T is in Division 1 and will be one of the favorites in the race for the OAA Red Division title. The Warriors are led by a slew of college recruits (sophomore quarterback Sam Johnson, junior tailback Eric McCarns, junior wide receiver Brandon Gray, senior linebacker Lorenzo McCaskill and senior offensive lineman and Ball State-commit Erick Eldridge, among many others).
Last season Johnson threw for 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns. Keith Powe, a senior linebacker, was Southfield-Lathrup’s leading tackler.
Defending Red Division champion West Bloomfield (9-1) and perennial state-power Clarkston (7-3) will compete with A&T for the league title in the OAA’s top division.
West Bloomfield lost 29 seniors off last year’s team. However, Division I-college recruits Davion Johnson (RB) and Garrett Winn (SB-CB) come back to seek a repeat.
Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson, entering his 30th season as the Wolves’ head coach and less than two years removed from repeat state championships, is chomping at the bit to get the upcoming season underway (practice starts Monday).
“I’m sick of all this pretend football, the 7-on-7s, the weight room, we want to get going with the real thing,” he said. “That’s what next week is all about, that’s what the end of the month is about when we open the season. And we’ll be ready.”
Rochester Hills Stoney Creek’s new coach Bob Lantzy, a legend in Macomb County coaching ranks from his successful multiple-decade tenure at Utica Eisenhower, was a major topic of discussion at Friday’s media day.
“I came back because I could, I came back because I love the game, I love the kids,” he said.
Lantzy was an assistant the past years at Romeo, following two years off after resigning his post at Eisenhower (302-116-1) in 2011. Stoney Creek (Red Division) was 3-6 last season.
Fellow legends of the sideline, Greg Carter at Oak Park (5-5) and John Herrington of Farmington Hills Harrison (7-3), and their respective teams will grapple for the White Division title. Harrison won the league title in 2015. Oak Park has Michigan-commit JayRaymond Hall (OL). Harrison has Notre Dame-commit Ovie Oghoufo (LB) leading its defense. Defending Blue Division champion Birmingham Groves (10-1) has moved up into the White.
Herrington (13 state titles) is trying to make the most of the fact that his historic program will be ending in three years with the offseason announcement that Harrison will be shutting its’ doors in 2019.
“To be honest, I’m simply happy to still have a school to coach at,” said Herrington chuckling of the rampant rumors last year of an imminent closing to Harrison. “I’m telling everyone, hey, if we’ve only got three seasons left of Harrison football, let’s try to make them some of the most memorable seasons our program has ever had. I’m okay going out like that.”
Expect Berkley (9-3), a team that won its’ first district title last year, to be the favorite in the Blue.