OAA White Division preview: As many as five teams will challenge for the title including Harrison and Oak Park
Here is a preview of the Oakland Activities Association White Division
Teams are listed alphabetically.
Birmingham Seaholm (4-5; 5th place OAA White)
Last season was the first time Seaholm didn’t make the playoffs since 2010.
By scoring fewer than 200 points it was the worst offensive output since 2009, and with a new starting quarterback in 2015 the Maples could struggle to score again.
Justin Newberry is expected to return as the starting running back, which is critical for coach Jim DeWald’s offense. Last season Newberry rushed for 517 yards and six touchdowns on 91 carries.
Seaholm gave up 282 points, which was the most in the program’s 66-year history.
With four teams over .500 last season and North Farmington in the mix, Seaholm has a tough road ahead. But it has historically been a successful program, so don’t rule them out of the playoffs in 2015 quite yet.
Farmington (7-3; 1st place OAA Blue)
After spending just one season in the Blue Division, Farmington is back in the White looking to compete for a division title.
Farmington has made the playoffs six of the last seven years. Although it spent a year away from the OAA White, head coach John Bechtel has high expectations for his team.
“I think we have a pretty good idea of what to expect,” Bechtel said. “We worry about ourselves. We know who the quality programs have been.”
This season Farmington will have a new starting quarterback, sophomore Andrew McGovern.
Fortunately for McGovern he will have several returning players to work with, including starting running back Kyle Brunson and offensive linemen Andrew Mcleod and Phillip Norris.
Last season Brunson was effective on offense and defense. Brunson had 646 yards and 10 touchdowns on 93 carries and he had 17 tackles.
Another key returner for coach Bechtel is David Reese, who plays running back, offensive line and inside linebacker. Reese, who committed to Michigan, led the team in tackles with 107 and he rushed 42 times for 297 yards and seven touchdowns.
Farmington has a lot of versatility and will look to use that to its advantage in 2015.
“We’re just like any other program. We just can’t wait to get started,” Bechtel said. “We’re entering the season with the idea that we can win it.”
Farmington Hills Harrison (10-3; 1st place OAA White)
Harrison is always in the mix in the OAA White division.
With 13 state championships and several players going on to play Division I football, Harrison is set up for another terrific season in 2015.
Last season Harrison outscored opponents 437-206, with Khalid Kareem, the recent Alabama commit, leading the charge on defense.
Coach John Herrington said he fully expects his team to be in the hunt for another title, with Oak Park, Farmington, Southfield and Rochester Adams as his team’s primary competition.
Herrington said his team should be all right, but he is a bit concerned about his defense.
“We won’t be as experienced as last year,” Herrington said. “We need to replace our secondary.”
Herrington also said his linebackers are relatively set, but there are also some worries about his defensive line.
In regards to key returners, Herrington named receiver Tyrone Lyte as someone to keep an eye on.
“(Tyrone) is as good as any wide out around,” Harrington said. “He has some of the best hands that I’ve seen.”
Special teams also figures to be a strong point for Harrison, as David Vinsky and Alex Bolstrum, the starting punter and place kicker, return for their senior seasons.
North Farmington (4-5; 6th place OAA White)
The previous decade has not been too kind to North Farmington football. Since 2005, it has only finished over .500 three times.
After finishing 5-4 in the Blue two seasons ago and making a playoff appearance, North Farmington returned to the White in 2014 with another losing record.
On a bright note for coach Todd Schultz 65 percent of his players return.
If North Farmington wants to start winning again, they will need to improve their record against division opponents. Last season they finished with a record of 2-5 against division rivals.
In such a tough division, expect a middle to lower tier finish for Schultz and North Farmington.
Oak Park (8-3; 2nd place OAA White)
Oak Park has become a force in the White.
Coach Greg Carter led his team to its third consecutive playoff trip and a share of the OAA White title.
Several players graduated from last year’s roster, but Oak Park is expected to remain competitive.
Oak Park plays division rival Harrison in its third game of the season. That game will have huge implications as to which team goes on to win the division title.
Rochester (1-8; 7th place OAA White)
Rochester finished last season with its worst record since 2009.
Another bottom tier finish could be in order for coach Erik Vernon.
Rochester has not made the playoffs since 2010 and has only had two winning seasons since 2000.
A team that allows over 300 points, as Rochester did last season, the first place Vernon must look to improve is on the defensive side.
Rochester Adams (5-4; 4th place OAA White)
Having a winning record in the White is a tough task but Adams coach Tony Patritto was not satisfied with his team’s 5-4 record last season.
This season Patritto expects his team to be back in contention for the division title and he knows that won’t be possible if his defense gives up 211 points again.
“We’ve never given up that many points in a nine-game schedule since I’ve been at Adams,” Patritto said. “We’re going to do our very best to shore things up on defense.”
Adams has missed the playoffs two of the last three seasons. It had qualified the previous 15.
“That’s always been our goal since I’ve been here is to win a division title,” Patritto said. “We know that with our schedule it’s a big challenge.”
Three-year starter Kyle Wood returns at quarterback and Patritto said they have very high expectations for him.
Adam Slating and Ben Petersmark will also be back this season and both need to play well in order for Adams to return to the post-season.
“Right now we’re really focused on our first game,” Patritto said. “I know there are some big time players committed to Alabama and Michigan (in our division), but that’s for later.”
Southfield (9-4; 3rd Place OAA White)
Last season Southfield dominated teams on both sides of the ball.
Southfield outscored opponents 402-160, and made it all the way to the Division 2 semi-final against Warren De Le Salle, where they lost 7-31.
Over half of last year’s roster has graduated, so it remains to be seen whether or not Southfield will be in contention for an OAA White title.
However, Southfield has made the playoffs four consecutive seasons so coach Tim Conley and his staff know what it takes to win.