Top 25 HS football teams after Week 1 of 2018 season: Cass Tech, King, Muskegon, CC all win emphatically
Now that we’ve got a week under our belts to look at film, highlights and results, here are the top 25 football teams in Michigan:
1 Detroit Cass Tech (9-3 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — The Technicians pulled away in the second half to blow out No. 13 River Rouge, 40-7, at the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State on Saturday. If CT’s duo of Lew Nichols (CMU) and Jaren Mangham (Colorado) can rack up the yards behind a young, big line like they did against River Rouge, there aren’t many teams in the state that can stop them. Up next: At Ohio Lakewood St. Edward on Friday.
2 Belleville (10-1 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — The Tigers needed a last-second touchdown catch by Jalen Williams to beat Brighton, 40-35. Our preseason No. 1 team, Belleville drops to No. 2, but the change is more because of Cass Tech’s impressive showing than anything Belleville did. In fact, tests like Thursday’s were exactly why the Tigers, come playoff time, will probably be better off in the long run in their new conference, the Kensington Lakes Activities Association, with teams like Brighton that can knock you off, if you give them a chance. Last year, in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference, Belleville outscored its opponents 277-7. That does nobody any good. Up next: Thursday vs. Livonia Churchill.
3 Detroit King (11-2 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — Daquan Finn led King’s emphatic victory over an East St. Louis (Ill.) squad ranked No. 2 in Class 7A by the Associated Press, with his 440 total yards and six touchdowns leading the Crusaders to a 52-38 win. Backfield mates Nikoe James and Shondel Hardnett combined for 172 more yards on the ground. The Crusaders are going to need all those points next week. Up next: Friday at No. 4 Muskegon.
4 Muskegon (14-0 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — While most expected Finn to have those type of games, it was hard to know what to expect from Muskegon’s new QB, transfer Cameron Martinez. If he has more games like Friday’s, the Big Reds are going to be very hard to beat — again. All he did in his first game replacing outgoing Mr. Football La’Darius Jefferson was run for 293 yards and five scores in a 36-21 win over the defending D2 champ, Warren DeLaSalle. No biggie. Up next: Friday vs. No. 3 Detroit King.
5 West Bloomfield (11-3 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — The Lakers scored 23 straight points to pull away from a pesky Birmingham Groves squad on Thursday, before giving up a kick return for a score and another late touchdown for a 39-28 final. Donovan Edwards had nearly 100 yards and three touchdowns for West Bloomfield, which gets a rematch of last year’s Division 1 championship game, a 3-2 loss to Clarkston. The Lakers beat Clarkston, 37-16, in last year’s regular-season meeting. Up next: Friday at No. 9 Clarkston.
6 Oak Park (9-3 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — The Knights erased the bad taste from last year’s lopsided opening-game loss to Utica Eisenhower, beating No. 17 Ike, 31-13 at the Prep Kickoff Classic. Backup running back Phillip Stewart had 180 yards and a score on 14 carries Thursday, while Ohio State-bound Dwan Mathis threw for a touchdown and ran for two more. Up next: OAA White opener Thursday at Birmingham Groves.
7 Warren De La Salle (12-2 last season, 0-1 in 2018) — Despite the offensive fireworks from Martinez and crew, De La Salle only trailed by two, 23-21, with less than five minutes to go in the game. Really, the loss doesn’t mean much more than last year’s 36-6 defeat at the hands of Lowell did in the big picture: The Pilots will get better from playing a quality team, as they will again on Friday, when they meet Grandville. Up next: Friday vs. No. 14 Grandville.
8 Novi Detroit Catholic Central (8-5 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — In another of the marquee matchups of the first weekend, Detroit Catholic Central took on next-door neighbor Walled Lake Western at the Prep Kickoff Classic, and handled the No. 11 Warriors easily, 28-7. Keegan Koehler rushed for 249 yards and a pair of TDs after fumbling his first carry. The CC defense held a talent-laden Western squad scoreless in the second half, and to just 71 rushing yards on the game. Up next: Friday at Toledo Whitmer.
9 Clarkston (12-2 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — The defending D1 champs have a lot to replace almost everywhere, but everything begins and ends with the two starters who are back on offense: mammoth sophomore tackles Rocco Spindler and Garrett Dellinger. Those two helped pave the way for an offense that pounded away at No. 14 Grandville in the Battle at the Big House, forging a 12-9 win. The game was sealed when Clarkston punter Tristan Mattson alertly shoveled a botched punt snap out of the end zone for a safety. Up next: A D1 title game rematch Friday vs. West Bloomfield.
10 Mt. Clemens Chippewa Valley (10-2 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — Maybe only a tick below DeLaSalle as the best Macomb County team this season, if at all, Chippewa Valley needed a big effort from Michigan State-bound Marcel Lewis to get past always-tough No. 19 Saline. The highly-recruited linebacker caught the go-ahead touchdown pass as a tight end in a 31-26 road win. Up next: Thursday vs. Roseville.
11 Walled Lake Western (8-2 last season, 0-1 in 2018) — Not a lot went right in head coach Alex Grigon’s debut, as the talent-laden Warriors managed just one scoring drive in a 28-7 loss to No. 8 Detroit Catholic Central. Western struggled to run the ball, struggled to protect quarterback Sam Johnson, and struggled to stop the run. There’s still plenty of time for a course correction, though, as the Warriors hop right into Lakes Valley Conference play in Week 2. Up next: Thursday vs. Milford.
12 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (12-1 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — The last two seasons have started with shutout wins over Jenison, but this time around they dodged a bullet, as the Wildcats and quarterback Kyle Nott — who rushed for 207 yards and three touchdowns — almost upset the Rangers, who held on for a 21-19 win. Luke Majick threw for one score and ran for another in the Rangers’ win, while Evan Metaj sealed it with a last-second interception. Up next: Thursday vs. Holland West Ottawa.
13 River Rouge (10-3 last season, 0-1 in 2018) — Give the Panthers and head coach Corey Parker credit for not flinching away from taking on the biggest of big boys, but Saturday’s 40-7 loss to No. 1 Cass Tech at the Prep Kickoff Classic is what often happens when a Division 4 team — even a tremendously talented one like the Panthers — takes on a D1 squad. Daraun McKinney had the lone score for River Rouge, on a 55-yard run in the fourth quarter. Up next: Thursday vs. East English Village.
15 Farmington Hills Harrison (10-4 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — We probably didn’t learn much from Harrison scoring six times in the first 23 minutes of the game, beating district rival North Farmington — a team Harrison had beaten 17 straight times, and hadn’t lost to since 1978 — by a 41-0 margin. Well, except that Harrison is still good. Ben Williams and Vincent Rawls scored twice each, and Rod Heard once. Up next: Friday vs. Troy Athens.
14 Grandville (6-4 last season, 0-1 in 2018) — Coach Eric Stiegel’s Bulldogs were just a recovery of a botched punt snap away from knocking off the defending Division 1 champs, Clarkston, at the Battle at the Big House, but lost the grind-it-out defensive struggle, 12-9. As Wolves coach Kurt Richardson said, “That team’s going to score a lot of points.” The preseason slate before the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red season begins doesn’t get any easier for Grandville, with No. 7 Warren DeLaSalle and No. 12 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central upcoming. Up next: Friday at No. 7 DeLaSalle.
16 Muskegon Mona Shores (9-2 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — Sincer’e Dent ran 30 times for 223 yards and five touchdowns, as the Sailors outgained East Kentwood, 540-426, and led 48-19 with less than nine minutes remaining, before winning 48-38. The 215-pound senior wore down an East Kentwood defense that was trying to take away the run, and leave it up to a first-time starter at quarterback in Caden Broersma, who threw for 213 yards and a score. Up next: Thursday vs. Bay City Central.
17 Utica Eisenhower (11-1 last season, 0-1 in 2018) — The Eagles had trouble with the speed of No. 6 Oak Park in a 31-13 loss at the Prep Kickoff Classic, a rematch of last year’s 24-7 win. Thanks to the passing of Blake Rastigue and the receiving of Caleb Oyster (168 all-purpose yards), Eisenhower clawed back from an early 19-0 deficit, and had a chance to tie or take the lead in the third, before Oak Park put the game away. Up next: Thursday at Warren Cousino.
18 East Kentwood (5-4 last season, 0-1 in 2018) — The Falcons have a ton of Division I talent in the trenches, but they were the ones who were ground into submission in Week 1, with Mona Shores’ Sincer’e Dent pounding them for 30 tackle-busting carries in a 48-38. The silver lining for the Falcons is probably the three-touchdown burst in the fourth quarter to bring the deficit back to a two-score margin. Stephan Bracey had three of his four catches go for scores. Up next: Friday vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
19 Saline (7-2 last season, 0-1 in 2018) — Saline led 13-0 early and 19-14 at the half against No. 10 Chippewa Valley, before losing 31-26, giving coach Joe Palka a different vibe than last year’s season-opening shutout loss to Rockford. There are plenty of Game 1 miscues to clean up before the Hornets take on the two-time defending D4 champs this week. Up next: Friday vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
20 Macomb Dakota (7-4 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — The Cougars survived a failed fake punt from their own 21 late in the fourth quarter that set up a go-ahead touchdown for Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, as quarterback Mark Tocco hit Dustin Solomon with an 80-yard score to provide the margin of victory in a 28-24 win. It was the second long touchdown catch of the evening for Solomon. Up next: Thursday at Fraser.
21 Livonia Churchill (8-3 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — The Chargers won the rematch of last year’s KLAA title game, scoring off two of the three punts they blocked to beat Canton, 35-21. Joel Forgacs blocked two of the punts, and caught a touchdown pass from Drew Alsobrooks, who also hooked up twice for touchdowns with Avery Greiner. Up next: Thursday at Belleville.
22 Zeeland East (9-1 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — Chix quarterback Gabe Taylor threw for a touchdown and ran for another in the final six minutes of Zeeland East’s season-opener against East Grand Rapids, leading his team back from down seven to a 36-27 win. Up next: Friday vs. Detroit Douglass.
23 Lapeer (6-4 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — The Lightning couldn’t really get stud running back Jalen Kirkland going in the season-opener at the Battle of the Big House, but showed a diverse enough offense to hold off a late charge by a game Lake Orion squad, winning 17-7. Up next: Thursday vs. Midland Dow.
24 Harper Woods (3-6 last season, 1-0 in 2018) — The Rod Oden era at Harper Woods begins with a 46-7 win over Dearborn Divine Child. Up next: Friday at Detroit Voyageur.
25 Canton (10-2 last season, 0-1 in 2018) — The Chiefs ran for 309 yards as a team, paced by 123 yards by Steven Walker, and had three different players score on the ground, but had trouble with punt protection — getting three blocked — in a 35-21 loss to Livonia Churchill. The favorites in the KLAA West head directly into divisional play, taking on a Northville squad that knocked off Division 2 runner-up Livonia Franklin, 28-14, in Week 1. Up next: Friday vs. Northville.
Ten others to keep any eye on: Davison (1-0), White Lake Lakeland (1-0), Traverse City Central (1-0), Birmingham Groves (0-1), Southfield A&T (0-1), Livonia Franklin (0-1), Holland West Ottawa (1-0), Jackson Lumen Christi (1-0), Pewamo-Westphalia (1-0), Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1-0).