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It's time! Meet the top 20 teams in Michigan high school football


David Goricki   | The Detroit News

The Detroit News breaks down the top 20 high school football teams (2019 record in parentheses).

1. Belleville (12-1, Division 1)

Belleville is coming off back-to-back 12-1 seasons that ended each time in the state semifinals. After back-to-back regional titles, the Tigers are looking to finally take the next step.

Head coach Jermain Crowell feels he has the team to reach that goal, led by five-star defensive tackle Damon Payne (Alabama), four-star linebacker Jamari Buddin (Penn State), four-star junior safety Myles Rowser — who returned from IMG Academy in Florida — and three-star junior cornerback Deshaun Lee on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, four-year starting quarterback Christian Dhue-Reid directs a powerful attack.

More: Detroit News top team: No. 1 Belleville has all the weapons for run at first state title

2. West Bloomfield (10-2, Division 1)

Coach Ron Bellamy guided West Bloomfield to the Division 1 state championship game in 2017, a 3-2 loss to Oakland Activities Association Red rival Clarkston, before getting pushed to the sidelines the past two years by Belleville in the regional championship.

“We have to get over the mountain top. Our two losses to Belleville, that’s something that has plagued us,” Bellamy said. “We’re motivated to get over that. We know what it takes and it’s just a matter of staying healthy and the kids doing the right thing. If this thing works in our favor, we have a shot to really make some noise this year.”

Bellamy lost a lot of talented players from last year’s team, including linebacker Cornell Wheeler and safety Makari Paige to Michigan, quarterback C.J. Harris to Ohio University and defensive end Sterling Miles to Cincinnati. But West Bloomfield still has plenty of talent left to make another long postseason run.

In fact, West Bloomfield showcases the best running attack in the state with four-star back Donovan Edwards and four-star junior Dillon Tatum leading the way.

“They are both very explosive backs; they both come with a high skill set,” Bellamy said.

Edwards, ranked the No. 2 running back in the nation by 247Sports, rushed for 1,326 yards and 16 TDs last season, averaging nine yards a carry to earn a spot on The News Dream Team.

Tatum, who is also a starter in the secondary, has 4.6 speed and 30 offers, including Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State.

West Bloomfield returns four of five starters on the offensive line, including four-star sophomore Amir Herring and 6-2, 320-pound Caidon Haliburton. Senior Alex Short takes over for Harris at quarterback.

“Backing up C.J. was a great learning experience," Short said. "He showed great leadership, was an awesome athlete, so I’m just trying to transfer a little bit of him to me, so I can lead the team to a state championship.

“I feel I have a strong arm and speed is one of my good attributes. I also feel having such great running backs and linemen makes the game a little bit easier for me. I can trust everyone around me. I know that Donovan, Dillon and all the other running backs know what they’re doing, the same with the linemen, just makes the game easier.”

The defense will be led by four-star end Michael Williams, end Chris Johnson, tackle Jaden Green, linebackers Jordan Hoskins and Travis Reece, and safety Gavin Hardeman (Air Force).

More: Detroit News high school football rankings: Preseason

3. Detroit Cass Tech (7-5, Division 1)

A strong final third of the regular season helped Cass Tech reach the state playoffs for the 12th straight year, actually winning a district championship before a 9-7 regional final loss to Sterling Heights Stevenson.

Thomas Wilcher’s team was 2-4 and struggling, and missed the PSL playoffs before winning its final three regular-season games, including a 49-14 win—

Now, Cass Tech is primed for another deep run — the Technicians won state titles in 2011, ’12 and ’16 — with Power Five talent leading the way, including Michigan-bound center Raheem Anderson (6-3, 300), the Penn State-bound King twins — cornerback Kalen, linebacker Kobe — and 6-5, 320-pound offensive lineman Terrence Enos (Pittsburgh).

Sophomore Leeshaun Mumpfield will be the quarterback and he will be protected by Anderson, Enos and three-star juniors Masai Reddick (6-4, 285) and Jackson Pruitt (6-5, 285).

Kobe King could be the featured back with the graduation loss of Donny Scott, with Alvin Hosendove also getting some carries. The top receivers are juniors Nate Briggs and Jameel Gardner.

Josh Hernandez will be a weapon as a placekicker, kicking five field goals and 41 PATs while averaging 37 yards a punt.

“The strength is our kicking game and the offensive line,” said Wilcher, pointing out that Hernandez has been kicking 50-yard field goals this summer.

Toledo-bound defensive tackle Doran Ray (Toledo) and defensive end Clarence Wilson anchor the defensive line, along with 6-6, 300-pound Deone Walker, who has offers from Michigan and Pitt. Kalen King will be joined by Eric McGee, Miles Gilmore and sophomore Javen Sewell in the secondary.

4. Clarkston (3-6, Division 1)

Clarkston missed the state playoffs for the first time since 2002 and wants to get back to the state championship game. The Wolves have made four trips to the Division 1 state title bout, winning titles in 2013, ’14 and ’17 and losing to Chippewa Valley in ’18, 31-30.

No one was more thrilled to see the season come back to fall than Kurt Richardson, knowing he will have four-star two-way linemen Rocco Spindler (Notre Dame) and Garrett Dellinger (LSU) to work with for the final time. Both players plan to enroll early in college.

Richardson knew Clarkston would take some lumps last season while playing with young players who now enter the 2020 season with experience, including 6-5 junior quarterback Mike DePillo and 6-4, 260-pound sophomore tackle Cole Dellinger, who has offers from Michigan, LSU and Michigan State and is the younger brother of Garrett Dellinger.

Center Owen Foster and Ben Haas also return up front to open holes for sophomore Ethan Clark while giving DePillo time to look for 6-6 tight end Blake Kosin (Northern Illinois) and receiver Logan Forbes.

“It’s great to have Rocco and Garrett back. In fact, we have all five linemen back which is our strength, and we expect big things from Mike DePillo, who gained great experience last year,” said Richardson, who starts his 34th season with a 259-95 career record.

5. Detroit King (11-3, Division 2)

King bounced back nicely after an 0-2 start (losses to Detroit Catholic Central, Muskegon) last season, earning the PSL championship while advancing to Ford Field for the fourth time in the past five years to compete for a state championship. The Crusaders lost to Muskegon Mona Shores in the Division 2 title game after bringing home the trophy in 2015, ’16 and ’18.

Dante Moore had an outstanding freshman year at quarterback, throwing for 2,731 yards and 33 TDs. He has junior Lynn Wyche-El returning at receiver and will also have a big threat in Rahiim Mersier, who has 4.5 speed.

“We have an experienced quarterback who is more confident, more vocal and more comfortable this year,” coach Tyrone Spencer said of Moore. “We’re also very experienced on the defensive line.”

Brandon Honorable, a 6-7, 315-pound tackle who is committed to Pittsburgh, will anchor a line that includes guard Kenneth Jackson (6-1, 330) and 6-3, 265-pound sophomore Johnathan Slack, who has offers from Michigan State, Kentucky and Memphis.

King returns seven starters on defense, led by four-star safety Jaylen Reed (Penn State), three-star tackle Esean Carter (Toledo), cornerback Rishad Hence (Akron), junior linebacker Blake Bailiff, who has an offer from MAC champion Miami University, and 5-11, 300-pound tackle Terence Maize. Reed will also be busy at running back this season.

6. Davison (12-2, Division 1)

Davison earned the Division 1 state title last season with a 35-25 win over Brighton and returns Northwestern-bound quarterback Brendan Sullivan, who ran for two TDs and threw a 74-yard TD on the big stage.

Sullivan is among seven returning starters on offense. He threw for more than 3,000 yards and 30 TDs, completing 14-of-19 passes for 290 yards in the championship game.

“It was his first year starting at quarterback and led us to the state championship,” coach Jake Weingartz said. “He played at 6-foot-3 and 180 last year and now he’s 6-4, 220 and he’s faster so he’s going to be pretty special. It’s huge to have an experienced quarterback like him; it’s like having another coach on the field."

Sullivan will have an experienced line in front of him with four starters returning in Isaac Norton, Lucas Edgar, CJ Brady and Yousef Dukulgy. He will also have a big target to work with in 6-3, 250-pound tight end Harry Unger.

Unger, who will play Air Force, is among eight starters back defensively, playing at defensive end. He made seven tackles in the title game. Junior cornerback JayLen Murray Flowers had five interceptions last season.

7. River Rouge (13-1, Division 3)

Coach Corey Parker guided River Rouge to the Division 3 state championship, pulling off a shocking 30-7 win over No. 1 Muskegon at Ford Field.

River Rouge beat Muskegon at its own game when quarterback Mareyohn Hrabowski ran for 175 yards (15 carries) and three TDs, stealing the spotlight from Muskegon quarterback Cameron Martinez, who is now at Ohio State.

Hrabowski, a Western Michigan commit, will operate behind a big, experienced offensive line, anchored by 6-3, 320-pound Jalen Johnson (Ball State), 6-4, 330-pound Chance Moore (Morgan State) and 6-5, 305-pound Tyer McMillian.

Hrabowski rushed for more than 1,000 yards and passed for more than 1,000 last season. His top receivers are Tayshaun Massey, who has 4.5 speed, David Martin and Jalen Holley. Charles Daniels is the No. 1 running back, replacing 2,000-yard rusher De’Andre Bulley. Daniels rushed for 750 yards and 10 TDs in limited action.

River Rouge returns its entire defensive line – Pius Odjudgo (6-3, 330), Mark Guilford (5-10, 245) and junior Devontae Miles (6-4, 265), along with Cincinnati-bound safety Armorion Smith (6-2, 195). Miles has offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Iowa State and several others.

“Chemistry is a big piece for our success, so chemistry and leadership and continuity are definitely our strengths,” Parker said. “Mareyohn puts a lot of his success on the backs of his offensive line. He’s a very confident passer right now, he’s throwing balls right now where he’ll let the ball go downfield, where last year he’d go with the underneath pass.”

8. Sterling Heights Stevenson (8-5, Division 1)

Stevenson put on a strong postseason showing, earning a Division 1 regional championship over Detroit Cass Tech before failing to protect a two-TD lead in a 34-27 overtime loss to eventual state champion Davison in a state semifinal.

Coach Justin Newcomb’s team won a state playoff game for the first time in 10 years and avenged an earlier loss to Macomb Dakota in the postseason after finishing fifth in the MAC Red with a 1-4 record.

Newcomb returns several key players from a year ago, including Michigan-bound tackle Giovanni El-Hadi, junior running back/receiver/safety Jordan Ramsey and linebacker/running back/receiver Jordan Kwiatkowski. Ramsey has offers from Cincinnati and multiple MAC offers; for Kwiatkowski it's Cincinnati, Syracuse and multiple MAC offers.

Newcomb also has the luxury of having a returning quarterback, junior Biagio Madonna, who threw for 276 yards and TD passes of 73, 73 and 67 in the state semifinal. He has a trio of receivers to work with in Justin Smith, Tommy Houston and Dylan Kleinedler.

Defensively, Stevenson returns six starters, including junior tackle Camerson Wilson, defensive back Tony Shumate, junior linebacker Adam LeDuc and end Josh Washington.

“If we stay healthy we have a chance to be every bit as good as last season,” Newcomb said. “Our top-end talent is special. Our quarterback (Madonna) has a big arm and we have some speed at the skilled positions.”

9. Oak Park (8-2, Division 2)

After winning the OAA White Division last season, Oak Park moves up to the ultra-competitive Red, which includes West Bloomfield and Clarkston.

Four-star tackle Rayshaun Benny will be opening holes for Michigan State-bound running back Davion Primm.

Benny also will anchor a defense line that includes 6-3, 280-pound two-way lineman K’von Dixon and 6-4, 220-pound end Marlon Dawson, who committed to MAC champion Miami.

Toledo-bound safety Jaylin Mines joins three-year safety Glen Cross and junior cornerback Charles Gillespie in the secondary.

10. Macomb Dakota (6-5, Division 1)

Dakota avenged a regular-season loss to MAC Red champion Chippewa Valley in postseason play before suffering a 38-35 loss to Sterling Heights Stevenson in the district title game.

Dakota has experience at the skilled positions, bringing back quarterback Zach Droski, who completed 9-of-12 for 130 yards and a TD in that predistrict win over Chippewa Valley.

Running back DJ Stepney (1,300 yards rushing, 14 TDs) and receiver Clinton Roberson (20 receptions, 457 yards) also return. Stepney and Roberson are Central Michigan commits, as is defensive back Eric Reese.

Junior receiver/running back Caiden Sloan is among seven returning starters on offense. He proved to be a weapon out of the wildcat formation last season.

Dakota also returns seven starters on defense, including linebacker Jack Murray (60 tackles, five sacks).

“We really like this team,” Coach Greg Baur said. “This team is very hungry and motivated to compete in a very tough MAC Red.”

11. Southfield A&T (4-5, Division 1)

All eyes will be on freshman quarterback Isaiah Marshall, who led the Southfield Falcons youth team to multiple national championships, receiving offers from Michigan, Kentucky and Maryland.

Marshall, son of former Birmingham Brother Rice and Northwestern running back Brian Marshall, didn’t have any 7-on-7s to get his feet wet, but he does have outstanding weapons to work with in three-star running back Rae’Quin Lee (Ball State), three-star receiver Robert Army (Iowa State) and receiver Jeff Bowens (Illinois State), playing behind an offensive line led by Caleb Banks (Arizona State).

“He’s ranked as one of the top two quarterbacks in the country for his age group and that’s a lot of pressure to handle, but he handles it well,” said Coach Tim Conley of Marshall. “Every day you see something that makes you walk away impressed with him.”

A&T returns five starters on defense, including 6-2, 270-pound lineman Abdul Jabbar (Akron) and three-star junior cornerback Dayvon Young, a transfer from Oak Park who has offers from Kentucky, Iowa State and Mississippi.

A&T failed to make the state playoffs last year, losing to Division 3 state champ River Rouge 31-24 in the regular-season finale. Conley thinks Marshall can put the team over the top this time around with a strong supporting cast.

12. Chippewa Valley (9-1, Division 1)

After earning the Division 1 state championship in 2018, Chippewa Valley repeated as MAC Red champs, but suffered multiple injuries, which played a role in its predistrict loss to Macomb Dakota.

Chippewa Valley will be led by the Howze twins, Buffalo-bound Quillen Howze (cornerback/receiver) and 6-1, 215-pound linebacker/tight end Jaillen Howze.

Coach Scott Merchant will have to replace 1,000-yard back Myren Harris and quarterback Josh Kulka with either Jack Donovan or Ryan Schuster operating the offense.

Other key players include running back Darryl Hawkins, junior receivers Zack Ernat and Maddox Altamirano, safety Dravin Wilson and linebacker Isaiah French.

13. Muskegon (13-1, Division 3)

Muskegon has a run of four straight state championship game appearances, winning the 2017 Division 3 state title over Farmington Hills Harrison, then falling to Detroit King in ’18 and River Rouge in ’19, finishing with a combined record of 40-2.

Amari Crowley, who has multiple MAC offers, replaces Cameron Martinez at quarterback. He will be working behind an offensive line led by Tayvid Elmore and Jamarrius Dickerson, with DJ Fondren at running back and Jeremiah Dault and Damari Foster at receivers.

Six starters return on defense, led by four-star junior end Dametrius Walker (6-5, 260), who has several Power Five offers, including Michigan State, Minnesota and Kentucky.

Coach Shane Fairfield also has an outstanding secondary in three-star free safety Tyreese Oakes, strong safety Julius Sims and junior cornerback Myles Walton, with all three holding multiple MAC offers.

14. Muskegon Mona Shores (12-2, Division 2)

Mona Shores won the Division 2 state championship last fall with backup Brady Rose stepping up to steal the show in the semifinal and title games after an injury to the starting quarterback.

Rose rushed for 205 yards and five TDs, also scoring on a two-point conversion with 17 seconds remaining for the difference in a 57-56 state semifinal win over Walled Lake Western. In a 35-26 state title game win over Detroit King, he rushed for 90 yards and three TDs, and threw for 122 yards and a score.

Rose, also a safety, returns where he is one of six starters back on offense and one of five on defense. He had a team-high 10 tackles and an interception in the state title game, giving him six interceptions on the season.

Rose will work behind an offensive line that includes center Bryce Sikkenga, and Mason Klos and Tre Word. Other top offensive players are receivers Keondre Pierce and Gary Humphrey, tight end Karsen Marihugh and running back Khyree Hamel.

15. Walled Lake Western (11-2, Division 2)

Michael Weiskopf takes over as head coach at Western and has the luxury of an experienced and talented quarterback.

Zach Trainor, a member of The News Dream Team, returns after completing 74.5 percent of his passes for 3,845 yards and 44 TDs, with just four interceptions, to lead Western to the Division 2 state semifinals, the shootout loss to Muskegon Mona Shores.

“Zach’s a great leader, his understanding of the game is tremendous, he’s like another coach on the field,” said Weiskopf of Trainor.

Trainor's top receivers are Justin Gabriel, Cameron Kinaia and Pierce Muthui-Edwards, a transfer from Harper Woods who will also play linebacker. Matt Vallieres (6-3, 260) and junior Zach Gammo (6-2, 240) will anchor the line.

Jake Dzialowski (linebacker), safety Carson Barringer and cornerback Jonathan Abele lead the defense, and Malachi Bolden returns on the defensive line. Aidan Vaughan will play linebacker and receiver.

“Carson Barringer, our free safety, is kind of running the show, getting everybody lined up," Weiskopf said. "Between him and Jake Dzialowski, those two guys right up the middle, sort of like baseball where if you’re strong up the middle you’re going to be good,”

16. Birmingham Seaholm (9-4, Division 2)

Seaholm made an impressive run to the Division 2 state semifinals before falling to Detroit King.

Seaholm returns the majority of its starters, including quarterback Caleb Knoer, who will be working behind a line anchored by Central Michigan-bound Caden DeWald (6-3, 265), three-year starter Nick Thoren (6-2, 235) and Jake LaBarre (6-3, 235).

Knoer rushed for 545 yards. Will McBride and Miles Mentag also return with McBride averaging 10.6 yards a carry and Mentag 6.3.

McBride and Mentag are also defensive backs with Jack Jurkovich active at the linebacker spot, getting in on 49 tackles and a team-high nine stops for lost yardage.

17. Saline (8-2, Division 1)

Joe Palka has put his program among the state’s best, going 60-10 the last six years, including a Division 1 state championship game appearance in 2014.

Saline — which enters the season with a 33-game SEC Red winning streak — is led by dynamic junior quarterback Larry Robinson leading the way. He is among seven starters back on offense. Robinson completed 75% of his passes for more than 1,200 yards and 15 TDs while averaging more than 10 yards a carry. He will have receiver Eric Peoples to work with, along with 6-4, 210-pound tight end Luke Darmos and running back Gavin Lytle, working behind an experienced line anchored by Kyler Blake-Jones (6-4, 270), a Grand Valley commit.

“Larry has a chance to be a real good player, he’s gotten bigger and stronger,” said Palka of Robinson, who has an offer from Central Michigan. “He could always throw and is a good decision maker, but now he can make a lot of plays with his feet, has the speed and is an excellent passer, so he’s the complete package.”

Robinson was among six sophomores who started last year, including two on the offensive line — Luke Masters (6-3, 260) and Giuseppe Gottfried (6-4, 270) — and running back Joshua Rush. 

Brett Baltus (tackle) and linebacker London Parrish lead the defense.

18. Grandville (7-3, Division 1)

Grandville has 16 starters back, led by all-conference running backs Cam Terry (1,200 yards, 13-yard average) and Marcel Love (850 yards), who is also an outstanding receiver and special teams threat.

Terry and Love will operate behind a line anchored by Caden Peters with Drew Betteridge at tight end.

Junior Ian Sanders and sophomore Carson Smith gained valuable experience at quarterback running the Wing-T last season after the starter suffered an early-season injury.

Linebacker Zac Vanderwest and linemen Caden Peddie and Donovan Hines lead the defense.

19. Rockford (8-2, Division 1)

Brent Cummings takes over for legendary coach Ralph Munger at Rockford. Munger owned a 332-109 record, ranking No. 6 all-time for career victories in state history, guiding Rockford’s program since 1992.

Cummings, who played under Lloyd Carr from 1999-2003 at Michigan, was an assistant coach with Munger the last 12 years, including the Division 1 state championship year in 2008.

Cummings will inherit a team that brings back the majority of its defense, including linebackers Cole Gleason, Ben Tadych and Caleb Broderick, along with linemen Alex Karas and Nick Higgins, and cornerback Luke McLean. Big things are also expected from junior strong safety Sam Watts.

Ethan Schroeder, Jay Kolekamp and tight end Brock Holwerda will anchor a line to protect first-year starting quarterback, junior Zak Ahern.

20. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (13-1, Division 4)

Coach Todd Kolster guided GRCC to its third state championship in the last four years and returns multiple standout players, including 6-5, 200-pound receiver Jace Williams, 6-0, 205-pound junior quarterback Joey Silveri and 6-4, 205-pound junior safety Nolan Ziegler, who has already committed to Notre Dame.

Silveri had a hand in 54 TDs last season, including six in a 44-0 Division 4 state championship game win over Detroit Country Day. The dual-threat quarterback either ran or threw the ball on 39 of GRCC’s first 40 plays in the title game.

Silveri threw for 2,845 yards and 34 TDs and rushed for 1,041 and 20 scores. Williams, who has 4.6 speed, grabbed three TD passes in the title game and Ziegler had 10 tackles after returning an interception for a TD in the state semifinals.

david.goricki@detroitnews.com