Detroit News high school picks: Bulletin-board material could fuel West Bloomfield
West Bloomfield veteran coach Ron Bellamy had some bulletin-board material to work with after No. 1 Belleville defeated No. 2 Detroit Cass Tech 43-16 in a Division 1 regional final last Saturday.
Belleville (10-0) will play host to No. 4 West Bloomfield (9-1) in a state semifinal Saturday for the right to move to play in the state championship game at Ford Field on Jan. 23.
Belleville never has played for the state title, while West Bloomfield competed for the ultimate trophy at Ford Field back in 2017, losing to Oakland Activities Association Red rival Clarkston, 3-2.
Belleville ended West Bloomfield’s season the last two years, earning a 13-10 regional final win in 2018, and then a 27-22 victory in last year’s regional championship game.
Donovan Edwards, who is considered the nation’s No. 2 running back and is headed for Michigan, is playing his best ball, rushing for a career-high 245 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday’s 52-14 regional final win over Romeo.
So, how good are the teams? Well, Belleville is 44-3 the last four years and West Bloomfield, 39-9.
Belleville quarterback Christian Dhue-Reid is the state record holder for career TD passes (137), completing 13-of-20 passes for 199 yards and three TDs in the win over Cass Tech, getting the job done without all-state receiver Deion Burks, who opted out to get ready for college at Purdue.
Dhue-Reid showed he still had plenty of weapons to work with, spreading the ball around to five different receivers, including TD tosses of 5 and 8 yards to Tyree Lockett and a 6-yard TD pass to Rashad Wilson to open up a 15-3 lead to set the tempo.
And, while Belleville coach Jermain Crowell gave West Bloomfield high praise after the game, saying, “I feel West Bloomfield’s the most explosive team,” noting West Bloomfield has outscored its four postseason opponents by a 213-23 margin, Dhue-Reid gave West Bloomfield that bulletin-board material.
“This (regional final against Cass Tech) was almost like a state championship (game),” Dhue-Reid said. “I feel like whoever won this game is going to win the state championship anyways, so we just had to get that over with early.
“We plan on not holding anything back against West Bloomfield since they’re a pretty good team with good players so we’re going to give it our all.”
Dhue-Reid has completed 71% of his passes this season for 2,485 yards and 40 TDs with just one interception.
Belleville’s secondary could be shorthanded since four-star safety Myles Rowser missed the Cass Tech game due to a death in the family and his status is unknown for Saturday. Junior cornerback Christian Rapley suffered a shoulder injury with Charles Wilson replacing him.
Bellamy knows what that bulletin-board material can do, hurting West Bloomfield in the state championship game a few years ago.
“I got those quotes, the damage has been done since I have the screenshot saying this is the state championship,” Bellamy said of Dhue-Reid. “Honestly, that’s motivation. I’ve been there. When we lost to Clarkston 3-2 (in state title game), I remember we were sucked into saying that after we beat Cass Tech (9-7) in the semifinals to go to states, everyone was saying ‘this is the state championship game,’ and we got our butts kicked.”
Alex Short, Edwards, Dillon Tatum and freshman Rick Nance took turns at quarterback for West Bloomfield Saturday — with Edwards and Tatum working out of the wildcat — leading Bellamy to say that Nance has “a big arm and he’s athletic, a kid who definitely has a bright future.”
Bellamy was also impressed with the play of defensive tackle Jaden Green and linebacker Jordan Hoskins (Missouri State).
“We played at Ford Field before and the one thing that I learned is that your defense has to travel on the road and we’re hoping that’s the case on Saturday,” Bellamy said. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for Belleville. They are rolling (Belleville has outscored its postseason opponents by 177-48 margin) so this is the biggest team we've faced. We’re going to continue to be the team we are and play smart, sound, fundamental football.
“Our defense is playing well and there’s two kids who are playing extremely well, our whole defense is playing well. Jaden Green, who is our defensive tackle, and Jordan Hoskins who I feel is an all-state linebacker. You put the film on, and I haven’t seen a linebacker that looks like Jordan from the state of Michigan this year.”
Pick: Belleville by 2.
River Rouge (8-1) at No. 20 Chelsea (10-0)
This Division 3 state semifinal is a rematch of a year ago when River Rouge earned a hard-fought 14-7 win and went on to defeat Muskegon 30-7 in the state title game at Ford Field.
River Rouge coach Corey Parker is upset his team has to go on the road Saturday since state semifinal games in past years were played on neutral sites.
“We’re excited to see Chelsea again, they are a great team,” Parker said. “The neutral site rule is now out of play so it comes down to the team which has the most playoff points and I don’t think that’s fair.
“No one should have that (home-field) advantage for the semifinals, and since we use that Legacy Center (in Brighton) so much why don’t we host a semifinal game at the Legacy Center where it’s indoors and it won’t be as cold, that’s my thought. We’ve never played a semifinal at somebody else’s home field. It’s always been neutral where both teams’ fans can be comfortable and neither team is comfortable with the environment.”
Parker said River Rouge’s 33-30 regional final win over Detroit King on Saturday was “an instant classic,” with Tayshaun Massey’s 25-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining the difference.
Western Michigan-bound quarterback Mareyohn Hrabowski, who was the hero in last year’s state championship game win, rushed for 133 yards (22 carries), including TD runs of 43 and 11 yards, while hitting on all seven of his passes for 128 yards, highlighted by a 9-yard TD toss to David Martin who moved from receiver to running back, rushing for more than 100 yards in his first start in the backfield.
Chelsea scored on four of its first five possessions to take a 28-0 first half lead in its 38-22 regional final win over Flint Kearsley with dual-threat quarterback Griffen Murphy throwing for three TDs and running for another score.
Pick: River Rouge by 6.
Oak Park (4-6) at Warren De La Salle (6-4)
Greg Carter has enjoyed all kinds of success during his 25-year plus coaching career, earning multiple state championships at Detroit St. Martin de Porres (Class CC in 1995, ’96, Division 7 in 2001, Division 8 in ‘03) and leading Inkster to the Division 3 state title game in 2008 and to the Division 2 state championship game in ’09.
But, Carter hasn’t been able to duplicate that same success in his decade at Oak Park.
Still, Carter led Oak Park to its first regional championship in program history last Saturday when James Burnley found receiver Amari Harris for a long TD pass with 41 seconds left to turn a 23-22 deficit into a 30-23 win over Livonia Churchill.
Now, Carter expects his offensive line to do a better job of blocking for Michigan State-bound running back Davion Primm after playing for the first time in eight weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.
Oak Park will be playing Warren De La Salle for the third time in the postseason in the last four years, with De La Salle winning the previous two showdowns, 14-7 in a Division 2 regional final in 2017 and 35-7 in a district final in ’18.
De La Salle has won 14 straight postseason games, winning Division 2 state titles in 2014, ’17 and ’18.
“They are a program where we want to be because they’ve played in state championship games and won them so they are a program that knows how to get it done, how hard the work is and what it requires so I give them credit for that, but I don’t think De La Salle really has our number,” Carter said.
“I feel we should have beaten them that first time (14-7 loss in ’17). It’s not like we’ve had anyone of our kids that have played against De La Salle since Rayshaun (four-star, two-way lineman Benny) was injured (in 2018 game).”
De La Salle is led by 6-foot-4, 190-pound sophomore quarterback Brady Drogosh, who completed 9 of 17 passes for 221 yards and three total TDs in De La Salle’s 45-3 regional final win over Warren Mott.
“He’s not young anymore, seems like we’ve had three seasons with all the starts and stops so he’s like a junior,” Carter said of Drogosh. “I feel the team that plays really good defense and stops the run for the most part will more than likely win the game.”
Pick: Oak Park by 2 (OT)
No. 8 Muskegon (9-1) at No. 10 DeWitt (10-0)
Muskegon knows the blueprint on how to get to Ford Field, playing for the Division 3 state championship the last four years, winning the title in 2017.
Last year, Muskegon defeated DeWitt 28-21 in the state semifinals before the state title game loss to River Rouge.
The state semifinal will be DeWitt’s first game in nine weeks. It moved on when Stevensville Lakeshore opted out of the regional final, while Muskegon earned a 24-0 win over East Grand Rapids on Saturday.
DeWitt is led by quarterback Tyler Holtz and Muskegon, defensive back Tyreese Oakes.
Pick: DeWitt by 4.