Friday, August 28, 2015

Daelin Hayes definitely as good as advertised


By Evan Paputa
Football Editor

 

 
Fans of all ages entered Chuck Gordon Field on the campus of Westland John Glenn Thursday night with one burning question on their mind: how good is Daelin Hayes?

After watching four quarters chalk full of positive energy and passion for football, I can definitively say that the 2016 Ann Arbor Skyline athlete and USC commit Hayes is absolutely as good as advertised- he showed so on the first snap of the game.

Lined up at the left side of Skyline’s defensive line, Hayes read quarterback Nathan Szymanski’s handoff to Jaylen Smith. Without hesitation Hayes shimmied through the right tackle and guard and met Smith at the line of scrimmage.

“Oh. Oh. Oh… It was great,” Hayes said about the first play.


Daelin Hayes blows up a John Glenn run for a 2-yard loss on the first play. Big cheers from the crowd. pic.twitter.com/z7P0er52G4
— Evan Paputa (@EvanPaputa) August 27, 2015

Adding another element to Hayes’ outstanding Skyline debut was the Rocket offense literally and figuratively running away from him, scared. Despite John Glenn never running anywhere near him after the first play of the game, Hayes compiled six tackles and even forced a fumble.

All offseason recruiting analysts that projected him as a 5-star and number one player in the state of Michigan surely were curious of what his performance on the field would be after sitting out October and November at Cass Tech and playing minimally in the first three games at St. Bonaventure in California. They wondered if he would be able to match the hype that surrounded him at the 2013 Prep Kickoff Classic as a sophomore at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s competing against Oak Park.

Was it just hype or was it talent?

Hayes showed his unmatched athleticism when he chased a running back down that ran to the opposite sideline away from him, he showed his toughness by running the ball on third and short situations for first downs, he showed his football IQ by organizing Skyline’s formations on both sides of the ball, he showed his strength when he fought through double team blocks to get to the backfield, and he showed his love for the game by sprinting on to the field an hour before the game began.


Daelin Hayes says he will take official visits to USC and Notre Dame. Says Michigan State is still in the hunt. pic.twitter.com/y8lzc7iteD
— Evan Paputa (@EvanPaputa) August 28, 2015

The list could go on, but I’ll stop there. Hayes is every bit of 6’3 and 250 pounds. He played with a swagger and a humbleness that can’t be matched. He was the leader of the Eagles, emotionally and athletically, and was thrilled to finally be able to just play football.

For a 17 year-old kid that has caught more than a few bad breaks these past couple of years- including a season-ending injury as a sophomore and the Michigan-to-California-to-Michigan transfer last year- you’d never be able to tell while he sported a smile from cheek to cheek following the game.

“I am a blessed individual. These last two years I’ve been out- things that I haven’t had any control over- but you just have to take that in stride, that’s how life is. It’s not about how many times you get hit, it’s about how many times you get up,” Hayes said.

Although Skyline does not have much of a football tradition, the 38-14 win over John Glenn was only their tenth win in school history, there’s no reason why they can’t build something this fall. They showed lots of promise with quarterback Joe Bob Walker, running back Charles Jones, and Hayes.

With the first win out of the way, Hayes and Skyline can move on knowing that he left the field with a lot to be proud of. A great player, but an even better person.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Michigan High School Football Scores and Notes for Thursday, 8/27/2015 in Week 1

PRESEASON 2015 TEAM PREVIEWS
TEAM FOOTBALL RANKINGS
FOOTBALL SCHEDULES
MORE INFO / RECRUITING INFO

***Hit F5 to refresh screen on computer or reload page on mobile for updated results all night***


Dakota beats Clarkston 35-10
Michael Fluegel 2018 RB/CB scores 20 yard touchdown for Clarkston.  Clarkston enters game with 27 game winning streak on the line which is the longest in history of a Division 1 school since it was created by the MHSAA in 1999.  Brendyn Pittman added a 5 yard touchdown run with 4:55 before halftime.  With 3:11 to go in the 2nd quarter, Dakota 2017 RB/SB Kaiser Carleton scored a 25 yard touchdown run to give Dakota a 14-7 lead.  Clarkston got some late momentum to end the 2nd quarter when 2016 K Alex Kessman crushed a 56 yard field to trim their deficit to 14-10 with 56 seconds before halftime. Dakota didn't skip a beat in the 2nd half as Brett Droski found 2017 RB/SB Kaiser Carleton for a 34 yard touchdown reception to give Dakota an 11 point cushion.  Dakota tacked onto the lead early in the 4th quarter when 2016 RB/OLB Sonny Cooper punched in a 1 yard touchdown run to extend the Cougars lead to 28-10.  Late in the 4th quarter, 2017 RB/SB Kaiser Carleton struck again with a 9 yard touchdown run making the score 35-10.
Pershing beats Detroit Community 41-0
The D Zone's Branden Hunter was out at Northwestern HS for the Pershing vs. Community, which is two of three games there today.  Pershing's QB/DB Omar Twilley finished with 200+ yards rushing, 4 rushing TDs, and one INT in a win. Pershing 2017 RB, Nuke Crowell also scored a 33 yard touchdown and had a sack.
Detroit Northwestern beats Old Redford 6-0
Northwestern 2016 QB/WR "ATH" Danny Whitt found speedy slot, 2016 Michael Marion from 41 yards out to give the Colts a score that would hold until the end of the first quarter.  The game was played at Northwestern HS as part of a triple header.
Trenton beats Southgate Anderson 37-0
At Wayne State's annual Prep Kickoff Classic, Trenton jumped out to a big early lead with a TD pitch to Carl Olds from 7 yards out (video).  QB Patrick Czarnecki had a 1 yard TD run, a Safety, and with 4 minutes left before halftime.  Patrick Czarnecki found Kyle Slaughter for a 6 yard touchdown pass making the score 23-0 Trenton at halftime.  In the 3rd quarter Trenton 2016 DT/OT Dylan Pasquali returned an interception 7 yards for a touchdown. As the 3rd quarter wound down, Czarnecki found Jaylin Jordan from 11 yards out.
Chippewa Valley beats Lake Orion 35-28
2016 QB Pat Briningstool ran in from 6 yards midway in the 1st quarter at Prep Kickoff Classic to give Chippewa Valley an early lead.  Lake Orion 2018 QB Caden Prieskorn threw a 68 yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Wiggins to even the score and Danny White gave LO the lead at 14-7 but Chippewa Valley responded a 4 yard TD run by Senior Jordan Flakes with 2 minutes before the break.  Chippewa Valley came out strong in the 2nd half as just half way into the 3rd quarter.  Briningstool found Stefan Claiborne for a 55 yard touchdown to make the score 21-14.  2018 QB Caden Prieskorn bounced back with a 2 yard touchdown throw to even the score at 21 in the 4th quarter.  Briningstool again had Chippewa Valley in business as he threw a 42 yard touchdown to Jimmy Czarnick to make the score 28-21 with nearly 11 minutes left in the game. Wiggins would score again for Lake Orion but a Briningstool QB sneak in the final 4 minutes would prove to be the deciding factor.
Shrine beats Melvindale ABT 34-6
Score from MIPrepZone and Joe Lynch, Shrine QB Asher Smith scored on a 1-yard TD run twice in 3rd quarter. Joe Romano scored in the 4th quarter extending Shrine's lead to 27-6
Cesar Chavez beats Detroit Communication and Arts 38-6
Cesar Chavez's Omar Salih was 23/50 for 325 yards 3 td passes 1 rush td. Lewis McPhaul had 8 receptions for 120 yards 2 tds. Lee Shelby 6 receptions for 92 yards
Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard beats Harper Woods 49-6
North Farmington beats Pontiac 36-0
North Farmigton takes a 7-0 lead on Pontiac per Dan Fenner. North Farmington scored with a touchdown pass from Jared Fish to Mher Tcholakian.  North Farmington's Adam Dunning 1 yard TD run extended North Farmington's lead to 28-0 4 minutes into the 2nd quarter.
Grand Haven leads Fruitport 20-0 (1st Q)
Newaygo leads Muskegon Heights 7-0 (1st Q)
Scores coming in from Muskegon Classic All Star game account.
East English Village leads Walled Lake Central 56-20
WLC 55 yard touchdown run by Ethan Rodriguez to cut the score in half to 14-7 in the first quarter. Junior QB Delvin Washington found Iowa commit Cedric Lattimore and twice to WR Lindrell Mitchell for big play touchdowns.  James Ceasar tacked on a 85 yard touchdown reception seconds before the half ended.  Nate Boleware added a 45 yard touchdown run to make the score 35-7.
Ithaca beats Clare 42-14
2016 QB Jake Smith scored 7-0 run as Ithaca looked to bounce back after their 69 game winning streak was snapped in the 2015 State Finals. Smith later added a 2 yard TD run to make the score 14-0 late in the first quarter.  Jonah Loomis punched in a 5 yard touchdown and Smith found Nick Radak for a 20 yard touchdown catch. Updates from Gratiot Herald Sports.
Farmington beats Royal Oak 39-25 
Per Twitter user, Brendan Davis.  It's 6-0 3/4 into the opening quarter.  Michigan LB commit, David Reese broke free for a 48 yard touchdown run to give Farmington a 13-6 leads in the 1st quarter.
University of Detroit Jesuit beats Chandler Park 54-26
U of D 2017 FS/WR Scott Nelson scored the Cubs first 3 touchdowns of the game.
Grosse Pointe South beats Mumford 7-0
GPS 2017 WR/DB David Burnett returned an interception with .32 seconds left in the game to give the Blue Devils a thrilling 7-0 win.
Big Rapids beats Cadillac 17-14 in 2 OT
Dakota Sanders kicked a field goal in double over time in Big Rapids win over defending Conference Champions, Cadillac.

Clintondale beats Warren Lincoln 22-0
Walled Lake Northern beats Bloomfield Hills 57-0
Romeo beats Oxford 47-0
Denby beats Frederick Douglass 38-0
East Grand Rapids beats Grand Rapids Catholic Central 28-14
Wyandotte Roosevelt beats Gibraltar Carlson 31-7
Traverse City Central beats Bay City Western 42-13
Ravenna beats Kent City 62-7
Paw Paw beats Otsego 45-6
Battle Creek Lakeview beats Portage Northern 12-6
Richmond beats Marysville 20-12 Holly beats Berkley 29-7

Sterling Heights Stevenson beats Troy 34-3
Lincoln Park beats Woodhaven 27-12
Anchor Bay beats L'Anse Creuse 27-0 Byron Center beats Wyoming 44-26
St Clair Shores Lake Shore beats Port Huron Northern 32-27
Grandville beats Jenison 54-0
Grand Haven beats Fruitport 43-14
Chelsea beats Grand Rapids Northview 27-14 South Haven beats Sturgis 30-25
Portland beats Ovid-Elsie 29-7
Eisenhower beats Plymouth 38-24
Almont beats Dearborn Heights Annapolis 48-0
Birmingham Groves beats Seaholm 24-8
Hudsonville beats Holt 28-14
West Bloomfield beats Dearborn 59-31 
Algonac beats Marine City 19-18
L'Anse Creuse North beats Troy Athens 22-20
Edwardsburg beats Allegan 49-0
Bay City Central beats Swartz Creek 21-20
Dearborn Hts Star International beats Oakland Christian 27-14
Buchanan beats Wyoming Godwin Heights 20-8
Boyne City beats Mendon 38-14
Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker beats Capac 21-0
Coopersville beats Spring Lake 28-10
Mona Shores beats West Ottawa 55-0
Walled Lake Western beats Lowell 42-40
Alma beats Birch Run 22-16
Morley Stanwood beats Central Montcalm 54-21
Pewamo-Westphalia beats Madison Heights 26-25 Davison beats Fenton 29-26
Flushing beats Flint Powers 27-11
Stockbridge beats Essexville Garber 55-46
Brighton beats Novi 17-0
Greenville beats Belding 52-29
Roseville beats East Detroit 41-0
Alpena beats Escanaba 21-7
Fife Lake Forest Area beats Traverse City Christian 43-6
Grand Ledge beats Forest Hills Central 35-20
Forest Hills Northern beats Kenowa Hills 20-13
Jackson beats Ann Arbor Huron 40-7
Decatur beats Kalamazoo United 24-22
McBain beats Kingsley 12-6
Livonia Churchill beats Milford 39-14
Mason County Central beats Benzie Central 7-0
Hamilton beats Middleville Thornapple Kellogg 32-28
Midland beats Traverse City West 42-11
Montague beats Muskegon Orchard View 35-13
Montrose beats Reese 53-22
Clio beats Mount Morris 30-18
New Lothrop beats Saginaw Nouvel 48-21
Muskegon Heights beats Newaygo 32-29
Ortonville-Brandon beats Goodrich 11-10
Sandusky beats Unionville-Sebewaing 28-22
Cranbrook-Kingswood beats Lamphere 27-6
Constantine beats Saugatuck 50-43
South Lyon beats Pinckney 37-13
South Lake beats Lakeview 60-26
Ubly beats Tawas 36-12
Melvindale beats Truman 41-0
Plainwell beats Three Rivers 32-21
Vicksburg beats Dowagiac 35-0
Cousino beats Warren Woods Tower 43-6
Ann Arbor Skyline beats Westland John Glenn 38-14
Hudsonville Unity Christian beats Allendale 52-20
New Boston Huron beats Avondale 49-6
Bridgman beats Comstock 46-41
Warren Mott beats Cody 36-20
Renaissance beats Lansing Sexton 22-14
Byron beats Durand 60-28
Galesburg-Augusta beats Eau Claire 41-27
Fennville beats Martin 32-0
Frankenmuth beats Hemlock 35-20
Bishop Foley beats Genesee 45-35
Grayling beats Roscommon 28-0
Hartland beats Grosse Pointe North 34-12
Hillman beats Rudyard 37-0
Imlay City beats Burton Bentley 36-6
Indian River Inland Lakes beats East Jordan 18-14
Charlotte beats Ionia 38-35
Lake City beats Harrison 33-32 in OT
North Branch beats Saginaw 37-14
Mason beats Okemos 56-30
Burton Bendle beats Otisville LakeVille 20-8
Heritage beats Arthur Hill 28-18
Millington beats Vassar 42-28 
Sterling Heights beats Dearborn Edsel Ford 30-12
Bay City All Saints beats Bellevue 8-0
Flint Beecher beats Flint Northwestern 36-14
Haslett beats Chippewa Hills 17-0
Hopkins beats Wayland Union 34-28



PRESEASON 2015 TEAM PREVIEWS
TEAM FOOTBALL RANKINGS
FOOTBALL SCHEDULES
MORE INFO / RECRUITING INFO



Five players poised to break out this weekend


By Evan Paputa

Football Editor

 

 

The day is finally here- the kickoff of the 2015 high school football season in Michigan. I will be covering five games in three days to get the new season started.
 
Every season new stars are born and I expect to see five in my five games this weekend. I will be at Ann Arbor Skyline-Westland John Glenn, Canton-Fordson, Detroit Loyola-Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, King-Warren De La Salle, and Cass Tech-Southfield.

Here are five players that are new to the Friday night lights in the state of Michigan:
 
5. Jaylen Smith, 2016 John Glenn athlete:

Entering his senior season Jaylen Smith has yet to scratch the surface of his Division 1 potential. He has had to sit behind players like Devon Spaulding at running back and Andre Brown at receiver in his first three years at John Glenn. He earned significant playing time as a junior, but expect to see more from Smith this season. He has the build of Jeremy Langford, two inches shorter, and has broad shoulders to run through defenders. He can play running back, wide receiver, and defensive back.

 
4. Joel Foster, 2017 Canton quarterback:
Canton’s success this season will be directly related to the play of first year starting quarterback, Joel Foster. He played running back in the Chiefs’ traditional wing-t offense on freshman and JV but is making the change to quarterback after the graduation of three-year starter, Greg Williams. Foster might just be the perfect combination of athleticism, football IQ, and throwing accuracy to propel Canton deep into November.
 
2017 Canton QB Joel Foster. Source: Michael Vasilnek

3. Hunter Rison, 2017 Ann Arbor Skyline wide receiver:

Hunter Rison has shown all the capabilities during the offseason camp circuit that he is worthy of a high level Division 1 recruit. He is committed to Michigan State and is poised to follow in his father Andre’s footsteps. Hunter has playmaking potential on screens and downfield throws.

 
2. Sam Johnson III, 2019 Southfield quarterback:

The class of 2019 has all the marks of being one of the best in the state of Michigan’s history. Sam Johnson III was the first of the class to gain notoriety when he competed in the 2013 Sound Mind Sound Body camp as a seventh grader. He is lanky at 6-foot-3 and possesses all of the quarterback traits like arm strength and leadership. If he can get help from his defense and proves to be calm, cool, and collected on the big stage at Wayne State, look for him to give Southfield a good chance to win.

 
1. Daelin Hayes, 2016 Ann Arbor Skyline athlete:

There has not been a debut as highly regarded as USC commit, Daelin Hayes, ever. He started his career at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s before transferring to St. Bonaventure in California. Since, he has transferred to Cass Tech and now to Ann Arbor Skyline. There’s no doubt that Hayes has all the tools- athleticism, instincts, and physicality- to be a top-end Division 1 linebacker or running back, but nobody has seen him on an MHSAA field since the early stages of the 2013 season at OLSM. We will know tonight how good he really is.

Michigan High School 2015 Pre-Season Football Composite Team Rankings

We're mimicking a similar idea done by 247Sports.com which averages the rankings of Football Recruits across all the platforms of; 247Sports, ESPN, Rivals, and Scout.  The D Zone will gather the TOP TEN rankings on; The D Zone (#RankingsMonday), Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, and MLive.com.


  1. Detroit King - 88%
  2. Orchard Lake Saint Mary's - 78%
  3. Saline - 75%
  4. Cass Tech - 68%
  5. De La Salle - 63%
  6. Muskegon - 43%
  7. Clarkston - 33%
  8. Southfield - 23%
  9. West Bloomfield - 20%
  10. Chippewa Valley - 18%
  11. Lowell - 13%
  12. Midland Dow - 8%
  13. Rockford - 8%
  14. East English Village Prep - 3%
  15. Mona Shores - 3%



2015 Pre-Season Rankings:
The D Zone:
1. King
2. Clarkston
3. Saline
4. Cass Tech
5. Orchard Lake Saint Mary's
6. De La Salle
7. West Bloomfield
8. Southfield
9. Chippewa Valley
10. Mona Shores
MLive:
1. Orchard Lake Saint Mary's
2. De La Salle
3. Saline
4. Cass Tech
5. King
6. Lowell
7. Muskegon
8. Rockford
9. Southfield
10. Clarkston
Detroit News:
1. King
2. Cass Tech
3. Orchard Lake Saint Mary's
4. De La Salle
5. Muskegon
6. Saline
7. Southfield
8. West Bloomfield
9. Clarkston
10. East English Village
Detroit Free Press:
1. Saline
2. King
3. Muskegon
4. Orchard Lake Saint Mary's
5. Chippewa Valley
6. Cass Tech
7. De La Salle
8. Midland Dow
9. Canton
10. West Bloomfield

2015 - Top 100 Players of The D Zone era, #1-10

The following 10 players are players #1-10 on The D Zone's Top 100 players in The D Zone era.  The D Zone era is from the 2010 season to 2014 season which is a complete 5 full football seasons.  We have had organizational changes in the first two seasons but never missed a beat at staying on top of information.  These lists are based on production more than recruiting value.


Norfleet in 2011 game vs. Brother Rice | Source: Jeff Corrion / The D Zone

10. Dennis Norfleet - Detroit King - RB/KR - 2012
Whenever Detroit King's offense was on the field, you had a feeling a big play could happen anytime with RB Dennis Norfleet.  The speedster was a major threat on any handoff or passing play when the ball was in his hands with his sub 4.4 speed.  Norfleet's speed and agility often times left opponents awkwardly standing or on the ground. Norfleet used his small height to wiggle free from would be tacklers and other jams of players.  Norfleet rushed for just under 4,000 yards his final 2 seasons while racking up 58 touchdowns in the process. Norfleet signed with Michigan and was a recording setting kick returner, but he recently transferred to Tuskegee.

Lewis #1 in 2012 game vs. Dearborn | Source: Jeff Corrion / The D Zone


9. Jourdan Lewis - Cass Tech - WR/DB - 2013
Jourdan Lewis got his first taste of Varsity his Sophomore season vs. Harrison at Eastern Michigan and soon after Lewis started to leave his mark as he climbed his way up Cass Tech's depth chart.  Lewis used his explosive speed and length to make life Hell for opposing receivers.  Lewis was also a big time receiver who could catch anything and make something happen from there.  On Cass Tech's opening offensive play of the 2012 finals vs. Catholic Central, Lewis caught a pass in double coverage, stopped as one flew past him and Lewis sprinted down the sideline for a touchdown.  Lewis had nearly 750 receiving and kick return yards as a Senior as he scored a combined 9 touchdowns and also 8 interceptions.  Lewis is a starting cornerback for the University of Michigan.

8. Valdez Showers - Madison Heights - RB/DB - 2011
The Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year in 2010 was Valdez Showers and it really wasn't a hard decision.  Mostly every time Showers touched the ball it was a touchdown or on defense a play on the ball.  Showers finished his Senior season in the Regionals of both his Junior and Senior seasons.  During Showers Senior season, he rushed for 2,024 yards and 29 touchdowns, on top of over 200 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns.  Showers became the first person out of Michigan to sign with the University of Florida where he has played CB, KR, and WR.

Brindza in 2010 state finals | Source: Jeff Corrion / The D Zone


7. Kyle Brindza - Plymouth - K/P - 2011
Behind Plymouth's incredible 2010 run that ended with a state finals loss to Lake Orion.  The season will be remembered by much more than the loss to conclude the season as the Wildcats had thrilling playoff wins to provide memories for a lifetime.  It all started in the second round of the playoffs when Brindza kicked a 47 yard field goal against the wind to provide a cushion in win over Canton.  Brindza then did the unthinkable when he kicked 3 field goals,  one was with .38 seconds left to eliminate the defending Champions, Catholic Central, 9-7.  Brindza kicked a few field goals vs. Rockford in Semi-Finals but it was Michigan commit TE Brennen Beyer who hauled in a touchdown late in that game to push the Wildcats to Ford Field.  In the finals, Brindza set a State-Finals record with a 70 yard punt and his 43 yard field was the 2nd longest FG in Finals history.  Brindza also did kickoffs for Plymouth.  Brindza would play at Notre Dame before signing an Undrafted Free Agent deal with the Detroit Lions.

6. Prescott Line - Oxford - RB - 2012
When Lake Orion and Oxford opened the 2011 season on Oxford's new Blue Turf, Lake Orion was fresh off their State Championship.  Little did anyone in the world know that Prescott Line and his Wildcat teammates would not only beat Lake Orion but beat them comfortably, 41-20.  The game put Prescott Line on the map.  The RB and LB was one of the most physical players during the past several years as Line had no problems running through or around opposing defenders.  When he was playing LB, the same intensity carried over and Line did not relent. Line's incredible Senior season concluded with him rushing for 2,454 yards and scoring 37 touchdowns, plus 128 tackles in just 10 games as Oxford was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by OAA White opponents, Rochester Adams who got their revenge.  Prescott Line now plays at SMU, his older brother Zach Line is the Minnesota Vikings Fullback.

Campbell in 2012 game vs. Brother Rice | Source: Jeff Corrion / The D Zone


5. Jayru Campbell - Cass Tech - QB - 2015
The former Cass Tech QB Jayru Campbell, entered his first high school game as a Freshman on Varsity in week 1 vs. Harrison.  When the starting Senior QB, Kevin Biscoe went down with an injury Campbell filled in and provided a little spark of Cass Tech's offense with his running ability.  Cass Tech may have lost to Harrison in week 1 but it sparked the Technicians for the remainder of the season as they fought their way into the playoffs and eventually defeated Catholic Central for the state title.  Campbell again won the title as a Sophomore and showed vast improvements in his throwing mechanics during his Junior season and still was a lethal running threat.  Unfortunately for Campbell his high school days were ended following an off-season arrest his Junior season and he never saw the field as a Senior and de-committed from Michigan State.  Campbell decided to go the JUCO route and initially committed to New Mexico Military Institution before settling on Garden City Community College.

Grace #9 in 2014 playoff game vs. Lansing Sexton | Source: Jeff Corrion / The D Zone


4. Alex Grace - Saginaw Swan Valley - RB - 2015
This list has been full of incredible RB's and now that we wind down, we get to probably the most physical RB in the rankings.  Grace used his strength to break free from so many tackles during his 3 year reign of dominance at Swan Valley.  Grace though had that rare home run speed that complimented his strength because you could tell as soon as Grace hit the hole, if there was a player in front of Grace with bad technique, Grace would plow right over top of him or easily make one cut and continue running.  Grace may have been the featured player for Swan Valley, but it's not like the Mid-Michigan area will see a RB like Grace for anytime soon.  Grace set the single-season rushing record in 2013 as a Junior with 2,962 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns.  Overall Grace concluded his Swan Valley career with 7,551 yards and 101 touchdowns.  Grace signed with Western Michigan where he is being brought in to play Linebacker.

Zezula in 2014 State Finals game | Source: Ken Dettloff / The D Zone


3. DJ Zezula - Clarkston - QB - 2015
Clarkston is entering the 2015 season with a 27 game winning streak that Zezula has been a part of the previous two seasons, which is the longest winning streak ever in Division 1 since it was formed in 1999.  Zezula made his impact known for the Wolves on a freezing night back on October 12th, 2012 when Clarkston was playing at Lake Orion and trailed.  Zezula was brought in on a 3rd and long, throughout the game the Wolves kept the ball on the ground and were rarely throwing but that did not stop Zezula from a completing a long pass to give Clarkston the first down and later the game winning touchdown, minutes later.  Zezula limped through his Junior season but still threw for 2,332 yards and 19 touchdowns as well as 362 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns.  As a Senior, Zezula was all healed up and showed the versatility to be a real dual threat QB who could legitimately pass on all short, intermediate, and deep throws on top of being a lethal running threat.  Zezula finished with over 1,000 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns as a Senior including an 80 yard touchdown run in the state finals vs. Saline that locked up the game.  DJ Zezula would throw for 2.238 yards and 22 touchdowns as a Senior.  During the past 2 seasons Zezula only threw 7 interceptions.  Zezula also was injured in their semi-final win over East Kentwood and played with injuries in the state finals over Saline, cementing his legacy among all-time competitors in Michigan.  Zezula was 6 for 9 for 100 yards and 1 touchdown and rushed 17 times for 120 yards and a touchdown vs. Saline in his final game. Zezula signed with Wayne State University.

Weber #25 in 2014 semi-final | Source: Jeff Corrion / The D Zone


2. Mike Weber - Cass Tech - RB - 2015
Cass Tech entered this past 2014 season with some question marks.  Their 3 year starting QB, Jayru Campbell, would not be playing and the keys were handed off to a Sophomore QB Rodney Hall who at the time was inexperienced.  Fortunately for the Technicians all their problems were solved with the running ability of Senior RB Mike Weber.  Weber combined the perfect blend of; speed, power, and elite home run speed - also it's worth mentioning how great Weber's ball security was for the amount of touches he had.  Mike Weber emerged his Sophomore season by running through the Catholic Central defense in the state finals and was a balanced weapon as a Junior.  During his Senior season, Weber immediately made people know that he was for real.  An early run vs. Oak Park, featured Weber burst through the hole and then turn the jets onto a different level as he shot straight up field and was untouched by the two safeties.  Weber continued with explosive runs like that and physical runs where he would lower his pads and run through a defender.  In Cass Tech's toughest test to date at the time was when Chippewa Valley came into Cass Tech and took every punch and jab Cass Tech threw at them, but the Big Reds could not stop the big play ability of Weber as he scored 5 touchdowns from; 45 yards, 50 yards, 7 yards, 44 yards, and 76 yards as Weber set a career high with over 400 rushing yards.  Weber was once committed to Michigan before he committed and signed with Ohio State.  Weber was injured in practice and is set to miss around a month but if he's healthy he'll be playing as a True Freshman for Ohio State this year.

Harris #1 in 2012 State Finals | Source: Jeff Corrion / The D Zone


1. Drake Harris - Grand Rapids Christian - RB - 2014
Well, Drake Harris out of Grand Rapids Christian is the best player we have seen since The D Zone began for one simple reason: no one can stop him.  Harris emerged late in his Sophomore as a possible football recruit but committed to play football and basketball at Michigan State.  Harris entered his Junior season with some expectations but he would instead break the record for most receiving yards in a single season and as close to it comes to winning his team a state championship.  Drake Harris caught 91 passes for 2,016 yards and 23 touchdowns as a junior, as he saved his best performance vs. Orchard Lake Saint Mary's in what was his final game in high school.  Harris was thrown every coverage imaginable vs. OLSM but he still found a way to get open and around halftime he set the single season record.  A huge 4th down conversion by Harris where he was hit in mid-air and landed awkwardly had to of been the highlight of night as Christian would send the game into overtime before winning the title.  Harris was just under 50 yards shy of 3,000 career receiving yards and finished with 33 touchdowns.  Despite only scoring one touchdown in the finals, Harris set a state finals record with 243 receiving yards.  Harris would soon see a spike in his recruitment following an Alabama offer, he would decommit from Michigan State before committing to Michigan.  A leg injury had kept Harris from breaking more records during his Senior season and has effected his playing time while in college too.



The D Zone Top 100 Players since 2010

The D Zone started in the fall of 2010, we have covered the Classes of 2011 to beyond and from the 2010 season to the current 2015 season which is six seasons.  We have had the opportunity to cover every team in the state of Michigan and that has led us to a lot of great football players.  We have compiled our top 100 in the last 5 years below.





Players by team:
Cass Tech - 13
Brother Rice - 6
Farmington Hills Harrison - 6
Orchard Lake Saint Mary's - 6
Clarkston - 5
Detroit King - 5
Southfield - 5
De La Salle - 4
Detroit Catholic Central - 2
Grand Blanc - 2
Ithaca - 2
Oxford - 2
Plymouth - 2
Walled Lake Western - 2
Woodhaven - 2
Ann Arbor Pioneer - 1
Avondale - 1
Bedford - 1
Cadillac - 1
Country Day - 1
Dakota - 1
East English Village - 1
Ecorse - 1
Farmington - 1
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