The D Zone

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Counting Down 2012's Biggest Football Games

This blog post will discuss the biggest High School Football games in Michigan.  Each day, besides last weekend of July, I will post one big football game and talk about why it is a big game and what to look for and it's possible implications.  This post will be updated, so there are a few ways to visit it.  1. Your initial source (, whether it's a Twitter tweet, wall post, email URL, or a backlink URL. 2. Favorite or Bookmark this page 3. Press F-5 on your keyboard to refresh the page, 4. Maximize the benefits of the Google Search bar on the right side of the page, or 5. Post it as your status, so you will not forget where your source is.

You know my primary focus is Southeastern Michigan, so obviously most of the games I feel that are big will be from this area.  I'll be posting everything to the north and west of Southeastern Michigan though. All of these games are in NO particular order, just what comes to my mind on any given night.  Feel free to comment below too.  Me and other followers like to discuss football with other people.

July 17 - Plymouth vs. Canton (Shared Field) in week 7
- These two hated rivals will face off in week 7 which is the last KLAA-South Division game of the season.  I expect two other schools in the division to fight Canton and Plymouth for the title but come week 7, this game should decide who wins or share's the KLAA-South title.  From what I've heard, this game brings most of the west Wayne County population to the bleachers of Canton/Plymouth/Salem.

The rivalry between these two schools is as tense and balanced as any rivalry in the state.  In 2011, Plymouth beat Canton for the KLAA-South title with a game winning field goal in week 7, but in week 10, Canton eliminated Plymouth with a game winning field goal as time expired.  In 2010, Canton hammered Plymouth 36-0 in week 7, but in week 11, Plymouth upset Canton 17-7, kickstarting the Wildcats to the State Championship game, where they fell to Lake Orion.

Who to watch:
Canton is a heavy rushing team, so you will watch Cameron Dillard just dismantle opposing defensive lineman.  Dillard's 2011 Highlights shows just that, Dillard is the second Michigan player in 3 seasons to commit to University of Florida.  I am sure that Dillard will be making holes every possession for Canton's RB, McKoy.

For Plymouth it will be Jamarl Eiland.  Last season the receiver was able to make many plays, due to a deep and talented Senior class.  In 2012, I was told Eiland will move to QB.  I fully expect him to be making plays with his feet and arm.  If Eiland is not QB, he will line up with Nate Emminger who is another solid playmaker for Plymouth.

July 18 - Cass Tech vs. Brother Rice (Wayne State) in week 1
- Never has the Division 1 and Division 2 defending champions met in the first week of the season. That all changes in 2012 when Brother Rice and Cass Tech play each other on Saturday at Wayne State University in the Prep Kickoff Classic (Big Day Prep Showdown).  For Preseason rankings I will have Cass Tech as #1 and Brother Rice as #2.  Both Cass Tech and Brother Rice, I expect will be hungry to defend their state championships, who knows both may become defending state champions later in the season.

Who to watch:
Brother Rice is a team that heavily relies on the run to win games and setup the pass.  Last season Brother Rice executed a running play on 85% of their plays.  However in 2012, the Warriors no longer have Devin Church (Illinois) and Deshun Brown (Southfield-Lathrup) so the Warriors will be handing the ball to Brian Walker.  The Junior will be relied upon to carry the team on his back unless Brother Rice goes to a more balanced offense, but time will tell which direction Brother Rice's offense heads in 2012.

For Cass Tech, they are again loaded with D1 college football recruits but the biggest hit the Technicians took from graduation was replacing it's WR core and RB Royce Jenkins-Stone who was relied upon late in the season on run plays and flat routes.  The player that impacts Cass Tech the most, like most teams is the Quarterback.  Jayru Campbell a Sophomore played in all 14 games for Cass Tech last season, it will be interesting to see how he comes in 2012 after an incredible 11 month period, in which he led Cass Tech to the state finals, lit up the Catholic Central secondary in the Division 1 final, and received a scholarship from Alabama, as well as a few other D1 Universities.

July 19 - Dearborn vs. Fordson in week 5
- One could say that this is the biggest rivalry in the state of Michigan.  The two teams are from Dearborn but different parts of the city.  When you have two teams who hate one another, you often have a hard fought game of football.  Dearborn and Fordson practically draw the whole city of Dearborn.  With both teams regularly competing in the playoffs, this becomes one of the biggest games of the whole season.  The Western Wayne Athletic Conference - Blue division title as you expect is mostly decided from this game.

In the past few meetings Fordson has came out on top of Dearborn.  In 2011, Fordson eliminated Dearborn with a 34-31 win and in week 5 Fordson beat Dearborn 42-13.  During the 2010 season Fordson also eliminated Dearborn, 37-32.  Dearborn would beat Fordson earlier in 2010, 30-12 and DHS headed into the playoffs that season with no losses.  Fordson has won 6 of the previous 7 meetings between the schools.

Who to watch:
Fordson's two strength's are running the football and defense.  The Tractors will have several key players but the one you will be seeing the most in Michael Berry, a runningback.  Berry will be the feature back in the Fordson rushing attack.  As a Junior, Berry rushed for over 1,300 yards and scored 15 touchdowns.  An injury in week 8 against Redford Thurston cut Berry's season short.  Berry was on pace to finish with 1,900 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns.

Dearborn is another team that is loaded with skilled and talented players.  The key to the success of Dearborn will be quarterback, Ollie Ajami.  Ajami is a former receiver who stepped up to play quarterback this past year, following C.J. Misfud graduation from Dearborn, threw for 1,200 yards and 18 touchdowns.  Ajami was also a threat running the football with over 600 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns.

July 20 Orchard Lake Saint Mary at Catholic Central in week 8
- Last season Orchard Lake Saint Mary and Catholic Central met in week 8 of the season prior to their Prep Bowl matchup in week 9.  Heading into the week 8 game, both Catholic Central and Orchard Lake Saint Mary knew that they had already clinched a spot in the Catholic League Championship game for the Prep Bowl, that week, the Eaglets defeated the Shamrocks 14-13.  The next week things weren't the same as Catholic Central convincingly won by the score of 21-7 to win the 2011 Prep Bowl Title. Every single year this matchup has huge implications on who will reach the Prep Bowl and come out as the best Catholic League Central team during the first 8 games of the season.

Who to watch:
Orchard Lake Saint Mary is loaded all over the field but their bread and butter is the running game. The Eaglets have two of the state's best RB's in Parker McInnis and Grant Niemiec.  Both will get around 100 carries each this year.

Catholic Central also returns many of their players from 2011, the Shamrocks biggest strength is still going to be offensive line, runningbacks, and linebackers. One player to keep an eye out for is offensive lineman, Derek Edwards.  After transferring from Novi, Edwards will come in and provide many holes for the Catholic Central runningbacks.  Derek Edwards has already committed to Central Michigan University.


  1. Question your #2 rating for Rice. They had 4 losses last year and have lost what was the key to their offense in Church. Walker struggled for time and when he did play was certainly not dominant by any measure. Defense should be good with Recshke leading but also the qb situation is open again between lacanaria and the other underclassmen. They'll be good but not #2 good UNLESS they beat Cass Tech which I believe has earned the preseason #1 mantle.

  2. Walker showed some flashes but he was only a Sophomore, I think they'll be fine with him, the OL is going to be solid.

    Lacarnia will be the QB, he's team captain. I think of now Rice is #1 in the CHSL heading into the season. The only team someone could say is better is OLSM.

    Also I want to point out that in 3 of Rice's losses they were by a combined 4 points.