The D Zone

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Look back at the best 5 games from 2016, in 2017 perspective

2016 had some big times, fortunately we were in attendance for a few of them.  This will look at the 2016 top 5 games and piece it together with 2017 in mind.

#1 game from 2016:  Romeo at Eisenhower
- The game you dream about playing in high school.  Your bitter, but well respected neighbors with major division title implication on the line at the time as Warren Mott was also perfect, but both teams beat Mott later in the season.  No team really controlled this game, Eisenhower held a lead for the early part and into the 2nd half of the game, but it was a struggle to get it and maintain it.  Romeo dug in the 4th quarter with big plays and eventually scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:29 remaining in the game.  Eisenhower had a masterfully executed drive that ensued and was capped off by Anthony Tocco's field goal as 1 second remained following the field goal.  Many fans rushed the field, not knowing there was time left.  The kickoff had a penalty enforced, but it didn't matter as Eisenhower didn't allow a miraculous Romeo touchdown.

2017 Pre-season Perspective:
- Romeo was coming off of their 2015 state title and many thought would drop off in 2016 and Romeo was upset in their week 1 game vs. Oxford, but 2017 should be a big year for Romeo as they return a ton of key pieces, but lose a lot as well from seniors who were major pieces last year and as juniors for the title team.  Romeo will be hungry to beat their rivals with a rare transfer into the district this year, which is coincidentally Eisenhower backup QB, Brandon Hicks.  Romeo has a ton of others returning such as, Nate Goralski on offense and Brock Horne on defense who are huge pieces for Romeo.  Eisenhower on the other hand loses a ton too, but with Max Wittwer returning as a senior in a triple-option based offense, don't expect a major drop off.  Jack Provencher was a huge piece at RB, who must be replaced.  Defensively Henry Janeway adds a ton of versatility as a DE/OLB and Drake Myny is going to have a big year.  So both teams enter 2017 with a different perspective, both want to get to Ford Field after being so close last year.

#2 game from 2016:  Cass Tech vs. Eisenhower
- One play equaled about 1,000,000,000,000 other plays in high school football in this game as Donovan Peoples-Jones went from having a quiet game to having an absurd catch in the endzone with 26 seconds left that would be the game winning touchdown from Rodney Hall.  The game was controlled by Eisenhower the first 3 quarters, but Cass Tech dug down and capped off a crazy 4th quarter with 2 late touchdowns to reach Ford Field.  So much was on the line for Cass Tech as they went 14-0 for the first time in school history and 1 week later won the D1 title while King won the D2 title which had a joint celebration in downtown Detroit a few weeks later.

2017 Pre-season Perspective:
- Eisenhower will have a few kinks to straighten out this year, but this could be a regional or semi-final game possibly if the chips fall right.  Cass Tech will be the heavy favorite to repeat as the Division 1 favorites, so a rematch would be another great game in 2017.  Will be impossible to top 2016's version though. Unless that one play in 1,000,000,000,001 plays happens.

#3 game from 2016: Saint Mary's vs. Muskegon
- With 4 seconds left on the clock in the Division 3 title, Caden Prieskorn found Ky'ren Cunningham for a touchdown that would prove to be the game winning touchdown.  The game itself was back and forth from the start.  Muskegon's high powered offense if we recall correctly was only stopped twice all game, one on a trick play interception and two on the last play of the game.  Saint Mary's didn't really have an answer for Virginia Tech bound Kalil Pimpleton and QB Ladarius Jefferson besides keeping the ball on offense.  Rayshawn Allen ate up time and yards as he exceeded 2,000+ rushing yards at one point during the game and Caden Prieskorn was near perfect passing the ball.

2017 Pre-season Perspective:
- There is a chance they could meet again with the D3 title on the line or 2 years ago St. Mary's was on the west side of the bracket so could be a regional or semi-final game as well if the chips fall in a certain way.  This is all assuming there are 64 higher enrolled schools than Muskegon who clinch playoff spots to push Muskegon into D3 which they've gone back and forth in D2-3.  St. Mary's returns; Prieskorn. Cunningham, and Allen so it's inevitable they'll be back in D3.

#4 game from 2016:  Catholic Central at Brother Rice
- The two Catholic League Central rivals met in one of their better games in their storied rivalry.  They say records and stuff don't matter, but Brother Rice who struggled to remain healthy in hindsight was a disaster internally as the administration fired Dave Sofran after the season ended.  So you can only respect the effort Brother Rice had in this game considering how well Sofran led the Warriors when knowing his back is against the wall.  Catholic Central was undefeated at the time following a TD win over St. Ignatius, Ohio. CC escaped Rice in overtime setting off a crazy celebration.

2017 Pre-season Perspective:
- Catholic Central will have a new coach, but no one is expecting a major drop off as the D1 program has hundreds of kids ready to go.  The game won't be the same for Brother Rice as the firing of Sofran has cast an negative cloud on the program and created uneasiness among players & alumni as several important players left the school to play for their district schools.  It should be another high emotion game like it always is when it comes in 2017.

#5 game from 2016:  Dakota at Chippewa Valley
- The two bitter rivals share school districts, but not much more.  The rivalry has developed into one of the most well known ones in the region as both teams have won state titles since 2000 and there's been at times throughout the years bad blood between the two.  2016 was the first year that Chippewa Valley beat Dakota in the regular season in the last 12 years and it was a back and forth battle that the Big Reds beat the Cougars 40-38.  The game was a huge game for Chippewa Valley as they were 3-3 at the time, they won out in the regular to make the playoffs.  Chippewa Valley also laid claim to the Superintendents Trophy.

2017 Pre-season Perspective:
- After Chippewa Valley finished the regular season 6-3 they met Dakota in the first round of the playoffs.  That 2nd meeting didn't have the same vibe as this week 7 game as Dakota won comfortably 48-27.  Chippewa Valley will return more experienced while Dakota had a setback in transfers out of the program, but still has a ton of talent returning in their program.  You can count on this being one of top games in the MAC Red again.

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