The D Zone

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Michigan High School Football Top 25 Pre-Season Rankings 2017

The D Zone will be counting down until the first game of the season our top 25 teams in the state.  We don't cut corners or hide anything so we're jumping straight to the gun of the #1 team in the state on August 1st, 2017.  On the 2nd we'll release our #2 team and continue in that order until the first game in week 1.

Stay tuned on The D Zone for the most up-to-date information regarding high school sports in Michigan.  Also be sure to check back weekly during the season for #RankingsMonday and August 14th for more pre-season rankings.

Also released this past week were coaches previews, where coaches provide exposure to their programs, click here for the list of all schools who chose to complete a preview - this list will update accordingly.

1.  Cass Tech, defending D1 champs
- After being the  #1 team in the state in 2016.  Cass Tech was ready to remain extremely competitive and then a bulk of highly regarded players transferred in making Cass Tech even stronger.  Cass Tech 2018 QB Aaron Jackson led CT as a Sophomore filling in for injured Rodney Hall and will carry what Hall did with little to no drop off.  Cass Tech 2018 CB Kalon Gervin is our #1 recruit in the Class of 2018 and will rarely be tested this year, so you know that side of the ball will be locked down.  Cass Tech 2018 LB DeAndre Square is likely the most versatile player in the state as he can play anywhere on any given play.  Should see more snaps on offense too as he's an elite player. Square recently committed to SEC program, Kentucky.  Cass Tech 2018 DT Eric Smith is a freak in the interior and Cass Tech 2018 WR Teone Allen became Mr. Reliable late in the year with nice catches as a possession receiver who can move.  Cass Tech 2018 WR Brandon Gray returns to Cass Tech after transferring his Freshman year, 6'4-5" receiver who hasn't scraped his potential yet - Gray this past weekend committed to Washington State.  Cass Tech's 2019 do-it-all RB/LB/Slot, etc. Jaren Mangham returns and will be one the most lethal playmakers across the state of Michigan.  Cass Tech 2019 RB Lewis Nichols is one of the best kept secrets, look for an incredible 2 years from him.  Cass Tech 2019 ATH Jalen Graham comes from Country Day where he carried the team at times into the D4 title game, the possibilities are endless with him in Cass Tech's program as unfortunately no one really seems to know who he is outside of us, him, Country Day's program, and Cass Tech's program.  Cass Tech 2018 DE Andre Carter has double-digit offers and will have double-digit sacks.  Cass Tech was ranked #16 on MaxPreps national pre-season rankings, making them the only team from Michigan to be included on their rankings.

2. Detroit King, defending D2 champs
- King was extremely young last year as they beat Walled Lake Western in one of the best defensive performances the Crusaders ever had and that's saying something.  King was expected by many to eventually fall due to their young ages, but if you saw King dismantle Southfield A&T in week 1 you should have expected D2 to be firmly theirs come Thanksgiving weekend.  King's biggest threat emerged in King 2018 WR/CB Jaeyvon Morton who blew up in the recruiting process once junior film hit the web.  Morton has it all, speed, physical traits, and game changing abilities.  He's been a mainstay since Freshman year and will likely never receive the credit he deserved from 2016 and we're sure in 2017 as well.   King 2019 QB Dequan Finn will be in discussion as one of the top recruits in-state as a senior, we're alarmed that it's not like that for him now as he's barely received recognition for leading King as a sophomore - his lone offer entering the season is from Sun Belt program, Arkansas State.  Finn has a good arm and throws / moves very well on the run.  King 2019 LB/DE Tyrece Woods is a freak athlete with supreme mobility and physical traits - he missed most of 2016 and will figure to be one of the most physically dominant players anywhere around.  King 2018 DE Maurice White has prototype DE size and will be serving everyone his official welcome notice as a senior if it doesn't come during camp season.  King 2018 RB Eric McArn who is committed to Central Michigan is a big, strong, every down type RB.  King 2018 WR/LB/DB Erik Gibson is a versatile playmaker, he joins the path of former Crusader, Ambry Thomas who also transferred from Redford Thurston.   King 2019 DB Marvin Grant was a standout last year at DB and RB, the floodgates on him will be unleashed soon.  2020 WR Rashawn Williams will be one of the biggest young breakout players across the board as he's quick, fast, and lethal downfield.

3. West Bloomfield, D1 District runner-ups
- The Lakers are primed for a huge 2017 season as they have arguably the best QB-WR combination in the state in, West Bloomfield 2018 QB Bryce Veasley and 2018 WR Taj Mustapha.  Veasley is one of the best pro-style QB's around and decent mobility.  Veasley can make all of throws, multi-sport athlete, and good leader plus he's committed to Bowling Green State.  Mustapha is a big, strong target who does a little bit of everything right and is committed to Wisconsin.  West Bloomfield 2018 WR/TE James Faulkner had a quiet but productive junior season as he's a beast at 6'4" 200 lbs + and can move from line of scrimmage to split out as a receiver.  West Bloomfield 2018 OT Javon Foster took awhile to break out, but that first offer came during his junior season he received a few more offers before deciding on Central Michigan.  The left side of Veasley will be well protected with Foster and his teammates.  West Bloomfield 2018 WR/DB Dwayne Thompson is another player primed for a huge senior season as he has a physical presence that can move between CB and S and have a lot of success at both.   West Bloomfield 2018 WR/S A.J. Abbott is a matchup problem for defenses as he moves great and has the length to bring down any ball.  Abbott is committed to Wisconsin.  West Bloomfield 2018 WR/DB Collin Heard is a phenomenal talent and possesses that X-Factor to turn routine plays into a highlight reel play and recently committed to Howard.  West Bloomfield 2018 SS/FS Nick Seidel might highlight the list of returning members of the secondary as he's your ideal Safety who reads and react extremely well.

#4.  Walled Lake Western, D2 runner-ups
- The Warriors lose a ton on both sides of the ball, but with experienced coaching staff and a host of players returning Walled Lake Western should expect to make a run like they did in 2016 which ended in the D2 finals vs. King.  Western will be led by a phenom in Walled Lake Western 2018 WR/S Justin Thomas who has developed from a good player into someone who you can throw the ball to his area and you know he'll be doing something special.  Walled Lake Western 2018 LB Jonathon Moffett is a tackling machine and more than passes the eye test - he's committed to Indiana State.  Moffett is a fast and physical LB who should again exceed 100+ tackles as a senior.  It should be a monstrous OL and DL for the Warriors, but Walled Lake Western 2019 OL/DL Spencer Brown is the major anchor that will protect Sam Johnson's left side and quick off the snap to be constant threat on the defensive front.  Brown's recruiting process blew up over the Spring and he recently committed to Michigan State.   Walled Lake Western 2019 QB Sam Johnson led Southfield into the playoffs as a Freshman and then A&T as a sophomore.  Johnson is looking for a huge junior season in a new environment as he already holds double-digit offers.  Walled Lake Western 2020 WR Abdur-Rahman Yaseen is a nice looking receiver with very good athleticism and length, he was a contributor as a Freshman, with more experience as a sophomore expect to hear his name more.

#5. Saline, D1 Regional runner-ups
- The Hornets lets face it, lose a lot of talent every year, but never drop off in terms of contending for a Division 1 state title.  Saline lost an epic regional final last year vs. Cass Tech and will led behind an offensive line anchored by Michigan State bound 2018 OT Dimitri Douglas this upcoming year.  Douglas attracted a vast amount of colleges and wowed Michigan State with his versatility to play anywhere on the offensive line.   Saline 2018 QB Jason McGovern appears to be leading the Saline offense onto the field as it will be the 3rd year in a row Saline has a new starting QB.  Each year has been a success no matter who is plugged in.  2018 OT Zarek Bratschi and 2018 LS/OC Zach Drevno will ensure the QB and 2018 RB Marcos Harris Jr. who comes from Tennessee where he was a 2 time State Champion, will have time and running lanes.  2018 WR Emmett Turner will provide a huge downfield threat.  Defensively, 2018 LB Cory Gildersleeve will be one of the best LB's around as he's extremely fast for a LB and an excellent team leader.  2019 DB MJ Griffin comes over from Belleville and will be an impact player, Griffin has the size and versatility to play CB or S so will be interesting to see how he's utilized as a junior.

#6. Detroit Catholic Central, D1 runner-ups
- The Shamrocks will have a new head coach, but the supporting cast and culture at CC will remain as the incoming coach which should be announced soon will walk into a Division 1 contending team.  Despite the loss of Madison 2019 QB Austin Brown, the CC Shamrocks are set around with whoever takes over at QB.  Detroit Catholic Central 2018 RB/LB Isaac Darkangelo is one of the best around at his position as he's a work horse player who can carry the ball through defenders and attacks opponents like crazy.  Darkangelo holds 2 early D2 offers.  Catholic Central 2018 LB/FB Cameron Ryan is another solid player who covers ground well and has good ball pursuit, teaming up with Darkangelo makes them one of the best 1-2 LB duos anywhere in the state.  Who ever has the ball will be safely protected with Catholic Central 2018 OT Nick Carey who will be one of the best lineman out of Catholic Central since at least 2011.  Carey's recruiting process really heated up over the spring and summer as he has a lot of options to choose from now.  Carey will be alongside Catholic Central 2018 OL Andrew Paxton another solid player who could anchor the line.  Catholic Central 2018 DE/OLB/FB Matt Young emerged as a big play player for CC last year as he's one who can constantly make big plays.

#7.  Muskegon, D3 runner-ups
- The Big Reds must replace their huge go-to player in Kalil Pimpleton who heads to Virginia Tech.   It will likely be a group effort by the returning runningbacks and receivers.  2018 QB La'Darius Jefferson who is committed to Central Florida returns after a strong junior season.  Jefferson will have all of the time in the world with 2019 OL Anthony Bradford who holds Alabama and Georgia offers along with Penn State commit Antwan Reed blocking up front.    2018 DT Eli Jackson returns to anchor the defensive line and ensure Muskegon continues their dominance in the trenches.  2019 LB Ali'Vonta Wallace returns as the team leading tackler and will be expected to have a huge junior season as Drew Ward graduated and moved on to Nebraska.

#8.  Lowell, D2 Semi-Finalists
Lowell is primed to repeat their consistent success in 2017 as they return a bulk of players from their 2016 team that fell to Walled Lake Western by 3 points in the semi-final game.  2018 QB/S David Kruse returns to lead Lowell's veer offense.  Kruse is a gamer who excels in the offense and at 6'2" 190 isn't going down easy after contact.  At 6'3 and 180 lbs is 2018 WR/S Addison Buckius and is one of the most fluid athletes on the squad.  Expect to hear Buckius' name a lot this year, especially as a ball-hawk Safety. Lowell also returns a few lineman to anchor their dangerous offense in 2018 OT/OG Andrew LeFebre and 2018 RT Caleb Devereaux.

#9.   Belleville, D1 Playoff Team
- Belleville lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2016 to Saline, but the Tigers return so much that the expectations need to be raised this year.  2018 QB/WR Matt Ransome is a threat every time he touches the ball so what better way to ensure he's a threat than having him as your QB.  Ransome has arguably the best 2019 WR in 2019 WR/CB Julian Barnett to toss the ball to.  2020 WR Jalen Williams figures to be one of the better 2020 receivers next season so he'll be another dangerous weapon.  Belleville will be protected up front with top end lineman in 2019 OT/DT Devontae Dobbs2018 OL/DL Thomas Hornberger, and 2018 OL Nathan Millard.  2019 DE/LB Jalen Hunt can line up at DE or LB and should be one of the biggest standouts due to his versatility.  2019 LB Marvin Ham and 2019 LB Dylan Zagula should also be standouts linebackers.  As for the defensivebacks, Belleville is extremely deep with Michigan State commit - 2018 CB/WR Davion Williams, BGSU commit - 2018 CB Patrick Lupro, Western Michigan commit - 2018 CB Kmare Carey, and 2020 CB Andre Seldon Jr.

#10.  Eisenhower, D1 Semi-Finalists
- The Eagles look to pickup the pieces of what's left from an incredible 2016 unit that fell in the final minute of the D1 semi-finals.  Fortunately, Eisenhower returns their 3-year starting QB in 2018 QB Max Wittwer who will be heavily relied upon early in the year with many new upcoming playmakers who just don't have the experience right off the bat.  2018 WR Ben Mets was one of Wittwer's top targets last year and will figure to be again this year.  2018 SB Jack Morris will have an expanded role in 2017 as he was a reliable target last year, but returns as one of the most experienced and go-to targets offensively.  Up front it will start with 2018 OL Derian Doherty anchoring the offensive line which replaces several key players, but Eisenhower also entered 2016 with the same scenario and was just fine.  Defensively Ike loses quite a bit but following a late season surge doesn't need to worry about their edge rush with versatile Army commit, 2018 DE/OLB/TE Henry Janeway returning and being an impact player.  2018 LB Drake Myny was one of the best LB's anywhere you looked last year and he'll return.  2018 CB Johnny Fantauzzo is the lone returning member of the secondary, but is extremely reliable.

#11.  Saint Mary's, defending D3 champs
- Division 3's team, Saint Mary's loses a few key contributors on the defensive side of the ball.  Offensively is a whole other story as the Eaglets return their starting QB in 2018 QB Caden Prieskorn who led them to the D3 title as a junior / game winning touchdown pass and as a sophomore started on Varsity at Lake Orion so the 3 year starter has a ton of experience and traits required to lead OLSM to their 4th D3 title in a row.  Lehigh commit, 2018 RB RaShawn Allen returns after being the first 2,000+ yard rusher in school history.  Allen will again be the featured back in St. Mary's run-first offense and is expected to hit 2k yards again.  2-way stud, 2018 RB/LB Ky'ren Cunningham also returns.  Cunningham was on the receiving end of the game winning touchdown catch in 2016.  Cunningham can run the ball efficiently while on offense and has the size/speed combo to dominate at Linebacker. 

#12.  Oak Park, D2 District runner-ups
- Oak Park guided by one of the state's all-time greatest coaches, Greg Carter will have the pieces necessary to compete for the Division 2 state title in 2017.  2019 QB Dwan Mathis is a freak athlete that is ranked as the #2 dual-threat QB in the country, plus Mathis also has the ability to line up out wide and as a defensive back.  A strong RB committee of 2019 DB/RB Torriano Richardson and 2018 RB Cashual Goldsmith will ensure teams can't focus too much on the pass.  2021 RB/LB Travis Boston will get a chance to show pieces of what will be a promising 4-year career at OP. With 2018 WR Kevin Bradley2020 WR/S Maliq Carr, 2020 WR Jesse Brown, and 2018 Slot/RB Gary Gayle at receiver, there are weapons to go around.   Up front, it all begins with Kentucky bound, 2018 OG/DT Marquan McCall who returns from an injury plagued junior season.  2020 OL/DL Justin Rogers will hold his own vs. just about anyone throughout the year.  2020 DT Don Price will be asked to do a lot and the young sophomore appears ready to handle the responsibility.  A defensive back unit of 2018 CB Robert Daniel Jr.,  2019 DB/RB Torriano Richardson2018 SS/FS Jalen Robinson, and 2020 ATH Enzo Jennings will make life tough for opposing QB's and WR's who must remain focused, because it's a unit with a good amount of contrasting; size, speed, and muscle.

#13.  Romeo, D1 semi-finalists
- The Romeo Bulldogs are one of the most consistent programs across the state of Michigan and will be taking the show to a brand new turf facility this year.  The 2015 D1 champs were a half away from returning to Ford Field in 2016 and return a lot of key players who will make Romeo a strong contender in D1 and for the MAC Red title.  2018 WR/CB Nathan Goralski returns as one of the best playmakers across the board in 2016.  In Romeo's wing-style offense Goralski can take a load of carries and be lethal catching the ball.  It doesn't matter if Goralski is in traffic or in open field, he'll make a play.  Incoming transfer 2018 QB Brandon Hicks enters from bitter rivals, Eisenhower and provides a huge x-factor spark to the team as he's a dual-threat who can be utilized in a lot of ways as Hicks and 2019 QB/DB Jack Wendt should split reps.  Romeo will return 2019 LB/RB Brock Horne who will be a junior and a vital piece to the defense, as Horne is one of the best MLB's across the state and has a ferocious playing style that will set the tone now that he's one of the upperclassmen leaders.  A defensive back unit of 2018 SS Bailey Kamego and 2018 CB/WR Ronnie Wood will provide a solid core to replace a few seniors and will flourish. 

#14.  Chippewa Valley, D1 Playoff Team
- The Big Reds just 2 seasons ago graduated 35 seniors.  Now Chippewa Valley is experienced with around 17 returning starters and is ready to get back in the thick of things.  In 2016 CV started 2-3 before finishing strong in the regular season, including a huge win over Dakota to bring home the Superintendents Trophy for the first time since 2004.  2019 QB Tommy Schuster returns at quarterback after leading the team as a sophomore and provides the grit necessary to keep Chippewa Valley playing at a high level. A swarm of 6'1"+ receivers returns in 2018 WR/CB Cardell Snorton2018 WR/CB Isaiah Booker2018 WR Jonnaize Owens, and 2018 SS/WR Stanley Williams.  Defensively a LB duo of 2018 LB Brian Schieweck and 2019 LB Marcel Lewis will make life very difficult for opponents.  A bulk of key players return on both sides of the offensive and defensive lines, including 2018 DE Kevin Krasniqi.

#15.  Davison, D1 District runner-ups
- The Cardinals huge turnaround under Kyle Zimmerman is in full effect as Davison went 5-5 in 2015 to 10-1 in 2016  including their first playoff win since 2008.  2k+ yard rusher, 2018 RB Tariq Reid returns to cap off his career at Davison with what will be another incredible season.  2018 RB Lamar Hay returns from a junior plagued season to provide a constant rushing threat.  2018 TE Garrett Goyette returns as a reliable receiver and solid blocker.   The Cardinals lose most their line, but are solid in the defensive backfield with 3-year starter 2018 LB Gabe Ellis and 2018 CB Anthony Fordham.  Davison will get a huge early tested with highly regarded, Southfield A&T in week 1.

#16.  Rockford, D1 District runner-ups
- This is the year Rockford has been building up for with a phenomenal senior class that has been varsity starters for awhile now.  Northwestern bound QB, 2018 QB Jason Whittaker returns after being a 3 year starter to leading the Rams offense which should be one of the highest scoring offenses in school history.  Versatile OL, 2018 OT/OC Cody Carone returns after an All-Michigan junior season to protect Whittaker and his runningbacks. 2019 OL/DL Jonah Erickson is a nice and long player who will have a nice junior season.   Defensively Rockford has 2 studs in their secondary with 2018 CB/SS Marcus Remtema and 2018 DB/Slot Jake McLean. Both players figure to get some key offensive snaps as well.  2018 OLB Paul Reinke also returns as a key member of the Rams.

#17.  Clarkston, D1 Regional runner-ups
- The Wolves have been one of the most consistent teams across Michigan in the past decade as they're 95-22 since 2007.  The Wolves will rely on some skilled and experience seniors with 2018 RB/DB Mike Fluegel being a player who should be an absolute workhorse on both sides of the ball.   Clarkston's offensive line will be anchored up front by 2018 OL Noah Nicklin who got moved up to Varsity as a Freshman and will look to finish off strong.   2018 LB/TE Zach Scott is another long-time Varsity player and does a little bit of everything right.  Clarkston is rounded out with plenty of  very good skill position players;  2018 WR/DB Conner Heaton2018 WR/DB Maxx Brennan2018 WR/CB Spencer Lenardson, and 2019 DB/WR Max Nicklin.

#18.  Canton, D1 District runner-ups
- The Chiefs enter 2017 with high expectations as usual.  Canton has reached the playoffs each season since 2008 and mostly every playoff loss is by a touchdown or less.  How Canton doesn't get more recognition is a story for another day, but let's look at what will make Canton solid in 2017.  The Chiefs run a wing-t offense and must replace a huge piece in Markus Sanders.  2018 DB/ATH Colin Troup returns as the offenses most explosive playmaker as well as a solid piece of the defensive secondary.  Up front Canton embraces the physical demands and will be led by 2018 OC Max Mulvaney and 2019 OT/NG Jonathan Suppelsa.  At Linebacker Canton has 2 studs that also go both ways at TE's with 2018 MLB/TE Lou Baechler and 2018 OLB/DE/TE Noah Brown.  Baechler is one of the most underrated LB's in the state.

#19.  Waterford Mott, D1 District runner-ups
-  The Corsairs return a bulk of players from their playoff run last year that ended with a 21-7 loss to the semi-finalists, Romeo.  Mott is led by a huge game changer with dual-threat 2018 QB David McCullum who should exceed 1,000 passing and rushing yards. With 6'5 205 lbs 2018 WR Ashton Franklin on the outside, the QB and WR will develop strong chemistry as Franklin is very athletic and can bring down some high passes that are out of the reach of opposing DB's.  Other offensive players include; 2018 WR/CB Patrick Bicknell2019 WR/CB Keimonnee Fields,  2019 RB Marcus Guerrero2019 WR/CB KaMariell Manley, and 2019 WR Matt Bradley.   A strong senior group of linebackers will be led by 2018 LB/RB Colton Baranowski who is a strong leader and tackler + tracks the ball well.  A few of the listed receivers will stand out at defensive backs as well plus 2019 CB James Hill.  Up front things revolve around 2 solid two-way players in 2018 DT/NG Wayne Barnes and 2018 DT/OL Bryce Locke.

#20.  River Rouge, D4 Semi-finalists
- The Panthers are the lowest enrolled school in the top 20 and it should come to no surprise to anyone who knows how much success Rouge has had in recent years.  The Panthers will led by 2019 QB Emanuel Ferguson who is a dual-threat QB with a very strong arm.  Rouge has a special RB in 2018 RB Alexander Carter who will be relied on to move the chains and provide big plays.  Out wide is one of the top receivers and definitely the #1 TE in the state, Lee Payton TE 2018.  Payton can line up at both and create mismatches.  A few more standout receivers are;  2018 WR Sekou Doukoure2018 WR Dalen Parker, and Daraun Mckinney WR/S 2019.   Mckinney can also go two ways and may even be a better DB.  Up front Rouge will be very strong with; 2018 DE/LB Tyler Carter,  2018 OG/NG Darrell Williams2018 DE Julius Lee2018 DT Ja'veon Coleman, and 2019 OL Dontrell Walker.  At Linebacker Rouge has one of the state's top LB's in 2018 LB/S Baron Sholar who is a senior captain.  Other valuable LB's who will have a huge impact for Rouge include; 2018 LB Zion Smith2018 S/OLB Eric Chenault,  2018 OLB/DE Christian Harris2018 LB Christian Seaton, and 2019 LB Yusuf Abdul-Aziz.  At defensiveback River Rouge will led by one of the best prospects in the state by bone-crushing 2018 S Reggie Pearson.  Pearson is another captain and will lead a strong group of DB's such as;  2018 S/CB Branden Woods2018 S Ralph Gaston Jr., 2018 DB DeAndte' Rigsby2019 SS/CB Demarco Collins, and 2019 SS/PR KJ Worthy.

#21.  Released on August 21st
#22.  Released on August 22nd
#23.  Released on August 23rd
#24.  Released on August 24th
#25.  Released on August 24th
- The season begins on the 24th*


  1. olsm need to be up there hell they even beat muskegon in the title game. they will four peat and five peat and six peat i promise.

    1. They're up now. They lost a lot.. They probably will if they beat Muskegon again.

  2. Correct, olsm should be in the top 5

    1. Yes, I agree too. Oh, I thought you were talking about the top 5 high schools who recruit in the nation.

  3. Soooo Waterford Mott makes the list before River Rouge.... OK. I 👀 u.

    1. Every list will have Mott over River Rouge!

      This is the best pre-season list I have seen in like 20 or so years.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Rouge has more talent than Mott and the questions of coaching that plagued urban teams in the past isn't a question.

    1. It's 1 spot difference. So of 600 teams in Michigan a 19 and 20 ranking for 2 teams who do not play one another isn't a hug deal. If they played one another that would be something else.

      Currently Rouge's #20 ranking projects as; #1 team in D4 and if they have a high enough enrollment #3 in D3 behind on the defending champs (St Mary) and runner-ups (Muskegon). That's more than fair.