At long last, it’s game week in the 2020 Michigan high school football season. What a roller-coaster ride it’s been.
The year 2020 has been far from normal as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. But, hey, at least we have a high school football season.
Week 1 is upon us, or are we calling it Week 4? Either way, things will be quite different this season. The shortened regular season will consist of a maximum of six games, then everybody qualifies for the playoffs.
What will look quite familiar are many of the teams in MLive’s Top 50 preseason rankings. Thanks to the help of MLive’s team of local sports reporters across the state, as well as colleagues from other media outlets, here’s the season’s first attempt at a Top 50.
A number of deserving teams just missed the cut, but like any football team, we’re hoping to improve our Top 50 as the season moves along.
With four-star offensive lineman Rayshaun Benny opening holes for Michigan State running back commit Davion Primm and fellow senior running back Travis Boston, Oak Park with have a lot of power and explosiveness on offense. Linebacker Marlon Dawson (Miami-Ohio) will lead a skilled defense as well.
“G.R.I.T. – Grind, Resilience, Intrepid, Together” was the catchy acronym employed by Mona Shores last season. It fit the Sailors well, as they kept finding ways to win throughout their storybook playoff run to the Division 2 state championship and school’s first title. Quarterback/slot/safety Brady Rose (5-7, 175) returns after making plays all over the place in semifinals and finals wins over Walled Lake Western and Detroit King, respectively. Another playmaker to watch is slot/cornerback/return man Keondre Pierce (5-11, 170).
Michigan commit Raheem Anderson is the No. 2 center in the country and he will look to open holes for Kobe King (Penn State), who is also one of the state’s top linebackers. Kobe’s twin brother, Kalen King, will lead the secondary at cornerback and he will be a threat on offense, too. Terrance Enos (Pitt) and Doran Ray (Toledo) offer great size on the line as well.
The Cougars won three Division 4 state championships in the last four years. The year they didn’t win, they lost to eventual state champ Edwardsburg in an overtime thriller in the semifinals. The big three return to lead GRCC: Junior dual-threat quarterback Joey Silveri, senior Division I receiver prospect Jace Williams and junior strong safety Nolan Ziegler, a Notre Dame commit. The rest of the Division 4 field already had its hands full with the Cougars, but they’ve slipped to Division 5.
Two-time MLive player of the year Cameron Martinez has graduated and he’s now at Ohio State. What will the Big Reds do? They’ll reload, as always. They’re stocked with Division I talent, which will be displayed on the new turf at renovated Hackley Stadium. The D-I prospects include safeties Tyreese Oakes and Julius Sims Jr.; athlete Amari Crowley, who takes over at quarterback; slot/cornerback Myles Walton, and four-star junior defensive end Dametrius Walker.
The Crusaders move back to Division 3 after winning the D-3 state title in 2018 and finishing runner-up in D-2 last season. Sophomore quarterback Dante Moore lived up to a lot of the hype last year as a freshman. Senior Jaylen Reed (Penn State) will lead the defense at safety and will likely make major contributions at WR or RB. Junior Lynn Wyche-El is a three-star WR. Brandon Honorable (Pitt) and Esean Carter (Toledo) will be a great force on both sides of the line. Rishad Hence (Akron) will be another contributor in the secondary.
Word is that the 2020 Cardinals could be even better than the team that captured the Division 1 state championship last season, the first in school history. With Northwestern commit Brendan Sullivan returning at quarterback and fellow all-stater Harrison Unger back at linebacker, Davison has alpha dogs on both sides of the ball.
After winning the Division 3 title last year, Hamtramck brings back starting QB Mareyon Hrabowski, who passed for over 1,000 and rushed over 1,000 last year. Also, the entire offensive and defensive lines return for the Panthers, led by Pius Odjugo (CMU), Jalen Johnson (Ball State) and junior Davonte Miles. Safety Armorion Smith (Cincinati) will be a stud in the backfield.
Good luck trying to stop this backfield as senior running back Donovan Edwards is listed as one of the nation’s top 2020 running backs and junior running back Dillon Tatum is a four-star prospect as well. Senior Alex Short takes over the starting quarterback job with his dual-threat abilities after playing backup last year. Maxwell Hairston (Kentucky) leads a very skilled secondary while juniorvMichael Williams is the next big thing at linebacker.
Christian Dhue-Reid is a four-year starting quarterback leading the way for the talented Tigers. Five-star Damon Payne (Alabama) will lead the way in the trenches on both sides of the football while three-star Ramier Lewis will be another big body on the line. Senior Deion Burks (Purdue) and junior Christian Rapley are two very talented wide receivers for Dhue-Reid to target. Four-star junior Myles Rowser is one of the state’s top juniors and will lead the secondary at safety while senior Jamari Buddin (Penn State) will be the heart of the defense at linebacker.
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