Coaches Poll: Macomb Dakota 59, (tie) Sterling Heights Stevenson and Utica Eisenhower 50, Chippewa Valley 43, Romeo 36, Utica Ford 32
Macomb Dakota (5-0, 10-2)
Top players: WR/S David Basirico, Jr. DE/TE Tony Balabani, WR/CB Mustafa Abdur-Rahand, QB Tyler Crowell, OT Scott Masyra.
Team strength: Defense
Outlook: The Cougars think this could be their year with an experienced defense and great skill players. Basirico has accepted a scholarship to Central Michigan and Balabani is expected to have a breakout year as a junior.
Sterling Heights Stevenson (3-2, 6-4)
Top players: LB/FB Dustin Carlin, LB Sultan Faronbi, QB Kyle Maxson, WR/S Greg McDade, OL/DL Quintarius Peoples.
Team strength: Experience
Outlook: After a couple of down years, Stevenson believes it’s ready to challenge with a returning quarterback in Maxson and a more physical offensive and defensive line. Three offensive linemen return.
Utica Eisenhower (3-2, 8-3)
Top Players: QB Dan Chmielewski, WR/CB Charlie Hayes, WR/CB Adam Figlan, S Shane Pettke, OL/DL Matt Humphries.
Team Strength: Defense, team speed.
Outlook: Chmielewski moves from receiver to quarterback and has been a standout player on varsity during his career. Ike gets an early test with Rockford coming to town for the season opener.
Chippewa Valley (2-3, 5-5)
Top players: QB Brendan Rohlfs, DL Sicelo Robinson, DB/WR Khaleel Hammid, OL/DL Drew Callahan, OL Kevin Reidt.
Team strength: Senior class, offense.
Outlook: With seven starters back on offense and a three-year starter at quarterback the Big Reds offense should be much improved. Only four return on defense, so Coach Scott Merchant will need some youngsters to step up.
Romeo (2-3, 5-5)
Top players: TE/DE Blake Williams, QB/FS Zach Rizo, RB/OLB Mitch Hess, DE/OL Paul Labaere, DB Brandon Leboida.
Team Strength: Quickness at skill positions.
Outlook: Romeo will strive to develop a running game to help Rizo operate the offense. Hess will get a bulk of the carries behind an offensive line led by Labaere. Williams should be a standout.
Utica Ford (0-5, 0-9)
Top players: LB Viktor Gegic, RB/DB Alex Gauronskas, WR/DB Ryan Ausbrooks, Jr. DB/WR Dante D’Andrea, Jr. QB Sam Shkreli.
Team strength: Togetherness and team unity.
Outlook: Coach Todd Winters hopes team chemistry and playing smart, tough football will bring a couple of victories this season. Ausbrooks is a top athlete and should shine on offense and defense.
Coaches Poll: (Tie) Warren Mott and Port Huron 56, (tie) Warren Cousino and New Baltimore Anchor Bay 44, Utica 40, Roseville 30.
Warren Mott (4-1, 8-2)
Top players: CB/WR Deshawn Burley, S/WR Angello Proulx, C Jake Onstott, DE Lavonte Perdue, RB/OLB Daveon Dorsey
Team strength: Speed at skill positions.
Outlook: Mott needs to replace four of five offensive linemen, but the team has shown a good work ethic during workouts and should be able to put some points on the board.
Port Huron (5-0, 7-3)
Top players: DE/RB Malik Edwards, Jr. TE/LB Ravin Randall, OL Tyler Cole, OL Shaun Hatch, RB/DB Donovan Moore.
Team strength: Returning seniors, offensive and defensive lines.
Outlook: The defense will have to play well early with Port Huron opening the season against Detroit Martin Luther King. Romeo and Chippewa also are on the schedule.
Warren Cousino (2-3, 2-7)
Top players: RB/DB Michael Greer, RB/LB Michael Ameye, OL/LB Matt Rice, OL/DL Malik Young, OL/LB David Daniel.
Team strength: Skill positions.
Outlook: If the offensive and defensive lines jell Cousino looks to make a move. Seven starters return on defense and five on offense. Greer and Ameye are key offensive weapons.
New Baltimore Anchor Bay (2-3, 2-7)
Top players: RB/LB Alex Hamilton, WR/DB Gary Landless, Jr. QB Austin Woodside, Jr. WR/DB Dion Griffin, OT Ryan Taylor.
Team strength: Backfield, linebackers.
Outlook: Jason Byers expects great improvement after a year under his system. Hamilton will handle the ball-carrying duties with Woodside running the offense.
Utica (2-3, 3-6)
Top players: TE/DL Mitch Vonzihwitz, WR/DB Sam Goepper, QB/DB Jack Flater, WR/DB Austin Jakubik, OL/DL Seth Latour.
Team strength: Experience.
Outlook: Eight starters return on defense and six on offense. Coach Anthony Smith believes that combination should make Utica more competitive this year.
Roseville (0-5, 1-8)
Top players: QB Traye Kern, RB Jacob Carrik, Jr. S Andrew Paton, CB Larry Roberts, So DT/OT Zac Hill.
Team strength: Youth
Outlook: Roseville’s young players haven’t been battle tested. Kern is a first-year starter at quarterback and Hill should be the team’s best player on the line.
Coaches Poll: Grosse Pointe South 58, L’Anse Creuse North 54, Grosse Pointe North, 47, L’Anse Creuse 41, Fraser 39, Port Huron Northern 31.
Grosse Pointe South (5-0, 8-2)
Top players: LB/TE Bennett Jackson, Jr. LB/FB Jack Fry, DT Tristan Russano, CB/WR Josh Grey, FB/DE Nick Muer.
Team strength: Offense
Outlook: South will be able to move the ball because of an offense that returns all of its skill players. Two offensive linemen also return. GPS has won the Blue Division three of the last four years and look for its fifth straight playoff berth. Grey is a big target at 6-3, 190.
L’Anse Creuse North (4-1, 8-3)
Top players: QB Sean Koski, DB/WR Deontae Nicholas, Jr. LB/HB Troy Tanzy, Jr., S/HB Trevor Conklin, DE Tyler Sirut.
Team strength: Offense, team speed.
Outlook: Playoffs are on North’s mind after a successful campaign in 2012. Koski will hand off to Nicholas and Conklin, who should have a good season.
Grosse Pointe North (3-2, 5-4)
Top players: TB Tod Long, FB Martice Dunlap, QB/WR Sal Ciaravino, T Mike Bylski, Jr. QB Dan Robinson, So. LB/FB Lawrence Bryant
Team strength: Offensive line, skilled players.
Outlook: Long is a three-year starter and one of the best players in the MAC regardless of division. The defensive secondary is the team’s big question mark.
L’Anse Creuse (2-3, 5-4)
Top players: WR/CB Trevon Boswell, OT/DT Chase Diehl, QB/CB Nick Arnold, FS/WR Greg Stubbs, TB/DE Elijah Richardson.
Team strength: Offense.
Outlook: With Arnold at the helm and Richardson running the ball L’Anse Creuse expects bigger things after five victories a year ago.
Fraser (0-5, 1-8)
Top players: Jr. LB/DE Marcus Bowers, OT/DT Matt Rowan, Jr. QB Dean Snider, DB Diallo Bellamy, OLB Matt Keys.
Team strength: Experience.
Outlook: Seven sophomores started last year, so with its experience and five returning seniors, Fraser looks to make a move, especially running the ball behind the 275-pound Rowan.
Port Huron Northern (1-4, 1-8)
Top players: DL Brandon Adair, WR Andrew Souphis, OL Charles Jacobs, SS Damian Haeck, LB Mike Poirier.
Team strength: Defense.
Outlook: A young team will have to learn on the go as Coach Patrick Connell hopes to field a team that is faster and more physical than a year ago.
Coaches Poll: St. Clair 58, Marine City 55, Marysville 47, St. Clair Shores Lake Shore 40, (tie) Sterling Heights and St. Clair Shores Lakeview 35.
St. Clair (4-1, 9-2)
Top players: FB/NG Brandon Boyte, SE/DB Blake Meldrum, RB/DB Bo Meldrum, OL/DL Ben Miller, OL/DL Colton Pfaendtner.
Team strength: Experience on offense, speed in defensive and offensive backfields.
Outlook: St. Clair had a great year in 2012, but look to be even better in 2013. The Meldrum’s are solid players and the lines will be in good hands with Miller and Pfaendtner.
Marine City (5-0, 8-2)
Top players: Jr. OL Denton Rivard, OL/DE Kevin Fitzsimmons, S Pete Patsalis, Jr. DB/RB Jarret Mathison, Jr. QB Alex Merchant.
Team strength: offensive line.
Outlook: With 30 straight winning seasons, 15 consecutive playoff appearances and nine straight league titles Coach Ron Glodich appears loaded again as he enters his second season. The future is always bright at Marine City.
Marysville (3-2, 6-4)
Top players: QB Josh Smith, RB Branden Stevenson, DE Brady Beadon, WR Cole Pawson, OL Nate Hohf.
Team strength: offensive backfield.
Outlook: The key for Marysville is to stay healthy and get off to a good start. Stevenson will carry the rushing load with Pawson as a dependable receiver.
St. Clair Shores Lake Shore (0-5, 2-7)
Top players: WR\\DE D’Vonte Owens, SB\\SS Brandon Muraszewski, Jr. QB Will Bobek, RB\\LB Marquis Simmons, OL\\LB Alex Malunchik.
Team strength: Skill positions on offense and defense.
Outlook: How the offensive and defensive line develops is the key for Lake Shore. Both feature young players who must mature in a hurry.
Sterling Heights (2-3, 4-5)
Top players: DB\\WR Jimmy Turner, MLB\\FB Mike Adour, FB\\OLB Malik Pettway, LG\\DL Gabe Hahn, Jr. RB\\DE Derrow Sanders.
Team strength: Speed, leadership.
Outlook: The Stallions hope to field a solid run game behind Adour and Sanders and Hahn opening holes along the offensive line. Sanders will be a load to tackle at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds.
St. Clair Shores Lakeview (1-4, 1-8)
Top players: DE\\OL Matt Marosco, Jr. RB Brian May, OG\\DE Connor Luke, OL\\DL Kirk McGee; QB Caleb Stump.
Team strength: Defense.
Outlook: Lakeview looks to improve on a rough 2013 season with a solid defense, led by Marosco and Luke. May and Stump lead the offense.
Coaches Poll: Madison Heights Madison 60, St. Clair Shores South Lake 54, Madison Heights Lamphere 46, Warren Woods Tower, 40, Warren Fitzgerald 40, Eastpointe East Detroit 32.
Madison Heights Madison (4-1, 8-2)
Top players: TE\\DT Kyle Baldwin, RB\\CB Juan Johnson, WR\\DE Daviyon Jones, QB\\S Matt Crews, DE\\RB Randon Bacon.
Team strength: Returning starters
Outlook: The rich stay rich as Madison has seven starters returning on offense and seven on defense. Jones is a big-time threat and Baldwin is an imposing target at 6-3, 240. Bacon also is a home-run threat.
St. Clair Shores South Lake (3-2, 6-4)
Top players: TE\\ILB Jalen Dingle, Jr. OL/DL Kyonta Stallworth, RB/OLB Martell Petteway, OG/ILB Jalen Clark, DE/WR Caldin Rogers.
Team strength: Size and speed
Outlook: South Lake is ready to challenge Madison for supremacy under first-year coach Nick Marrogy. Division 1 talent can be found on the team. Linebackers Dingle, Clark and Petteway will keep offenses honest with their quickness.
Madison Heights Lamphere (3-2, 4-5)
Top Players C Dan Gettel, LB Dave Marrow, WR\\DB Chris Clave, Jr. DT Brendan McCallum, Jr. RB Trevor Guilmette.
Team strength: Offensive line, defensive line.
Outlook: Both lines will field young players and how fast they develop is crucial. Gettel is a three-year starter and McCallum has started two years.
Warren Fitzgerald (2-3, 4-5)
Top players: QB Cody Haberek, WR/DB Brandon Carlini, WR/DB Aaron Black, FB\\LB Jalen Tanneyhill, Robert Gregerson.
Team strength: Defensive skill positions
Outlook: “We’re going to line them up and let them fly and check the scoreboard at the end of the fourth quarter is how we do it here,” said Coach Ken Briere. Wide receivers should be a plus for the team with Carlini and Black on the receiving end.
Warren Woods Tower (2-3, 4-5)
Top Players: RB Josh Scott, HB Torrence Collins, DT Corbin Williams, Jr. LB Tyler Vargo, Jr. QB Darius Jordan.
Team Strength: Confidence
Outlook: Tower ended the year on a four-game winning streak so Coach Michael Mahar hoped he has changed the culture at Tower. He’s depending on a young team to jell in a hurry.
Eastpointe East Detroit (1-4, 2-7)
Top players: CB\\WR Jalen Parker, C Darrelle Jones, WR\\KR Romell Holmes, RB Kahlil White, Jr. QB Ryan Chenzey
Team strength: Defense
Outlook: Coach Branden Banks said Holmes is one of the best in the business as a kick returner. Seven seniors are on the team with the majority of the 45 that came out being juniors. East Detroit will have plenty of speed and expects to score a lot of points.
Coaches Poll: Clintondale 58, Clawson 52, Warren Lincoln 48, Mt. Clemens 39, New Haven 38, Center Line 35.
Clintondale (5-0, 9-1)
Top players: LB Malik Hazzard, LB Trey Barksdale, OT Dontae Owens, QB Jacob Smith, DB Luwayne Harris.
Team strength: Defensive front seven.
Outlook: Teams in the MAC Bronze could see more of the same from last year as Clintondale returns a lot of experience on both sides of the ball. Linebackers Hazzard and Barksdale lead a top-flight defense.
Clawson (4-1, 5-4)
Top players: WR Marquian Johnson, WR\\LB Chuck Tarver, OL\\LB John Mittlestaedt, RB\\LB Steven Klein, Jr. QB Ty Sparks.
Team strength: Skill players on offense, defensive line.
Outlook: Sparks passed for 1,600 yards, completed 60% of his passes and connected for 21 TDs. Johnson was a Free Press All-State performer and should have a monster season.
Warren Lincoln (2-3, 4-5)
Top players: QB\\FS\\PR\\KR Darius Totty, TE\\LB\\FB Mike Reese, OL\\DL Mike Abouya, So. HB\\WR\\CB\\KR Daniel Stewart, HB\\KR\\CB Derrel Stewart, OL\\DL Brandon Mitchell
Team strength: Defense.
Outlook: First-year coach Darrius Alexander inherits a team that returns eight starters on defense. With interchangeable pieces, Lincoln will be able to attack teams on the perimeter with its speed.
Mt. Clemens (2-3, 2-7)
Top players: RB\\DB Marquell Sanders, RB\\WR\\DB Jesse Stevens, OL\\LB Roberto Moya, Jr. LB\\RB Noah O’Brien, OL\\DL Zach Zinser
Team strength: Togetherness
Outlook: Coach Harold Penn might not be winning a lot of games, but he as brought stability to the program. A stable of running backs should be able to find the end zone.
New Haven (2-3, 3-6)
Top players: RB Josiah Rabine, QB Dillon Peryek, RB Sychar Sterling, WR Jeremy Carl, TE Noah Biesel
Team strength: Balance
Outlook: First-year coach Paul Stanton hopes to be more competitive than last year. Rabine and Sterling will be the primary ball-carriers.
Center Line (0-5, 0-9)
Top players: QB A.J. Favazza, CB Terrell Adams, OL Spencer Raxter, RB Chico Woodruff, Jr. DL Kwantez Dean.
Team strength: Balance on offense
Outlook: Center Line returns nine on defense and look to improve on a winless season. Favazza and Woodruff will be the top offensive weapons.