Breaking down the Western Wayne football conference

Breaking down the Western Wayne football conference


Breaking down the Western Wayne football conference



Dearborn Fordson's Aziz Alhanek runs the ball against Canton's during the second half of Fordson's 40-35 win Friday at Wayne State.

Dearborn Fordson’s Aziz Alhanek runs the ball against Canton’s during the second half of Fordson’s 40-35 win Friday at Wayne State.

Blue Division

Coaches’ poll: Dearborn Fordson, 56; Belleville, 53; Redford Thurston, 47; Dearborn Heights Robichaud, 42; Garden City, 36; Redford Union, 34.

Fordson (3-2, 6-5)

Strength: Experience

Top players: QB Hamze Elzayat (19 TDs), OL Zac Darwich, LB Mohamed Amen, OL/DL Jamil Beydoun, DL Husam Alsalman, LB Saleh Homayed, RB Aziz Hanek, DB Khaled Elhaj, OL Ali Saad.

Outlook: a win in the playoffs last year over perineal power Sterling Heights Stevenson is a huge factor leading into 2016 as far as focus and confidence for multiple returning starters on both defense and offense. Most of those were young and inexperienced so the extra year under their belts has led to better attitudes and approach to the game.

Belleville (5-0, 8-2)

Strength: experience of underclassmen

Top players: RB/S Devonni Reed (CMU commit), RB/LB George Douglas (CMU commit), WR/DB Jordan Ulmer (Iowa State commit), sophomore OL/DL Devontae Dobbs (6-5, 270, 15 D1 offers), sophomore WR/DB Julian Barnett (6-2, 190), sophomore WR/DB MJ Griffin and junior RB/DB Patrick Lupro.

Overview: Started six freshmen last year who growing up quickly and helped the team reach the state playoffs after winning the division. Belleville returns eight players on offense and seven on defense, and will start more underclassmen, who leap frogged the freshman and JV teams, than seniors.

Thurston (3-2, 6-5)

Strength: skilled positions

Top players: WR/CB Darryis King (three-year starter, 3 INTs), junior WR Erik Gibson (79 tackles), LB Chalfontae Phillips, (70 tackles 6 sacks), junior CB Keion Harris, junior S Nathan Hayes (50 tackles), junior QB Zack Crofford (6-4, 230), junior C Jalen Howard (6-1, 270), OL Daman McLain, OT/DT Dorsey Woolridge, (6-1, 260).

Outlook: The Eagles return six players on offense and six on defense. In addition, 14 players who saw significant playing time on the varsity are back. Adding a strong group coming up from the JV team and the Eagles are optimistic for a good season.

Robichaud (3-2, 8-3)

Strength: Line of scrimmage

Top players: WR Elantre Alston, WR/S Damian Potts, TE/DE Cortez Spears, OG/NT Brandon Askin, QB Jajuan Brown, RB/L Anthony Dase, junior OG/DT Darrell Williams, junior RB Jasir Poole.

Outlook: It could seem the cupboards are bare considering 20 seniors graduated from a two-game playoff team, but Robichaud believes it has a good shot at the conference title due to the toughness of this team – albeit a young squad with five sophomore starters helping fill the holes from graduation.

Garden City (1-4, 2-7)

Strength: Size and Speed

Top players: QB/DB Kyle Becker, RB/DB Logan McGraw, junior RB/LB Eian Castonguay, RB/LB John Giangrande, OL/DL Jacob Brisco, OL/DL Jalen Covington (6-4, 290), OL/DL Mason Jennings, OL/DL Trevor Coleman (6-2, 280), junior WR/DL Cameron Walter (6-4, 185), WR/DB Dylan Rayburn.

Outlook: Six starters are back on both offense and defense. New coach Jim Baker said: “Our goals are to improve on last year’s record, get better each week and be competitive in our league. We really don’t have a rival at Garden City so we have to play all nine games like a rivalry game.”

Union (0-5, 3-6)

Strength: Skill positions

Top players: RB/LB Marquise Hathaway (leading tackler, second leading rusher), junior RB/LB Isaac Grant (leading rusher, scoring leader, second in tackles), RB/DE Eric McCarter (sacks leader), OL/DE Brandon Hartsfield, OL/DE Brandon Hartsfield, TE/DE Josh Smith (2nd in sacks), TE/S Talil Groves (leader in INTs and receptions).

Outlook: Last year’s three wins came after zero the year before so progress is taking place, especially with eight players returning on each side of the ball. “We look to build on that momentum and the return of many returning starters and letter winners,” said coach Miles Tomasaitis. “An experienced group of players should lead the way to continued improvement.”

Red Division

Coaches poll: Dearborn, 59; Edsel Ford, 53; Romulus, 44; Crestwood, 42; Annapolis, 37; Livonia Clarenceville, 33.

Dearborn (5-4)

Strength: Experience

Top players: QB Mikey Phillips, OL Mustafa Khaleefah (6-6, 275, All-State, Michigan State commit), DE Ali Fayad (6-2, 232, Eastern Michigan commit), WR Shane Moran, RB Hussein Hannawi, LB Issa Khalil, LB Ali Saad, DE Mohamad Khatib, LB Lyth Shalhout, FS Adam Elder.

Outlook: The defending league champs return 19 of 22 starters, 8 of which will be starting for their third year. Play on the line of scrimmage and excellent talent in the offensive backfield could power Dearborn, a program with 86 wins the past ten years, to a terrific season. Very few two-way players should keep the players fresh.

Edsel Ford (4-1, 5-4)

Strength: work ethic

Top players: junior RB/DB Will Marano, junior RB/DB Michael Bates, OL/DL Tim Schultz, QB/LB Grant Rathwell, junior OL/DL Ethan Pultorak, OL/DL Tyler Mayberry, OL/DL Johnpaul Vega, junior OL/DL Kyle Brannack, RB/LB Carl Taylor, junior RB/LB Jonte Dorsey, junior OL/LB George Gilbeau, junior TE/DL Kevin Cassio.

Outlook: Edsel Ford lost the first three games of the season last year, so a better start in 2016 will benefit the Thunderbirds. Winning five of its last six games last season is a springboard for this fall. Seven starters return on offense and six on defense, with good experience in the trenches.

Romulus (4-1, 6-4)

Strength: Offensive experience

Top players: LB Tyress Claiborne LB, WR Trey Armstrong-Anderson, DE De’Von Mines, QB Jaylin Tatum, WR Alexander Stevens, OL Devon Harris, junior S Alaric Wooten and junior WR Pierre Brown.

Outlook: Romulus reached the state playoffs last year and played tough against eventual Div. 3 state runner up Chelsea, giving the Eagles a boost of confidence and more motivation heading into 2016. That led to the best off-season preparedness that coach Thomas Patterson has seen in the program.

Crestwood (4-5)

Strength: Offensive line

Top players: RB/DB Tommy Hamid, RB/S Avery Martinez (interceptions leader), RB/LB Hisham Abdullah (leading tackler), OL/DE Hussein Choucair, OL/DT Ali Choucair, TE/DE Ayman Murray (leading receiver), junior QB Tre Jenerette, RB/DB Mohamed Beydoun, TE/LB Alex Lake and RB/DC Rami Elamine.

Outlook: a handful of two-way returning starters are back for the Chargers, who came up a little short of reaching the post season in 2015.

Annapolis (1-8)

Team strength: skilled positions

Top players: QB/S Manny Ferguson, RB/DB Larry Rivers III, RB/DB Diallo Long, OL/DL Brendan Dulmage, OL Brandon Johnson, RB/DB Jamarei Malcolm, OL/DL Brandon Roland, RB/LB Torian Taylor, OL James Torres.

Outlook: Nine starters return for a team that should be improved this year. Overall depth and experience is a little short, but the offensive skill players should shine as well as the defensive backfield.

Clarenceville (1-4, 1-8)

Strength: Senior leadership

Top players: OL/LB David Means, RB/LB Zach Richards, OL/DL Justin Kelly, WR/DB Darrin Topelwski, WR/DB Brendan Belanger, junior QB/DB Kyle Nolan, RB/LB Justin Davis.

Overview: The smallest school in the conference was admittedly beat up some last year, but returns all of the above players as starters. The Trojans will be changing the defense scheme from 2015, to increase pressure on the opponent’s offensive backfield. Most players are going both ways, so staying healthy is key.


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