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14 Saturdays June 15, 2008

Posted by City Hoops in Previews.
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That time again – the preseason, where hope reigns eternal. It’s also that time of year to get overly ambitious and dream about all the great football games I might be able to make it to.

If only…

Last year the plan was similarly far-fetched and it collapsed after about two weeks. My goal was to attend, in person, as many high school football games as humanly possible, supplemented by a good dose of college and pro games.

Not to say it wasn’t fun or fulfilling while it lasted but it wasn’t feasible. So why not try it again? We’ll see how many of these I can make it to, but here is, all mapped out and ready to go, a 14-week college football extravaganza, taking me through Ann Arbor, Bowling Green, East Lansing, Toledo, Ypsilanti, Kalamazoo, Madison, South Bend, Detroit and Columbus.

Hotbeds, indeed. We’ll see. (more…)

Eastern Michigan Preview August 31, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in Previews.
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emu.gifEastern Michigan

Last year: 1-11 (1-7 MAC West)

Players:
Returning starters: seven offense, nine defense
Most exciting: Sr. DT Jason Jones
Mr. Reliable: Soph. P Zach Johnson
Hard hitter: Jr. MLB Daniel Holtzclaw
Breakout season: Sr. CB Blake Smith
Impact frosh: DB Marcus English, QB Jason Williams, RB Maurice Goodrum

Opener: Saturday at Pittsburgh
MAC Opener: Sept. 8 at Ball State
Prediction: 3-9 (2-6 MAC)

Top Detroiters: Cortland Selman, Jr. LB (Country Day); Corey Everson, Soph. DB (Mumford); Pierre Walker, Sr. TB (Central); Terrence Blevins, Jr. TB (Denby); Aaron Glenn, Sr. DB (Denby); Spenser Smith, Jr. DL (Mackenzie); Maurice Goodrum, Sr. TB (Henry Ford); T.J. Lang, Jr. OL (Brother Rice); Allan Cozart, Jr. DL (Mumford); Reggie Brown, Jr. WR (Oak Park); Paul Galloway, Fr. LB (Shrine)

Fast fact: EMU’s lone postseason appearance was a 30-27 win over San Jose State in the 1987 California Bowl.

Click through for the outlook … (more…)

Western Michigan Preview August 31, 2007

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wmu.gifWESTERN MICHIGAN

Last year: 8-5, 6-2 MAC
Lost International Bowl, 27-24 vs. Cincinnati 

Returning starters: eight offense, eight defense
Most exciting: Soph. RB/KR Brandon West
Mr. Reliable: Sr. RB Mark Bonds
Sure hands: Jr. WR Jamarko Simmons
Breakout season: Jr. DE Zach Davidson
Impact newcomers: Jr. WR Schneider Julien (JUCO), Jr LB Boston McCornell (JUCO) 

Opener: Saturday at West Virginia
MAC Opener: Sept. 29 at Toledo
Prediction: 8-4 (7-1 MAC)

Top Detroiters: James Blair, Sr. OT (Pershing); Dezmond Gray, Sr. DT (Cass Tech); Matt Pickens, rFr LB (Brother Rice); Chris Pyant, rFr DT (Farmington Hills Harrison)

Fast fact: The Nov. 6 (Tuesday) rivalry clash with Central Michigan will mark the first-ever nationally televised game at Waldo Stadium (ESPN2).

Click through for the outlook … (more…)

Penn Hills info August 31, 2007

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For those searching for info on Birmingham Brother Rice’s matchup with Pittsburgh Penn Hills, this preview comes courtesy of the Pittsburgh Sports Report’s WPIAL Preview. Penn Hills was tabbed as one of the contenders in Quad A (AAAA) behind the favored Gateway Gators.

Penn Hills Indians
– 15 returning starters
– Coming off a 10-2 record; reached the WPIAL Championship
– Since winning the WPIAL championship in 1995, Penn Hills has not since missed the playoffs.

If you want to talk returning starters packed with a filthy defense, then look no further than the Indians. D-1 recruit linebacker Dan Mason will anchor the load with 8 other returning starters on defense – a defense that gave up an average of two touchdowns a game last season. Quarterback Tom Fulton will continue his triumphant success in running the offense. The junior threw for 1,224 yards last season, as well as rushed for 421. Although USC won the WPIAL last year, Penn Hills is the best candidate out of the two to make a return to Heinz.

Central Michigan Outlook August 29, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in MAC, Previews.
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cmu.jpgCentral Michigan

Last season: 10-4 (8-1)
MAC Champions
Motor City Bowl Champions

Players
Most exciting: Soph QB Dan LeFevour
Breakout season: Soph WR Bryan Anderson
Unsung players: Sr. RG Eric Tunney, Jr. LT Andrew Hartline
Impact frosh: DL Josh Allison, TE Rocky Weaver
Top Detroiters: Fr. DB Marc McKinney (Mumford); Fr. DB Gary Jackson (Renaissance); Sr. P Tony Mikulec (Notre Dame Prep); Sr. C Mike Decker (Brother Rice); rFr. OL Matt Brimer (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s); Fr. DE Lance Beers (Dearborn Heights Crestwood)

Fast fact: Former Wayne State offensive line coach Max Glowacki joined new coach Butch Jones’ staff at CMU this season as the tight ends coach. Glowacki lettered four years at CMU from 1994-97.

Opener: Saturday at Kansas
MAC Opener: Sept. 8 vs. Toledo
2007 Prediction: 8-4

Click through for the outlook … (more…)

Preps: Week 2 preview August 29, 2007

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Can’t wait for college football this weekend?

TIVO one of the early Thursday games, and then hit the road to check out one of around 260 high school games Thursday night – moved up from the traditional Friday night setting because of the Labor Day weekend.

MAC Red play begins Thursday night for two of the favorites – Sterling Heights Stevenson at Macomb Dakota. This is a highly-anticipated rematch of last year’s overtime thriller (Dakota won, 31-28) which headlines the early action.

Two games involving Catholic League teams Thursday night are Ann Arbor Huron at U-D Jesuit and Novi Catholic Central at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep.

When Muskegon joined the OK Red this season, the Big Reds solidified the West-side power conference as the best in the state.

That elite status is evident on a weekly basis as state powers meet for league showdowns. And that becomes apparent during the non-conference slate as well when Hudsonville hosts Lowell and Rockford travels to Davison on Thursday night. The OK Red teams will be favored in both games.

Other top games involving OK Red teams this week include Grandville at Traverse City West and Muskegon at Reeths-Puffer, an overmatched cross-town foe.

The PSL’s top game has Renaissance standouts Jeray Carraway and Sam Gaymon making the cross-town trip to challenge a talented King team. Both were Week 1 winners. Others include Denby at Henry Ford and Southeastern at Mumford (all are Friday afternoon kickoffs).

Friday night, the focus swings to a pivotal early-season game in the OAA White as Rochester Adams hosts Farmington Hills Harrison.

The Catholic League’s best matchup of the week will occur out-of-state, as Birmingham Brother Rice – minus quarterback Andy Lentz – travels for a highly-anticipated showdown with Pittsburgh Penn Hills.

In the Cereal City, Battle Creek Central will look to get its vaunted rushing attack on track agai nst cross-town rival Lakeview on Friday night. Jackson Lumen Christi held star running back Larry Caper II to 66 yards in last Saturday’s opener. Lakeview also has a talented junior class, led by BCC transfer Adrian Bouyer. Dimeko Price and Jake Labrecque are senior captains and are featured in the Spartans’ spread offense.

Podcasts: PSL Preview August 22, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in audio, podcasts, Preps, Previews, PSL.
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Listen to DFR’s Kyle Stefan discuss the PSL’s realingment across Divisions I, II, III and IV; the projected order of finish among Division I teams; and the league’s top five players and college prospects. Where do Boubacar Cissoko, Nick Perry, Fred Smith, Darrin Williams and Anthony Hollis rank? Find out here …

Click through for the link … (more…)

Preps: Week 1 preview August 21, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in Previews, Week 1.
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mhsaalogo.jpgHigh school football fans across the state are thankful that the recent gender-equity lawsuit against sports seasons in Michigan left football off the chopping block.

Considering some of the senseless legislation, it’s almost a wonder that state gridders weren’t relegated to the disadvantageous season of the winter, or perhaps banished to the spring in the name of fairness and equality.

All backwards rationality aside (or so we hope), the seasons have been set, and the high school football season still kicks off this Thursday with a number of Macomb Area Conference games and scattered action throughout Mid- and West Michigan.

Our eyes on the East side will be on defending Division 1 state champion Macomb Dakota as the Cougars and new quarterback Mitch Lovett open defense of that title against Port Huron Northern. Other intriguing matchups – albeit a prelude to Friday and Saturday – include Warren Woods Tower at Madison Heights Madison (featuring halfback DeAndre Johnson, who just missed our consensus list of players) and Warren Fitzgearld at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore. (more…)

Preps: Preseason All-State Players August 21, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in Preps, Previews.
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Third and Fourth Teams, plus Honorable Mentions

The release of our preseason Michigan All-State teams created plenty of debate and discussion as to which players were deserving of the nomination and which were snubbed of a spot on the elite two teams.

Continuing our series previewing the high school football season, DFR releases our final preseason All-State teams, plus a comprehensive list of honorable mention selections.

Didn’t see your favorite player on the First or Second Team? You might want to check them again at this link. The truly deserving have made the cut for our final teams. Click through to find out … (more…)

Mad Mike Hart: SI Posterboy August 20, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in Big Ten, Michigan, Previews.
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cover0820michigan.jpg

Mike Hart has made one of Sports Illustrated’s five regional college football preview covers for 2007 – simply a great honor for this All-Big Ten back. Hart is a Doak Walker candidate – perhaps the preseason favorite – in his senior season. Odds are Hart will eclipse Michigan’s career rushing marks for carries and yardage midway through the season.

Wayne State Preview 2007: Special Teams August 14, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in Previews, Wayne State.
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dunn.jpg

Dante Dunn returns a kickoff for a touchdown against Indianapolis last year. Dunn and Joique Bell – ‘Thunder and Lightning’ in WSU circles – comprised the GLIAC’s most dangerous kickoff return tandem last season. (Photo by Ron Harper)

Click through for the preview … (more…)

Wayne State Preview 2007: The Defense August 14, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in Previews, Wayne State.
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linebackers.jpg

Wayne State linebackers Alan Guy (10) and Prosper Iwu (43) pull down Ashland quarterback Billy Cundiff last year. All three starters are back at linebacker, making this defensive unit WSU’s strongest. (Photo by Ron Harper)

Click through for the preview …

(more…)

Wayne State Preview 2007: The Offense August 13, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in Previews, Wayne State.
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jbrun.jpg

Joique Bell heads toward the endzone last year against Ashland. Bell finished the season with 2,065 rushing yards, a NCAA Division II freshman record, and returns to lead the WSU offense this season. (Photo by Ron Harper)

OVERVIEW

Last season was, potentially, the first of many successful gridiron campaigns for Wayne State.

In his third season as head coach, Paul Winters made more progress in his transformation of a program with an apathetic culture and losing identity into one capable of contending for an NCAA playoff berth and competing for a GLIAC Championship.

Winters’ club enters 2007 looking for the next big payoff. Is this team – which will sport, by all accounts, one of the most explosive offenses nationally – ready to contend in the top-heavy GLIAC?

WSU finished a modest 6-5 (6-4 GLIAC) last year but was in contention for an at-large postseason spot all the way down to the season’s last week at Ferris State, where the Warriors stood inside the FSU 20-yard line with under two minutes left, trailing by four but poised to punch in a go-ahead touchdown.

The ensuing Chris Middlebrooks fumble and eventual 21-17 loss was another case of an inexperienced team enduring the inevitable bruises along the path to becoming a consistent winner.

There was also a 17-10 loss against a beatable St. Joseph’s (Ind.) team, a 39-17 mauling at the hands of Indianapolis when the Warriors didn’t come to play, and a 48-34 defeat at Northwood where the defense couldn’t stop a soul.

Those three setbacks, coupled with losses to Ferris and No. 1 Grand Valley State, doomed the Warriors to the middle of the GLIAC pack.

Perhaps a veteran team wins two or three of those games. Maybe a team that has spent 365 days under a Winters structure, learning how to win every day, comes away with tight wins instead of close losses.

We’ll find out this season whether that holds true. The Warriors are optimistic that with all the returning pieces on offense, with a collection of impact freshmen, with a full year under the strength and conditioning regimen of Paul Harker, they will play another sequence of meaningful games well into November.

The schedule remains the same with only the venues changed. And, again, many of the same teams – Northwood, Ferris State, Indianapolis – share the Warriors’ aspirations to compete in the upper echelon of this competitive Division II league.

While this season will present challenges – the defense will have to replace the entire secondary and the team will be very young on the defensive line and at wide receiver – Warrior coaches and players are confident they will measure up. (more…)

Michigan Top 40: Preseason 2007 August 12, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in Preps, Previews, Rankings.
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One of my pet peeves is ranking teams and players that I haven’t seen play, but preseason team rankings are a different animal.

Think of preseason fodder as a necessary evil. This isn’t an exact science and these rankings should even out after a few weeks of games.

More like preseason projections, the Top 40 includes teams that I believe will perform this season based on returning starters, college prospects, reader prognosis, the games I saw last year, summer team camps and 7-on-7, limited viewing at preseason practices, and finally coaches and program tradition/prestige.

I will be the first to admit that the Detroit News or Free Press’ preseason polls will be more accurate. They have more writers, information, time and resources at their disposal.

I will also say that by the third or fourth week of the season, by which time I will have seen 12-15 games and have a handle on many teams across the state, these rankings should become stronger.

So, without further adieu, DFR unveils its preseason football Super 40 for high school teams (all divisions) in Michigan. (more…)

Preseason opener: Lions/Bengals Primer August 9, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in Lions, NFL, Previews.
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detroit_lions_logo.jpg

Exhibition football serves its purpose – 10-play walk-throughs for starters, tuneups for the third and fourth stringers buried on the depth chart and exposure for players – Mr. Irrelevant, possibly? – fighting for those final roster spots.
And with the Lions steeped in their injury-prone tradition, its likely that the starters will see less than average exhibition time through the first three games this year.
All of which might make Thursday’s tape-delayed exhibition opener (9:30 p.m., Channel 50) virtually unwatchable for most. In many ways, that depicts a typical Lions regular season game. 
However, DFR will be watching and brings you a 5-point primer for both the Lions and Bengals on the eve of Detroit’s preseason opener at Ford Field.
About 4,000 tickets still remain (and at $40-70 a pop, that’s a positive), ensuring the live version game will be blacked out in the Detroit market.
Click through for the first installment of DFR’s preseason viewing guide. Why watch? Read on to find out …

(more…)