Journal high school football preview

Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published August 27, 2013

 The Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse football team opens up the 2013 season Aug. 29 against Anchor Bay. Pictured is Lancers senior quarterback Nicolas Arnold during a preseason practice.

The Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse football team opens up the 2013 season Aug. 29 against Anchor Bay. Pictured is Lancers senior quarterback Nicolas Arnold during a preseason practice.

Photo by Donna Agusti

Game on
The 2013 Michigan High School Athletic Association football season officially kicks off Aug. 29. Here’s a look at the local teams’ schedules. Listed are home and away games.

Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse
8-29 vs. Anchor Bay
9-6   vs. Grosse Pointe North
9-13 @ Port Huron Northern
9-20 @ Sterling Heights Stevenson
9-27  vs. Utica High
10-4 @ Macomb L’Anse Creuse North
10-11 @ Fraser
10-18    @ Grosse Pointe South
10-25 vs. St. Clair Shores Lake Shore

Clinton Township Clintondale
8-29 @ Madison Heights Lamphere
9-6 vs. Warren Lincoln
9-14 @ Center Line
9-20 vs. St. Clair Shores Lakeview
9-27 @ Clawson
10-4 vs. East Detroit
10-11 @ Mount Clemens
10-18 @New Haven
10-25 vs. St. Clair Shores South Lake

Mount Clemens
Aug. 29  @ Algonac
Sept. 6    vs. New Haven
Sept. 13  @ Warren Lincoln
Sept. 20  @ Sterling Heights
Sept. 27  vs. Center Line
Oct. 4      @ Madison Heights Madison
Oct. 11    vs. Clinton Township Clintondale
Oct. 18    vs. Clawson
Oct. 25    @ Warren Woods Tower

Macomb Lutheran North
8-29 vs. Yale
9-6 vs. Allen Park Cabrini
9-13 @ Livonia Clarenceville
9-20 vs. Dearborn Divine Child
9-27 vs. Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard
10-4 @ Harper Woods High
10-11 @ Pontiac Notre Dame Prep
10-18 @ Detroit Loyola
10-25 vs. Richmond

Prep football teams will be back on the gridiron beginning Aug. 29. Here’s a rundown of each local team, along with a couple of the neighboring private school squads.

For all the previews from our local teams, visit our website at and click on the Sports link.

Mount Clemens Battling Bathers
Last season’s record: 2-7
League: MAC Bronze
Returning starters: Five

Offensive keys:
Mount Clemens High coach Harold Penn said his team must execute on offense if it hopes to return to the Michigan High School Athletic Association state playoffs for the first time since 1994. The Bathers tallied just 15.1 points per game in 2012 after notching 26.8 per game in 2011. Penn is looking for solid contributions from senior running backs Marquell Sanders and Jesse Stevens, senior offensive linemen Roberto Moya and Zach Zinser, and junior running back Noah O’Brien.

Defensive keys:
Penn said his defensive players must focus on pursuing the ball and limiting big plays by the opposition. Mount Clemens fielded a solid defense in 2012, allowing just 16.6 points per game — good for seventh in the 36-team MAC. The Bathers surrendered just 1.5 points per game more than they scored, meaning Mount Clemens was in several tightly contested games. Penn expects strong play from Sanders (defensive back), Stevens (defensive back), Moya (linebacker), Zinser (defensive line) and O’Brien (linebacker).

Coach’s outlook:
Penn said he expect his group to be competitive in the MAC Bronze. There had been some talk that Mount Clemens would not field a team this season due to a lack of player interest, but he was re-hired in July. He said it’s important for Bathers student-athletes to have the opportunity to play football.

“It means a great deal to the kids to have a football team because it is a part of their high school experience. These are memories they will have forever of playing with their friends who they grew up with.”


Clintondale Dragons
Last season’s record: 9-1
League: MAC Bronze
Returning starters: Eight


Offensive keys:
Clintondale coach Dave Schindler said it’s vital for the Dragons’ offensive line to open up holes for the backs to run through. Schindler, in his ninth year with the Clintondale football program, has led the Dragons to the Michigan High School Athletic Association state playoffs four times, including an appearance in a Division 4 regional in 2008. Schindler is looking for strong play from senior offensive guard Jacob Evilsizer.

Defensive keys:
Schindler said it’s essential for the Dragons’ secondary to limit big plays through the air. Clintondale’s defense held opponents to 16.4 points per game last season — 14.4 in five league matchups. The Dragons have won league titles in two of the last three seasons. Schindler is looking for solid contributions from senior defensive back Luwayne Harris and senior linebackers Malik Hazzard and Trey Barksdale.

Coach’s outlook:
“We have a lot of experience from last year, and we hope that pays off with another championship.”
— Jason Carmel Davis

Harrison Township
L’Anse Creuse Lancers
Last season’s record: 5-4
League: MAC Blue
Returning starters: Six

Offensive keys:
L’Anse Creuse coach Don Roda said his offensive line must develop into a strong unit. He added the Lancers need solid quarterback play this season. Roda said he’s looking for strong play from senior kicker/punter Andrew Courtemanche, senior offensive lineman Chase Diehl, senior quarterback Nicholas Arnold and senior running back Elijah Richardson.

Defensive keys:
Roda said the L’Anse Creuse defensive ends needs to develop into disruptive forces. He also said the linebacking core needs to play well. The Lancers’ secondary could be a strength for the team, as Roda said he expects contributions from a trio of senior defensive backs: Justin Wakefield, Gregory Stubbs and Trevon Boswell. L’Anse Creuse allowed 17.8 points per game last season.

Coach’s outlook:
“On paper, this is supposed to be a down year after the large graduating class of last year. However, we do have some very good, skilled-position players and front line players that could make this year very interesting.”

Macomb Lutheran North
Last season’s record: 5-4
League: Catholic-AA
Returning starters: 12

Offensive keys:

Coach Ryan Wesley cited getting the ball downfield as an offensive key for the Mustangs. Wesley is hoping that plan of attack will open up more room for running back Trevor Mason, who Wesley said had more than 1,300 total yards last season and was selected to the All-Catholic team.

“We’ve got a great group of skill position players, who, hopefully, will remove people out of the box and give us room to run,” he said. “We’ve got a tremendous running back; we’ve got a tremendous quarterback (Will Kruse). This will be his fourth year on varsity, so we’re expecting big things out of him. Big, strong kid with a 4.2 GPA — he’s really smart in his decision-making.”

Wide receiver Vince Petitta, tight end Travis McConnell, and the offensive line, including tackle Austin Bass, could also play a big role in the offense.

Defensive keys:
Defensively, Wesley wants his squad to be aggressive and “get after people.” He offered some ideas as to how his defense can go about doing that.

“Be strong up front,” Wesley said. “We’re going to run a 3-4 and try to move a lot of people around — not just be a typical sit-back defense.”

Coach’s outlook:
Wesley said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the upcoming season. If North is able to make a postseason appearance, the path to get there isn’t likely to be an easy one.

“We’ve got our toughest schedule in school history,” Wesley said. “I think somewhere around seven or eight of our nine opponents were in the playoffs last year. Two of them — (Detroit) Loyola and (Ann Arbor) Father Gabriel Richard — made it to, at least, the final four.”

Warren De La Salle Pilots
Last season’s record: 5-4
League: Catholic High School League Central
Returning starters: Six

Offensive keys:
De La Salle coach Paul Verska said taking care of the football and developing the offensive line will be vital to De La Salle’s offensive success this season. Verska is looking for contributions from senior quarterback Giovanni Rescigno, senior running back Sam Badalamenti, senior offensive lineman Stephen Garrity, senior wide receiver Brent Morris and senior wide receiver Carter Wilson. Last season was the first time De La Salle missed the Michigan High School Athletic Association state playoffs since 2005.

Defensive keys:
Verska said stopping the opposition’s ground game and limiting big plays are musts if the Pilots hope to have a strong season. Verska said he expects strong play from senior linebacker Jared Wangler and senior defensive back Mario Agosta.

Coach’s outlook:
“We will be young, but look forward to developing our youth throughout the season.  We have one of the most difficult schedules in the state, which really minimizes our room for error but creates a great opportunity for our program. 

“We had a tremendous commitment to the off-season workout program. We hope that the effort and enthusiasm showed in the off-season will carry into the fall.”