Woodward Talk high school football preview

By: Christian Davis | Woodward Talk | Published August 28, 2013

 The Ferndale High defense converges on a Clinton Township Chippewa Valley running back Aug. 22 at Rochester Adams. The Eagles return 15 starters from last season’s 3-6 team.

The Ferndale High defense converges on a Clinton Township Chippewa Valley running back Aug. 22 at Rochester Adams. The Eagles return 15 starters from last season’s 3-6 team.

Photo by Samantha Sergi

Game on

Berkley High
8/29 vs. Redford Thurston
9/7 @ North Farmington
9/12 vs. Hazel Park High
9/20 vs. Birmingham Seaholm
9/27 @ Auburn Hills Avondale
10/4 @ Ferndale High
10/11 @ Birmingham Groves
10/18 vs. Royal Oak High
10/25 vs. Dearborn Heights Robichaud

Ferndale High
8/30 vs. Livonia Clarenceville
9/6 @ Royal High
9/12 @ Birmingham Groves
9/20 @ North Farmington
9/27 vs. Hazel Park High
10/4 vs. Berkley High
10/11 vs. Birmingham Seaholm
10/18 @ Auburn Hills Avondale
10/25 vs. Hamtramck High

Madison Heights Bishop Foley
8-29 vs. Hazel Park
9-6 vs. Michigan Collegiate
9-13 vs. Harper Woods
9-20 @ Royal Oak Shrine 
9-27 vs. Wat. Lady of Lakes
10-4 vs. Riverview Gabriel Richard
10-12 @ Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood
10-18 vs. Allen Park Cabrini
10-25 TBD

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, including Brother Rice, Country Day, Cranbrook Kingswood, Oakland Christian, Lutheran Northwest, Notre Dame Prep, Southfield Christian, Royal Oak Shrine and St. Mary’s, visit our website at www.candgnews.com and click on the Sports link.

Ferndale High Eagles
Last season’s record: 3-6
League: Oakland Activities Association Blue Division
Returning starters: 15

Offensive keys:
The Eagles return five offensive linemen who have started at least one game, and two are three-year starters. Add Central Michigan University-commit Nate Brisson-Fast at tight end, and coach Ryan Dunlap expects to run the ball, and run it well.

“As a unit, they will average about 250 pounds,” Dunlap said of his linemen. “We will rely on them to run the ball effectively game after game.”

Defensive keys:
“Our front seven will be solid with (Shaquan) McGriff at linebacker and Brisson-Fast at defensive end,” the coach said. “I will lean heavily on our cover corners Chris Williams, Chris Colston and Tommy Martin. They make our man-coverage schemes work, and I will play all three of them against spread teams.”

Coach’s outlook:
After making the playoffs a school-record three straight times between 2006-08, the Eagles haven’t been back. With the talent and size on the roster, a division championship and playoff appearance may be on the horizon.

“We like this team a lot. They gained a great deal of playing time and confidence last season, and our senior class of 24 (players) is as experienced as we have had,” Dunlap said. “They are very talented, and we have very good size up front. … If we can stay healthy, we expect to compete for the Blue league title.”

Berkley High Bears
Last season’s record: 5-4
League: Oakland Activities Association Blue Division
Returning starters: Eight

Offensive keys:
The Bears hope to continue the momentum they gained in the last three games of last season, winning each one and scoring on average 33 points in the process.

First-year head coach Chris Sikora is familiar with the talent on the squad, coaching most of them on the JV level as freshmen and sophomores.

“We have an absolute ton of team speed,” Sikora said.

Sikora is bringing a spread-option attack to help find open space.

Defensive keys:
The defense looks much the same as it did last season with a 4-2-5 scheme.

“(The five defensive backs) allows us to keep all of our athletes on the field at once,” Sikora said. “(The key) is going to be kids stepping up and filling in gaps.”

Coach’s outlook:
“Avondale and Seaholm have always been very good. We’re looking to compete up there at the top,” Sikora said.

Being a new head coach, Sikora expects his history with the team to be an advantage.

“Knowing the kids, and most of them knowing me and the expectations I have for them on and off the field, I think will have a correlation in the classroom, as well,” he said. “I’m also a teacher in the building, so it’s not where they only see me coach after school — they see me the whole day, which is a giant benefit.”