2017 Football Preview: Birmingham Groves

Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published July 19, 2017


Birmingham Groves

Team name: Birmingham Groves Falcons
Last season’s record: 11-2
League: Oakland Activities Association White Division
Returning starters: Four
First game: 7 p.m. Aug. 24 vs. Novi High

Offensive keys:
After averaging nearly 28 points per game a year ago, the Falcons graduated nine of 11 starters on the offensive side of the ball.

Simply put, gaining needed experience is the key for the Falcons, especially early on, as coach Brendan Flaherty said.

“We need to get guys experience,” he added. “At the same time, it’s going to be huge for us to establish our running game.”

Chaise Ford and Demonte McCurdy will see a majority of the carries.Ford is a returning starter.

Center Christian Zietvolgal is also back in his starting spot anchoring the line.

“We’ve tried to put as much pressure on as we can in practice,” Flaherty said. “We’ve been grinding. But you really can’t duplicate the game feel.”

Defensive keys:
The defense is a similar story, with only two starters from last year back in the mix.

Tackle Griffin Best will anchor the defensive line.

The Falcons are trying to duplicate a defense that allowed 10.9 points per game last year.

“That’s going to be tough, but the goal every year is to get better,” Flaherty said.

So how can his guys, with nine new starters, go about doing that?

“The big thing is getting lined up right, being in the right spot and building energy,” he said. “It will be tough to match what we did last year, but that’s the goal.”

Coach’s outlook:
“We expect to be a playoff team and a team that contends for the league title,” Flaherty said. “It’s really as simple as that.”


2017 Schedule:

vs. Novi High (6-5) — 7 p.m. Aug. 24
A pair of playoff teams from 2016 will kick off 2017, meeting for the first time ever on the gridiron.

vs. Rochester Hills Stoney Creek (2-7) — 7 p.m. Aug. 31
The only other meetings between these teams were a pair of Stoney Creek wins, 20-17 in 2009 and 30-14 in 2008.

at Berkley High (6-4) — 7 p.m. Sept. 8
Berkley will have this one circled. Groves ended the Bears’ season in 2016, rolling to a 56-15 victory in the opening round of the Division 2 playoffs.

vs. Oak Park High (7-4) — 7 p.m. Sept. 15
Oak Park went 7-4 a season ago, and that was after an 0-2 start. Groves assisted in that with a 13-12 win in Week 2.

at Farmington Hills Harrison (5-4) — 7 p.m. Sept. 22
Groves is 5-12 all-time against Harrison, but if it’s the recent past that counts, the Hawks need to be ready. Groves won 14-7 last year and 10-0 in 2015.

vs. Troy High (3-6) — 7 p.m. Sept. 28
It’s been awhile since Groves played Troy. The year was 2006, and Troy won an Oakland Activities Association Division 1 contest 23-21.

vs. Rochester High (5-4) — 7 p.m. Oct. 6
These teams met every year from 2004 through 2009 before going to different divisions. They reunite in Week 7 this fall.

at Birmingham Seaholm (3-6) — 7 p.m. Oct. 13
This is the 58th all-time meeting between these rivals, the most for both against any other school. Seaholm holds a 40-17 advantage, but Groves has won three in a row.

vs. OAA Crossover — TBD, Oct. 20