Football Preview: Rochester Hills Stoney Creek

By: C & G Sports Staff | Rochester Post | Published August 7, 2018

Team name: Rochester Hills Stoney Creek Cougars
Last season’s record: 3-6
League: Oakland Activities Association White Division
Returning starters: 3
First game: 7 p.m. Aug. 23 vs. Utica Ford II

Offensive keys:
Stoney Creek only averaged 10.3 points per game last season, which was the lowest output for the program since 2011. Only one starter returns to the unit, with senior Frank Potenza III at quarterback.

First-year coach Nick Merlo said it makes it much easier to start his inaugural year at the helm with a four-year varsity starter under center.

“For us, we’re going back to the basics and simply trying to execute in everything that we’re trying to do,” Merlo said. “It’s very comforting to have a four-year starter handling the ball on every play. He’s one of those elite kids who can play at the next level, and we’re excited to have him back.”

Defensive keys:
Stoney Creek’s defense had highs and lows last season, limiting opponents to 14 points or less five times while also surrendering 45 or more on three separate occasions.

Merlo highlighted his defensive line as the unit’s strength, pointing to Jake Ropeta and Blake Hamelin as standouts.

“Defensively, we want to be aggressive,” Merlo said. “We have to get off blocks and be elite tacklers.”

Coach’s outlook:
“The thing that we were focused on really changing in the first year is the culture,” Merlo said. “We used the phrase ‘armor up,’ and it’s something we live by and work for. That’s something our community has responded really well to and bought in. It’s not just the players, but the coaches, teachers, administration and parents. When you face adversity, you choose to armor up every day. It’s something that transcends football.”             — Timothy Pontzer

 

2018 SCHEDULE

vs. Utica Ford II (2-7) — 7 p.m. Aug. 23
These two sides clashed for the first time last season. In a Week 1 affair, the Cougars earned a 19-12 victory over the Falcons.

vs. Troy High (6-4) — 7 p.m. Aug. 30
This series is relatively new, only starting up in 2012. Last season saw the Colts earn a last-second 7-3 victory, but the Cougars lead the overall series 3-2. The win proved crucial for Troy, as its six-win total gave the program its first playoff berth since 2009.

vs. Birmingham Groves (7-3) — 7 p.m. Sept. 7
Stoney Creek leads the series 2-1, but fell 14-3 last season in Week 2. The Falcons aim for a sixth straight postseason appearance.

at Oak Park High (9-3) — 7 p.m. Sept. 14
The Cougars wait until Week 4 for their first road game of the year. Oak Park leads the series 5-2, including a 48-0 decision last season. That marked the worst margin of defeat in Stoney Creek program history.

at Farmington Hills Harrison (10-4) — 1 p.m. Sept. 22
This will be the last year of Harrison’s football program. Last year, Harrison earned a Division 3 runner-up finish, falling to Muskegon High in the title game. The Hawks lead the Cougars 5-1 in the all-time series.

vs. Oxford High (2-7) — 7 p.m. Sept. 28
From 1982 to 2014, Oxford had only a single losing season. Since then, the Wildcats have gone a combined 9-18. Overall, Oxford leads the series 4-1, including three straight victories from 2014 to 2016.

at Troy Athens (0-9) — 7 p.m. Oct. 5
These programs last battled in 2015. The Red Hawks have only managed 12 combined wins over the last six seasons. Stoney Creek leads the series 5-2.

vs. Rochester High (3-6) — 7 p.m. Oct. 12
The Falcons are Stoney Creek’s most common opponent. The Cougars hold a 6-5 lead in the series. Over the past four seasons, the two sides have alternated winners, with Rochester securing a 17-16 victory in the final seconds in Week 8 last year.

at Rochester Adams (9-2) — 7 p.m. Oct. 19
Aside from a 2014 Week 1 victory by the Cougars, Adams has dominated the series. The Highlanders lead it 9-1, including last year’s 45-7 victory.