Huron League preview: St. Mary C.C. and Huron looked to be the top two teams againFootball  |
Title appears to be up for grabs
High school football practices have begun and the season opener is eight days away.
Huron League member Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central is the defending Division 6 state champion, and this season SMCC is hoping for similar success.
Here is a look as to how the season will unfold.
- Monroe St. Mary Catholic Falcons (13-1, 7-0)
It isn’t too often a team that just won a state championship has a new head coach the following season. However, that is exactly the case this season for SMCC.
Former junior varsity coach Adam Kipf is the new coach after taking over for his mentor, Jack Giarmo.
“The transition has been pretty smooth,” Kipf said. “Expectations for myself are high just as expectations for the program are high. I’ve learned from a great coach and I’m going to hold myself up to the same type of standard.”
Kipf said that there is a three-way race for the starting quarterback spot this year. Kipf said senior Austin Burger will likely get the nod.
“He has really improved from day one as a junior to two-a-days as a senior,” Kipf said.
Ultimately, whoever wins the job will be fortunate enough to have Justin Carrabino to hand the ball off to.
Last season Carrabino finished with over 1,900 all-purpose yards and according to Kipf he looks better than ever.
Kipf also mentioned Hunter Coombe, a returning starter on the offensive line, and Riley Woolford, a two-way starter at tight end and defensive end, as players to watch.
The Falcons have high expectations and Kipf believes his team is ready to go.
“They’re working hard and they are doing everything that we expect of them,” Kipf said. “They’re kind of picking up right where they left off last year.”
- New Boston Huron (11-2, 6-1)
Last season was a historic one for Huron and head coach Dan Kalbfleisch.
Huron made the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and for the only the second time in program history. Additionally, Huron scored a school record 387 points last season.
“I think winning a district and regional means a lot to these kids and they want to build on that,” Kalbfleisch said. “All the guys kind of want to keep it going.”
Things weren’t as great for Huron on the defense as the team allowed 251 points. Kalbfleisch said he isn’t too concerned this season.
“I thought we were pretty sound defensively when we needed to be last year,” Kalbfleisch said. “We started three juniors last year at linebacker and a sophomore and a junior at safety so we were pretty young in the back seven last year. So this year we are a pretty experienced back seven.”
One of those back seven Kalbfleisch has high hopes for is safety Garrett Krzeminski, who started in the playoffs.
On offense Huron has a lot of talent returning beginning with Matt Hartwick (QB). Other returning starters include Jacob Fryer (RB), Jakob Davis (G/DL), Dale Midkiff (G/DL), Steven Sinn (C/DL) and Bill Wallaker (LT/DL).
“We obviously anticipate that they’ll have good seasons and that they will stay healthy,” Kalbfleisch said. “As long as out o-line stays healthy (Hartwick and Fryer) will have monster years. We’ve got a lot of experience up front and that’s the best thing for Matt and Jacob.”
With a lot of core pieces returning look for Huron to compete again for the league title.
- Grosse Ile (7-3, 5-2)
Grosse Ile made its third trip to the playoffs in the last four years as it outscored its opponents 298-163.
The team will have a new starting quarterback after losing Andrew Mitroka to graduation. Mitroka led the team in carries and running back Andrew Vollmerhausen (98 carries, 563 yards and five touchdowns), a returning starter, is expected to carry the ball more.
The Red Devils passing game still should be formidable as they return receivers Justin Moores (25 receptions, 338 yards and four TDs) and Neil Smorch (13 receptions, 202 yards and four TDs).
Defensive lineman Dominic Trombley (67 tackles) and defensive back Tim Beach (55 tackles, three sacks) will also be back this season.
Grosse Ile has found a formula for success the last few seasons and should be competitive once again.
- Riverview (6-4, 4-3)
Riverview and Grosse Ile have a couple of things in common. Both teams have made the playoffs three of the last four seasons and both will have a new starting quarterback.
Riverview head coach Derek McLaughlin said Dakota Martin and Donell Williams are competing for the starting quarterback spot.
“It kind of matters what is going to be best for the team,” McLaughlin said. “They both have done good things. Well know who gets the job after the scrimmage.”
Riverview had a down year on offense as the Pirates scored 157 fewer points than in 2013.
On the positive side several key offensive players are returning including Tyler Chase (FB/LB), Brian Gubbini (TE/LB), Wyat Gardocki (G/DT) and Robert Pinkava (WR/DB).
“They are a really good group of kids. We have a strong core of seniors and they are a very tight knit group,” McLaughlin said. “We’re looking forward to this season.”
- Milan (4-5, 3-4)
Milan took a step back last season after consecutive 10-1 seasons in 2012 and ’13.
“It wasn’t much fun,” coach Jesse Hoskins said. “We were very young and inexperienced last year and we made a lot of mistakes.”
Hoskins is excited about a lot of key players returning but a big change is in store for Milan.
Last season’s starting quarterback Ej Medvecz is switching to linebacker, defensive line and running back.
“Ej is a great kid and we’ve had open communication all offseason about the possibility of a position change,” Hoskins said. “He has taken it great.”
Hoskins has not named Medvecz’s replacement but said it’s between Demetrius Barnes and Eric Price.
“Barnes is a better runner,” Hoskins said. “(Price) is a smart, experienced guy. They both provide something unique. Whoever doesn’t get the job will be out slot guy. “
Last season Barnes rushed for 463 yards and five touchdowns on 83 carries, which was second best on the team behind returning starter Trace Lindeman (153 carries, 1153 yards and 14 TDs).
Also returning on offense is receiver Cameron Elam who finished with 228 yards and one touchdown on 20 receptions.
Led by Cortez Gray (113 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two interceptions), Milan returns 10 starters on defense.
“It’s our second year in this defensive system. We are light years ahead this year of where we ended last year,” Hoskins said. “I’m excited to see what kind of defense we can be. We have high expectations across the board for our defense.”
Some other players Hoskins said to watch out for are Jordan Hendricks (LT), Max Protske and Cody Brassey-Brierley.
“To be a successful high school football team you have to be mentally mature and consistent, which is very unlike society these days,” Hoskins said. “Well see if we can be that team as the year progresses, but generally those are the teams that are successful. Hopefully we are on our way.”
- Carleton Airport (4-5, 2-5)
After the making the playoffs 18 consecutive seasons, Airport missed the last two.
“It’s obviously been tough,” coach Chad Baas said. “But 18 years is a great ride of success, and I was even a part of that.”
Airport’s starting running back last season, Dylan Meiring, is back and Baas is thrilled about that.
“He looks better than he did last year,” Baas said. “He rushed for a little over 1,500 yards last year so everyone is going to have a keen eye on him.”
Also returning is quarterback Bryce Cole, offensive lineman Derek Woodley and Brent Mossburg, a key defensive starter and two-way player.
“Our conference is extremely tough,” Baas said. “Our kids are working hard, putting in the time and now obviously the dedication and commitment and willingness to get things done should take us a long ways.”
If Airport can improve upon its record in league games it could make a playoff push.
- Monroe Jefferson (2-7, 1-6)
Jefferson has been toward the bottom of the league standings the past six seasons.
This season the team will look to move upward as 16 seniors return.
In his second year since taking over for long time coach Mark Cisco, Bruce Pickens will look to get his team back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
- Flat Rock (0-9, 0-7)
After consecutive 0-9 seasons Flat Rock has a new coach.
Brandon Reaume will be the man in charge for Flat Rock after spending time with the team as an assistant coach.
Last season Flat Rock was outscored by opponents 111-390, so Reaume has a tough task ahead of him.