Season previews: Downriver League race features familiar faces

Football   | Cameron Billes

State Champs! Sports Network


The kickoff to the 2015 football season is less than two months away and with a new season on the horizon, the 10 teams in the Downriver league hope they have what it takes to win this year’s conference title.


Here is a league preview for all 10 teams:


  1. Woodhaven (10-1, 9-0 league)


    Woodhaven dominated last season, outscoring opponents 383-243, and won the title. 


    Several coaches around the league said they expect Woodhaven to compete for another conference title, but they’ll have to deal with a relatively new roster.


    With more than 50 percent of the roster graduated, including its starting quarterback, coach Keith Christnagel will have to rely on senior running back Darious Nundley and junior Jalen Wellons to lead his team.


    Last season Nundley finished was fourth in total offense (520 rush and receiving yards); Wellons was fourth in tackles.


  2. Allen Park (8-2, 8-1)


Allen Park returns starting quarterback Antonio Mangiapane, who enters his junior year coming off a season where he averaged 114.5 passing yards per game and a rating of 137.8.


“Experience at the quarterback position is always good,” coach Tim Hoover said. “He isn’t going to be running for his life.”


Like Woodhaven, more than 50 percent of Allen Park’s roster graduated. Hoover says his team will have to mature early, especially since their toughest part of the schedule comes at the beginning.


Keep an eye out for Nate Berrelez who, as a junior, had 60 carries for 300 yards.


“Berrelez has dominated at the lower level but has always been behind someone,” Hoover said. “If he stays healthy he will have a good year.”


  1. Wyandotte Roosevelt (9-3, 7-2)


After making the playoffs last season for the ninth consecutive year, Wyandotte is expected to be right back in the title hunt.


David Long, Angelo Bartolo and Tyler Thorington are the three main players to watch next season. All three will be seniors.


Long rushed for over 630 yards. Thorington was the team’s leading receiver and second leading tackler. Bartolo led the team in sacks and finished sixth on the team in total tackles.


  1. Trenton (7-4, 6-3)


After outscoring opponents 289-223, Trenton made its first post-season appearance since 2008.


Unlike the three teams who finished ahead of them last season, Trenton lost 17 of its 61 players to graduation.


Coach Bob Czarnecki says he will rely heavily on his offensive line, which returns four starters from last season.


Czarnecki also said it will be beneficial to his team that he has so many returners, especially early in the season, because they will be more comfortable with the speed of play.

Patrick Czarnecki, the coach’s son, replaced Chris Mecure last season after he suffered an injury and will be the starting quarterback for Trenton this season.


“The expectation level can be a little higher than it has been the last few years,” coach Czarnecki said. “We have some significant pieces coming back.”


  1. Southgate Anderson (5-4, 5-4)


Southgate was the only team in the league to finish the season over .500 and miss the playoffs.


Coach Frank Vilardi said he is hoping this season the coaches improve as a staff after only going through their second full year last season.


Last season Southgate had a roster of 45, 22 of which graduated this June, but Vilardi said he expects more than 50 kids on the roster this season and was proud of how he didn’t have any players quit last year.


This season Vilardi said to watch for Hunter Angileri (OL/DL), Michael Baker (RB/LB), Kendrick Stanley (WR/FS) and Kavian Graham (WR/DB).



  1. Gibraltar Carlson (4-5, 4-5)


Offensively, Carlson should rank towards the top of the league.