10 CHSL teams kick off state football playoffs this weekend

9-prep-bowl-1Ten schools will represent the Catholic High School League in this fall’s Michigan football playoffs.

The action starts this weekend, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28-29. Check daily papers or log on to mhsaa.com/sports/football for kickoff times.

Only one of the schools is a defending state champion: Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep, which won back-to-back Division 3 titles the last two years. Do the Eaglets have the talent to make it a three-peat?

Is this the year Novi Detroit Catholic Central adds another chapter to its glorious state playoff history — what would be a state-record 17 appearances in the finals with 10 championships, the latest in 2009?

Or what about Detroit Loyola? Can the Bulldogs return to the Division 7 finals, where they found themselves in three of the last four years, winning it all in 2014?

Here’s a rundown:

In Division 1, the Shamrocks (9-0) host Howell (5-4). Five of CC’s wins came against non-CHSL opponents by an average of five touchdowns. The other four came in the Central Division, including two bruising struggles against St. Mary’s, capped off last Saturday night in the Prep Bowl A-B championship at Ford Field.

Trailing 14-10 with 2:45 leftto play and the ball on its own 20-yard line, sophomore Austin Brown, whom I regard as the league’s best quarterback, took command of the situation, leading a 15-play attack with 58 yards on clutch pinpoint passing and 18 yards scrambling, climaxed by an 11-yard touchdown aerial with 22 seconds remaining for a 17-14 win.

In Division 2, Detroit U-D Jesuit (6-2) hosts Oak Park (6-3). Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (6-3), turning around a 2-7 record a year ago, visits Warren Cousino (8-1).

In Division 3, St. Mary’s (5-4) will travel to Bay City to play John Glenn (7-2), whom the Eaglets trounced, 49-7, in a pre-district contest last year. Playing one of the toughest schedules in the state, coach George Porritt’s defense has shown a vulnerability against the pass, particularly a thrower as poised as CC’s Brown.

Formidable roadblocks to OLSM’s quest for three-in-a-row will be provided by the Eaglets’ last two finalist opponents who are also in the hunt: No. 1-ranked Muskegon, whom St. Mary’s shut out 7-0 for the 2014 title, and Chelsea (9-0), losers to the Eaglets, 29-12, for the 2015 trophy.

Also in Division 3, Dearborn Divine Child (7-2) will welcome Detroit Cody (6-3). Junior quarterback Theo Day paced the Falcons’ 35-24 conquest of Loyola in the Prep Bowl’s wildcard game. Day connected for three touchdown passes and rumbled 78 yards for a fourth.

In Division 4, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood (7-2) won’t have to go far to meet Detroit Country Day (9-0). The Cranes had little difficulty in posting a 30-0 win over Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes for the Prep Bowl C-D championship.

Coach Joe D’Angelo had few moments to spare for a post-game comment — “We’ve been blessed,” he said — before rushing across the field to join the reunion of the 1966 Detroit St. Ambrose Soup Bowl champions. He was an assistant coach in the Cavaliers’ 6-0 victory over Harper Woods Notre Dame.

In Division 7, Loyola (7-2) will host Madison Heights Madison (6-3). In Division 8, Royal Oak Shrine (7-2) hosts Fowler (6-3). And in what I think will be the most fascinating game of the opening round, Clarkston Everest Collegiate (7-2) will take on Our Lady of the Lakes (6-3) on the Lakers’ home turf.

You can’t blame Everest for the chip on its shoulder. They’re 0-5 against the Lakers in their young, four-year gridiron history, including three playoff games by a combined score of 111-7. A month ago, the Mountaineers came oh-so-close to finally beating their neighbors, losing 34-31, in overtime.

To add a little spice to the confrontation, the winner would play their fellow league member, Shrine, if the Knights prevail against Fowler.

Take your pick. There’s plenty of football fun to choose from.

Don Horkey may be reached at [email protected].