Sportswriter Brandon Folsom asks the big questions ahead of Week 2 of the Michigan high school football season.
Can the Shamrocks find the finishing touch?
Detroit Catholic Central coach Dan Anderson didn’t give too long a speech after the game following a 20-16 Week 1 loss to Clinton Twp. Chippewa Valley.
“We have to play for all four quarters,” he told them.
Thanks to a 65-yard rushing touchdown by Evan Haeger, a 40-yard field goal by Jake Matigian and an 18-yard TD reception by QB Beau Jackson’s DJ Lee, the Shamrocks took a 16-6 halftime lead. .
Coming out of the locker room, Big Reds coach Scott Merchant looked as low as he could get.
And then the momentum changed.
Kameron Lloyd blew up a 57-yard run. It would have been a 58-yard TD. But as he was about to cross the goal line, Chippewa Valley’s Kaelin Shaw stripped the ball naked and forced a touchback as the ball rolled out the back of the end zone.
Shortly after, Big Reds running back Darren Hawkins scored a 1-yard touchdown. And less than 2 minutes later, DeShaun Lanier caught a nearly 30-yard touchdown reception from Andrew Schuster to complete the comeback.
The Shamrocks’ offense was scoreless throughout the second half. And Merchant spent the postgame slapping most of his players in the chest for showing tremendous struggle during the comeback.
So yes, Anderson was right: CC needs to learn to play a complete game.
“We definitely have to learn from that,” Anderson said. “I thought we played good sometimes. We just didn’t play a good second half. And I think as a young team, a green team, a lot of these guys didn’t get a lot of playing time last year, so they’re learning. It’s the Game 1, and it’s going to be a long season. We have to learn from this and get better, and we will.”
Can the Wildcats play a full 48 minutes?
Plymouth (0-1) allowed two early touchdowns, and it took a while for them to get their offense going during their 32-14 loss to Livonia Churchill (1-0) in Week 1’s Battle of the Big House.
And to top it off, it was held goalless in the second half.
But for about a 10-minute stretch of the first half, the Wildcats looked great on both sides of the ball. The defense was making stops, new quarterback Sam Plencner was setting up the offense for success and running back Jaxon McCaig, who rushed for a pair of touchdowns, had a team-best 205 yards for the most part.
That was just the effort coach Greg Souldourian expected from the Wildcats. They just didn’t play with that kind of tenacity through all four quarters.
The Wildcats host Northville (1-0) in Week 2. Expect Souldourian to emphasize finishing the game strong. The Mustangs aren’t going to turn around and concede a lead.
Are the Patriots ready to win the Livonia City Championship?
Churchill probably scored the biggest win of Week 1 by dominating Plymouth in the largest college stadium in the country. And the Chargers answered a lot of questions that many had about them before the season started. It looks like they will be competitive every week.
But let’s not overlook Livonia Franklin’s win in Week 1. The Patriots (1-0) defeated a rebuilding Canton team, 29-14, relying on their running game with running backs Cordell Mabins Jr. and Tyler Garrett. to do it. .
Several key starters have graduated from a year ago. Which, of course, included former QB Zac Olesuk. But Franklin still looks like the talented team he was when he got hot at the end of last season and battled his way to a state semifinal.
That raises a big question: Can Franklin beat both Churchill and Livonia Stevenson to win the Livonia city championship? They have a good opportunity to do so.
How will the Wildcats respond to adversity?
The Wildcats (0-1) should write an angry letter to the Kensington Lakes Activities Association schedule maker.
They took on defending state champion and last year’s league champion Belleville in Week 1, and now they get Hartland, last year’s KLAA-West champion, in Week 2.
So yes, a matchup with the Eagles isn’t ideal after a 41-10 loss to the top-ranked Tigers. But how the Wildcats respond to such a crushing loss will say a lot about this team.
All of Novi’s goals are still on the table. The Wildcats can win the KLAA-West. They can play in the KLAA title game. And they can make the playoffs.
But it will all start with a comeback performance against the Eagles.
Brandon Folsom covers high school sports in the Detroit metro area for Hometown Life. Follow him on Twitter @folshandonj.