After ranking all 28 high school football teams in Hometown Life’s coverage area prior to the season, sportswriter Brandon Folsom returned with his first top 10 ranking of the fall.
10. Redford Union (1-0; Last Week: No. 11)
The Panthers couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season. They went on the road and defeated Pewamo-Westphalia, winners of two of the last three Division 7 state championships. Plus, the win avenged a 27-point blowout the Pirates dealt them a year ago.
Up next for Redford Union is a trip to Dearborn Crestwood, which will be a pivotal matchup that will determine the champion of the Western Wayne Athletic Conference. Last fall, these two squads played just one one-touchdown game. But it was the Panthers who got the win. And they won their first league title since 2004.
9. Detroit Country Day (1-0; Last Week: No. 10)
The Yellowjackets not only beat Catholic League powerhouse Detroit Loyola for the third time in four seasons, they were able to do it by playing at Titan Field. That’s right, their Week 1 matchup was the first football game played on the Detroit Mercy campus since 1964.
Detroit Country Day has a tougher test this week as it takes on Parma Western, a D-3 team that has made the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons. Western plays in the always competitive Interstate Eight Athletic Conference.
8. Novi (0-1; Last Week: No. 5)
There is no shame in losing to the defending D-1 state champions. And that’s exactly what happened to the Wildcats in their tough Week 1 matchup against Belleville in the Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic.
The Tigers were full of future Division I college football players, including Bryce Underwood, the 2025 No. 1 quarterback in the country, according to 247Sports.
The schedule will be easier for Novi the rest of the way. But not much easier. The week 2 matchup is against Hartland, who won the Kensington Lakes Activities Association-West a year ago. If the Wildcats want to take the next step as a program, they need to beat a strong division opponent in the Eagles.
7. Livonia Franklin (1-0; Last week: No. 8)
The Patriots’ running game looked impressive in their Week 1 victory over Canton. But that’s not too surprising. Cordell Mabins Jr. is one of the best running backs in the Detroit metro area, and Tyler Garrett has now shown just how explosive he can be in coach Chris Kelbert’s backfield.
But Livonia Franklin didn’t need a pass to beat the Chiefs. So new starting quarterback JD Bates remains a bit of an unknown, as he replaces former starter Zac Olesuk, who now plays football and baseball at Alma College. In fact, Bates only attempted a handful of passes.
Bates’ arm won’t be needed in the Patriots’ KLAA-East opener against Wayne Memorial. But there might be some opportunities for him to show it off against the zebras.
Franklin is definitely a team on the rise.
6. Milford (1-0; Last Week: No. 9)
The Mavericks’ defense began the fall as one of the toughest in Hometown Life’s coverage area. Led by linebackers Wyatt Lesnew and Danny Sternberg, Milford nearly pitched a shutout in the season opener at New Boston Huron.
Now that defense will be further tested when the Mavericks visit South Lyon for their first game in the Lakes Valley Conference. Lions running back Tommy Donovan is as slippery as he gets, plus quarterback Braden Fracassi has returned after guiding South Lyon to a state semifinal in 2021.
If Milford’s defense can be as advertised, this should be a close battle between the LVC rivals.
5. Lyon South (0-1; Last Week: No. 3)
The Lions just didn’t have enough offensive firepower to keep up with Walled Lake Western in Week 1.
But that’s okay. The Warriors are poised to make a deep playoff run with their talented core of seniors, which includes all-star three from Minnesota, Drew Viotto and Darius Taylor.
How South Lyon bounces back and prepares for a tough matchup against the up-and-coming Mavericks will tell all we need to know about the Lions.
Are they capable of becoming an elite team again?
4. Brother Rice (0-1; Last Week: No. 1)
Maryland Nolan Ray’s commitment was a scratch before the Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic began, so the Warriors were without their best player. So it’s hard to blame them for losing by two points to the Macomb Dakota, one of the top teams in the Macomb Area Conference.
Cashton Papadelis played well in streaks while replacing Ray, a three-star recruit, at running back. Papdelis even scored on a 21-yard run. Other than that, Brother Rice struggled offensively.
And it was disconcerting to watch the Warriors punt on third down during the first series. Sure, catching the Cougars off guard might have helped change the field’s position, but the dog’s punt backfired. The play didn’t seem to inspire much confidence in the offense to move the chains.
Hopefully for Brother Rice, he can bounce back and find some offensive rhythm when he visits East Kentwood this week.
3. Birmingham Groves (1-0; Last Week: No. 21)
There is no question that the Falcons were the biggest surprise of Week 1.
They were lousy offensively a year ago. They scored just 118 points and were limited to one score or less in five of their nine games.
All that changed in his thrashing of North Farmington last week. Quarterback Caden Hardy threw for three touchdowns and running back Mario Compoy-Lovasco rushed for 262 yards and a touchdown.
If Birmingham Groves, who have a tough test in Week 2 at Oxford, can keep this up, they could have a shot at making the playoffs.
2. Detroit Catholic Central (0-1; last week: No. 2)
There’s no question about it: The Shamrocks had the most heartbreaking loss of Week 1. They led by 10 points until halftime and then couldn’t muster a single point in the second half. That allowed Clinton Twp. Chippewa Valley to come back for a four-point comeback win.
But maybe that’s not so bad. The Big Reds are 4 years away from winning a state championship and play in the ever competitive MAC-Red. Additionally, Detroit Catholic Central was inducting new quarterback Beau Jackson and a host of new starters.
The Shamrocks performed well during the half. If they can figure out a way to play a full game, they should be a better team than most members of the media predicted before the season. However, they have a tough trip to Davison in Week 2. So it could be a week or two before they get their first win.
1. Livonia Churchill (1-0; Last week: No. 7)
No one had more question marks entering this fall than Livonia Churchill. She had holes to fill in every skill position. At the university were quarterback Taj Williams, running back Boston Clegg Jr. and receivers Bailey Brooks and Joshua Brown.
That’s why no one outside the Chargers’ locker room expected them to look as good as they did in their victory over Plymouth in the Battle of the Big House.
Evan Snead threaded all the important passes he needed at QB. Jonathan Lytle-Montgomery brought incredible speed to the running back position, while Messiah Amerson was used as a spellbinding runner who ran hard between tackles. And then Jayden Allen had a breakout game as Churchill’s best two-way player. Not only did he catch touchdowns as a receiver, he also had a crucial interception as a defensive back.
The Chargers are unlikely to win KLAA-East with Belleville, the top seed in the division. But they sure had the best performance of Week 1 in the Hometown Life coverage area.
Of the top 10 places: Livonia Stevenson (0-1), Bloomfield Hills (0-1).
Also considered: Birmingham Seaholm (1-0), Northville (1-0), Livonia Clarenceville (1-0), South Lyon East (1-0, 1-0 LVC), White Lake Lakeland (1-0, 1-0 LVC) .
Brandon Folsom covers high school sports in the Detroit metro area for Hometown Life. Follow him on Twitter @folshandonj.