Three Defending Champs in Action this Weekend

It's quarterfinal week in the Michigan state playoffs. With many key matchups going on throughout the state. Specifically, all three Division 1-3 state champions are left in the draw. As MichiganVarsity breaks down their matchups.

Division-1 Playoffs

Detroit Cass Tech (9-2) at Saline (11-1) Friday at 7 p.m.

Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher led the Technicians to a Division-1 state championship last season. With many thinking they have a good chance to repeat. Cass boasts what many feel is the best and most talented team in the state. The Technicians have a plethora of talent and are led by seniors Jourdan Lewis (Michigan), David Dawson, Daquan Pace (EMU), Kenton Gibbs, and Delano Hill (Iowa) to name a few. Junior running back Gary Hosey was PSL All-City, and four-star junior cornerback Damon Webb is the real deal. Not to mention sophomore quarterback Jayru Campbell is getting better every week.

Saline is led by first year coach Joe Palka, and while the Hornets are expected to be huge underdogs. Don't expect them to shy from the big bad Technicians of Detroit. Senior quarterback Tyler Palka leads the Saline attack and could give the Cass defense some fits. Plus, Saline has the luxury of hosting the big time matchup.

While I don't expect the Saline to lay down, I do expect Cass Tech's overall speed and talent to overcome the raucous crowd in Saline. Look for the talented duo of Lewis and Webb to expose the Hornets defense. Palka has some scrambling ability, but it won't be enough.

Prediction: Detroit Cass Tech 27 Saline 12

Division-2 Playoffs

Birmingham Brother Rice (9-2) at Walled Lake Western (9-2) Friday at 7 p.m.

Brother Rice is led by legendary coach Al Fracassa and senior quarterback Cheyne Lacanaria. Both are trying to lead the Warriors to their second straight Division-2 state championship. Lacanaria is the unquestioned leader of the offense and is helped by junior running back Brian Walker.On defensive side of the ball, Rice is led by senior four-star linebacker Jon Reschke (Michigan Sate), who has a knack of making a big hit when needed.

Walled Lake Western is led by coach Mike Zdebski, and the host Warriors will look to end Brother Rice's reign as state champs. Western will look for a strong running attack to keep the Rice offense off the field. Western has rushed for a 224.7 avg. and will look to control the clock in this big time match up. The Western defense is led by 6-foot-2 cornerback Joshua Jones (Illinois), who will have his hands full with Rice's smaller receiving core.

Both teams will try to establish the run game and control the clock. But this game might come down to who has the ball last, and if it is Brother Rice, I like their chances. Lacanaria has done it before and Walker might be the best receiving running back in the state. Look for Rice to get Walker involved early.

Prediction: Birmingham Brother Rice 21 Walled Lake Western 17

Division-3 Playoffs

East English Village Prep (9-3) @ Orchard Lake St. Mary's (9-2) Saturday 1 p.m.

East English Village Prep is led coach Rob Oden, who is looking to take the newly founded program to new heights. Also known as the Ville, Oden has plenty of talent to compete with Orchard Lake. His team is led by outstanding group of seniors, specifically running back Desmond "Buddha" King (Ball State) and tight end Khalid Hill (Michigan), who were both named PSL All-City. The talented duo should be able to give the St. Mary's defense fits all day. But is it enough to upset the defending Division-3 state champions?

Orchard lake St. Mary's brings a strong team to the table, they have the luxury of beating both Cass Tech and Brother Rice this season. And won arguably the toughest conference in Michigan high school football in the Detroit Catholic League. They are led by senior fullback Grant Niemiec and talented junior defensive back Jalen Watts-Jackson. The Eaglets defense is an outstanding group and have the pieces to stop King's rushing ability.

I expect this to be a low scoring affair. I know East English can score, but the St. Mary's defense is legit. Both are quality teams and this might be the best matchup of the weekend. In the end, the Eaglets will have the advantage of the home crowd and will sneak out with a narrow victory.

Prediction: Orchard Lake St. Mary's 14 East English Village Prep 10

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