"We had a real good year from our junior varsity," coach Tom Mach said. "Our junior class is returning some good players for this year. We have one of the top running backs in the state with Derek Brooks."
Brooks rushed for 204 yards and four touchdowns in the state title game last year. In a regular-season win against Detroit Country Day, he had 180 yards on 20 carries.
"I usually play summer baseball," Brooks said. "I took that off this year. I went to a couple of football camps and we had workouts three times a week for football."
Brooks is hoping to turn his game up a few notches this year.
"I just want to go with my instinct more," he said. "And I want to be as much of a leader as I can."
"I'm still keeping a lot of options open," he said. "I'd like to make a decision as soon as possible. You actually don't have that much time after the high school season to consider all of your choices. I definitely want to wait for now."
Brooks said he'll visit Notre Dame and possibly Michigan since those are presently his top two candidates. But he's going to carefully weigh his options.
"I have to be comfortable with all aspects of the program," he said "I have to feel comfortable with the coaching staff. There will be a lot of factors."
In his senior high school season, Brooks is fully aware that the opposition will be out to shut him down, but that could be a blessing for the Shamrocks, he said.
"It's going to be very difficult to focus on one person," Brooks said. "We use a lot of people on our offense. Even if I have to be something like a decoy, that's OK."
Brooks won't settle for anything less than a state title.
"I'm pretty excited about the team," he said. "We have a lot of people back from last year. The guys will come back in better shape this season."
Winning another Division I title, "is the goal, definitely," Brooks said. "We open the season with Detroit Denby in the PSL (Public School League). I'm not too sure about them. Our second game is against a Canadian team from Windsor (Sandwich), and I'm not too sure about them. Then we go into the Catholic League, which is always difficult. All the teams usually play their best game against us."
Brooks will continue to play basketball and baseball after his final prep football season.
"Those sports keep me in shape year-round," he said. "They help me keep my competitiveness."
Brooks anticipates seeing some action at defensive back this year. "I do favor offense a lot more than defense," he said. "Two years ago, a starter got hurt and they needed someone these. If they need me to play there, that's fine."
Brooks has played organized football for nine years and is anxious to keep it going when he completes his senior season with Catholic Central.
"It's been my goal for a long time to play for a Division I college football team," he said.