Two top-ranked teams and four of the best from metro Detroit highlight tonight's Prep Zone football games streamed live on FoxSportsDetroit.com.
This is the final week of home field advantage for any opponent. Next week’s Semifinals and 8-player Final all will be played at neutral sites. The winners of two of tonight’s Prep Zone games will meet in a Division 1 Semifinal on Nov. 19.
Here’s a preview of all four Prep Zone games. All kick off at 7 p.m., and all also will be archived for on-demand viewing at MHSAA.tv. (Rankings below by The Associated Press' panel of media voters.)
DIVISION 1: Walled Lake Central (8-3) at Utica Eisenhower (10-1)
Utica Eisenhower entered the postseason ranked No. 3 and is playing in its second straight Regional Final, with its best offensive output since finishing MHSAA runner-up in 2003. That 30-points-per-game effort is led by a pair of juniors – quarterback Joe Zerafa has thrown for 1,301 yards and 12 touchdowns, and junior running back Shane King has rushed for 687 yards and 12 scores. But the Eagles’ strength might be on defense. They haven’t given up a point since the first weekend of October, and have five shutouts total this season with senior linebacker Ray Shepler just two tackles from 100. Unranked Walled Lake Central, meanwhile, might be one of the surprises of this round after knocking out reigning state champion Lake Orion and then No. 8 Clarkston to open the playoffs. But remember, the Vikings did make the Division 2 Semifinals last season. And they are led again by senior quarterback Zac Leimbach, a master running the team’s option offense. He’s rushed for 1,610 yards and 21 touchdowns and thrown for 931 yards and six more scores.
Click to read more from the Detroit Free Press and Mlive.com.
DIVISION 1: Detroit Cass Tech (8-3) at Warren DeLaSalle (9-2), at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore
Considering five Cass Tech defensive players have committed to sign with Division I college programs in February – including hard-hitting linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone (Michigan) – it’s not surprising that the Technicians haven’t given up more than 18 points in a game since opening night, or more than seven in a game since mid-October. DeLaSalle’s records aren’t always flawless like others going into the playoffs, thanks in part to a tough Catholic League schedule. But the Pilots are playing in their fourth-straight Regional final and were ranked No. 5 in the final Division 2 regular-season poll before moving into Division 1 for the postseason. Those losses came to still-alive Detroit Catholic Central and Orchard Lake St. Mary, so guys like senior quarterback Shane Morris (1,658 yards, 19 TDs passing) and senior running back/safety Mike Abiragi (the team's leading rusher and tackler) have seen their share of star-studded opponents.
Click to read more from Mlive.com.
DIVISION 5: Dowagiac (10-1) at Lansing Catholic (11-0), at Holt Junior High
Lansing Catholic senior quarterback Cooper Rush continues to ascend MHSAA records lists in just about every passing category. His 2,792 yards this fall are good for 17th for one season, and his 33 touchdown passes are tied for 16th. Senior receiver Matt Macksood has caught 69 of those tosses for 1,094 yards and 15 touchdowns, and run for 750 yards and 10 more scores. Both have done that damage in 10 games, with the top-ranked Cougars’ 11th win a forfeit. Dowagiac’s defense could be up to the challenge though – the No. 9 Chieftains haven’t given up more than 14 points in a game this season. They’ve doubled their win total from 2010 and hit double-digit victories for the first time since 1996. Although leading tackler D.J. Hunt has missed all but the beginning of the playoff run with an injury, defensive ends Dontrell Tucker and Carl Grant combined for five sacks against Hopkins last week. They’ll be counted on to keep the rush on Rush.
Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal, Niles Daily Star and South Bend Tribune.
DIVISION 7: Harbor Beach (11-0) at Saginaw Nouvel (10-0)
Top-ranked Nouvel is off to its strongest effort since winning back-to-back MHSAA titles in 2006-07. The Panthers are averaging 48 points per game and scored fewer than 40 only twice, keyed by a pair of seniors – running back Bennett Lewis has rushed for 1,463 yards and 22 touchdowns, and quarterback Joe Buchalski has thrown for 1,000 yards and 18 scores. Harbor Beach, tied for the No. 7 spot, comes in with much less fanfare. But the Pirates have been here before, winning 12 games in 2007 and 10 in 2003. Junior Sloan Klaski will be a focal point – he leads the team with 146 tackles, and also 1,011 yards and 19 touchdowns running the ball. As a team, Harbor Beach averages 262 yards on the ground and could ride that in an attempt to keep Nouvel's offense off the field. The Pirates rise at crunch time: four of their last seven wins were by 12 points or fewer.
Click to read more from the Huron Daily Tribune and Saginaw News.
(Photo courtesy of Terry McNamara Photography.)