While we wait to see if the Michigan High School Athletic Association will give football the green light for competition by the start of Week 1, we can only hope we see some kind of action on the football field this summer. There are some excellent matchups scheduled throughout the entire season and MLive is listing 25 of the best ones to keep an eye on. Although matchups like the PSL championship or Catholic League Prep Bowl games will surely be great matchups, we are only highlighting the matchups with teams already decided.
Below is MLive’s weekly guide to the top 25 high school football games on the 2020 schedule in Michigan.
Jackson Lumen Christi vs. Kalamazoo United
This is a great battle to kickoff the season between two of the state’s smaller school powers. Last year, Lumen Christi was able to grind out a 14-12 win, going on to finish state runner-up in Division 7. After starting the season 0-3 last year, United went on to finish 7-2, advancing all the way to the Division 5 regional finals. Both teams will have a lot of experience and skill to replace, but another clash of two prestigious programs to open the season should be an entertaining event.
Detroit Martin Luther King at Pickerington Central (OH)
Detroit Martin Luther King has been to a state title game in four of the last five seasons, winning three of them. Pickerington Central has been to three state championships in the last four years in Ohio, winning two of them. Not only is this a battle of two powerhouse programs, it’s a battle for state bragging rights. King will be led by one of the state’s top 2023 recruits in quarterback Dante Moore, who has offers from Michigan and Michigan State. Moore will have plenty of targets, including skilled 2022 wide receiver Lynn Wyche-El. Also, safety Jaylen Reed (2021, Penn State) will lead King’s talented defense.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s at Oak Park
These two programs are meeting for just the second time ever, having met for the first time back in 2013 when Oak Park upset St. Mary’s, 25-20. Oak Park was still early in its resurgence then. Now, it is a program that has made the state tournament eight years in a row. St. Mary’s returned to power in 2018 after two down years. Oak Park has plenty of future NCAA Division I talent, including running back Davion Primm (Michigan State) and four-star offensive lineman Rayshaun Benny. St. Mary’s 2022 linebacker Jordan Cannon already has a Michigan offer.
Clinton Township Chippewa Valley vs. Detroit Catholic Central
These two programs have not met since 2003 in the Division 1 state semifinals. Catholic Central won that game, 26-7, and claimed the state title the next week. Catholic Central went to six title games after that, winning one. Chippewa Valley won the 2018 Division 1 title, its second state title ever. Catholic Central is one of the best teams at wearing down its opponents with disciplined hard-nosed football. Chippewa Valley, meanwhile, has benefitted from having plenty of stud recruits in recent seasons. This year, it will be twin brothers Jaillen and Quillen Howze – both Buffalo commits – leading the way.
Muskegon Mona Shores vs. River Rouge
Although the fate of this game is still up in the air after the cancellation of the Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic event supposed to be held at Wayne State, anyone who cares about football would want to see this game rescheduled. River Rouge claimed the program’s first state title by winning the Division 3 state championship in convincing fashion over favored Muskegon. Now, it starts off 2020 against a Mona Shores team that claimed the Division 2 state title, winning its first championship last season as well. Sure to be one of the top games of the season, there is a lot of intrigue when looking at this matchup as it is the first meeting between the two talented programs. River Rouge quarterback Mareyohn Hrabowski returns at quarterback and hopes to make a massive Week 1 statement.
Detroit Country Day at Montague
Last year, Detroit Country Day finished runner-up in Division 4 while Montague fell just short in the Division 6 semifinals. Both programs have proud winning traditions, which makes this first meeting between the two teams even more exciting. Country Day has Northwestern commit Caleb Tiernan leading the way in the trenches while two-way standout Saborn Campbell (Stanford baseball commit). Montague has quarterback Drew Collins, who has offers from Valparaiso, Siena Heights and Hope. Also, two-way lineman Walker Martin has offers from Valparaiso and Grand Valley State, among others.
Detroit King at Muskegon Mona Shores
A rematch of the 2019 Division 2 state final in Week 2? Yes, please. Last year, King entered the Division 2 state championship game as the favorite, but Mona shore left as the champion after a 35-26 victory. Both quarterbacks from last year’s title game return to face each other as King as super sophomore Dante Moore and Mona Shores brings back senior Brady Rose. King will be looking for some revenge but will have to travel three hours across the state to do it.
Muskegon at Detroit Cass Tech
This long overdue first meeting between these two powerhouse programs has the makings of a classic. Sure, Muskegon needs to move on from the graduation of record-setting quarterback Cameron Martinez (Ohio State), but there is plenty of talent back. In the 2021 class, Muskegon has three-star safety Tyreese Oakes and safety Julius Sims giving the Big Reds a strong secondary. Senior Amari Crowley looks to be next in line to fill the athletic shoes at quarterback while 2022 defensive end Dametrius Walker is a rising star. Cass Tech has the highly talented King twins, Kobe and Kalen, who are both committed to Penn State. Center Raheem Anderson is a four-star prospect committed to Michigan. The Technicians are loaded on both sides of the line this fall, with Terrance Enos (Pitt), Doran Ray (Toledo), Clarence Wilson (Toledo), Jackson Pruitt and Masai Reddick adding plenty of size talent in the trenches.
Warren De La Salle at Davison
Davison lost two games in its first state championship season last fall, one of which was against Warren De La Salle. Davison avenged its second loss to Lapeer in the state playoffs. Now, Davison will look to complete its revenge cycle when it hosts the Pilots in Week 2. Davison returns stud quarterback Brendan Sullivan (Northwestern) while De La Salle looks to move on from last season’s hazing scandal that saw former Grand Rapids West Catholic coach Dan Rohn come in to take over the reins in the aftermath. This is a major early statement game for both teams.
River Rouge at Grand Rapids Catholic Central
River Rouge won’t be able to relax at all after its opening week matchup against Mona Shores as it turns around to travel across the state to face Division 4 defending state champion Grand Rapids Catholic Central. Last year, GRCC gave River Rouge its only loss of the season in Week 1 with a 17-14 win. River Rouge, of course, will look to avenge its only loss and make sure the long bus ride home is a fun one. Although running back De’Andre Bulley has graduated, quarterback Mareyohn Hrabowski returns to build off his breakout state championship performance last year.
Saline at Chelsea
Saline has been undefeated in SEC Red play since 2019 while Chelsea went undefeated in SEC White play last year and in 2016. The last time these two Ann Arbor area powers met was in 2013, so it is about time they meet on the gridiron again. The Bulldogs would make a huge statement if they beat Saline, an opponent with 1,000 more students at its school. Chelsea was undefeated on its home field last season, but Saline is unlike any team they saw last regular season.
DeWitt at East Lansing
DeWitt is one the most successful Lansing-area teams every year while East Lansing is riding a four-season playoff streak. Last year, East Lansing had one of its biggest wins over DeWitt with a 21-2 win in Week 5. However, DeWitt got the last laugh by claiming a 21-13 win over East Lansing in the district opener. Before last season, DeWitt had won four of five meetings – including three in a row – between the two teams. East Lansing brings back the state’s top wide receiver, Andrel Anthony (Michigan) and one of the state’s top lineman in Ethan Boyd (Michigan State).
Ishpeming at Ishpeming Westwood
Ishpeming has dominated the series between the two programs. Last year, however, Westwood recorded its most dominant victory with a 38-0 win over the Hematites. This Week 4 matchup of neighboring rivals could be one of the most anticipated U.P. games of the year. Both teams are replacing quarterbacks from last year so it will be interesting to see what talent will be leading each team under center.
Traverse City West at Traverse City Central
These two northern Michigan rivals have a great back-and-forth rivalry and have split the last four meetings against each other. Last year, Central (8-2) rocked West (7-3) with a 32-0 victory – one of the most lopsided in the rivalries history – before both went on to qualify for the state playoffs. Last year, West was looking to adjust to key injuries as Central took full advantage. If both teams are healthy, this year’s meeting should be a more traditional slugfest.
Walled Lake Western at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
Last year, Walled Lake Western dominated the Lakes Valley Conference. However, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s brought Western back down to Earth in the first regular season meeting between the two programs as the Eaglets snagged a 38-35 victory. In that game, Western quarterback Zach Trainor left the game with the injury in the first half before backup Jonathan Abele nearly rallied the team to victory along with wide receiver standout Abdur-Rahman Yaseen (Purdue). Although Yaseen is gone, Trainor (Eastern Illinois) is back and looking to improve on a season that saw him set multiple school records in passing last fall. St. Mary’s and it’s defense always plays tough on the Red Sea field at St. Mary’s. St. Mary’s can run the ball better than most schools and always has depth at running back and fullback. Will the air attack of Western prevail or the bruising ground game of the Eaglets?
West Bloomfield at Oak Park
Although these teams have meet in each of the last two years, they have not played each other near enough as many would like to see. Often among the Oakland Activities Association teams that have the most future NCAA Division I talent on their respective rosters, this year will mark the first time they face each other as OAA Red Division opponents. West Bloomfield has taken one-score victories over the Knights the last two years and there is no reason to think this season will be any different. Both teams have Division I-bound running backs with Oak Park sporting Davion Primm (Michigan State) and West Bloomfield bringing Donovan Edwards, the top-rated running back in Michigan, to the table. There is also Division I talent on both sides of the ball. Oak Park might have a talent advantage in the trenches, but West Bloomfield counters with one of the strongest linebacker and secondary groups in the state.
Detroit Martin Luther King at Detroit Cass Tech
Despite this still being in the first half of the regular season, both of these teams will be battle tested and looking to fire on all cylinders for this rivalry matchup. Cass Tech recovered from its 2-4 start last season – including a 47-7 loss to King – to make it to the Division 1 semifinals. Don’t think Cass Tech has forgotten that game. The Technicians return a massive number of players from last year’s young roster and will be looking for revenge. That will be easier said than done, however, as King remains loaded and has arguably the top quarterback in Detroit in sophomore Dante Moore.
Dearborn Fordson at Belleville
This game has been the showdown of the season in the KLAA and the Western Wayne before that for some time now. Last year’s showdown was a classic as Belleville escaped Fordson’s field with a 20-19 victory on a late touchdown. Belleville senior Christian Dhue-Reid is one of the state’s most experienced and productive quarterbacks returning to the field this season while Fordson brings back talented wide receiver Antonio Gates Jr., the son of the former dominant NFL tight end with the same name. These two teams are primed to be the best in the KLAA once again, so circle this on the calendar.
Mona Shores at Muskegon
For the first time, Mona Shores will head into its rivalry game with Muskegon as a defending state champion. The Sailors will look to end a four-game skid against Muskegon while looking to battle for OK Green supremacy for the first time. On the way to its Division 2 title last fall, Mona Shores was obliterated by Muskegon, 53-0. Still, the Sailors regrouped and won its final six games while Muskegon fell in the Division 3 title game to River Rouge.
Cedar Springs at Grand Rapids Catholic Central
These teams are in the OK Gold conference together for the first time this fall, setting the stage for a particularly interesting conference title race. Cedar Springs is 19-4 over the last two seasons, including back-to-back undefeated seasons in the OK White. Catholic Central comes in from after running the table in the OK Blue in four of the last five seasons. Catholic Central holds an all-time 4-0 record over Cedar Springs and the two teams are meeting for the first time in five years.
East Grand Rapids at Grand Rapids Christian
Both of these teams made the move from the OK Gold to the OK White this season. Last year, Christian’s 38-31 win over EGR decided the OK Gold title. This year, however, things will be a bit tougher for both teams with programs like Byron Center, Forest Hills Central and Lowell in the division. Still, EGR and Christian will be contenders and this game could very well provide the league champ.
Rockford at East Kentwood
Last season’s two meetings between these programs happened in back-to-back weeks as Rockford won 17-7 in Week 9 before East Kentwood returned the favor with a 38-12 to open the state tournament. Longtime Rockford head coach Ralph Munger retired after last season after many, many years of success. This year, Brent Cummings takes over as head coach for Rockford after serving over a decade as an assistant with the team. East Kentwood is only two years removed from its perfect OK Red season.
Detroit Martin Luther King at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley
King is certainly no pulling any punches with its schedule this season. Capping the regular season with a trip to Chippewa Valley only seems fitting. Chippewa Valley is 33-3 over the last three seasons and claimed the Division I state championship. Detroit King has been in either the Division 2 or Division 3 state championship game in four of the last five years. It is set to be the first meeting between the two teams since 2003.
Pewamo-Westphalia at Lansing Catholic Central
Both of these teams are the pride of the Lansing area as Catholic Central is the defending Division 5 state champion while Pewamo-Westphalia is the defending Division 7 champion. Could we ask for a better time for these to teams to meet? The last meeting was back in 2013 when the Pirates won, 20-7. However, Catholic Central holds the overall edge in the series, 3-1.
Davison at Lapeer
Lapeer came up with a thrilling 24-21 double-overtime win over Davison in Week 9 last year. However, Davison got revenge with a 42-21 win over Lapeer in the district finals two weeks later, going on to claim its first state championship. Lapeer limited Davison quarterback Brendan Sullivan compared to his usual numbers last season. Will they be able to contain him once again?
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