MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. – Austin Brown can spread it around.
The junior quarterback from Madison Heights Madison High School proved it on the football field, when he threw eight touchdown passes -- to four different receivers -- in the Eagles’ 54-7 season-opening victory over Warren Lincoln. Brown also showed it off the field where he spread the praise for his historic performance, giving shoutouts to his coaches, his offensive line, his wide receivers and his backup quarterback.
“First off, the play (calls) were all good,” Brown said. “I had great wide receivers that made it easy for me. Sometimes they were catching two-yard passes and making 90-yard touchdowns out of them."
Brown finished with 352 passing yards, all in the first half, and his eight passing TDs set a state record for most in a half. He broke the old mark of seven touchdown passes in a half, which was held by three people. Madison coach James Rogers said Brown impressed him with his ability to read the defense and call audibles at the line of scrimmage, including one that led to his third touchdown toss of the game.
The victory also signaled a comeback for Brown, a transfer from Detroit Novi Catholic Central who suffered a broken left leg in the state semifinals last year. Brown said he spent countless hours in the gym to rehab from the injury. So far, his work has paid off on the field and on the recruiting trail. He already has received scholarship offers from Toledo, Akron and Miami (Ohio).
"The one thing I tell him is to make sure he enjoys the process," said Rogers, who played cornerback at Michigan from 2007-2010. "Obviously, it’s a big thing for the future. But he’s still a kid."
For now, that means he’s focused on the football field and his Madison teammates.
Though he sat out the second half, Brown took great pride in his team’s hustle throughout the game. He singled out backup quarterback Tanner Barndollar for his hustle to bring down a Lincoln player following a turnover.
Meanwhile, Rogers said he has high hopes for his team, which went 6-4 last season and advanced to the state playoffs. The coach said the Eagles have depth at the skill positions on offense and talent in the defensive backfield.
Madison opens play in the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division on Thursday when the Eagles host St. Clair Shores South Lake. South Lake defeated Madison 54-28 last season, the Eagles’ only league loss of the year.
"It was only Week 1, but we have big goals," Brown said. "We have to get better each and every week."
Tough on top
Four of the eight defending state champions lost their opening games of the 2017 season.
- Detroit Cass Tech (Division 1) fell to Pickerington Central (Ohio) 24-21.
- Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (Division 3) suffered a 31-24 loss to Macomb Dakota.
- Grand Rapids West Catholic (Division 5) dropped a 27-24 decision to defending Division 6 champ Jackson Lumen-Christi.
- Pewamo-Westphalia (Division 7) lost 28-21 to Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central.
The setbacks might not be bad omens.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, the three-time defending state champion, also lost to Dakota in last year’s season-opener, and the Eaglets will look to get back on track against East Kentwood this week. Meanwhile, Detroit Cass Tech hosts Chicago Simeon (Illinois) on Friday at 7 p.m. Junior running back Anthony Williams Jr., a three-star recruit drawing interest from Michigan State, leads Simeon.
New era at CC
Novi Detroit Catholic Central defeated Sterling Heights Stevenson 36-0 last week to win its first game under new coach Dan Anderson.
Anderson replaces Tom Mach, who won 10 state championships in 41 years at Catholic Central. Mach is third all-time in state history with 370 victories.
One for the Thumb
Cass City hosts Ubly on Thursday in a matchup of playoff teams from a year ago. Cass City went 6-4 in 2016, while Ubly went 12-1, won the Greater Thumb East and advanced to the state semifinals. Both teams have started strong this year. Ubly shut out Unionville-Sebewaing 34-0, and Cass City defeated Flint Hamady 54-30 in Week 1.
Numbers to know
7: The number of overtime games in Week 1.
110: The total number of points scored in Davison’s 56-54 triple-overtime victory over Southfield Arts and Technology.
1894: The year Menominee and Marinette (Wisconsin) played their first football game. Menominee took the latest installment of the rivalry with a 26-6 victory on Aug. 26.