How good is Belleville? How good is Dearborn Fordson?
“We’ll see after Friday’s game,” Fordson coach Fouad Zaban said of the matchup between the two undefeated high school football teams. “This will be a big challenge for us.”
“I think,” Belleville coach Jermain Crowell said, “this is the game where we figure out who we are.”
So far the results have looked pretty darn good.
Both are undefeated, and the winner of this week’s game in Dearborn picks up its sixth victory of the season and a spot in the state playoffs. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
In addition, the victor will take over sole possession of first place in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue Division.
“You can’t ask for more than that,” Crowell said.
So far, you couldn’t have asked for much more from both Belleville and Fordson.
Belleville has posted three consecutive shutouts and scored at least 50 points in each of its last four games. Last week, the Tigers defeated Dearborn 58-0.
It all starts on defense for Belleville.
The Tigers’ secondary boasts three potential Division I recruits.
Senior cornerback Davion Williams has committed to Michigan State, and senior cornerback Kmare Carey has committed to Western Michigan. A third senior cornerback, Patrick Lupo, has drawn interest from Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Minnesota, and Purdue.
Despite all of the college recruits, Crowell said sophomore Andre Seldon has played the best of anyone in the Belleville secondary. Seldon has three punt returns for touchdowns.
Crowell also praised the play of linebacker Marvin Ham, defensive end Jalen Hunt, and Damon Payne, who returned an interception for a touchdown last week.
On offense, Belleville is led by the No. 1 junior recruit in the state, offensive lineman Devontae Dobbs.
The Tigers play two quarterbacks, freshman Christian Dhue-Reid and senior Matthew Ransome, who has accounted for eight touchdowns and also played receiver and safety.
“What challenges don’t they present?” Zaban said. “They are big. They are fast. They are skilled. They present a big challenge.”
Like Belleville, Fordson has rolled through the first part of its schedule.
The Tractors have won all five games by double digits, and their closest game was a 12-point triumph over Dearborn Heights Crestwood last week.
“I know we’re 5-0 and we’re happy,” Zaban said. “But I don’t think we’re there yet.”
The coach would like his team to play “cleaner” and cut down on penalties.
“We need to limit our mistakes,” Zaban said. “We’re making too many penalties. We have to play smarter.”
Junior quarterback Hussein Ajami, a first-year starter, has given Fordson consistent play and helped the Tractors average 37.2 points per game.
“He has played pretty well,” Zaban said. “He’s been a leader on the field.”
Returning starters Ahmed Sabbagh and Slay Sharjah provide senior leadership on both sides of the ball.
Sabbagh starts at running back and linebacker, while Sharjah lines up at wide receiver and defensive back.
On Friday, they’ll lead Fordson in the battle of undefeated teams. With a win, the Tractors would qualify for the state playoffs for the 12th consecutive year.
“We really do take it one game at a time,” Zaban said. “Our biggest thing is to prepare for Belleville. We haven’t brought up playoffs. We haven’t really brought up the league championship. We’re just focused on our assignments for Belleville.”
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