Detroit East English Village has found a winning recipe with a mix of young and veteran players.
Coach Rodereck Oden knew he could count on an experienced offensive line, with all five starters returning from last year’s football team that went 5-4 overall. He knew he had several college recruits on both sides of the ball. And he knew the Bulldogs would be good.
But Oden has watched East English Village roll this season, thanks not only to his seniors but also thanks to some talented underclassmen.
“We’ve had several young players step up and play significant roles for us,” Oden said. “Our receiving corps is young and stepping up for us.”
The Bulldogs are 5-0 and have only given up six points in their last three games, not including a win by forfeit over Detroit Communication Media Arts.
Seniors have played a big role in that start.
It starts up front, where senior center Tyrone Sampson Jr. anchors the offensive line. A four-year starter, Sampson has played every position on the line this year as the Bulldogs have dealt with injuries.
He’s back at center now, and the 6-foot-3, 295-pound lineman has a bright future. Sampson has committed to Syracuse, and he plans to enroll early at the ACC school this January.
“He’s doing a great job leading our offensive line,” Oden said.
Another college recruit is senior defensive end Desjuan Johnson, who plans to attend Western Michigan.
“He’s a tremendous athlete,” Oden said of the 6-3, 240-pound Johnson. “He’s a dominant presence on the defensive line.”
Senior Zhamaine March, a four-year starter at cornerback, has committed to Northern Illinois. March also starts at tailback where he’s on pace for 2,000 yards of total offense this season.
Senior Creed Stegall Monroe is another two-way standout. Monroe, a Kent State recruit, stars at linebacker and has rushed for 600 yards and seven touchdowns this year.
“Defensively, he’s really learning to embrace being an outside linebacker,” Oden said. “He’s responded well for us.”
Senior Cortez Berry, a Indiana State commit, has caught 22 passes for six touchdowns while also starting at safety.
Another senior and four-year starter, defensive tackle Orniska Walker leads the team in tackles for a loss.
East English Village has received an added boost from some younger players.
Junior quarterback Charles Lake has made the most of his first year as a starter. He has passed for 16 touchdowns, including five TDs in a 40-6 victory over Detroit Delta Prep last week.
And Oden said sophomore Lemuel Watley has been the Bulldogs’ leader on both offense and defense.
As a safety, Watley leads the team with five interceptions. As a receiver, Watley leads the team with 33 receptions and nine touchdowns.
All mixed together, the players have produced a winning formula for East English Village. The Bulldogs will go for their sixth victory -- and a berth in the state playoffs -- when they play Detroit Western International on Friday.
Canton makes its points
Canton has won four in a row, averaging 50.25 points per game during the streak. The Chiefs have scored at least 44 points in each of the victories, which includes a 56-12 triumph over Novi last week.
Steve Walker leads the team with 930 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, and Colin Troup has added 450 yards and 11 TDs on the ground.
“Our halfbacks are blocking better for each other and running the ball harder,” Canton coach Timothy Baechler said in an email. “Our offensive line is sustaining blocks better as well.”
Canton plays at league rival Livonia Stevenson on Friday. The Chiefs, 4-1 overall, lead the Kensington Lakes Activities Association Black Division with a 3-0 conference record. Stevenson is a game back with a 2-1 league mark and also is 4-1 overall.
“Livonia Stevenson has an excellent QB that can run and throw it,” Baechler said. “They run a lot of formations offensively, so that forces you to practice a lot of stuff that they may not even run. For instance, they have run only one play out of seven different formations. That's not what or who they are, but every play is so important, we have to spend time on it all any way.”
Other games to watch
Detroit Martin Luther King at Detroit Denby. King has won three in a row, and all three have been shutouts. Detroit Denby is 4-0 on the season. The winner takes over sole possession of the Detroit Public Schools League Black Division.
Dearborn Divine Child at Warren De La Salle. Dearborn Divine Child is 5-0 and powered by quarterback Theo Day, a Michigan State recruit. De La Salle has won four in a row, including a 26-7 victory over Orchard Lake St. Mary’s last week.
Saline at Monroe. Saline has won four straight since a season-opening loss to Rockford at Michigan Stadium. The Hornets lead Southeastern Conference Red Division. Monroe (3-2 overall) is trying to keep pace in the league race.
Southfield Arts and Technology at Rochester Adams. Adams and Southfield are part of a four-team logjam atop the Oakland Activities Association Red Division (along with Clarkston and West Bloomfield). Adams will look to rebound after suffering its first loss of the season, a 17-16 setback to West Bloomfield last week. Southfield has won three in a row after an 0-2 start.
White Lake Lakeland at Walled Lake Western. The two teams are part of a wide-open battle for first place in the Lakes Valley Conference. Lakeland has won four in a row since losing its season-opener to Walled Lake Central. Western bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 24-21 triumph over Walled Lake Northern.
Numbers to know
Two: The number of overtime games in Week 5, including last week’s 4Frenzy Game of the Week.
58: The number of teams with 5-0 records. Teams need six victories to earn a berth in the state playoffs. Two other teams (Detroit Denby and Muskegon Catholic Central) are 4-0.
108: The points scored in Millington’s 70-38 victory over Essexville Garber, the most in Week 5.
Game of the Week: Belleville @ Dearborn Fordson
4Frenzy celebrates the best of Metro Detroit high schools, including high school sports. Sponsors include Think Ford First, Concordia University Ann Arbor, Children's Hospital of Michigan, and Meijer.