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October 17, 2013

Road Report: Friday, Oct. 11

The staff of The Wolverine is dedicated to bringing you all the high school football action we possibly can. Last Friday, recruiting editor Tim Sullivan saw five games with prospects of Michigan interest - all in one day.

JEFFERSON CORRIDOR DETROIT, 3:52 p.m. - Detroit King set to take on Detroit Denby at King High School. Denby is coached by former Wolverine Tony Blankenship, but he has his work cut out for him against one of the city's best teams. King features 2014 Pittsburgh commit Avonte Maddox, Iowa commit Jalen Embry, and - most notable for Michigan fans - 2015 linebacker Tyriq Thompson. Thompson scores a receiving touchdown to open the game's scoring, and King leads 22-6 by the time the first quarter expires.

That's enough for me to get a good idea of Thompson's game. He's raw in technique offensively, but has the attitude and toughness to be an impact blocker and capable receiver at tight end. Defensively, his 6-1, 215-pound frame is on the smaller side, but again his tenacity allows him to be a playmaker. When he adds more weight, he should be able to make a big impact on the college level. Michigan State is among the programs that have already offered.

King would eventually pull away for a 54-12 victory.

MIDTOWN DETROIT, 4:40 p.m. - Harper Woods (Mich.) Chandler Park Academy takes on Detroit Plymouth Educational Center. Chandler Park boasts 2016 wide receiver Jalen Martin, a 6-3, 190-pound athlete whose primary position is wide receiver. Martin is a big downfield target for Chandler Park, able to make plays with his size and speed in an offense that emphasizes a strong spread passing game.

The Eagles' offense and defense are both too strong for Plymouth Educational. Both teams pass on most downs, and the Plymouth offensive line can't keep the quarterback protected - though he does his best to get rid of the ball and make plays anyway. The only thing that slows down Chandler Park is its own tendency for committing penalties.

Plymouth Educational notches a touchdown shortly before halftime, but it's only enough to get within a 30-8 score at the break. Chandler Park would go on for a 44-8 win.

CONANT GARDENS, DETROIT, 5:30 p.m. - Detroit East English is supposed to be taking on Detroit Pershing… but arriving at the school, there is no sign of either team. We later learn that the game was played at East English (despite the schools' listed schedules).

The Ville won 42-0.

HAZEL PARK, Mich., 6:15 p.m. - Hazel Park is winless on the year, so the best show at their game against Auburn Hills Avondale is the opposing running back. Junior Joshuwa Holloman ran a hand-timed 4.28-second 40-yard dash at Alabama's camp this summer, and has backed up his potential with production this fall. With other games to get to, we only stick around to see the teams warm up.

Holloman is smaller in stature, about 5-10, 180 pounds, but is well-built already as a high school junior. He moves well, and runs with low pad level. Most impressively, he has excellent hands to catch the ball out of the backfield. That's an important skill for a smaller back, and Avondale's coaching staff tries to get him involved multiple ways, including motioning from a wideout slot. Unfortunately , there was no opportunity to see his pass protection, another key skill for smaller backs.

Holloman would lead Avondale to a 48-22 victory on the road.

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich., 7:08 p.m. - I arrive at Lamphere High School (alma mater of former Michigan defensive back James Rogers) in time to see the Rams take a 6-0 lead over St. Clair Shores South Lake. That's a surprise, given the talent disparity between the teams.

The Cavaliers don't take long to respond, however. 2016 tailback Martell Pettaway has a long field-reversing touchdown run wiped out by penalty, but manages to punch it in again a few plays later. The 5-10, 180-pounder runs with speed, vision, and most of all, power. He'll only continue to get better, but at this early stage it's likely that he's the most impressive 2016 player in the state.

2014 linebacker Jalen Dingle, a Bowling Green commitment, makes most of his impact on offense as a blocking tight end. Though he committed one holding penalty bringing back Pettaway's long run, he showed a willingness to get in the mix and compete. Still, despite his presence (and that of 2015 offensive tackle Kyonta Stallworth, who has a half-dozen Division I offers), the South Lake offensive line does not get good push off the ball - against a pretty weak opponent.

What Pettaway gets, he mostly earns through his own doing, not because there are gaping holes for him - more impressive for his sake. He punches in another touchdown, and we move along shortly before halftime with South Lake leading 22-6. They will go on to a 40-13 win. See first-half highlights of Pettaway here.

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich., 8:13 p.m. - It's just a couple minutes before halftime at Stevenson High School, and Titans have just scored to draw within 21-7 against Clinton Township Chippewa Valley. "Chip" is 6-0, and boasts 2016 wide receiver/defensive back Stefan Claiborne, one of the fastest football players in the state (he ran a 23.32-second 200-meter dash as a freshman at the state track meet in the spring).

It's clear shortly after halftime that Chippewa Valley is simply too good for Stevenson to match up. Although the Titans get a big touchdown run (right through the grill of Claiborne) in the third quarter, that's the only fight they put up, with Chip mostly killing the clock in the second half - though adding two more scores. When the starting quarterback and some offensive linemen start to get nicked up, they go into full grind mode, ending the game 35-14.

Claiborne has physical potential, evidenced by his speed and his 6-1, 165-pound frame. However, he doesn't make a huge impact for Chippewa Valley yet at this point in his career (no surprise, since he's just a sophomore). He starts at slot receiver in the Big Reds' spread offense, but the only times he was targeted, the passes were not accurate and he didn't have a chance. He also starts at safety, but Stevenson didn't test him much, and he wasn't too aggressive coming up in run support. The one play he was heavily involved in on defense saw him get run over for a long TD run.

Claiborne is a role player for a very strong senior-led team, and he's just a sophomore. A couple years down the road, he should be an impact player for Chippewa Valley, and a key part of their success. See a recruiting story with Claiborne here, and stay tuned later today for highlights and a full breakdown.

That wasn't the end of the weekend, either. Saturday, we saw Bloomfield Hills (Mich.) Brother Rice and 2015 quarterback Alex Malzone, along with several of his talented teammates. See a recap of that game here.


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