The good people at the University of Michigan are allowing high school games to be played at the Big House to start the prep football season. I picked Saturday and I’ll leisurely get there around the afternoon before four o’clock when the second game of a triple header starts. The plan is to watch East Kentwood play Farmington Hills Harrison while walking around the stadium and taking it all in. I can only imagine that if I were to ever go to watch the Wolverines play the amount of human traffic would make it difficult to explore the grounds. I believe the stadium holds over a hundred thousand people and watching this high school game I’m hoping I’ll see a considerably smaller crowd. The game is of little interest to me, I don’t really follow the big schools and these are two very big schools. East Kentwood is one of the largest schools in Michigan with almost two thousand students going there. I’ve been to its campus once for a pole vault clinic and their facilities are immaculate. Honestly one of the nicest schools I’ve ever been to. I have no idea how good they are at football other than they beat Harrison in the season opener last year 35-28.
Farmington Hills Harrison however is the definition of a perennial power. They have only missed the playoffs five times since 1980 with thirteen state championships within that span. Serious athletes have funneled through the Hawks program for decades now.
A quick internet search helps with little things but not a ton for someone looking for the style of football these teams will play. With schools this large it’s best to think of them as small colleges. With inflated rosters and large coaching staffs they can do just about anything they want week to week and then some. I remember watching the Lakeshore Lancers (a big school for my area but still smaller than those mentioned) run a dizzying amount of formations and motion sequences in a playoff game not to long ago. The big schools have the luxury of coaching the same groups of players without many two way players, which opens up what they can do. In talking to some big level coaches there is a base set of plays that are established early in the lower levels, that are ever tally tweaked as they get older. What’s fun is being able to add to the playbook based on game planning each week. Thanks to some videos found on hudl (Kentwood and Harrison) you can see for yourself there’s a ton of offense shown by EK even though it’s mainly out of the spread. Without going super into it I also think Kentwood is sporting a 4-2-5 like defense that works like a 4-4 cover three against run heavy looks like the ones Harrison gave them last year. Harrison looks to be a power run team with a lot of I formations last year. Make no mistake both teams can show tons of different looks as we discussed earlier it’s just the way of class A ball. On defense Harrison shows a versatile 3-4 defense that acts like an old school fifty against power looks. The 3-4 is trending this offseason as a lot of colleges are using its multiplicity to get more athletes on the field. Although three down linemen can be scary for most of us and if you don’t have the athletes on the back end then forget it. Just ask 2015 Indiana University how they felt about stopping the run with the 3-4.
This ended up being way longer than I anticipated. I honestly am attending this game solely to explore the Big House, but as a bonus I get to stop off at one of my favorite restaurants Joe’s Crab Shack. I love that place and usually I can only go when my family makes are small pilgrimage to Detroit to watch the state championships in November. If you’re around and feeling like a seafood adventure don’t be afraid to hit me up.