Birmingham Groves and senior quarterback Zack Van Faussien are flying high on the gridiron this season. The Falcons are 4-0 for the first time since 1999. (Oakland Press photo file)


OAA GRID NOTEBOOK: Groves turning heads with pulverizing prowess, Stoney Creek 'D' a health hazard, Troy shows resilience

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Birmingham Groves is bobbing and weaving and sticking and moving like a champion prize fighter on the football field so far this fall, holding a gleaming 4-0 record heading into the midpoint of the season for the first time in 14 years.

Practically out of nowhere, the Falcons, a club stockpiled with veterans (25 seniors), are doing serious damage on offense and defense, striking fear in opponents with their prodigious, multi-faceted attack.

Averaging a robust 50 points per game, they’ve outscored their opponents by the lopsided margin of 207-47.

To be frank, it’s a bit surprising.

Before the season started they were predicted to be a middle-of-the-pack team at best in the race for the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.

As of now, head coach Brendan Flaherty and his Groves squad are on pace for a Week 8 showdown for the league crown against bitter cross-town rival Birmingham Seaholm, also sitting a flawless 4-0 entering action in Week 5 this Friday.

The last time both Groves and Seaholm were 4-0 was in 1978.

The Falcons’ gridiron assault is spearheaded by one of the most devastatingly dynamic players in the state in senior tailback Ross Williams, Oakland County’s second-leading rusher (by a mere 3 yards), already having recorded 781 yards and 11 touchdowns. A state-powerhouse of a hurdler in track during the spring, he rushed for 1,250 yards last year as a junior and started at cornerback as a sophomore on a Groves team that won the OAA Blue title.

Everyone knew about Williams being someone you had to worry about prior to the beginning of the campaign, but it’s been the team’s complimentary players and what they’ve been able to do that have things going so well for the Falcons.

Williams’ backfield mate, Bryce Anderson has proved more than able to inflict pain when carrying the pigskin. Anderson is a forceful rusher in between the tackles and an excellent blocker. Linemen like Cameron Tinsley and Logan Medelson have helped clear the way for both Williams and Anderson in the trenches.

Senior quarterback Zach Van Faussien is keeping defenses honest, making sure they don’t focus too much attention on the Groves running game, by converting a high-percentage of his pass attempts. He had a pair of touchdowns in the Falcons 49-22 defeat of Auburn Hills Avondale last week.

His weapons down field range from deep-threat split end Ryan Roberts and shifty slotbacks Cherrod Cohen and A.J. Marshall to hard-nosed tight end Spencer Robnett, committed to Wayne State to play baseball. Cohen sometimes lines up behind center for a change-of-pace option.

Robnett and Anderson, along with speedy and active Bradley Taylor start at linebacker and spark Groves’ defensive unit.

Administers of defense

Warning: signal-callers beware of the Cougars.

Stoney Creek’s defense is a danger to the health of opposing quarterbacks.

It hits like a ton of bricks.

The Cougars’ pass rush has knocked the last two field generals it has faced out of the game. In Week 3, it was Troy’s strong-armed Jay Darish. Last week, it was Lake Orion’s Connor Grant. The outcome wasn't much better for Grant's back-up - he was battered and bruised, too, sacked five times in less than a half of taking snaps.

The linebacker corps of Andrew Price, Jack VanAlmen and Joe Platz headline the agile and aggressive unit and are masters of the blitz. Price had four sacks against Lake Orion.

At 4-0 and going into a much-anticipated battle with defending OAA Red champion Clarkston (3-1) in a critical league affair Friday, Stoney Creek’s stable of tackling fiends will sets their sights on Wolves’ junior quarterback D.J. Zezula, hot as a pistol coming off two games where he has thrown a total of six touchdowns in a pair of wins.

Hanging tough

Troy (2-2) could have saved its season in Week 4 with a 20-13 win over Pontiac and the Colts did it without its starting quarterback, Jay Darish, the aforementioned signal-caller that suffered a stinger at the end of the team’s loss to Stoney Creek at home in Week 3 and missed the game.

With their quarterback on the shelf (Darish is expected back this week), the Colts turned to a ground-and-pound strategy, seeing running back Charles Adams have monster effort in the stat sheet of 240 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way.

Last Updated: 9/24/2013 3:02:52 AM EST