Here is this year's first-team defense for the All-Oakland County football team.
Malik McDowell (Sr.), Southfield — A much-publicized transfer from Detroit Loyola, McDowell had a solid season in his only year with Southfield, registering 89 tackles, eight sacks and two forced fumbles for the OAA White champion Bluejays. He is still sifting through offers from various BCS programs, recently narrowing his list to Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Florida, Florida State, Alabama and LSU.
“Malik played every position on the defensive line this year, using a combination of technique, size and speed to make plays,” Southfield head coach Tim Conley said. “His ability to run sideline to sideline allowed him to make tackles all over the field.”
Lawrence Marshall (Sr.), Southfield — A pass-rushing menace from the edge, Marshall finished off his high school career by registering 68 tackles, nine sacks, three forced fumbles, four blocked passes and a safety. He has committed to Michigan.
“Lawrence put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks because he was so quick coming off of the edge and has a tremendous first step,” Conley said. “He has a knack for being around the ball and running down plays away from him.”
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David Beedle (Sr.), Clarkston — A disruptive force who saw lots of double-teams this year, the Michigan State-commit ended up with 36 tackles and three sacks this year in somewhat limited duty since Clarkston had a lot of lopsided wins. He also was valuable contributor along the offensive line.
“A great run stuffer,” Richardson said.
Dylan Roney (Sr.), Novi Detroit Catholic Central — A brick wall at defensive end who both stands up to the running game and rushes the passer ferociously, Roney was very difficult to block, having a hand in 118 tackles and registering six sacks. He is committed to play in college at Navy.
“His toughness, aggressiveness and will to win set the tone for our defense the entire year,” Catholic Central head coach Tom Mach said. “We rallied around his leadership and example all season. He was relentless in his efforts to sack quarterbacks and in his hitting. Many teams chose to run away from him.”
Jordan Jenkins (Jr.), Novi Detroit Catholic Central — Not many knew about Jenkins coming into the year, but they for sure know about him now after a breakout season that saw him become a tackling machine. Jenkins finished with 140 tackles and helped stuff the middle all season for the Shamrocks.
“He was our team’s leading tackler and makes all the calls in the game to put us in the right defense,” Mach said. “Jordan is a heady football player who sets the tone on defense with his aggressive hitting and pursuit. He is a good leader and sets a great example for our program.”
Jordan Cry (Sr.), Southfield — Lost in all the publicity that Marshall and McDowell got was a tremendous year by Cry, who was a terrific clean-up guy backing up Southfield’s defensive line. He finished with 102 tackles, three sacks and three forced fumbles.
“Jordan led the team in defensive statistics the last two seasons,” Conley said. “He was a very physical inside presence.”
Jermaih Johnson (Sr.), Pontiac Notre Dame Prep — One of the best players to ever play for the Fighting Irish, Johnson was the player both opposing offenses and defenses had to account for each game. As a versatile linebacker who also saw some time at safety, Johnson had 56 tackles, nine of which were for loss, six sacks and two interceptions. He also had a tremendous year as a running back, rushing for 1,120 yards, amassing 337 yards out of the backfield and accumulating 23 total touchdowns.
“In my 11 years of coaching football I have never been around a kid who was more driven to be the best,” Notre Dame Prep head coach Kyle Zimmerman said. “He elevated his own game, his teammates and this entire program to a higher level than it was before he got here.”
Jason Alessi (Sr.), Birmingham Brother Rice — Wherever Alessi was on the field, and it was a lot of places given he was a kicker and a kick returner on special teams and even on offense in a few instances, he dominated. Alessi was especially outstanding on defense, earning special mention all-state honors after intercepting five passes and making 60 total tackles.
“Jason is a remarkable athlete, one of the best ever at Brother Rice,” Fracassa said. “With his smart play and leadership, he’s like an extra coach on the field. He’s very dangerous on kick returns with his deceiving speed and ability to pick his way through traffic. As a kicker, he’s Mr. Consistency.”
Jalen Watts-Jackson (Sr.), Orchard Lake St. Mary’s — Tall, shifty, fast and versatile, Watts-Jackson did it all in the secondary for the Eaglets this year. Named first team all-state in Division 3-4, he finished with six interceptions, 39 solo tackles, two fumbles caused and a fumble recovery. He is committed to Michigan State.
“He had an outstanding season,” St. Mary’s head coach George Porritt said. “Had great break on the ball. We played him all over at corner and also safety.”
Zach Bock (Sr.), Novi Detroit Catholic Central — A three-year starter who also excelled at running back, kicker/punter and as a kick returner, Bock was a lockdown corner who didn’t let even the best wideouts have much success. Bock finished with four interceptions, two fumble recoveries and 72 tackles.
“Zack Bock is one of the finest athletes and young men that we have the privilege to coach over the past 38 years,” Mach said. “He competes at the highest level in all three phases of the game. I believe he is one of the finest defensive backs in the state. We match him against a team’s best receiver and he does an excellent job.”
John Kelly (Jr.), Oak Park — As good of a two-way player as there is, Kelly was the main reason why Oak Park went 8-3 despite playing in the brutally tough OAA White. Defensively, Kelly had four interceptions, three fumble recoveries and 65 solo tackles. Kelly was also one of the top running backs in the area, rushing for 1,258 yards and 15 touchdowns on 206 carries.
“He’s one of the best players around for sure,” Oak Park Greg Carter said. “He meant everything to the team both offensively and defensively. He developed into a great leader for us and the sky is the limit for him.”