Lake Orion running back Jacob Miller ran for 228 yards in a regional final win over Macomb Dakota last week. Miller and the Dragons are seeking their second semifinal win over Detroit Cass Tech in the last three years.
FOOTBALL SEMIFINALS: Lake Orion looking to run with speedy Cass Tech
LAKE ORION – Five months after it actually took place, the 2012 state boys track and field championship won by Lake Orion in June could really come into play entering a Division 1 state football semifinal between Lake Orion and Detroit Cass Tech on Saturday at Troy Athens.
For those wondering what a track state championship over the summer has anything to do with football and Saturday’s game, here’s the explanation.
Not many teams around the state can compete with the speed Cass Tech puts on display, but there are members of that track team that are key components of Lake Orion’s football team, most notably junior slotbacks and track sprint standouts Zak Arnold and Corey Ester.
Mind you, neither of those two play defense and won’t match up on the other end against Cass Tech’s fleet-footed wideouts, but the defense can at least say it’s practiced daily against such burners on the other side of the line of scrimmage, which shouldn’t hurt by any stretch of the imagination.
“We got some guys that can really run,” Lake Orion head coach Chris Bell said. “They’re seeing fast guys every single day in practice. Cass Tech does have some guys you can’t simulate, but we’ll do the best we can. It’s just about being smart.”
In other words, there shouldn’t be much of a speed advantage for defending state champion Cass Tech, if there’s any at all.
In terms of size and sheer blue-chip talent though, it could be a different story.
As many who follow high school football know, the Technicians feature multiple players who either are committed to playing Division I college football, or will soon.
Senior offensive lineman David Dawson (6-foot-4, 290 pounds), who recently de-committed from Michigan, has scholarship offers from Alabama, Florida, LSU and Florida, among a host of others, and is the most decorated of the bunch.
But there’s more, starting with senior lineman and Michigan State recruit Dennis Finley (6-6, 285), senior CB/WR Jourdan Lewis, who has committed to Michigan, and senior DB Delano Hill, who has committed to Iowa.
If those weren’t enough, Cass Tech has a junior linebacker who has already committed to Michigan State in Deon Drake, junior cornerback Damon Webb, who has scholarship offers from Michigan, LSU, Ohio State and Michigan State, and of course, one of the nation’s top sophomores in quarterback Jayru Campbell, who was offered a scholarship by Alabama in the offseason.
Despite all that talent and size though, Lake Orion rightfully feels Cass Tech is beatable. The Technicians have lost twice this season, a 13-6 defeat to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and a 44-13 rout at the hands of Detroit Martin Luther King.
“I don’t really care about their size or how big and fast that they are, I just want to play,” Lake Orion senior linebacker Derric Williams said. “I don’t like to look at (opposing rosters). What we do is what is going to affect us.”
Bell said a big key will be establishing a good tempo on offense to try and wear out a Cass Tech team that isn’t quite as deep as the Dragons, and defensively, be smart about how they deal with Cass Tech’s speed and to give the Technicians multiple looks in order to keep Campbell and the rest of the Cass Tech offense off balance.
If Lake Orion can do that, there’s a good chance it’ll record its second semifinal win over Cass Tech in the last three years.
Lake Orion beat the Technicians in a 2010 semifinal, 24-21, and one of the players on the sideline for that game who remembers it well is senior all-OAA Red defensive back Nick Booker.
Booker echoed the thoughts of teammate Williams in that the primary worry for Lake Orion going into the game is Lake Orion, not Cass Tech.
“We just don’t want to beat ourselves,” Booker said.
E-mail Keith Dunlap at firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter @kd2578.