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  • George Davis

Game Preview-The Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Cranes to face the Redford Union Panthers in Season Open

Senior QB Trevor McConnell will lead the Cranes in their season opener vs. Redford Union

The Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Cranes will face the Redford Union Panthers in their football season opener this week. Both teams are coming off MHSAA playoff seasons in 2016.

The Panthers finished 7-4 last year and placed third in the Western Wayne Conference, Blue Division.

Redford Union achieved a 41-34 playoff victory last year over Warren Fitzgerald in the opening round of the district before losing in the district final to Dearborn Divine Child 31-7.

It was their first playoff appearance since 2007.

Under Panthers head coach Mike Tomasaitis, the team has gone from a 1-8 record in 2014 to the MHSAA playoffs in 2 years.

“They are a heavy running team that has experience and confidence”, says Cranes Head Coach Joe D’Angelo. “We will need to prepare for a good game from a well-coached team.”

The Panthers will be led RB/LB Issac Grant Jr. a 5’11” 210 lbs. senior who has been the rushing leader and leading tackler the last two years. Grant was named an impact player for 2017 by the Detroit Free Press.

Other players will include 5’11” 190 lbs. senior RB Thornton Caine, 6’2” 195 lbs. junior LB Cameron Wells, and 6’0” 195 lbs. junior QB Carl Ware.

The Cranes enter in to the 2017 season as first place finishers of the CHSL Intersectional I division and champions of the Catholic League Prep Bowl.

They also have made three straight appearances in the MHSAA playoffs. The Cranes are recognized as a rising football program. The energy from last year has carried over to the off-season.

“We are coming off a productive mini and pre-season camp, along with an encouraging preseason scrimmage vs Centerline. A lot of positive energy and enthusiasm is being demonstrated”, says Coach D’Angelo.

Cranbrook will return with a good number of starters, including 6’2’ 185 lbs. senior QB Trevor McConnell, who played well last season.

In his signature win last season against Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, McConnell finished with 20 for 35 for 286 yards and 3 TD’s. He had a quarterback rating of 142.6 in that game.

His offensive complements will be 5’11 180 lbs. senior RB Aaron Wiggins who has amassed 2088 yards all-purpose yards and 28 TD in the last two seasons and 6’2” 170 lbs. junior WR Kobi Russell the leader in the Cranes aerial assault with 33 receptions, 590 yards, and 5 TD’s.

Both players made the Associated Press (AP) All State Honorable Mention last year.

Defensively, the Cranes will be led by 6’2” 250 lbs. senior DE Chris Smith, a Detroit Free Press All-State D4 player and Harvard football commit.

Smith had 48.5 solo tackles, 35 assists, 4 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, 6 fumble recoveries, 9 hurries, 2 batted down passes, and 1 touchdown last season.

His defensive complements will be 6’3” 300 lbs. junior DT Danny Files, 6’8” 270 lbs senior DL Tim Hauxwell, 5’11” 170 lbs. senior CB Marqis Stokes, and 5’11” 165 lbs. junior S Torrell Williams.

All State K/P Pierson Cooke looks to give the Cranes a big advantage on special teams.

"This will be a good game. A good test of our preparation against a good team" said D'Angelo

Both teams look to have a good start to promising seasons.

This non-conference game will be played Thursday August 24, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. at the Del Walden Field, Thompson Oval, on the Cranbrook Campus. The field is located at 550 Lone Pine Road, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304.

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