The Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Cranes begin their football season with high hopes and broader possibilities for 2016. With a solid crop of returning starters, the Cranes look to take a step forward toward a winning season, with promising post-season scenarios for the team.
The Cranes finished last season 9-2, with losses coming only to Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes and Detroit Country Day. Both of these teams made deep run in the playoffs, with Lakes only losing in the state finals by a touchdown, and Country Day making it all the way to the state semi-finals and losing by the same margin. It took very good football teams to beat Cranbrook last year.
“We learned how to win close games last year,” says head coach Joe D’Angelo “We took a few steps forward from the 2014 season, and became a more consistent team. Our boys had some big games toward the end of last season, I was pleased with their progress.”
New Season, New Challenges
Coming into 2016, the Cranes drift into new territory, widely recognized as a solid team. Picked to finish first in the Intersectional I division by the Catholic League coaches, Cranbrook has gained the attention of others as a team to beat.
“[Our] goals again would be to try and make another playoff appearance and compete for a league championship,” Riverview Gabriel Richard head coach Thomas Michalsen told Miprpezone earlier this month. “But we’re going to have to get past Cranbrook and they’re bringing back 21 starters, and we’re bringing back seven.”
With the new realignment in the Catholic League, the Cranes’ divisional rivals are now just Riverview Gabriel Richard, Macomb Lutheran North, and Allen Park Cabrini.
But the rest of the schedule is still a challenge. One of Cranbrook’s crossover games within the CHSL is against Waterford Lady of Lakes, who moved to the Intersectional II division. The other is against perennial powerhouse Detroit Loyola, another state semi-finalist last year.
Former playoff opponent Harper Woods Chandler Park is on the schedule, as well as Detroit University Prep. Two former Metro Division rivals, Hamtramck and Livonia Clarenceville, round out the regular season opponents.
“We certainly have our work cut out for us,” said Coach D’Angelo, “but we will take one game at time and prepare to play sound football.”
Looking ahead at the post-season, Cranbrook has the opportunity to play for the Catholic League championship for the first time since becoming a member. This means that the Cranes may find themselves gliding over to Ford Field to play in the Prep Bowl come this October.
“It would be a great honor for the boys to play in that game. We will have to work hard to earn the right to be there,” said Coach D’Angelo.
The state playoffs also pose new challenges for the Cranes. Being highly ranked by several football media sources in the preseason projections for Division 4 in the state playoffs, Cranbrook will prepare to meet potential opponents in Detroit Country Day, St. Clair Shores South Lake, and Harper Woods Chandler Park.
“We made some steps in the state playoffs last year, we have to continue our solid preparation if we want to go further,” said D’Angelo.
Last year’s team made it to the district final of the MHSAA playoffs. The only other Cranbrook team ever to make it that far in the state playoffs was the 2003 Cranes football team.
Mature Cranes, Rising Cranes
The Cranbrook team is led by senior QB Tyler Santangelo, a 4-year starter who has come into his own. During last season, he passed for 2,085 yards and 24 touchdowns and was an honorable mention All-State selection.
With an array of targets in senior WR Daniel Russell, junior WR Marqis Stokes, and rising Crane sophomores WR’s Kobi Russell and Torrell Williams, look for Santangelo to have another good year. Having senior RB Jalen Allen and junior RB Aaron Wiggins providing a coordinated running attack will add to the effectiveness of the offense.
On defense, the siege of Cranes will be led by senior LB Tristan Knoer, junior DE Chris Smith, and junior CB Marqis Stokes, the returning leaders in tackles, sacks, and interceptions from last year. Look for major contributions from senior DE Garrett Faulkner, senior LB Patrick Foley, and sophomore DT Danny Files as well.
Attitude and Altitude
Coach D’Angelo believes that the team has the right attitude to have a good fall season. “I see it in their confidence, work ethic and belief in themselves and their teammates.” He sees how the team is relying on hard work and preparation. “A good team has positive, confident attitude. That’s the key to winning.”
In nature, cranes fly in the high altitudes of the Himalayan mountain range, the highest mountains on earth. This phenomenal occurrence happens with great teamwork and sacrifice by each individual crane contributing to the uplift of the group. Their team attitude contributes to the overall team altitude.
The 2016 Cranbrook football team has new mountains to climb and new destinations to find beyond them. They are well-prepared and have a positive attitude going into the season. Let’s see how high they climb this fall.