The Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Cranes earned the title of champions in 2016.
Finishing first in the CHSL Intersectional I division, the 2016 Cranes entered their first Catholic League Prep Bowl facing the 3-time reigning champs –Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes.
On the big stage at Ford Field, the Cranes made a statement-taking the title of CD champions in a 30-0 signature win.
“It meant a lot to see the boys win a great victory, under the lights and in the big stadium”, said Cranes Head Coach Joe D’Angelo. “They worked hard and prepared well this season. It brought them a long way.”
A Fantastic Season
The win was a capstone on a fantastic season.
The 2016 Cranes had a .700 winning percentage, finishing the season with 7 wins and 3 losses.
The team achieved its third consecutive berth to the MHSAA State playoffs, a streak that hasn’t occurred since the 2002-2005 era.
The Cranes outscored their opponents 260-148, averaging 26 points a game, yielding 17 points on average.
The Cranes offense would amass 2764 yards from the line of scrimmage, averaging 273 yards per game. With 111 yards passing and 168 yards rushing per game, the Cranes had one of the more dynamic offenses of 2016.
A Swoop of Cranes: The Offense
Senior QB Tyler Santangelo threw for 655 yards, 8 passing TD’s, and a 52% completion rate. He would average nearly 14 yards per completion, giving him an outstanding quarterback rating of 127.6.
While Santangelo was injured part of the season Junior QB Trevor McConnell carried on throwing for 574 yards, 6 passing TD’s, and a 50% completion rate. He averaged 11 yards per completion, giving him a great quarterback rating of 107.9. This bodes well for next year’s offense.
Junior RB Aaron Wiggins led the team in rushing with 852 yards, averaging 9.2 yards per carry, and scoring 13 TD’s. Senior RB Jalen Allen, coming back of an injury from his junior year, had 439 yards rushing, averaging 6.9 yards per carry, and scoring 7 TD’s.
Allen and Wiggins formed one of the most potent backfields in the Catholic League according to the State Champs Sports Network.
Sophomore WR Kobi Russell was the leader in the Cranes aerial assault with 33 receptions, 590 yards, and 5 TD’s. Sophomore WR Torrell Williams had a great season as the complement, adding 26 catches for 216 yards.
Wiggins was the all-purpose yard leader with 1,155, adding another 187 in receiving yards and 104 in kickoff returns. He would cap his outstanding season with 15 total touchdowns.
The Potent Defense: A Siege of Cranes
The Cranes had the most potent defense in the Catholic League Intersectional I Division. Against divisional opponents, Cranbrook allowed only 6 points on average per game, and 17 points total in CHSL conference play.
Against all Catholic League opponents including their crossover games- the Cranes gave up only 68 points, averaging 11 points a game. Their 30-0 over Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes in the Prep Bowl underscored their tenacity.
The 148 total points scored against the Cranes was the lowest in 10 years.
Junior DE Chris Smith was the overall defensive leader in 2016. Amassing 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, Smith provided a stellar effort for the Cranes.
Senior LB Pat Foley and Senior LB Tristan Knoer provided a solid effort in the linebacker corps, with 58 and 49 solo tackles, respectively. Foley added 31 assists and Knoer had 34 assists.
On the defensive line, honorable mention goes to seniors DT Ian Kovach and DE Garrett Faulkner, who contributed greatly in sacks, tackles for losses, and passes defended. With their effort, opposing teams were limited to about 4 yards per rushing attempt. They combined for 54 tackles and 29 assists.
Sophomore Torrell Williams was the interception leader for the Cranes with 4 picks. Senior AJ Rodriguez added 3 of his own.
Versatile Cranes: Special Teams
K Pierson Cooke was a consistent scorer, converting 9 field goals, and 30 PATs. McConnell contributed 57 points alone through his kicking game. Cooke made a 47-yarder v. U Prep, a 41-yarder v. WOLL in the regular season, a 42-yarder v. Lutheran North, and a 41-yarder v. Loyola.
According to MiPrepZone, Cooke had the most field goals in Oakland County this season.
HB Daniel Russell made the D Zone 2017 Watch List, as the Cranes most versatile player. He had 165 totals yards as a WR/RB, running both kickoff returns and punt returns. He also had 11 tackles and 1 interception as a linebacker. He also was the long snapper for both punts and field goals.
Awards, Honors, and Recognitions
The Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) recognized The Cranbrook Football Team for having a team GPA of a 3.72, naming them:
The Catholic League recognizes the outstanding performances of its student athletes, both on and off the field. The All-Academic, All-Catholic, and All-League awards were bestowed on the following Cranbrook players at the Prep Bowl:
2016 All-Academic: RB Jalen Allen, LB Andrew Mertz
2016 All-Catholic: RB Aaron Wiggins, DE Chris Smith, WR Kobi Russell, DE Garrett Faulkner, LB Tristan Knoer, WR Daniel Russell, SS Torrell Williams.
2016 All-League: QB Trevor McConnell, DT Ian Kovach, OL Tim Hauxwell, OL Adam Samet, LB Pat Foley, QB Tyler Santangelo, K Pierson Cooke.
The Associated Press (AP) chooses outstanding athletes that stand out to sports writers across the state. The following players were recognized by the AP writers:
2016 All-State First Team: K Pierson Cooke
2016 All-State Honorable Mention: RB Aaron Wiggins, WR Kobi Russell
The Detroit Free Press selects prep athletes for outstanding season by MHSAA division. These players were recognized for outstanding seasons:
The Detroit News recognizes High School players with talent and promise by region. These players were recognized by the News sports writers:
The MLive is an online publication. Its sports writers select top performing players. The following player was recognized by the publication:
The MiPrepZone is the official prep sports arm of the Oakland Press. The following players were recognized:
2016 All-County Dream Team: K Pierson Cooke
2016 All County Honorable Mention: RB Aaron Wiggins, DE Chris Smith, WR Kobi Russell, DE Garrett Faulkner, LB Tristan Knoer, WR/LB Daniel Russell, SS Torrell Williams, QB Trevor McConnell, DT Ian Kovach, OL Tim Hauxwell, OL Adam Samet, LB Pat Foley, QB Tyler Santangelo
The DZone is a high school football website that tracks prep teams and individual players. It names players of note and promise, and follows their season. These players were recognized by the website as outstanding players in their class:
Class of 2017 D Zone Watch List: QB Tyler Santangelo, WR/LB Daniel Russell, RB/LB Jalen Allen, WR/FS AJ Rodriguez
Class of 2018 D Zone Watch List: DE/LB Chris Smith, OL/DL Tim Hauxwell Jr., CB/WR Marqis Stokes, RB Aaron Wiggins
Class of 2019 D Zone Watch List: WR Kobi Russell
Coach of the Year
Cranbrook Head Coach Joe D’Angelo was named Coach of the Year for the CD Division of the Catholic League.
Since taking over the football program in 2013, the Cranes have posted 3 seasons over .500. They have made the state playoffs 3 seasons in a row.
The Cranes have also developed a healthy JV program, and the enthusiasm for Cranbrook Football has caught fire among the students, parents, staff, and alumni.
“It’s great to see great attendance at our games from the Cranbrook community,” said Coach D’Angelo. “There is a sense of pride growing around our football program and we want to keep it going.”
The Future: New Destinations
With 12 seniors graduating, the Cranes will see a crop of athletes move on to their college careers.
This group will have a few players to join the college football ranks and play on Saturdays. Some of the other seniors will play other sports in college, notably lacrosse and baseball. Some will have played their last organized football game.
“This group of seniors is special, many have played football at Cranbrook from their middle school years,” said Coach D’Angelo. “Their bond gave the program a solid foundation on which to build. “
Nick Siems, a senior lineman, has played 9 years at Cranbrook and commented on his team mates and the good memories they share.
“I enjoyed my team mates and the good times we have had. It’s kind of special,” Siems says. “Our team dinners and community projects were always memorable. I’ve had a great time. “
While their next destinations are not yet determines, it is apparent that there has been growth and development among our seniors. They will be successful in life, on or off the field.
The Future: Rising Cranes
15 veteran players will be returning to the Cranes next year, with a good amount of talent among them. Many of these players will have 3 years of varsity experience or more next year, providing good leadership as the Crane will seek to defend their CHSL title.
“We will have experienced kids at the skill positions, and a solid returning set of linemen, “said D’ Angelo. “Our defense looks promising as well.”
The Cranbrook Junior Varsity also deserves mention. With a 6-1-1 record, the JV Cranes finished first in the CHSL Intersectional I as well.
“A number of boys are coming from the JV squad to varsity next year. They should fit in nicely with our varsity team,” said D’Angelo.
With a change in the culture, the team is looking forward to preparing for next season. The Cranes seek to rise to higher heights, and to find new destinations, in 2017.