Here’s a little bit of an unusual question.
What was the furthest that any local football team advanced in the postseason in 2011?
In terms of schools across the northern half of Oakland County, the answer would be the district finals.
A total of 10 area teams — Auburn Hills Avondale, Clarkston, Holly, Lake Orion, Ortonville Brandon, Oxford, Pontiac, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Rochester Adams and Troy Athens — all reached the postseason last year. They all were eliminated in either the first or second round of the state tournament.
Not one single team from the www.northoaklandsports.com coverage region enjoyed the thrill of a district championship last season. There were no runs to the regional finals or Final Four and no local teams played at Ford Field at Thanksgiving weekend.
Think such a drought will hit the area again? No way.
Teams will begin the slow trek this weekend with Week 1 of the regular season. Never is there more optimism than in the month of August, as teams prepare for the field of battle.
Several area teams are looking like potential title contenders in their respective leagues, while a few others are hoping to plunge through to the win column after suffering through some rebuilding pains a year ago. Regardless of the situation, the time in now for high school football teams.
There are 14 games featuring area teams this weekend, scattered over Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Here’s a look at the opening weekend games:
Thursday, Aug. 23
HAZEL PARK AT AUBURN HILLS AVONDALE (7 p.m.): These two teams debuted Avondale’s turf stadium last year with the Yellowjackets scoring 66 points in a win. This game might not be as a high scoring, but the result will still be in Avondale’s favor.
PICK: Avondale by 10.
UTICA AT ROCHESTER (7 p.m.): For decades through the 1970s, these two teams were vicious, arch-rivals playing in the old Tri-County Conference and Oakland A Conference. The last time they met was in 1979 and Utica gained a 26-0 victory in that game. Rochester will finally get its payback 33 years later.
PICK: Rochester by 14.
ORTONVILLE BRANDON AT FLINT KEARSLEY (7 p.m.): Brandon squeaked into the postseason last season at 5-4 to become one of six schools from the FML to play in the second season. If the Blackhawks are to repeat that feat, they can’t afford a loss to the Hornets.
PICK: Ortonville Brandon by 7.
ROMEO AT TROY (7 p.m.): You read it here first: Troy will be the area’s most improved team in 2012. The Colts’ pile movers on the lines will aid the effort of several transfers at the skilled positions. Troy is back.
PICK: Troy by 7.
WARREN MOTT AT TROY ATHENS (7 p.m.): These two teams will play Round III of their rivalry. Athens will prevail once again.
PICK: Troy Athens by 12.
PONTIAC NOTRE DAME PREP AT ALMONT (7:30 p.m.): Both teams were unbeaten in the regular season last year, so one squad will see a regular season streak end Thursday.
PICK: Pontiac Notre Dame Prep by 3 in overtime.
Friday, Aug. 24
OXFORD AT LAKE ORION (7 p.m.): Since the rivalry was renewed in 2010, the home team won by a landslide during the two meetings. This time it will be much closer, although the home team will still prevail.
PICK: Lake Orion by 8.
ROCHESTER ADAMS AT CLARKSTON (7 p.m.): Two perennial teams will gather for their season-opening rivalry. Clarkston is just too big up front and wins this game in the trenches.
PICK: Clarkston by 10.
ROYAL OAK AT ROCHESTER STONEY CREEK (7 p.m.): These teams have a lot in common. Both are coming off 1-8 seasons and both have new coaching staffs. Stoney Creek’s talented junior class will be on full display in this one.
PICK: Rochester Stoney Creek by 14.
SOUTHFIELD LATHRUP AT PONTIAC (7 p.m.): Wins might be hard to come by for both teams this season. Safe pick is to go with the home side.
PICK: Pontiac by 6.
AUBURN HILLS OAKLAND CHRISTIAN AT HAMTRAMCK (7 p.m.): Oakland Christian might have a young team that is only in its fifth season of competition, but the Lancers have some pretty good young talent that will make some waves this season.
PICK: Oakland Christian by 3.
WARREN MICHIGAN COLEGIATE AT ROCHESTER HILLS LUTHERAN NORTHWEST (7 p.m. at Roseville): Michigan Collegiate suffered mass losses to graduation. Lutheran Northwest returns just about everybody and will be one of the best passing teams in Oakland County behind Nathan Drews and Co. Look for some impressive numbers in this one.
PICK: Lutheran Northwest by 7.
Saturday, Aug. 25
TROY CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP ACADEMY AT TAYLOR DOWNRIVER WOLFPACK (1 p.m.): The Defenders went from 2-6 in 2010 to 9-2 overall last season and had the second-best overall record in the Christian Football League of Michigan. This year the Defenders will win the newly-created Metro Division of the CFLM. Bet on that.
PICK: Troy by 14.
CLEVELAND (OHIO) VILLA ANGELA-ST.JOSEPH AT WATERFORD OUR LADY OF THE LAKES (1 p.m.): Villa has one long school name. Perhaps the ride home Saturday will be even longer after the revamped Lakers spring an upset of their guests.
PICK: WOLL By 6.
(Stick’s Picks is prep seer for the S.H.P. Media Group’s www.northoaklandsports.com and The Real Deal sports and coupons magazine. Readers can send comments to Senior Editor Dan Stickradt at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @LocalSportsFans and on over a dozen social media networks.)
Category: Auburn Hills Avondale, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, Clarkston, Clarkston Everest Catholic, Editor's Column, Featured Articles, High School, High School (M-Z), Holly, Lake Orion, Most Recently Updated Stories, Ortonville Brandon, Oxford, Pontiac, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Prep Wraps, Publishers Viewpoint, Rochester, Rochester Adams, Rochester Hills Lutheran NW, Rochester Stoney Creek, Sports Shorts, Top Stories, Troy, Troy Athens, Troy Christian Leadership Acadamy, Uncategorized