My continuing series on the way too early look at the upcoming high school football season.

Probably the biggest story line heading into the 2018 season is the re-alignment of the Capital Area Activities Conference.  Several schools have been shuffled around in the CAAC, going from one division to the other.  DeWitt and Waverly leave the Red and jump up to the Blue.  Eastern, Williamston and Fowlerville join the Red, after departing the Blue & White respectively.  Meanwhile, Sexton becomes the newest member of the White.  It's a lot of shuffling, and we lose some interesting rivalries in the process.  But the moves also allow for some old rivalries to be renewed and brand new rivalries to be started.

Here are my VERY EARLY predictions for the CAAC White:

  1. Portland Raiders
  2. Sexton Big Reds
  3. Lansing Catholic Cougars
  4. Charlotte Orioles
  5. Ionia Bulldogs
  6. Eaton Rapids Greyhounds

Portland has won the last 3 CAAC White titles (and rather easily, despite a couple close games).  So the Raiders are an obvious early pick for another top spot in the conference.  Losing LSJ Defensive Player of the Year Finalist Dean Battley, along with Dream Team QB Tanner Allison & CB Gavin Dennany will hurt, but coach John Novara always seems to find the next man up at any position.  The Raiders have some talented Juniors who should help the cause for a fourth straight CAAC White championship.  One of two new schools in the White is Lansing Sexton.  The Big Reds come from the CAAC Blue, looking to conquer some new opponents.  Fresh off back-to-back playoff appearances (including 4 of 5, and a trip to the Division 4 Final in 2014), Sexton could be the lone Lansing school district football squad not mired in a losing stretch.  No more big Karl Brooks (signed to play at Bowling Green) or Mr. Do It All Cody Blankenburg, but quarterback Jackson Barnes has the arm to stretch the field.  Lansing Catholic is the only other school not named Portland to win a CAAC White title in the last decade.  The Cougars last won it in 2014 (en route to a Division 5 Finals appearance).  It will take a new class of Cougars to claw their way back to the top, because 2018 will see a lot of different faces at key positions.  Senior QB/WR/LB/DB Josh Kramer will need plenty of help from FB/MLB Michael Whitney, WR/OLB Kabbash Richards and others.  Charlotte rejoined the CAAC last year after spending two seasons in the Interstate 8 conference and one year as an independent.  The Orioles go from the Red to the White, and get to continue their rivalry with Eaton Rapids (this time as conference foes as the first time since 2013).  Their 4-5 record in 2017 could be topped this year if Senior QB Dom Ghiardi could receive a little help.  Ghiardi carried the Orioles on his back at times last season.  Reaching the playoffs could be in their grasp if the White isn't as strong.  Ionia also finished 4-5 last season, even beating a playoff team in McBain.  And while the Bulldogs offense could score points, it was their defense in key match-ups that let them down.  Giving up 33+ points in their four losses won't cut it in the new CAAC White.  Matt Grand-Girard led a talented receiving corp and returns for his Senior season.  Gage Taylor is also back, but those guys will need a new quarterback to get them the ball now that all-area QB John Meyer has graduated. Eaton Rapids has gone from the first two District Titles in school history (2013 & 2014), to winning two total CAAC White contests in three seasons since.  The Greyhounds finished 2-7 in 2017, with victories over Mason & Leslie.  Sophomore WR/DB Zach Dassance & Junior K/P Marshall Meeder were solid contributors last season and come back to help new head coach Joe Brya lead Eaton Rapids to possibly another trip to the post season.

Some key players returning: Jay Davids, OL/DL, Portland; Dylan Arthur, OL/DL, Portland; Matt Koster, OL/DE, Portland; Cade Parmalee, WE/DB, Portland; Owen Guilford, RB/DL, Portland; Jackson Barnes, QB, Sexton; Joseph Crook, OL/DL, Sexton; Josh Kramer, QB/WR/LB/DB, Lansing Catholic, Michael Whitney, FB/LB, Lansing Catholic; Kabbash Richards, WR/LB, Lansing Catholic; Dom Ghiardi, QB, Charlotte; Matt Grand-Girard, WR, Ionia; Gage Taylor, WR, Ionia; Zach Dassance, WR/DB, Eaton Rapids; Marshall Meeder, K/P, Eaton Rapids

Keep an eye out for my WAY TOO EARLY look at the CMAC.