6 OAA footballers ready for a big season in 2024

6 OAA footballers ready for a big season in 2024

Hometown Life sports reporter Brandon Folsom identifies six players poised to have a big season this fall.

Hometown Life sports reporter Brandon Folsom identifies six football players in the Oakland Activities Association who are poised to have a big season this fall.

Memory: HTL includes teams in Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Canton, Commerce Twp., Farmington, Farmington Hills, Garden City, Livonia, Milford, Northville, Novi, Plymouth, Redford, South Lyon, Wayne, Westland, White Lake and Wixom.

Avery Gach, Birmingham Groves

Of the nine regular-season games Birmingham Groves played in 2023, the Falcons faced Division 1 state champion Southfield A&T, D-4 state champion Harper Woods and state semifinalist West Bloomfield. Yet Avery Gach did not surrender a single sack or QB pressure during that span.

In fact, no player ahead of him touched QB Cayden Hardy all season, so it’s no surprise why has ranked the 6-foot-1, 300-pound offensive lineman as the No. 2 player in 2025 in Michigan, behind only Belleville’s Bryce Underwood, the LSU QB commit who is widely regarded as the No. 1 player in the country.

Now that Gach has already committed to Michigan, all the four-star prospect needs to do at Groves is lead the program back to the state semifinals for the second time in three seasons.

Brendon Rice, North Farmington

North Farmington has won just nine games combined over the past three seasons, so few high school fans know the Raiders have a three-star defensive lineman. But Rice commit Brendon Rice has gone far from unnoticed.

The 6-foot-2, 295-pound senior is a fixture at college and skill camps. Judging by the 26 Division I offers he has entering his senior year, he’s done a great job there, too. He’s drawn interest from virtually the entire Mid-American Conference and Ivy League, as well as several other FCS programs.

He totaled 55 tackles (28 for loss), 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one safety and nine QB pressures as a junior en route to earning all-state honors. He was also a first-team selection to Hometown Life’s All-Area team in 2023. He has a chance to add to those numbers in his final season at North Farmington and hopefully set the program up for future success as he heads to Rice and the American Athletic Conference.

Chris Little, Birmingham Groves

Do you want to talk about something unfair?

A year ago, opposing defenses had to choose between throwing to cornerback Zachary Rogers, the three-star commit from Toledo and son of former Detroit Lions receiver Charles Rogers, or Chris Little, who has been one of the top defensive backs in metro Detroit since becoming a starter under Groves as a sophomore.

At 5-10 and 170 pounds, Little enters his senior season with a career-high 17 interceptions, including seven passes as a junior (with the Falcons playing a packed schedule against state champs Southfield and Harper Woods and semifinalist West Bloomfield). That’s 17 interceptions in just two seasons, folks.

He recently picked up his first DI offer from Morehead State, while he holds D-II offers from Davenport University, Grand Valley State University, Wayne State and West Liberty University in West Virginia. Yes, he’s a bit on the small side, but once colleges look past that and realize his talent for finding the ball and creating turnovers for his team, more scholarship offers should start rolling in for the two-star recruit.

Mario Campoy-Lovasco, Birmingham Groves

When Groves won the D-2 regional championship over Livonia Franklin and advanced to the semifinals against eventual state champion Warren DeLaSalle in 2022, the Falcons used Mario Campoy-LoVasco to complement powerful running back Joshua Woods.

It was a beautiful combination of lightning and thunder between the then sophomore and fourth-year student, with Campoy-LoVasco making the most of his sprint speed and catching passes out of the backfield.

Since then, he’s only added to his game as the No. 1 option in another talented backfield at Groves. It’s no surprise that the 6-foot, 205-pound senior already has five DI offers from Army West Point, Air Force, Brown University, Columbia University and Cornell University.

He’s just coming off a junior season in which he threw for 1,127 yards and 15 touchdowns, which is saying something considering who he shares the backfield with.

Noah Sanders, Birmingham Groves

The Falcons were THIS A year ago he was on the verge of beating eventual state champion Southfield A&T, largely because their backup running back put together a stellar performance that put him on the map.

That was Noah Sanders, the son of NFL Hall of Famer and former Detroit Lions star Barry Sanders, who gave Groves one of the best 1-2 punches out of the backfield with Campoy-Lovasco.

Sanders’ 125 yards and three TDs total at Southfield earned him an immediate offer from Toledo after the game, as the Rockets scouted the game on the spot. His interest has only grown since then.

Recently ranked as a three-star recruit by 247Sports.comThe 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior also has offers from Buffalo, Bowling Green, Western Kentucky, Western Illinois, Davenport University and Wayne State.

Michigan State, where his older brother Nick plays on the men’s basketball team, has extended him a grayshirt offer that would convert to a full scholarship after his freshman season with the Spartans. Judging by the amount of MSU gear he’s been spotted sporting around Groves, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see another Sanders head to East Lansing.

Nick Hardy, Birmingham Groves

The Falcons are known for their ground attack, especially with Gach, Campoy-LoVasco and Sanders leading the way. But receiver Nick Hardy helps the offense keep opposing defenses on edge.

The 6-2, 180-pound senior already has six offers, including interest from Army West Point and Davenport University, which is saying something considering he plays in a division with a lot of talented cornerbacks. He’s had to fight for every inch on Friday nights.

A year ago, he had 28 catches for 670 yards and nine TDs. But to be fair, he was catching passes from his older brother, Cayden, and the two had a unique connection that most QB-receiver combos don’t have. It’ll be interesting to see how he does without his brother, now playing at Olivet Nazarene University (Illinois), at quarterback, but there’s no doubt he should only get better now that he’s a year older. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see him receive more interest from DI colleges.

Other names to watch

LB – Paul Hubbard, Senior Student, Birmingham Groves

LB – Carter Hladki, junior, Birmingham Groves

DB – Rylee Armbrustmacher, junior, Birmingham Groves

DB – Jalen Brooks, Senior, Birmingham Groves

DB – Aiden Leung, Final Year Student, Birmingham Groves

QB – LeVelle Shannon, junior, Birmingham Groves

LB – Penn Roberts, Senior, Birmingham Seaholm

K – Wesley Billings, Senior, Birmingham Seaholm

WR – Terrance James, junior, North Farmington

RB – Duke Blanch, senior, North Farmington

DL – Artero Wilson, Senior, North Farmington

LB – Daniel Vukaj, Senior, Farmington

RB/LB – Trenton Darden, Senior, Farmington

QB – Julian Johnson, senior, Farmington

EN – Justin Quin, Senior, Farmington

Brandon Folsom covers high school sports in metro Detroit for Hometown Life. Follow him on Twitter @folsombrandonj.