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SENIOR STAMPEDE: Mustangs are seasoned, primed for big season

 SENIOR STAMPEDE: Mustangs are seasoned, primed for big season

A Northville running bursts through a hole during Tuesday’s practice at Tom Holzer Field.

The Northville football team is like a perfectly-cooked filet mignon marinated in a ton of seasoning.

Given this is football and not culinary arts, there is no such thing as too much seasoning — something first-year chef, er, coach Brent Luplow learned several years ago.

The Mustangs return a solid nucleus on both sides of the football following an impressive 2022 campaign that ended with an 8-3 record, Northville’s most-productive season since 2015 when it went 10-1.

Luplow’s transition from Brighton’s offensive coordinator to Northville’s main decision-maker couldn’t have gone much smoother, on and off the field.

“I’m very pleased with our senior leadership and our senior class in general,” said Luplow, who recently secured a teaching position at NHS. “They’ve really bought into what the new staff is teaching and preaching.

They know how to win

“This class of seniors has been incredibly successful. They went undefeated as freshmen and sophomores on JV, respectively, so they know what it takes to be successful. They’ve done a great job of believing in the process.”

Northville quarterback Isaac Pace rifles a pass during Tuesday's practice as Head Coach Brent Luplow looks on
Northville quarterback Isaac Pace rifles a pass during Tuesdays practice as Head Coach Brent Luplow looks on

Luplow was pleased with what he saw in last week’s pre-season scrimmage against Saginaw Heritage, which is coached by his good friend Justin Thelen.

“W’eve been preaching getting 11 hats to the football and playing fast and physical on the defensive side of the ball, and it came to fruition (against Heritage),” Luplow said. “We flew to the football and created havoc back there.

“Offensively, I thought we were very productive and we moved the ball. We played physical football and we spread it out. We ran the ball well at times and threw it well at times. It went better than I expected.”

Northville’s 2023 schedule is competitive, to say the least. The Mustangs open Friday at 7 p.m. against 2022 Division 1 semifinalist Clarkston at the University of Michigan’s “Big House”.

Northville defensive linemen work on their technique Tuesday afternoon
Northville defensive linemen work on their technique Tuesday afternoon

The slate is also peppered with calendar-marking contests against Brighton, Novi and Hartland.

“There’s no bigger test than opening in the Big House against a team that made the state semifinals the year before,” Luplow said. “That game will be a great challenge, but I’m confident we’re ready for it.

“The KLAA is always tough; there’s not weeks off. There’s no heavy favorite this year in the West Division. It’s certainly up for grabs.”

Northville’s offense will be engineered by senior quarterback Isaac Pace, who excelled in a limited role in 2022.

“Isaac has had a very good off-season,” Luplow said. “I know he’s excited to throw his first varsity touchdown pass and he can run the ball too.”

The Mustangs’ primary ball-carrier is expected to be first-year starter Max DeFore, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound sophomore.

“Max has a ton of potential; I’m excited to see him play,” Luplow said.

Senior Caden Besco will handle the newly-installed fullback position in addition to starting on defense.

“Caden is a very physical player with really good hands,” Luplow noted.

Cole Attanasio, the son of Northville JV Head Coach Tony Attanasio, gives the Mustangs a big, fast, sure-handed target at tight end.

The Mustangs top two wideouts are Colin Charles, a junior with D1 college potential, and Nick Helner, a returning senior starter.

The offensive line will be anchored by junior Adam Travers. He’ll be joined by guards Luke Parrinello and three-year starter Graham Gilmartin; and tackles Nathan Moriarty and Robbie Schuckel.

A Mustang running back stretches the ball across the goal line.
A Mustang running back stretches the ball across the goal line

Hassan Elzayat and Gilmartin will serve as feisty, aggressive bookends on the defensive line, with senior Ferris Jordan (6-3, 305) starting at nose guard.

“Ferris is probably our best player on defense,” Luplow said. “He has a ton of potential. The sky is the limit.”

The linebacking corps consists of all returning starters: Owen Ross, Cooper Hoffman, Besco and Evan Deak, who will also be a big-time contributor on offense.

The secondary will be among the best in the conference thanks to the presence of cornerbacks Drew Rankin and Christian Freydl; and safeties Cullen Murphy (who Luplow labeled as probably the best athlete on the roster) and Sonny Rentz, who is expected to handle most of the team’s kicking responsibilities.

Ross is a reliable long-snapper and Murphy will give the team a big-play threat as its main return man.

Among the non-starters who are expected to play significant minutes are junior linebacker Kaden Kuban, senior DB Will Clauson and sophomore linebacker Aiden Hamilton.

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or



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Ed Wright

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