River Rouge football overpowers Eastpointe at Prep Kickoff Classic w/ PHOTO GALLERY


The 16th annual Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State University in Detroit held its third and final day of festivities on Saturday. The first of two games featured reigning Division 3 runner-up River Rouge battling Eastpointe.

River Rouge vs. Eastpointe football photo gallery

It was not much of a contest as Rouge dominated from the start, eventually cruising to a 56-0 win over the Shamrocks.

The Panthers (1-0) raced out to a 28-0 lead after one quarter of play and eventually a 35-0 early in the second. Officials actually stopped play at around the 6-minute mark of the second quarter and declared halftime, due to the heat index on the field.

When the intermission was over, play was picked up from that point in the second quarter. And with Rouge already up by 35 points, the running clock was put in place.

Jaylen Watson carries the ball for River Rouge on Saturday during a game against Eastpointe at the Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State University. Watson and the Panthers got the season underway with a 56-0 win over the Shamrocks.

The Panthers eventually tallied two more touchdowns in the third and one early in the fourth to cap off the scoring. Rouge coach Corey Parker talked about having to battle not only the opposing squad but arguably more so the high temperatures on Saturday.

“It felt like working through summer camp again with all this heat,” Parker said. “I learned how fast we are all over the field. We have a lot of different weapons and it is our job as coaches to find ways to get them the ball.”

Parker spoke highly of quarterback Christian Johnson, who made his first career start at the varsity level. The junior transfer from Detroit Cass Tech had three touchdown passes, two Jalen Holly and one to Brandon Wideman, and a 65-yard scoot-and-score.

Eastpointe last season turned in an 8-1 record overall, their highest win total since 1976. The Shamrocks, however, have had an offseason of roster attrition and it showed throughout most of the contest on Saturday.

Despite the one-sided affair and not expecting to face a suddenly depleted Shamrock roster, Parker did emphasize the importance of still having to focus on being the best version of themselves, regardless of who is on the other side.

When asked if he learned anything new on Saturday that he perhaps didn’t already going in, Parker pointed to coaching culture and effort.

“We’re talking about helping these kids with academics, helping them in the weight room,” Parker said. “All those little extra things it takes to become successful. And that is what we have.

“We have kids that leave our program and go be successful at the collegiate level. They have to be ready to stay there.”

Rouge opened the game with an 85-yard kickoff return touchdown from Markell Gilford before things turned into the Christian Johnson show.

De’Monnie Hendrix had a rushing touchdown in the second half while freshman backup quarterback McKale McDowell connected on two touchdown passes, one each to Jalen Jarvis and Nicholas Marsh.

Rouge in Week 2 will visit Detroit Renaissance (0-1), which got blanked 42-0 by Grosse Pointe South on Thursday. The Panthers are 1-2 all-time against the Phoenix with the lone win coming last season in 46-0 fashion.




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