We are a little beyond the mid-way point of the high school football season and the old saying, the cream rises to the top, holds true with the top football teams and the best football prospects. The best teams find a way to win each week. They win the games they are supposed to win, silence the overhyped teams, and beat their rivals. The best players make plays consistently week in and week out with no excuses regardless of who they play.
One player in Michigan that has dominated the man in front of him consistently for the last three years is Cole Dellinger from Clarkston High School. The 6-foot-4 280-pound offensive lineman is one of the best 2023 prospects in the midwest, and he and his team are off to a fast start in 2021.
Fast Start to 2021
“We have been working hard to improve the run game and give Mike (DePillo) time to pass. So far, we have been challenged in several games, and we have risen to the challenge. As long as we keep doing the little things, playing good defense, and executing on offense, we should have a great season,” said Dellinger.
The Wolves are 5-0 and have knocked off Davison, Southfield, and beat an underrated Oxford team last week. However, they have a long season left, and they have their most formidable opponent and rival, West Bloomfield (4-1), tonight on the road.
Before 2015, West Bloomfield wasn’t Clarkston’s main rival. It was Lake Orion. Over the last six years, Clarkston and West Bloomfield have exchanged blows year-to-year as the top 2 teams in the OAA Red Division and the state. Clarkston has had three state championships since 2013, and West Bloomfield won their first title last year. The OAA Red Division has produced a state champion in Division 1 5 out of the 11 seasons.
Clarkston and West Bloomfield is the game of the Week in Michigan, and both teams have a lot at stake trying to build momentum before the playoffs. Dellinger talked about how he and his team prepared this week for the big game. “Staying focused on being disciplined and aggressive. We know they are very athletic and have outstanding athletes, so we need to be very aggressive against them. We can expect a hard-fought game with strong defense.”
This season is a little different for Clarkston because they are playing without Garrett Dellinger (LSU) and Rocko Spindler (Notre Dame). Both were 4-year starters and have graduated. Garrett made his first start as a true freshman for LSU last week in their game against Ole Miss.
“Outside of myself, we have 4 new starters on the offensive line. We have been working really hard, we are solid and are able to make good holes for our running backs. We have exceeded expectations as a group after losing Garrett and Rocco and have a lot of room to get even better before the season is over,” said Dellinger.
Last season, Dellinger played at the same level as his brother and Spindler. This season he has taken things to an even higher level. “I think I am doing well. I am stronger, have better footwork, and I have been working on my technique each game. I am learning a new position at Tackle this season, so that is helping me grow as a player.”
As the younger brother of Garrett, some may think Cole is penciled into attending LSU. “Being his brother helped, in the beginning, to get noticed. I think there are a lot of coaches that assume I am just going to LSU because of Garrett and may not think recruiting me is worth it. Garrett is the first one to tell me to go where I feel most comfortable. I am open to anyone and am willing to explore all my options. There is still time for me to figure it out.”
There are about half a dozen schools that are recruiting Cole hard as of now. LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Ole Miss, and Pittsburgh. “These are the schools that talk to me the most and several new schools have reached out after watching my film,” said Dellinger.
Here is what he had to say about each school.
“It is one of the best environments to play a game in, the campus, the fans, the facilities, and living conditions are all amazing. Plus they have Mike the Tiger on campus.”
“The offensive line has been awesome this year, they are making it easy for the running backs. Coach Moore and his offensive line staff have a lot of coaching experience and has a strong history of putting players in the NFL.”
“I like the coaching staff and you can feel a change in the culture on the team. The offensive line has been doing great and coach Kap has the guys buying into the system.”
“They first contacted me in June. They were excited to recruit me and they were happy to know that I am willing to go south. They have been getting to know me and my family. They liked my film and liked the way I moved on the field.”
“They came on very strong and sent a ton of mail. I enjoy speaking with the offensive line coach and I look forward to getting to a game and meeting the staff.”
On film this season, Cole is a man among boys and his film backs everything up. He is an outstanding pass blocker and is one of the nastiest run blockers in the country. He is not playing in the shadow of Garrett and Rocko. He is making his own name and proving he is one of the best.
His team is undefeated and they also get a chance tonight to show whether or not they are the top team in the state when they play West Bloomfield. Bragging rights are on the line and most importantly getting that positive momentum as they get closer to playoffs. Dellinger and his team will be ready for the challenge and this should make for an exciting OAA Red showdown tonight.