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All-Lake Area: Underclassman Team

The Underclassman Team marks the first installment of the Lake Michigan Football Report’s honors teams for the 2014 season, which will also include the overall All-Lake teams and MVP, the class of 2016 team, and for Divisions 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8.

Offense
OL Turner Ruby 6-4 285 So East Kentwood
OL Joe Hruska 6-3 225 So Kalamazoo Loy-Norrix
OL Adam Marshall 6-4 240 So Schoolcraft
OL Calvin Luurtsma 6-2 265 So Hudsonville
OL Josiah VanTil 6-3 205 So Thornapple Kellogg
QB Blake Dunn 5-11 175 So Saugatuck
TE Jayk Slager 6-4 215 So Zeeland West
RB Logan Helton 5-6 160 So Muskegon Catholic Central
RB Isaiah Miller 5-10 180 So Edwardsburg
WR Jacorey Sullivan 6-1 185 So Muskegon
WR Sam Neville 6-3 190 So Grand Rapids West Catholic

Defense
DL Nate Umlor 6-5 225 So Allendale
DL Jonathan Berghorst 6-3 230 So Zeeland East
DL Corey Malone Hatcher 6-3 235 So St. Joseph
LB Keegan Cossou 6-5 200 So Greenville
LB Davaunte Dickens 5-10 225 So Grand Rapids Christian
LB Dalton Ager 5-10 180 So Hudsonville
LB Steven Spenner 6-3 205 So Berrien Springs
DB Collin Alvesteffer 5-10 170 So Cedar Springs
DB Tahari Bragg 5-11 170 So Grand Rapids Christian
DB Jack Mandryk 6-1 170 So Hudsonville
DB Gabe Callery 5-10 165 So Traverse City St. Francis

Playoff Picks: State Semifinals Edition

Winners are italicized.
All games 1 pm Saturday unless noted.
Playoff pick record: 66-12.

Division 1
East Kentwood 11-1 vs. Clarkston 12-0 at Brighton
Clarkston’s physicality and explosive offense is nothing new for EK other than the uniforms. The Falcons are from the O-K Red after all. If the weather allows Kyle Friberg to put the ball up like he did last week against Hudsonville, opening it up for Michael Ivy to surpass 2,000 yards, there will be a new champion crowned in Division 1.

Division 2
Muskegon Mona Shores 11-1 vs. Farmington Hills Harrison 10-2 at Howell
Playing away from home against an Eastside power won’t intimidate Mona Shores. They began the season with a win at Saline, which is now in the Division 1 semifinals, and in the district final won at Midland Dow 41-14. With QB Tyree Jackson at the helm, the Sailors are one of the state’s most entertaining, explosive offensive units since Harrison’s 2001 state championship team. Harrison is still without injured starting QB Jevon Shaw, while Mona Shores has leading tackler Dom Shermeta back.

Division 3
Muskegon 11-1 vs. Zeeland West 12-0 at Greenville
Old school meets the nouveau riche, Muskegon the state’s standard from the 20th century and Zeeland West going for its fourth state title in just the school’s first decade of existence. After rolling through the O-K Green in the regular season, West has been tested the last two weeks by Lowell and Stevensville Lakeshore. This will be Muskegon’s stiffest test since they dropped the regular season finale to Mona Shores. Many may assume Muskegon has a serious speed advantage, but that’s not really the case and if the Dux use said speed to contain the big play they’re headed back to Ford Field.

Division 4
Grand Rapids South Christian 10-2 vs. Edwardsburg 11-1 3 pm Saturday at Jackson
This is where the O-K pedigree kicks in, and South Christian will have another shot in the state title game.

Division 5
Menominee 12-0 vs. Grand Rapids West Catholic 12-0 11 am Saturday at the Superior Dome
Not even the long trip over the Bridge can slow down West Catholic QB Travis Russell, coming off an eight TD effort last week against Reed City. Menominee has an outstanding senior QB itself in Justin Brilinski.

Division 6
Boyne City 12-0 vs. Ithaca 12-0 2 pm Saturday at Midland
You want to say Ithaca isn’t as strong as recent vintages, but here they are having won a nation-best 68 in row. Boyne City has just won a mere dozen straight behind tough defense and a diverse running game. Our hearts say Boyne Tough pulls off the legendary upset. Our heads say numbers don’t lie.

Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 11-1 vs. Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 11-1 at Battle Creek Harper Creek
A hail mary from St. Mary was fitting, and NorthPointe hopes they’re out of miracles after QB Bryce Windham’s fourth-down scrable and toss saved the day last week against Lumen Christi. But with SMCC’s bruising offensive line, they may not need divine intervention.

Division 8
Muskegon Catholic Central 12-0 vs. Harbor Beach 12-0 at Alma College
Welcome back Harbor Beach, the school that beat Muskegon Catholic Central in the 2012 Division 8 semifinals took a year off to Division 7 where they lost in the semifinals to Ithaca. HB won D8 in 2012, as did MCC last year. If Harbor Beach can stop MCC’s fast, physical running game, they’d be the first to do so.

Playoff Picks: Regionals

Winners are italicized.
Playoff pick record: 53-12 (84-15 in 2013).

Division 1
Hudsonville 7-4 at East Kentwood 10-1 1 pm Saturday
EK won the regular season matchup a month ago 35-28. Hudsy’s hot, and Kentwood was vulnerable against Grand Ledge which was able to slow down star running back Michael Ivy. But that may be a wakeup call for EK more than a sign of weakness.

Division 2
Battle Creek Lakeview 9-1 at Muskegon Mona Shores 10-1 7 pm Friday
On paper this is Mona Shore’s easiest opponent in a month. But this is a program that’s never been this far and won’t take anything for granted. The Sailors’ stout defensive front will slow down Lakeview’s typically productive running game.

Division 3
Petoskey 9-2 vs Muskegon 10-1 1 pm Saturday at Holton
Poor P-town luck, to have one of its best teams when Muskegon gets bumped down to D3. Maybe the Northmen can channel some of the old Traverse City High success against the Big Reds … sans the extra 2,000 students.

Lowell 10-1 at Zeeland West 11-0 7 pm Friday
Zeeland West can’t put it on the deck again like they did last week against Lakeshore. But in this case the cliche may hold true, that the Dux needed that, a true close, pressure-filled game. Can’t imagine they’ll lack focus against Lowell in one of the state’s top games.

Division 4
Whitehall 9-2 vs Grand Rapids South Christian 7 pm Friday at Byron Center
Few would have suspected Whitehall, with one win last season, to be here. Everyone knew South Christian would be. And Jon Wassink will show Whitehall why.

Eaton Rapids 8-3 at Edwardsburg 10-1 7 pm Friday
Can Eaton Rapids hold Edwardsburg’s Isaiah Miller to fewer than three TDs? He ran for six in the two district rounds. If any D is up to that it’s Eaton Rapids, which has allowed 10 points in the playoffs. Except it doesn’t end there in the Eddies’ wing T. Like Miller, Dustin Vires has run for over 1,000 yards, and junior QB Dante Razzano has passed and run for over 1,000 yards and 20 TDs.

Division 5
Reed City 9-2 at Grand Rapids West Catholic 11-0 7 pm Friday
Reed City just won the first district title in school history. West Catholic, well …

Division 6
Pine River 8-3 at Boyne City 11-0 7 pm Friday
No team has taken a more amazing route to the regionals than Pine River, which won at Tawas on a 95-yard kickoff return by Brandon Fulks then at Sanford Meridan thanks to a 47-yard TD from Mason Powell to Greg Park with under a minute to play. It’s hard to imagine this Boyne City defense folding like that in crunch time. The Ramblers, battle toughened against the likes of St. Francis, Elk Rapids and Negaunee, should be heading to their first semifinal since 2001.

Watervliet 10-1 at Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 10-1 1 pm Saturday
NorthPointe is peaking at the right time coming off a 37-0 defeat of Ravenna in the district final. It hasn’t been anywhere that easy for Watervliet which beat Brandywine 22-21 then Schoolcraft 28-21.

Division 7
Traverse City St. Francis 9-2 vs Ishpeming 10-0 8 pm Friday at Superior Dome
Ishpeming is what TCSF was not that long ago — a dominant small-school program. The Hematites are trying to win their third-straight state championship.

Bridgman 8-2 at Pewamo-Westphalia 9-2 7:30 pm Friday
With all eyes on Detroit Loyola and Ishpeming, this is the stealth regional of D7. P-W’s strength of schedule could mean even more than the home field here. But look for good things to continue in Bridgman, with young talent like sophomore running back Julian Sheriff and sophomore receiver Ryan Chang.

Division 8
Baldwin 10-1 at Beal City 9-2 7 pm Friday
It’s been an historic season for Baldwin, which had never won a playoff game, and their QB Brandon Childress, who has passed and run for 2,681 yards and 47 TDs. The Panthers will get a full dose of Beal City’s run game, which accumulated 510 yards and 53 points in the district final with Johannesburg-Lewiston.

Mendon 10-1 vs Muskegon Catholic Central 11-0 1 pm Saturday at Grand Haven
Mendon will have the most talented player on the field, CMU commit Logan Slaughter on the lines. But Muskegon Catholic may have the dozen next talented.

Lake Michigan Prospect Watch: Week 11

Class of 2015
Mason Banbury 6-4 230 Sr TE/DL East Grand Rapids
East made a return to the playoffs behind the play of a strong senior class, which included QB Mikey Roth and his reliable red zone target Banbury who had four TDs. He can also go over the top, adjusting well with the ball. He extends well, isn’t afraid of defenders over the middle and shows athletic feet and hand-eye making plays on the sidelines. Would like to see him cradle it less when catching, and dig out another gear to tack on more yac. Banbury is a willing blocker particularly good against speed end rushers who aren’t as physical. He went both ways in the brutal O-K White and was able to get into opposing backfield as a stand-up end. No one was talking about Banbury when the 2015 tight ends began emerging before their junior seasons. Now, after changing his body prior to his senior year, he stands behind only West Catholic’s Bryce Witham at the position.

Lake Area’s Top 10 2015 Tight End Prospects
1. Bryce Witham 6-4 240 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
2. Mason Banbury 6-4 230 Sr East Grand Rapids
3. Matt Seybert 6-4 230 Sr Traverse City St. Francis Buffalo
4. Jared Whited 6-2 230 Sr Vicksburg
5. Trevor Raby 6-4 240 Sr Zeeland West Davenport
6. Sam Heyboer 6-4 210 Sr Grand Rapids South Christian
7. Dakota Scholten 6-4 225 Sr Grant Davenport
8. Mike Egeler 6-4 225 Sr Comstock Park
9. Blake Bockheim 6-4 230 Sr Grand Rapids Northview
10. Alex Bos  6-3  200  Sr  Grand Rapids Christian

Alezay Coleman 5-11 175 Sr DB Muskegon Ferris State
He’s been a playmaker at free safety the past two seasons for the Big Reds wth 10 interceptions. Coleman is versatile because he can cover, make jumps on the ball and likes to hit as well. And that’s just defense. Coleman has scored two rushing TDs (including a 40-yard game-winner against Detroit Catholic Central) and a receiving TD (a 45-yard game-breaker against East Grand Rapids), he’s Muskegon’s long-snapper and has even thrown two passes. He’s also a member of the state championship basketball team. Coleman is verbally committed to become part of the West Michigan to Ferris State pipeline that has helped the Bulldogs become the No. 1 ranked team in Division 2. Former Big Reds coach Tony Annese continues to thrive recruiting the Muskegon area with commitments from Coleman, Mona Shores running back Deontay Moffett and Oakridge tackle Tony Curry.

Jordan Ferguson 6-0 225 Sr RB/LB Alpena
Yeah, they’re on the wrong lake, but Alpena’s Big North Conference affiliation qualifies them for our coverage area. And in that league Ferguson had one of the best performances in school history, running for 1,426 yards an Alpena record and 19 TDs one short of the record. He’s effective as either a fall-forward North-South runner out of an I backfield or blocking and creating as the lone running back when spread out. While he’s tough to bring down when he gets to the second level, Ferguson isn’t just a head down brute back. He shows good hands out of the backfield and may be an even better prospect at linebacker where he’s a nasty hitter who can also cover. GLIAC recruit as either a linebacker or fullback. He runs a 4.78 which at his size is serviceable for either position.

Austin Heeres 6-4 200 Sr QB Grandville Calvin Christian
Another guy who gets overlooked with all the glamour QBs that have been doing it for years in the 2015 class. Heeres’ size and success in a passing offense make him an intresting project. As a senior he completed 156-of-273 throws (57 percent) for 1,909 yards, 20 TDs and 11 interceptions. Four of those picks came in Week 2 against Hudsonville Unity Christian when, with Calvin playing from behind, Heeres put it up 44 times. He didn’t just beat up on small-school patsies. In a 35-27 loss to Hopkins Heeres was 21-of-35 for 284 yards three TDs and an interception while running 14 times for 173 yards and a TD. Heeres plays exclusively out of the shotgun with one or no other backs. He throws well on the move and sees plays develop. He has a looping motion and will need more velocity and less hang-time on the ball if he’s going to get it down against quick-twitch cover men. Heeres is also a good punter averaging 37 yards a kick and putting six of his 18 kicks inside the 20.

Sam Heyboer 6-4 210 Sr LB Grand Rapids South Christian
Coming into the season he was known more as a receiver. But he’s playing with a broken wrist so has been making his name on the defensive side of the ball and as a blocking tight end as South Christian looks poised for their third straight appearance in the Division 4 state championship game. As he’s matured he embraced the physicality you need for the position and has really improved to the point of benig the Sailors’ leading tackler. Heyboer is an active, long-armed edge rusher who can also envelop the run on his side. He was dominant in the Sailors’ 35-0 opening round win over Allendale with 12 tackles including three sacks. Allendale senior QB Tucker Kloote is small and quick but had trouble escaping Heyboer’s length and athleticism. Heyboer also finally got involved on the offensive end, with a two-yard TD catch in the back of the end zone, his first score of the season after scoring six as a junior.

Michael Ivy 5-9 205 Sr RB East Kentwood
When Tony Kimbrough became EK’s head coach he said he wanted the Falcons to run the ball more. He’s been true to his word and with Ivey has just the man for the job, rushing for 317 yards in their season opening win over Lansing Everett and never looking back. He’s carried he ball 179 times for 1,841 yards and 24 TDs for the 10-1 Falcons. Ivy is deceptively quick with his upright style, and just a pain to bring down because the legs keep churning and really anticipates and reads well in the open field. Because he’s not a blazer, Ivy’s level of college ball could come down to how coaches think he’ll develop as a receiver, blocker, all-around back.

Class of 2016
Daryn Snow 6-3 190 Jr WR Portage Northern
It was an unfortunate end to a great season for Portage Northern, and particularly painful given their district final shutout to Battle Creek Lakeview came with their most explosive offensive threat, Snow, on the sidelines. He’d suffered a concussion in the opening round win against Portage Central. He finished the season with 44 catches for 552 yards and seven TDs. What’s striking about Snow is that despite his youth and height, he’s not a lanky, fragile, finesse receiver. He’s big, physical and will not just high-point the ball but knock corners out of the way while doing it. Snow has been both prolific and clutch in pressure situations all season for the Huskies. All kinds of athletic bona fides, he’s already twice and all-league player and was Portage Northern’s leading basketball scorer as a sophomore.

Lake Area’s Top 10 2016 Receiver Prospects
1. Hunter Broersma 6-1 180 Jr Muskegon Mona Shores
2. Gabe Steed 6-0 160 Jr Lowell
3. Daryn Snow 6-3 190 Jr Portage Northern
4. Ryan Knight 6-3 180 Jr Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern
5. Darece Roberson 5-10 160 Jr Muskegon Mona Shores
6. Garret Lundteigen 5-9 165 Jr Petoskey
7. Zach Pangborn  6-0  175  Jr  Grand Rapids Northview
8. Dylan Otolski 6-1 180 Jr Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central
9. Tony DeWitte 6-1 170 Jr Grandville Calvin Christian
10. DaJuan Thomas  5-8  155  Jr  East Kentwood

Class of 2017
Austin McCullough 6-3 170 So WR/DB Portage Central
Three miles South on Westnedge, Portage Central has their own answer to Portage Northern’s Daryn Snow in McCullough. McCullough moved in before his freshman year from Alabama and has already established himself as a possible D1 basketball prospect. He can carry himself on the grid too, with all the physical tools though not the sexy numbers in a Mustangs program known for its running game.

Lake Area’s Top 10 2017 Receiver Prospects
1. Jacorey Sullivan 6-1 185 So Muskegon
2. Austin McCullough 6-3 170 So Portage Central
3. Tahari Braggs 6-1 170 So Grand Rapids Christian
4. Sam Neville 6-3 190 So Grand Rapids West Catholic
5. Riley Fairfield 6-4 200 So North Muskegon

Playoff Picks: District Finals

All games are 7 pm Friday unless noted.
Winners are italicized.
Playoff pick record: 33-10 (huge letdown after going 84-15 in 2013).

Division 1
Hudsonville 6-4 at Rockford 8-2
Your know it’s playoff time when rockfordfootball.com takes the stats offline. Black ops! While Hudsonville has more reason to be excited for the basketball season than Rockford, they’ll get to miss another week of conditioning.

Grand Ledge 7-3 at East Kentwood 9-1 1 pm Saturday
EK is just too talented for Grand Ledge. But going forward their receivers need to hold onto the ball better than they did against Grandville.

Division 2
Muskegon Mona Shores 9-1 at Midland Dow 10-0
The state’s going to see just how talented is in this one. Too many weapons but the real story in this one will be the talent of the Sailors’ defense. Can’t wait for the Ford Field fireworks against Brother Rice.

Portage Northern 7-3 at Battle Creek Lakeview 8-2
The Huskies may need some more fourth-quarter magic from QB Thomas Scheffert’s and the Lake Area’s top 2016 WR prospect Daryn Snow to beat Lakeview like they did back in August 28-24.

Division 3
Mt. Pleasant 7-3 at Petoskey 8-2 1 pm Saturday
The Northmen will finally see a more dangerous junior than their own Garret Lundteigen in MP junior receiver Kalebb Perry.

Cedar Springs 9-1 at Muskegon 9-1 1 pm Saturday
Muskegon came out angry from the Mona Shores loss and Northview bore the brunt of their ire 59-21. There have been no indications from this Cedar Springs squad’s talent and character to suggest they’d go out like that. Ball security will be key for the Big Reds, who have lived dangerously at times.

Grand Rapids Christian 6-4 at Lowell 9-1
It’s back to the O-K White for GR Christian after a respite at St. Johns. Lowell didn’t have it so easy and escaped by a point over league rival East Grand Rapids thanks to game-breaker junior Gabe Steed. The Red Arrows won this regular season meeting 20-12.

Stevensville Lakeshore 8-2 at Zeeland West 10-0
This isn’t West’s most talented team but its offense is cohesive where the three main runners all average well over a first down yardage per carry. The Dux D just posted their first shutout 50-0 over Byron Center in the opening round.

Division 4
Comstock Park 6-4 at Whitehall 8-2
A fourth straight semifinal berth would still be an upset, but this CP team is playing its best ball at the right time. To go on the road to beat a then undefeated Cadillac team was a great program win.

Hudsonville Unity Christian 6-4 at Grand Rapids South Christian 8-2 (@Byron Center)
There’s no way South Christian is taking this one lightly after beating Unity 33-30 in the regular season. The Sailors have one every game and have scored more than that since.

Vicksburg 8-2 at Edwardsburg 9-1
Edwardsburg’s only loss is to Vickburg, but the Eddies are just humming right now beating Paw Paw last week 60-34. They run two 1,000-yard backs out of the wing-T, Isaiah Miller and Dustin Vires.

Division 5
Hopkins 9-1 at Grand Rapids West Catholic 10-0
No one can say it was handed to Hopkins, going through a gaunlet in this district which opened at home against Oakridge. Unlike most of Hopkins’ schedule, West Catholic have the athletes on defense to keep a blanket on senior running back Quincy Collings and his nearly 1,500 yards

Reed City 8-2 at Chippewa Hills 8-2
Reed City put up 60 points the first time they played.

Division 6
Negaunee 6-4 at Boyne City 10-0
UP teams have typically treated Boyne Tough as a paper slogan in the postseason, the Ramblers 1-4 in the last decade. When Boyne made the semifinals in 2001 it avoided any Yoopers along the way. The Miners won this game last year in memorable form 42-19. But Boyne has more players back from that year than Negaunee and it shows in the records.

Pine River 7-3 at Sanford Meridian 8-2
The Bucks already made one trip across the badlands to win at Tawas, Pine River’s first-ever playoff victory. They’ll need more magic from Brandon Fulks who in the fourth-quarter against Tawas had a 68-yard go-ahead TD catch and the game-winner a 95 yard kickoff return.

Ravenna 8-2 at Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 9-1 (@Comstock Park)
Ravenna rotates junior QBs — every play. It’s working, as they’ve combined for 652 yards and nine TDs and most importantly get the ball to sophomore David Thompson. NorthPointe plays just one QB, Luke VanDyke, and he’s thrown for 13 TDs and run for nine.

Schoolcraft 7-3 at Watervliet 9-1
Watervliet turned heads early in the year when it gave Mendon its first regular season loss in 36 games. Now they’re further battle-tested coming off a gut-wrenching 22-21 opening win over Brandywine.

Division 7
Traverse City St. Francis 8-2 at Suttons Bay 9-1
St. Francis’ 35-7 dispatching of Onekama was the Gladiators’ first playoff win in three seasons.

Cassopolis 7-3 at Bridgman 7-2
Bridgman tore up the ground game in their 33-8 opening win over Gobles, running for 516 yards. That was the school’s first playoff win.

Division 8
Central Lake 6-4 at Baldwin 9-1 2 pm Saturday
Freshman little brother Braeden Childress got the job done against Brethren for the first postseason win in Panthers history. Now senior Brandon Childress is back under center for Baldwin when they need him most.

Johannesburg-Lewiston 9-1 at Beal City 8-2
Joburg has 2016 college prospects on the D line in Nate Fox and linebacker or safety in tackling machine Logan Huff.

Fowler 10-0 at Muskegon Catholic Central 10-0
Both are undefeated, but in the past two district finals Fowler couldn’t score a point on Catholic. Classic case of a rural true Class D school running up against an urban parochial power.

Lake Michigan Prospect Watch: Week 10

Class of 2015
Tommy Brown 6-2 275 Sr OL/DL Grand Rapids Northview Davenport
Brown is part of what is looking more and more like a blockbuster rookie recruiting class for Davenport, which continues to pluck Lake Area talent away from GLIAC schools to an NAIA program that has yet to play a game. It’s actually the perfect fit for Brown particularly if he wants to play on the offensive line, where he’s really improved over the last year. He may not have the height and length to carry over from his current tackle spot, but with his mobility, physicality and toughness could be a terrific guard. Those same traits serve him well as a defensive tackle, where he is a three-year starter for the Wildcats.

Tyree Jackson 6-5 210 Sr QB Muskegon Mona Shores Buffalo
With an in-season coaching change at Buffalo, Jackson could potentially be one of the state’s hottest recruiting commodities as January approaches. He’s always been good, but has taken his game to another level as a senior, a four-year senior growing into his body and now able to make all the throws. Jackson is the perfect trigger man for an offense with as many options as Mona Shores, keeping his teammates happy and defenses on their heels. He has to chuck it less than in previous years as the Sailors’ have a more balanced attack thanks to the emergence of senior running back Deontay Moffett. Where his improved athleticism and physical maturity really show are when he holds onto the ball, as now Jackson can beat you with designed runs, though he can still get better scrambling when plays break down. In the regular season he completed 84-of-144 throws for 1,400 yards with 17 TDs and three picks while running for 485 yards and seven TDs.

Joeviair Kennedy 6-3 195 Sr WR Muskegon
The three top receivers in the senior class give you a differenct look. Allendale’s Nate Couturier is the shifty slot guy. Ottawa Hills’ Sam Beal is the pure speed field stretcher. Then there’s Kennedy, the big, physical blue-collar target. Which isn’t to say he’s not an athlete, quite the opposite Hip Hop has an offer from D2 No. 1 Ferris State and one in basketball from Northern Illinois. He runs his routes hard, blocks like he means it, can go up and get it across the middle and has body control to haul in the ball and make it official along the sidelines. Kennedy moves well into breaks and can accelerate after the catch.

Matt Schuiteman 6-2 175 Sr WR Muskegon Mona Shores
He may not be the first guy you think about from Mona Shores’ stable of skill position threats. And on pure talent, maybe he shouldn’t be. But production? He’s been QB Tyree Jackson’s favorite target this season despite missing three games with injury. Schuiteman had a career game last Friday playing Muskegon for the O-K Black championship. He repeatedly abused the Big Reds’ secondary getting behind it along the left sideline to make eight catches for 150 yards and two TDs. It was his second consecutive game with eight catches and 150 yards. He has good straight line speed — Schuiteman was a member of Mona’s state finalist 4×100 team last spring — who with more consistent hands and strength is a college receiver.

Cole VanOosten 6-7 270 Sr OL/DL Kalamazoo United
He’s part of the Kalamazoo Christian contingent that has come in to join forces with Kalamazoo Hackett and help the combined team reach the Division 4 playoffs. VanOosten is their top lineman both ways. Defensively he could swallow up runners thanks to his sheer size advantage in the KVA. Where VanOosten really intrigues though is as an offensive tackle because of his length. He has good flexibility for his size and positions himself well to help compensate for lack of elite athleticism.

Class of 2016
Dom Shermeta 5-11 205 Jr LB Muskegon Mona Shores
That’s ironic, a day after we published our top five junior linebackers, Shermeta, who wasn’t named, goes out against Muskegon and turns in a performance that any of those five would envy. Mona’s defense puts a lot of hats on the ball, but time and again it was Shermeta’s Carolina Blue dome at the tip of the spear. He’s not overly big, but he’s packed together, plays low and is a good fundamental tackler. He finished the regular seaosn with 120 tackles. If Shermeta can put on 15 and still run a sub 4.6 … well, GLIAC schools hope he doesn’t.

Class of 2017
Duke Angers 6-1 230 So RB/LB Maple City Glen Lake
He may have the best name in the Lake Area, but that’s not why Angers is a ranked underclassman. He was a jumbo fullback for Glen Lake who looks like he’ll keep getting bigger and can project him to any number of spots, and is already the team’s top tackler. Duke is the son of Lakers head coach Jerry Angers and will be a four-year varsity player.

Opening Round Playoff Picks

  • Game times 7 pm Friday unless otherwise noted.
  • Winners are italicized.

Division 1
Traverse City West 5-4 at Rockford 7-2
This will be these teams’ eighth playoff meeting in the past 11 seasons. Rockford has won all of them, most recently 19-0 in 2013. The Rams are making their 20th straight postseason appearance. Check out the matchup of two top five overall 2016 prospects, TC West’s junior right tackle Jacob Cerny and Rockford’s junior left end rusher Gabe Baumann.

Hudsonville 5-4 at West Ottawa 5-4
At one time 5-1 and ranked No. 1 in Division 1 after a comeback homecoming win over East Kentwood, West Ottawa backs into the playoff field having been out-scored 134-22 in the three games since then. Included in that was a 45-0 loss to Hudsonville.

Grandville 5-4 at East Kentwood 8-1 1 pm Saturday
East Kentwood is the most complete team we’ve seen all season — big line, run or pass, fast defense. Grandville is a tough team that lost by just one to EK in week 4 then battled its way into the postseason by closing out three straight must-win scenarios. The Falcons won the first meeting thanks to a late keeper from senior QB Kyle Friberg, and it could be that close again.

Division 2
Traverse City Central 6-3 at Midland Dow 9-0
An undefeated state power playing at home, not a great draw for the Big North runners-up. No one has come close to Dow this year, but a down Saginaw Valley has something to do with that as well.

Caledonia 7-2 at Muskegon Mona Shores 8-1 7 pm Saturday
Either of these teams could go on and challenge Brother Rice in the state finals. This is the best team in Mona Shores’ history, an offensive juggernaut under senior QB Tyree Jackson that has been held under 30 points once, in the rain at Rockford the Sailors’ only loss. They closed the regular season clinching the O-K Black title with an historic 48-27 second-half blowout at Muskegon. But given how Caledonia’s been playing — all seven of their wins are against playoff teams — Mona’s most impressive victory was actually against these same Fighting Scots, 40-7 in week 4. No one knows what kind of weapons Jackson has at his disposal as well as the Scotts, who saw six different Sailors find the end zone. There will be no 30-point margins this time around. Mona Shores is a bit tougher than given credit for, Caledonia is faster than some realize, this is the best pre-district game in Michigan.

Portage Northern 6-3 “at” Portage Central 7-1
This is an intra-city rematch of the regular season game with Central won 26-10. The Mustangs will try to beat Northern for the 11th time in the past dozen games.

Division 3
Bay City John Glenn 6-3 at Petoskey 7-2
One is hesitant to have much faith in the Big North in the playoffs, but home field should serve the Northmen well.

Grand Rapids Northview 6-3 at Muskegon 8-1 1 pm Saturday
Bad luck for Northview, getting a Muskegon team knocked down to D3 after two straight appearances in the D2 state finals, and seeing red after dropping the O-K Black title game to Mona Shores. Northview has a puncher’s chance is QB Devon Houston is able to pick on weak spots in the Muskegon secondary like Mona’s Tyree Jackson did.

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 7-2 at Cedar Springs 8-1
FHN was unbeaten until running into Cedar Springs the first time, losing 14-8, and then fell the next week to Northview. The Huskies had come into that game averaging 40 points a contest. All aboard the Gus Bus!

Grand Rapids Christian 5-4 at St. Johns 8-1 7:30 pm Friday
Grand Rapids Christian was 4-1 before senior QB Patrick Hall was injured against Lowell, and 1-3 after that as the high flying Eagles of the last few years haven’t been able to throw the ball. But let’s be total homers and call the upset.

East Grand Rapids 6-3 at Lowell 8-1
EGR is back in the game after a two-year absence. EGR couldn’t run against Lowell the first first time, which has got to happen in the projected rain and snow. Lowell isn’t quite Lowell with a pedestrian senior class, but watch out for a long playoff run in 2015. As for 2014, this game should be one of the best in the Lake Area between two programs you know won’t fade under the postseason lights.

Byron Center 7-2 at Zeeland West 9-0
West has won 21 games in a row. And while D3 has more obstacles than last year, Byron Center — which was dispatched of by these same Dux 62-21 just two weeks ago — probably isn’t one of them.

Coldwater 8-1 at Stevensville Lakeshore 7-2
The post-Denny Dock era at Lakeshore has a familiar feel to it — a 17th-straight playoff appearance

Division 4
Comstock Park 5-4 at Cadillac 9-0
At first glance this would appear to be a mismatch. But Comstock Park went undefeated in the O-K Blue, a league which in recent years has been as good as the Big North despite not having any Division 1 or 2 schools. It always takes a bit for Northern Michigan teams to adjust to the pace the Grand Rapids area teams play at. We’re still going Vikings, but it will be close.

Spring Lake 6-3 at Whitehall 7-2
Not playing in an O-K league may hurt Spring Lake in the postseason, as they haven’t won a playoff game since 2001. Whitehall doesn’t, either, but for small school leagues it doesn’t get much better than their West Michigan Conference.

Allendale 5-4 at Grand Rapids South Christian 7-2 (at Byron Center)
The Sailors looked poised for a third straight trip to Ford Field.

Hudsonville Unity Christian 5-4 at Grand Rapids Catholic Central 6-3 (at GR Christian)
This is a solid, not vintage, Catholic Central squad. Meanwhile Unity Christian’s offense has exploded, averaging 56 points over their last three games, all must-wins to qualify for the playoffs.

Paw Paw 6-3 at Edwardsburg 8-1
It was a basketball game the first time these teams met, with Edwardsburg winnign 62-57 in week 4 as the teams combined for over 1,200 yards from scrimmage. First stop wins?

Three Rivers 6-3 at Vicksburg 7-2
Vicksburg has an underrated signal caller, senior QB Dalton Ketlaar who is part of Davenport’s burgeoning debut recruiting class. It would be the Vick’s first-ever playoff victory.

Battle Creek Harper Creek 5-4 at Plainwell 8-1
Harper Creek hasn’t seen a running back like Jacob Geter, yet.

Kalamazoo United 6-3 at Eaton Rapids 6-3
Northern Ireland could’ve learned something from Hackett, where the eponymous Catholic school and Kalamazoo Christian combined squads and reached the playoffs. But the problem now is, KU didn’t play a schedule equivalent to most D4 teams.

Division 5
Central Montcalm 5-4 at Freeland 8-1
Priority 1 for Central Montcalm will to be try and keep the ball out of the hands of Freeland’s Jake Jankoska, who averages 11.5 yards per carry and 39.5 yards per catch.

Berrien Springs 5-3 at Grand Rapids West Catholic 9-0
If West Catholic was able to win a state championship beginning the playoffs 5-4, how good is an undefeated version? Though they lost big-play threat Lasavian Majewski against Allendale win week 5, that just put the onus to deliver even more squarely on QB Travis Russell. Few are better equipped to do it than the third-year senior starter who has thrown for 15 touchdowns and run for 14.

Muskegon Oakridge 8-1 at Hopkins 8-1
Great opener down in Tim Kisner Country. Both teams were undefeated league champions, Oakridge in the West Michigan Conference and Hopkins in the O-K Silver. Oakridge’s only loss was to defending D5 state champion West Catholic in week 1, and soph QB Brady Lutrull has come a long way since then.

Newaygo 7-2 at Reed City 7-2
Newaygo beat the Coyotes back in Week 3, but don’t see it happening twice.

Lakeview 8-1 at Chippewa Hills 7-2
Chippewa Hills’ two losses were both to playoff teams, Central Montcalm and Reed City.

Division 6
Elk Rapids 5-4 at Boyne City 9-0
Elk Rapids took Boyne City to the brink in the regular season, but their rally ended on a controverial attempted spike of the ball gone astray. The rematch again features one of the Lake Area’s best QBs, Elks senior Adam Trautman, against a Boyne City D that has five shutouts but gave up a season-high 36 to Grayling last Friday (albeit while the Ramblers also scored a season-high 55).

Negaunee 5-4 at Charlevoix 6-3
While it’s a down year for the Miners, and a long trip, don’t underestimate Yooper toughness as real football weather creeps in.

Pine River 6-3 at Tawas 7-2
Pine River has never won a playoff game, and has a long trip to the East side. but as with Grand Rapids Christian the underdog at St. Johns they get our homer vote.

Fennville 6-3 at Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 8-1
Fennville can be dangerous, they only team to beat Gobles in the Southwestern-North, but haven’t played a schedule like NorthPointe Christian’s. If he weren’t going to Findlay for basketball, Fennville tight end Aaron Overhiser might still be in the GLIAC for football. NorthPointe’s Kenny Willekes will be in the GLIAC — for football, he’s one of the top five senior linebackers in the Lake Area.

Carson City-Crystal 7-2 at Ravenna 7-2 1 pm Saturday
This pick assuming Ravenna isn’t still shell-shocked by their regular season ending shutout loss to Muskegon Catholic.

Schoolcraft 6-3 at Constantine 8-1 1 pm Saturday
Schoolcraft is one of only two in-state teams to top two TDs against Constantine, losing 31-17 way back in week 2. As talented as senior Justin Hull is, Constantine has three guys who can beat you on the ground with Hull, Taylor Reiff and QB Matt Hasbrouck.

Niles Brandywine 8-1 at Watervliet 8-1 7 pm Friday
Great matchup and what should be a toss-up. There aren’t a lot of small schools that have as talented skill guys as Brandywine seniors Andrew Duckett at QB and the school’s all-time rusher Marty Ward.

Division 7
Mancelona 6-3 at Suttons Bay 8-1
Suttons Bay hasn’t lost since week 2. They have a couple intriguing prospects in the junior class, 6-4 230 two-way lnieman Matt Jelinek and 6-2, 240 linebacker Dave Brown.

Onekama 6-3 at Traverse City St. Francis 7-2
Despite no Bulloughs for the first time in nearly a decade, here come the Glads. And they’ve done it without top prospect Matt Seybert, who has missed the season with a broken foot.

Manton 7-2 at Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 8-1
Tom Markowski named Michigan Lutheran Seminary one of his favorites to win it all in D7.

Cassopolis 6-3 at Decatur 8-1
Decatur’s only loss was to Watervliet, which was able to slow down running back Johnathan Grosvenor. That’s easier said than done.

Bridgman 6-2 at Gobles 7-2
Bridgman’s best bet may be if ugly Halloween weather impedes Goble’s potent Tyler Hunt to Jacob Tiller passing combination.

Division 8
Brethren 5-4 at Baldwin 8-1
This game just became interesting after Baldwin’s star quarterback, senior Brandon Childress, was suspended for a game by the MHSAA for reportedly leaving the sideline to break up a fight in the regular season finale against Hart. The Panthers may still have a change though, as no 11-man team in the field has fewer playoff points than Brethren. And there will still be a B. Childress at QB … freshman Braeden Childress.

Central Lake 5-4 at Frankfort 5-3
If the purple team is thinking ahead to basketball season, they could be in trouble.

Coleman 7-2 at Beal City 7-2
With no challenge in the Highland Conference, Beal City took a couple quality losses to D7 powerhouse Ishpeming and by a point last week to undefeated Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker.

Hillman 8-1 at Johannesburg-Lewiston 8-1
Jo’berg defensive back Logan Huff was the Ski Valley defensive MVP, and he’s only a junior.

Fulton 6-3 at Muskegon Catholic Central 9-0
Well, this is an easy one. Muskegon Catholic would be the favorite in Division 4-8. They’ve won 21 straight games and didn’t miss a beat when Christian Martinez stepped in for injured QB Nick Holt the last two games.

Final Team Rankings

Division 1
1. East Kentwood 8-1
2. Rockford 7-2
3. Grandville 5-4
3. Hudsonville 5-4
5. West Ottawa 5-4

Division 2
1. Muskegon Mona Shores 8-1
2. Caledonia 7-2
3. Portage Central 7-1
4. Portage Northern 6-3
5. Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills 5-4

Division 3
1. Zeeland West 9-0
2. Muskegon 8-1
3. Lowell 8-1
4. Cedar Springs 8-1
5. East Grand Rapids 6-3
6. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 7-2
7. Grand Rapids Christian 5-4
8. Stevensville Lakeshore 7-2
9. Byron Center 7-2
10. Petoskey 7-2

Division 4
1. Grand Rapids South Christian 7-2
2. Cadillac 9-0
3. Grand Rapids Catholic Central 6-3
4. Plainwell 8-1
5. Edwardsburg 8-1
6. Comstock Park 5-4
7. Allendale 5-4
8. Hudsonville Unity Chrsitan 5-4
9. Vicksburg 7-2
10. Whitehall 7-2

Division 5
1. Grand Rapids West Catholic 9-0
2. Muskegon Oakridge 8-1
3. Hopkins 8-1
4. Newaygo 7-2
5. Reed City 7-2

Division 6
1. Boyne City 9-0
2. Constantine 8-1
3. Ravenna 7-2
4. Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 8-1
5. Niles Brandywine 8-1
6. Watervliet 8-1
7. Schoolcraft 6-3
8. Charlevoix 6-3
9. Elk Rapids 5-4
10. Fennville 6-3

Division 7
1. Traverse City St. Francis 7-2
2. Decatur 8-1
3. Gobles 7-2
4. Suttons Bay 8-1
5. Bridgman 6-2
6. Cassopolis 6-3
7. Saugatuck 5-4
8. Manton 7-2
9. Mancelona 6-3
10. Onekama 6-3

Division 8
1. Muskegon Catholic Central 8-0
2. Beal City 7-2
3. Baldwin 8-1
4. Johnessburg-Lewiston 8-1
5. Frankfort 5-3

Lake Michigan Prospect Watch: Week 9

Class of 2015
Nate Couturier 5-10 155 Sr WR/DB Allendale
For the third season in a row, Couturier is one of the most exciting players in the Lake Area. Few make better use of their chances. Going into the final game of the regular season, Couturier had 31 catches, which covered 592 yards and 10 TDs. It marks the third season that he’s reached double-digit receiving touchdowns. He’s a threat in coverage as well, having returned an interception for a TD. Unfortunately for Allendale, Comstock Park held them to 4-of-16 passing in the shutout win. When he does get touches, Couturier, with an offer from Air Force, is a ticket-seller. Many of his big plays begin with little passes at scrimmage, then the talent takes over; while also being able to split wide and get behind defenses at the high school level. Couturier has 4.55 speed, better still he has quickness, feel and vision.

Lamar Jordan 6-0 195 Sr LB Muskegon Catholic Central
Jordan is a returning starter and holds it down as the mike linebacker for defending Division 8 state champion and odds on state repeat favorite MCC. He has a high IQ on his reads and is able to play tight to the line without getting his pursuit angle exploited. Jordan is more wrapper than hitter and will have to retain his 4.8 speed while adding bulk to play linebacker at the next level. He goes both ways for the Crusaders who shows a motor and some toughness as a blocking tight end.

Class of 2016
Monterio Smith 5-10 175 Jr RB Comstock Park
An understudy to All-Lake running back Jake Bush in 2013, Smith has proved a more than capable replacement as a junior. He has a career game last Friday in Comstock Park’s shutout of O-K blue rival Allendale running for 318 yards and a TD. The touchdown was a 65-yarder up the middle behind pulling guard NickVanOost for the game’s first score in the second quarter. As with Bush, Smith is alone back there with QB Pat Naughton and really took advantage of the Panthers’ disciplined line play. He has the speed to turn the corner, which he did on his first big run proving hard to take down spinning a tackler for 10 more yards at the end.

Class of 2017
Shane Goebel 6-1 260 So DL Ravenna
Goebel is that rare commodity, a high school nose guard who excels in a 3-4. He has a strong lower body and can get some good push to occupy the interior of the line. Key for Goebel will be increased explosion off the ball as he matures and gets bigger.

Riley Fairfield 6-4 200 So ATH North Muskegon
He has the frame and athleticism as a sophomore that makes coaches rub their hands together gleefully, speculating what he will become, and how his various talents can be utilized. Fairfield showed his versatilty and value last Friday in North Muskegon’s big win over Shelby. He caught a 34-yard TD, threw a 36-yard TD, and returned a fumble 74 yards for a TD.

Corey Malone-Hatcher 6-3 235 So DL/LB St. Joseph
He’s the early No. 1 recruit in the Lake Area’s sophomore class, as not many his age can match Malone-Hatcher’s combination of versatility, production and physical tools. He’s both an energetic end-rusher for St. Joe, as well as a middle linebacker with the size and nose to stop the run and good enough feel and flex to drop into coverage. He already has an offer from Ohio State and Malone-Hatcher is being recruited by power programs such as Alabama, Michigan State and Notre Dame.

Nate Umlor 6-5 225 So DL/TE Allendale
He’s going to be a rare four-year starter for a Class B school, a prototypical 5 technique D end in a 3-4 and a top five overall Lake Area prospect in the 2017 class. Umlor is strong at the point of attack to where he’s often occupied by two blockers. Despite being much bigger than he was as a freshman, if anything he’s more athletic. Being still an underclassman albeit an experienced one, Umlor still doesn’t have the full-go motor. But when there are flashes, like the swim moved last Friday to suddenty make Comstock Park QB Pat Naughton’s world shrink real fast and force him into a touch throw on the retreat, it’s hard not to get really excited about Umlor’s potential. He’s also recruit-able at a high level as a tight end, with big frames, basketball timing and big, trusty hands.

Lake Michigan Prospect Watch: Week 8

Class of 2015
Caden Burrows 6-1 270 Sr  OL/DL Cedar Springs
A veteran at center, Burrows has helped ease the transition for Cedar Springs’ sophomore quarterback Collin Alvesteffer and the Red Hawks are going to the playoffs. From the snap to finding his man, Burrows really gets his hands on quickly to help spring free the dangerous backs in Cedar’s wing T. He plays physically on the D line as well. A better athlete downhill than side-to-side, and pass block remains something of a myster given the high school offense.

Jarod Rodgers 6-0 205 Sr RB Byron Center
He’s getting stronger as the season progresses, with 493 yards and six TDS on the ground in Byron Center’s last two games alone. That includes touchdown runs of 91 and 87 yards last Friday against Holland Christian. All the way back from a sophomore ACL injury, Rodgers has nearly doubled his per carry rushing average from his junior season. He’s hard to bring down, then has enough straight line speed at 4.7 to take it to the house when he gets to daylight.

Kenny Willekes 6-3 215 Sr LB Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian
He’s on the top of the GLIAC recruiting charts at linebacker, and with that textbook size sand 4.7 speed some MAC interest as well. As a senior Willekes is having some fun running the ball too. Last week was his high to date, 202 yards and two TDs against Godwin Heights. It’s the defense that will pay the bills though. Willekes fills job requirement one — he beads in on the ball, squares and finishes as a tackler. He can pursue sideline to sideline. Willekes plays with some rambunctiousness and edge, without losing his fundamentals. This is a big school talent playing at the Division 7 level, which can really make things fall apart for the opposition.

Class of 2016
Gabe Baumann 6-3 245 Jr LB Rockford
Grand Haven had a nice ground game going in their overtime loss last Friday to Rockford. But most of that damage was done running off left tackle, far away from Baumann on the other side of the line. He plays with his hand down now but athletic enough to do either. Despite his size he has some wiggle which caused some problems for one of the Lake Area’s top senior tackles, Grand Haven’s Chase VanHoef, and ended up drawing double-teams. He closes well for his size as well. It was hard to see how Baumann does against the run in this game, but he’s clearly a top five overall prospect from the Lake Area in 2016.

Michael Holdship 6-0 210 Jr LB/RB Cadillac
Baumann is the top outside linebacker in the 2016 class, and Holdship the best on the inside and, like his 131 neighbor, is a top five overall junior talent in the Lake Area. Cadillac may have been underestimated after graduating one of the best players in the school’s history, quarterback Jalen Brooks, to Ferris State. But the Vikings are undeated and running away from the Big North. Holdship is a carryover starter and a two-way workhorse for Cadillac. He’s playing defensive tackle this year. On the other side, Holdship has run for 190 yards the past two weeks, including last Friday against Traverse City West (a Division 1 school, Caddy is D4). With 4.6 speed and blue-collar toughness, he could end up a linebacker or Big Ten fullback.

Lake Area’s Top 5 2016 Linebacker Prospects
1. Gabe Baumann 6-3 245 Jr Rockford
2. Michael Holdship 6-0 210 Jr Cadillac
3. Zach VanValkenburg 6-4 230 Jr Zeeland West
4. Dom Shermeta  5-11  210  Jr  Muskegon Mona Shores
5. Zane Gorby 6-3 200 Jr Caledonia

Nolan Meekhof 6-1 215 Jr RB/LB Grandville
We’ve long loved Meekhof for his measurables, he was a big powerful athlete as just a freshman. The he blew it away again at our combine last spring running a 4.6 40, clearing over 30″ standing vertical and making the top powerball toss at over 40′. But how does that translate to the field? Increasingly well. In what was a surprise blowout win only those who haven’t followed West Ottawa’s two boys’ money sports for decades, Meekhof ran 25 times for 145 yards and two TDs against a talented defense from the then No. 1 team in Division 1.

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