We get some ace e-mails here, so thanks for the quality readership. This came Wednesday, good stuff, thanks! …
Zeeland West’s Marcus Lambert is certainly a player to watch with those eye popping stats as a junior. However, Zeeland West coach John Shilleto is the diversionary Wing T mastermind behind such stats. Shilleto creates the opportunity, and backs like Lambert take advantage by running through large holes and into wide open space. Shilleto has done it for years with all kinds of running backs. Wouldn’t be surprising to see ZW win the rest of their games after two really tough losses against good teams. Look for Shilleto to find ways to get the ball to Jordan VanDort more often as the season goes on. He’s never had a tight end quite like VanDort, and he’ll find ways to maximize VanDort’s size and talent even if he needs to detour from his Winged T orthodoxy.
Nice to see Hamilton’s Coach Chris Myers off to a good start after a few tough years. If his Hawkeyes can beat Unity Christian or Byron Center, then they have an excellent chance at returning to the play-offs. It may be a bit much for them to beat Hastings or Zeeland West, but their record will be aided by not needing to play Zeeland East this year and playing a rebuilding Holland team without Corey Willis instead. Too bad that Willis is injured and can’t play his senior year of football, but, hopefully, we will hear more from him when he is playing at CMU.
Holland Christian’s Kyle Steigenga looks like he has the physical characteristics to be a great receiver in college. He is tall. He can jump. He can catch. If he decides to focus on football rather than basketball, then he may be a D1 wide receiver or tight end. However, he may face double teams all year as the Maroons don’t have a lot of other weapons at their disposal in their quest to return to the Cousins / Westendorp glory days.
As good as Lowell is, it is understandable why some picked them to be third in the very tough OK White. With Lowell, EGR, G.R. Christian, and FHC make the White a shootout. Will be interesting, and the winner should be a favorite to be state champs. A few big plays by Christian’s Drake Harris may prove to be the difference in the White, but look for well quarterbacked FHC as a darkhorse.
With games against Rockford, Lowell, Kenowa Hills, and Zeeland East, the Muskegon Big Reds will have a huge impact on GR area teams. Adding athletes from Muskegon Heights to an already talented roster makes Muskegon the most talented team in West Michigan. Muskegon has a very difficult schedule with tough remaining games against Rockford, Lowell, Kenowa Hills, and Zeeland East, but the Big Reds also have ample size, speed, and talent to meet the challenge. Others with really tough schedules this year include Forest Hills Central with games against both Zeeland schools + EGR + Lowell + Grand Rapids Christian and Zeeland East with games against Zeeland West + Hudsonville + Forest Hills Central + Kenowa Hills + Muskegon. Of course, other OK White schools also have tough schedules just by playing in the White this year. Seems like FHC and ZE, both of which switched conferences this year, were dealt a tough hand schedule wise. Making FHC play both Zeeland schools and then the OK White schedule is brutal. FHC and ZE are both good, with lots of talent in the skill positions, but reaching six wins with their schedules will be challenging as they are not physically dominant like a Muskegon or Lowell; they may get beat up physically in the trenches as the season progresses due to their tough schedules against larger schools.
Forest Hills Central Quarterback Justin Chopp is a talent, and has some excellent receivers, but keep an eye on the September 14 FHC vs. Zeeland East game because ZE’s QB Michael Custer is also proving to be a talented passer and poised leader. There are reasons that ZE’s offense is scoring so many points this year, with junior RB Spencer Viening certainly being one, but a smart QB distributing the ball effectively is key to the spread offense that ZE runs. Five passing touchdowns under home town double OT pressure against John Shilleto’s ZW defense is evidence that Custer can play. Zeeland East’s September 21 game against Kenowa Hills will also be an interesting one as Custer goes up against Kenowa’s Cody Ritsema in another battle of excellent quarterbacks. The defining issue of these games may be which offensive line can best protect their QB.
Here’s hoping that Rockford QB Kyle Short will be able to play against Muskegon. Hate to see any kid out with injury in such a big game! Hopefully, both these powerhouses will be at full strength for their traditional clash of titans.
As usual, Peter Stuursma will have EGR improving game to game and peaking around play-off time. Stuursma joins Shilleto as one of the best high schools coaches in the state. Will a college coaching job wait for long?
West Catholic has a hard nosed defense, and that defense may lead them to a state title in their division. They lost their season opener to an Indianapolis power, but their defense may help them run the table going forward.
My guess is that G.R. Catholic Central is the only Grand Rapids area team likely to go undefeated this year because, unlike Rockford, Lowell, Kenowa, or Zeeland East, they don’t have to play a powerful Muskegon team. With their relatively easy schedule, and with Lowell, EGR, GR Christian, and FHC beating up on each other in the White this year, only Catholic Central will go flawless. While Catholic Central may end up undefeated, Muskegon will be the best team in West Michigan, and maybe the entire State of Michigan.