Northern Michigan Game of the Week: Blazers’ trail leads to Shelby

Kalkaska @ Shelby
It seems only fitting, that for the first week of playoff action the Lake Michigan Football Report features a matchup between teams from the Lake Michigan Conference and West Michigan Conference. Kalkaska goes to Shelby for Friday’s Division 6 pre-district game.

Kalkaska is in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. At 7-2, the Blazers claimed their best regular season mark since 1981. They enter the postseason with momentum, having demolished Elk Rapids 44-7 to claim third-place outright in the LMC.

Kalkaska’s 5-11, 180 senior running back Zach Hill has surpassed 1,000 yards rushing for the second time. He can get the tough interior yards but also is a receiver out of the backfield who can tack on some yac. He finished the regular season with 1,069 yards and 15 TDs on the ground with 504 yards and four TDs receiving. Hill also plays safety, where he’s made seven intercetpions, and there’s a playmaker at cornerback too in 6-3, 185 junior quarterback Will Noble. He had two picks against Elk Rapids. Noble also happens to be Kalkaska’s quarterback, in his first season at the position after playing split end as a sophomore. Kaleb House is an intriguing college prospect because he’s a 6-1, 220 linebacker and running back who has scored 11 TDs via running, catching and kick returning. House is joined by another standout junior linebacker, 6-2, 190 Eric Tracey, the team’s leading tackler. While Kalkaska has bigger linemen, it is 6-2, 205 senior Zack Cameron makes it happen at tackle while also staring at lineacker.

Shelby is also 7-2 and a third-place league team, but against better competition in the perennially rugged West Michigan Conference. The Tigers are also coming off a compelling Week 9 win, ending Spring Lake’s playoff hopes 14-8. They are in the midst of a true football renaissance under coach Lorenzo Rodriguez, making their third consecutive postseason appearance. There’s still a long way to go, though. If Shelby beats Kalkaska it would be only their second playoff win.

Shelby has an egalitarian offense. Even still, Devin Mussell is particularly dangerous with four receiving TDs and three more rushing. Nathan Lentz is the ground leader with 574 yards and nine TDs.   Senior QB Spencer Peters , in his first season at starter benefiting from a vet line, can be hit-or-miss, he’s thrown for eight TDS to nine interceptions. But he has the knack for coming through with poise when it matters. Ben Schroeder is Shelby’s stud on D. He had a 20 tackle game against Whitehall. It’s the second time he’s topped 100 tackles for the season.

The winner of Friday’s pre-district game will play the winner of the Boyne City-Maple City Glen Lake tilt. Shelby is the No. 1 seed in the district, Kalkaska No. 4.

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