Monthly Archives: October, 2012

Playoff Picks: Running the table like Clark Gable

Division 1
Traverse City West @ Rockford

This would’ve been potentially interesting early in the season, when Rockford wasn’t healthy and TC West was still bright eyed. But while West has faded, Rockford looks like a legit state title contender. Winner: Rockford

Grand Ledge @ West Ottawa
These two met in Week 2, in what is a real outlier and dark spot on WO’s otherwise stout resume — a 31-10 loss at Grand Ledge. Maybe that happens twice. But the West Ottawa team we saw against Rockford is just too talented for that. Grand Ledge’s Joe Reverman is the best back the Panthers have seen all year, now they get a double dose of the junior who has run for 1,450 yards and 22 TDs. Grand Ledge’s quarterback, Jalen Brady, is being recruited by MSU. But as readers of the Lake know he’s not even the best junior QB named Jalen in Michigan. Winner: West Ottawa

Division 2
Portage Central @ Portage Northern

P-Northern beat P-Central in Week 8, 42-18, as Huskies QB Jon Pincus ran wild. Northern will be even better next year defensively, as linebackers Preston Simon and Tyler Cummings are juniors, as are highly recruited two-way lineman Austin Labus and defensive back Riley Bell with his six interceptions. Winner: Portage Northern

Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills @ Muskegon

Muskegon beat Kenowa Hills 45-7 in Week 8. Those kind of point spreads aren’t accidental. Winner: Muskegon

Grand Rapids Northview @ Lowell
Northview escaped the O-K White for the friendlier confines of the Bronze, but can’t hide much longer. Lowell’s still in the White, the Lake Michigan area’s toughest league, and emerged hobbled but still alive. The Red Arrows are in the playoffs for the 16th straight season. Winner: Lowell

Caledonia @ Swartz Creek

A month ago, Caledonia would have been the easy pick. But now they’re coming off two straight losses, and have to make the long road trip. Their defense is good enough to get through this round, at least. Winner: Caledonia

Bay City Western @ Traverse City Central
TC Central is the best team in Northern Michigan. How does that translate against a Saginaw Valley team? Both have two dynamic runners, TJ Schepperly and TJ Schwanneke for TC Central, Mason Myers and Charles Proctor for BC Western. QB Joe Ivan didn’t play in the Warriors’ final game, so that warrants watching. Winner: Traverse City Central

Battle Creek Lakeview @ Mattawan
Lakeview will have a hard time slowing down a potent Mattawan offense, led by The Barber. No, not Mike Peplowski, but the Lake’s No. 1 senior running back Trevor Sweeney. Sweeney Todd, cuttin’ ’em up. Winner: Mattawan

Division 3
Zeeland West “@” Zeeland East

The last time these teams met, it was as wild a game as we’ve seen. East prevailed in 60-52 2OT then came through the regular season clean, including the one-point finale over Muskegon. Looking back, the Chix would probably trade that W for a healthy Josh Blawkamp. He broke his leg against the Big Reds, and is only their best defensive back, a 1,000-yard rusher and senior leader. For West, two-way standout Braden Werley has proven a capable fill-in QB. This looks like another classic, with game-breaking, college talent for both teams on both sides of the ball. This is as “recruitable” a first-round game as there is in Michigan, nor will it be surpassed in entertainment value. Gonna be a whole lotta 50+ yard touchdowns for that $5. Winner: Zeeland West

Plainwell @ Hastings
When did Farmington Hills Harrison join the “Twin Cities”? Plainwell’s in unprecedented territory, for two straight seasons making the playoffs while sending a player to the Big Ten. One might have more confidence in Hastings if their most impressive results weren’t losses, to GR Catholic Central, Hopkins and South Christian. God bless them for being historically accurate, but this doesn’t bode well for Hastings. Their full-T offense is as close a football equivalent as one gets to the Fyrd system of battle favored by the Saxons. The Saxons lost the Battle of Hastings, of course, forever altering the course of Western history. Winner: Hastings

Holland Christian @ Stevensville-Lakeshore
Holland Christian is back on the right track under Jim Caserta. But a team that struggles to tackle could be in for a long night against undefeated Lakeshore. Winner: Lakeshore

Fruitport @ Grand Rapids Christian

Christian’s young defense showed flashes of greatness through the fall, but didn’t really put it all together until the finale, when they had five sacks and three picks in a win over Lowell. Having junior Dwayne Barfield fully healthy in the defensive backfield certainly helps. Fruitport just hasn’t seen anything like this in the Lakes 8. Winner: Grand Rapids Christian

Owosso @ Cadillac
Both teams are 6-3, with all six combined losses to playoff teams. Cadillac was hoping to make the Division 4 cut, but like Zeeland West were swept up with larger schools. Assuming Jalen Brooks gets more than four second-half carries, Caddy in a close one. Winner: Cadillac

Hamilton @ Edwardsburg
If this were the NCAA 64, Hamilton would’ve never made it, staggering in at 5-4 with losses in three of their last four. But when they decide to play, this is a big, physical team (just not Bill Vanderbilt big, physical) that can knock heads with Edwardsburg’s dangerous ground trio of Michael Kempton, Caleb Neff and Jack Bywaters. Winner: Hamilton

Division 4
Grand Rapids South Christian @ Paw Paw

South Christian is a deceptive three-loss team, as they all came to playoff qualifiers. They also have the top college prospect QB in the Lake Michigan area Jon Wassink, just a sophomore. Winner: South Christian

Otsego @ Dowagiac
They’ll meet for the second straight week. Dowagiac won  last Friday 43-0. Should it be closer this time around, Dowagiac has its special weapon in the Lake Michigan area’s top kicker, senior Brett Scanlon. He’s not one of those moonlighting soccer types either. Scanlon is also a damn good QB. Winner: Dowagiac

Cheboygan @ Ogemaw Heights
Gotta go with the team that wanted to join the Big North, over the one that quit it. Winner: Ogemaw Heights

Comstock Park @ Allendale
CP gave soph-strong Allendale its only loss of of the season, 13-8 back in September. Senior QB Jake Brown had to orchestrate the game-winning drive for Comstock Park. Few are more suited to the task. The 6-0, 200 senior has run for 780 yards and 20 TDs and thrown for 1,132 yards and seven TDs. Winner: Comstock Park

Three Rivers @ Battle Creek Pennfield

Pennfield is a tough, hit-you-in-the-mouth team built for postseason football. Their only loss is to undefeated Schoolcraft. Three Rivers will look to put up points on the arm of senior QB Sam Shutes, who has completed 116-of-197 throws for 1,876 yards and 15 TDs, while rushing for 502 yards and 9 TDs. Winner: Pennfield

Hudsonville Unity Christian @ Grand Rapids Catholic Central

The real question isn’t so much which team will win, but if Unity will score a point? Winner: GR Catholic Central

Chippewa Hills @ Big Rapids
Big Rapids has won eight straight games, including these teams’ first meeting 29-27. Two scholarship seniors in this one — Chippewa Hills’ wideout Trent Karcher and Big Rapids’ lineman Jake Daugherty. Winner: Big Rapids

Division 5
Kingsley @ Menominee
Oh. Should demand a check for mileage and hazard pay on this one. Winner: Menominee

Grayling @ Kingsford
Ye ol’ algorithm gave no love to the Lake Michigan Conference. It’s hard to imagine a tougher draw for a 9-0, league championship team than Grayling’s Saturday trip into Wisconsin’s conjoined twin. This is not OK, Computer. Winner: Grayling

Buchanan @ Muskegon Oakridge
Undefeated Oakridge has tossed three shutouts. Winner: Oakridge

Grant @ Newaygo
These neighbors couldn’t hook up in the regular season, so it’s only fitting. Winner: Newaygo

Grand Rapids West Catholic @ Hopkins
This is one of the best opening round games. On one side you have West Catholic, which showed that championship pedigree by reeling off five straight wins to qualify. Undefeated Hopkins has its best team in years. But unlike most of the teams on Hopkins’ schedule, West Catholic has the personnel to stone that grind-it-out running game. Then what? Winner: West Catholic

Manistee @ Reed City

Reed City is a “quiet” 9-0. But 9-0 nonetheless, and if Manistee listens they can hear those Coyotes in the woods. Winner: Reed City

Division 6
Constantine @ Watervliet

The Week 9 loss to Pennfield was the only time Constantine didn’t surpass at least 30 points. They scored more than 40 in all of their seven wins. You have to love Constantine’s speed/power combo out of the wing-T with seniors Ben Mallo and Payton White. At 8-1 Watervliet actually has a better record than the defending state finalist. QB Jake Cowsert has had an amazing season, throwing for 1,753 yards and 23 TDs while rushing for 678 and six TDs. Winner: Constantine

Maple City Glen Lake @ Boyne City
Boyne City is ahead of schedule. Like the Lucinda Williams song, Glen Lake is right on time. Winner: Glen Lake

Grandville Calvin Christian @ Ithaca

Ithaca is in the midst of forging a small-school dynasty, undefeated and favored for their third-straight state title. Ithaca’s Travis Smith may be the top QB in the state’s junior class. Winner: Ithaca

Niles Brandywine @ Schoolcraft
This is Scraft’s third-straight postseason appearance, but the first time they’ve come in unbeaten in over a decade. And that’s not just a paper 9-0, the KVA was rough. Winner: Schoolcraft

Montague @ Hemlock
A tough deal for Montague. If they win on the road the reward will be Ithaca. Montague’s been successful keeping games low-scoring, and having senior QB Brandon Moore make plays when he has to. Winner: Montague

Kalkaska @ Shelby
Don’t underestimate Kalaska’s talent defensively, or running with Zach Hill. But his is their first playoff appearance in over a decade, and it would take a major road upset. Winner: Shelby

Division 7
Springport @ Gobles

“Win or go home” is nothing new for Springport, which had to run off five straight Ws to get here. It ends here, as Gobles has a big-time playmaker on both sides of the ball, in senior running back Adam Vosberg and senior lineman Jeff Gilbert. If Springport’s star QB Daniel Bryan is unable to go due to a concussion, it could get ugly. Winner: Gobles

Decatur @ Hartford
Decatur’s defense has three shutouts this season, including 28-0 over Hartford. Nate Gerhold has been vital to Decatur as a D-lineman/running back. No other team came close to slowing down Hartford and the duo of Gareth McMillan and David Mirales, who have run for nearly 2,000 yards and 25 TDs combined. Winner: Hartford

Bridgman @ Lawton
Brandon St. Clair is the man for Lawton. He’s run for 1,292 and 15 TDs. Winner: Lawton

Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian @ Lake City
Lake City’s lone loss was to Beal City. But in the Highland Conference they don’t see the kind of athletes NorthPointe will roll out there in Nick Swore, Preston Huckaby and Michael Lewis. Winner: NorthPointe Christian

Whittemore-Prescott @ Mancelona
Mancelona’s 9-0 and features not just one of the top runners in Division 7, senior Wyatt Derrer with over 1,200 yards on the ground, but an impact two-way player in o-lineman/linebacker 6-2, 255 Dalton Sulz. They’ve helped Mancelona to three straight Ski Valley crowns. Winner: Mancelona

Carson City Crystal @ Evart
Evart took advantage of a down year for McBain. They have a real defensive playmaker in John Danley. Winner: Evart

Division 8
Vestaburg @ Muskegon Catholic Central

Gotta be impressed by what MCC did against the other papal powers, hanging tough 14-0 against GR Catholic Central, then winning last Saturday at TC St. Francis 21-13. Winner: Muskegon Catholic Central

Onaway @ Central Lake
Onaway sneaked in at 5-4, losing three straight including 45-14 to this same Central Lake team in Week 8. The Trojans overcame a 1-3 start to make the playoffs. Winner: Central Lake

Hillman @ Johannesburg-Lewiston
If Mitch Hardy is still hurt, Hillman may want to suit up Combustible Huxtable for this one. While no stranger to the playoffs — this is their seventh-straight trip — they got in at 5-4, with one of those wins via forfeit. J-L linebacker Dylan Helms is playing lights out. Winner: Joburg

Mio @ Beal City
The home team is undefeated and has more than twice as many playoff points as Mio, making this a simple pick. Winner: Beal City

Baldwin @ Fowler
Baldwin has one of the most dominating players in the division in senior Andon Ware. What they don’t have is size. Defending state runner-up Fowler is tough defensively, and the CMAC champ. Winner: Fowler

Lake Michigan Catholic @ Climax-Scotts
Climax-Scotts has been here 10 years running. How can a Michigander not root for a running back named Kirk Gibson? 6-6, 230 senior Malachi Saterlee is one of the state’s sleeper defensive line prospects. Winner: Climax-Scotts

Prospect Rankings: Upperclassman Defensive Linemen

Class of 2013

  1. Tyler White  6-6  225  Sr  Plainwell  Illinois
  2. Jake Bull  6-7  230  Sr  Hudsonville
  3. Daniel Green  6-0  290  Sr  Grand Rapids West Catholic
  4. Blake Mazur  6-3  250  Sr  Comstock Park
  5. Adam Walma  6-4  220  Sr  Caledonia
  6. Jake Daugherty  6-3  275  Sr  Big Rapids
  7. Amilio Flores  6-4  255  Sr  Fruitport
  8. Keane Belcher  6-3  225  Sr  Grand Rapids Catholic Central
  9. Patrick Banks  5-10  320  Sr  Zeeland East
  10. Ronald Jenkins  6-4  255  Sr  Muskegon
  11. Alex Korhorn  6-2  275  Sr  Grand Rapids Christian
  12. Colt Harrington  6-1  230  Sr  Greenville
  13. Tyler Smith  6-4  210  Sr  Zeeland East
  14. Nate Williams  6-3  260  Sr  East Kentwood
  15. Bobby Drew  6-4  285  Sr  Saugatuck (enrolled, not playing)
  16. Cari Campbell  6-2  220  Sr  Muskegon Catholic Central
  17. Dillon Ankey  6-2  235  Sr  Shelby
  18. Mike O’Brien  6-3  210  Sr  Maple City Glen Lake
  19. Matt Kolean  6-3  220  Sr  Hamilton
  20. Cole Felice  6-1  305  Sr  Ogemaw Heights
  21. Shomari Tate  6-2  200  Sr  Grand Rapids Catholic Central
  22. Jacob Shepherd  5-11  245  Sr  Muskegon Oakridge
  23. Joe McKenna  5-11  230  Sr  Ravenna
  24. Anthony Perrier  6-4  215  Sr  Grand Haven
  25. Chance Murphy  6-2  280  Sr  Traverse City West

Class of 2014

  1. Kenneth Finley  6-4  265  Jr  Muskegon
  2. Jordan VanDort  6-6  290  Jr  Zeeland West
  3. Zach Evans  6-3  235  Jr  Kenowa Hills
  4. Jake Khoury  6-3  265  Jr  Traverse City St. Francis
  5. Mitchell Stanitzek  6-3  215  Jr  Grand Rapids West Catholic

The Trojans Rise Again: Traverse City Central is the North’s Best Team

Standing on the Traverse City Central sidelines earlier this season, a nice gentleman who was a Traverse City Central fan shared with me story after story about the great Trojan teams of the past. He reminisced on many of the big wins under legendary Trojans coach Jim Ooley, who coached the Trojans for 25 years and won three state championships. As a history buff myself, I enjoyed hearing the tales of times past. But as the game in front of us unfolded, I couldn’t help but think how the 2012 Trojans would make their own mark on Traverse City high school football history. These Trojans were in the midst of beating their biggest rival by two touchdowns, but my new friend continued to share his thoughts on the good old days.

This has been part of the bigger issue for the Trojans over the last several years; they seem to always be chasing the ghosts of the past.  Before Traverse City Central and Traverse City West were their own schools, the two comprised Traverse City High School – the largest school in the state, with an enrollment of 3400 students and a never-ending stream of fresh football talent.  When the school split in 1997, Central’s new enrollment was around 1600 students with a largely decimated talent pool.

The truth is, the “good old days” are gone, but a new era of Trojan football has arrived. Current Trojans head coach, Tom Passinault, took over the reins in 2007, inheriting a team that went 0-9 the year prior. This year, the Trojans amassed an 8-1 record and a roster that boasts nearly a dozen college prospects during their best season in over 20 years.

Coach Passinault has rebuilt the foundation of Trojan Football the old-fashioned way: player leadership and buy-in, a great strength & conditioning program, and raised expectations.  “A coach once told me if your best players are your hardest workers, you have an opportunity to be really successful. Our best players have been our hardest workers this year,” Coach Passinault said of his team.

This brick-by-brick approach is time intensive, but Passinault and his players never wavered.  Neither did Traverse City Central Athletic Director, Cody Inglis. “I really think that Tom deserves a lot of credit, and with Tom, it’s truly not just about football,” Inglis said. “I think that he has truly asked his team to be representatives of Traverse City Central in a first-class way.”

The Trojans have been first-class on the field as well.  The talent is abundant on both sides of the ball.  Their success starts up front behind offensive tackles Tyler Gildersleeve and Mitch Brien. Gildersleeve is a potential Division I college prospect, and at 6-7, 280, is one of the top tackles in Northern Michigan. He paves the way for TCC’s two TJ’s – the speedy running back TJ Scwannecke and dual-threat quarterback TJ Schepperly. Schepperly seems to do it all – throwing, rushing, and leading the inspirational charge for the Trojans.

On defense, the Trojans have a great front seven led by senior tackles Jordan Lutze and David Chauvette, along with senior linebackers Nick Bonaccini and Nate Pupel. Junior defensive end Mitchell Wynkoop has emerged as a budding star, and has improved his stock in our latest Class of 2014 Rankings.

The test of any great program is consistency, and the Trojans have found a way to develop their young talent. They are playing five sophomores this season, highlighted by up-and-coming running back Ethan Campbell. Campbell had a breakout game against rival Traverse City West – scoring four TDs in four different ways.

The future looks bright for the Trojans, who will host a home playoff game vs. Bay City Western this Friday.  While TC fans and alumni should always cherish the Trojans’ storied history, they have an opportunity to embrace the current team’s quest for greatness. Who knows? History just may repeat itself.

Final Lake Michigan Team Rankings

Division 1
1. Rockford  7-2
2. West Ottawa  7-2
3. Traverse City West  6-3
4. East Kentwood  4-5
5. Grandville  4-5
6. Hudsonville  2-7
7. Grand Haven  3-6
8. Kalamazoo Central  1-8

Division 2
1. Muskegon  8-1
2. Lowell  7-2
3. Mattawan  8-1
4. Traverse City Central  8-1
5. Caledonia  6-3
6. Portage Northern  7-2
7. Forest Hills Central  5-4
8. Grand Rapids Northview  7-2
9. Kenowa Hills  5-4
10. Portage Central  6-3

Division 3
1. Grand Rapids Christian  8-1
2. Zeeland East  9-0
3. Stevensville-Lakeshore  9-0
4. Zeeland West  6-3
5. Fruitport  8-1
6. Cadillac  6-3
7. Plainwell  6-3
8. East Grand Rapids  4-5
9. Hastings  6-3
10. Holland Christian  5-4

Division 4
1. Grand Rapids Catholic Central  9-0
2. Paw Paw  9-0
3. Comstock Park  8-1
4. Allendale  8-1
5. Dowagiac  9-0
6. Ogemaw Heights  6-3
7. Grand Rapids South Christian  6-3
8. Otsego  6-3
9. Chippewa Hills  6-3
10. Three Rivers  6-3

Division 5
1. Muskegon Oakridge  9-0
2. Hopkins  9-0
3. Grand Rapids West Catholic  6-3
4. Grayling  9-0
5. Reed City  9-0
6. Newaygo  7-2
7. Buchanan  7-2
8. Kingsley  6-3
9. Grant  6-3
10. Manistee  6-3

Division 6
1. Schoolcraft  9-0
2. Montague  8-1
3. Shelby  7-2
4. Constantine  7-2
5. Watervliet  8-1
6. Maple City Glen Lake  8-1
7. Boyne City  8-1
8. Niles Brandywine  7-2
9. Grandville Calvin Christian  7-2
10. Kalkaska  7-2

Division 7
1. Mancelona  9-0
2. Lake City  8-1
3. Lawton  8-1
4. Decatur  7-2
5. Hartford  7-2
6. Gobles  7-2
7. Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian  6-3
8. Bridgman  6-3
9. Traverse City St. Francis  4-5
10. Ravenna  4-5

Division 8
1. Beal City  9-0
2. Muskegon Catholic Central  6-3
3. Johannesburg-Lewiston  7-2
4. Lake Michigan Catholic  8-1
5. Baldwin  6-2
6. Central Lake  6-3
7. Marcellus  5-4
8. Manistee Catholic Central  5-4
9. Onaway  5-4
10. Kalamazoo Christian  3-6

Friday night’s standouts

*Carter Stephens ran 15 times for 193 yards and four TDs and had 125 yards and a TD on two catches for Greenville, a 46-13 winner over Forest Hills Eastern.

*Down to just one thousand-yard rusher lined up behind him, Zeeland East senior QB Michael Custer came through against No. 1 Muskegon. He completed 21-of-29 passes for 337 yards and two TDs as the Chix finished the regular season 9-0 thanks to the 40-39 win over Muskegon.

*Kenowa Hills senior Dylan Smith had 187 yards and four TDs on six catches in a 57-22 defeat of Grand Rapids Union.

*Hartford’s David Mireles ran for 302 yards and two TDs on just 9 carries as Hartford beat up on Lawrence 56-7.

*Ogemaw Heights qualified for the playoffs by beating Alpena 42-13. Senior Brandon Benac ran 16 times for 182 yards and three TDs.

*Wyoming QB Jack Rozema carried the ball 16 times for 194 yards and three TDs and completed 7-of-11 throws for 101 yards and two TDs. Wyoming was a 50-14 winner over Belding.

*Traverse City Central senior QB TJ Schepperly ran for 213 yards and two TDs and passed for 101 yards and a TD in a 42-21 win over Cadillac.

*It was another yeoman effort from Kalamazoo Hackett senior Geovante Weston. He compiled 234 yards and two TDs on 39 rushing attempts and Hackett beat Kalamazoo Christian 16-8.

*The Lake Michigan area’s other workhorse back, East Grand Rapids Jahaan Brown, ran for 276 yards and four TDs on 24 attempts and also had a receiving TD as the Pioneers ended on a high note, 37-14 over Caledonia.

*QB Justin McCauley ran 19 times for 154 yards and two TDs and threw for two more TDs for 9-0 Paw Paw, a 46-36 winner against Edwardsburg.

*Jesse Ring ran for 256 yards and four TDs. Bangor beat Martin 72-0.

Nominations for the “All-Lake” Teams & POY Are Now Being Accepted

The first-ever “All-Lake Teams” and “All-Lake Player of the Year” will soon be selected, and we need your input! We will be accepting nominations for the top players in each position and the top player overall in The Lake coverage area. Be sure your voice is heard by submitting your nominees via email to Please include the following in your nomination:

  • Player First & Last Name
  • School
  • Position
  • Class Year
  • Height / Weight
  • 2012 Season Statistics

Nominations will be accepted through November 1st.

Lake Michigan Prospect Watch: Week 9

Class of 2013

Caledonia Defense: five seniors
Despite playing in the toughest league in the Lake’s coverage area, the O-K White, Caledonia is playoff-bound at 6-2 heading into Friday’s game at East Grand Rapids. Much of that success can be contributed to the Scots’ defense. While they have yet to toss a shutout, they’ve held four teams to just a touchdown, and last week held Lowell to 14 points, the Red Arrows’ lowest total of the season. On that Caledonia defense there are a number of seniors wit college potential. A prospect we really like is versatile, athletic senior Heath Hoogerhyde, who hwas been getting it done since his sophomore season. He starts at safety and running back, where he can catch out of the backfield or make power runs. But at 6-1, 215 could also project as a fast linebacker at the next level, who is smart in coverage and covers a lot of space, filling gaps or coming around the end.Another playmaker is 6-2, 205 senior Isaac Androsiak, who is also a capable wide receiver. The middle linebacker showed his versatility in the Lowell game, when he had an interception then later blitzed to force a QB fumble. His speed and athleticism are Androsiak’s calling card — he can catch and put a licking on receivers –but he’s strong enough to get in there and take on linemen when he has to. 6-2, 205 senior Tanner Ellens isn’t as quick as Hoogerhyde or Androsiak, but he showed against Lowell he can contribute in different ways himself, with a sack and returning a pick for a TD. Up front, at right defensive tackle, senior Adam Walma has the physical tools at 6-4, 220 with a 4.9 40. You have to stay on him for the play’s duration, because he has a motor and makes plays on second and third efforts. He’s also a starting tight end, where Walma serves mostly as a blocker, and Caledonia’s punter. 5-9, 165 senior Justin Krueger is Caledonia’s top cover man, and also provides a speed option out of the offensive backfield.

Jake Bull  6-7  225  Sr  DL/TE  Hudsonville
At 2-6, Hudsonville is about to close the book on its worst season in 15 years. But amidst the struggles, one bright spot has been the play of Bull. Of senior tight ends in the Lake Michigan area, Bull may have the best combination of size/athleticism/blocking/receiving. While he doesn’t have the swivel to be much of a yac guy, Bull is quick off the line and a big, reliable target. Defensively, Bull lines up at left end. He’s a physical presence pressuring the quarterback, and can use his size to tip balls.

Houston Glass  6-1  190  Sr  DB  East Kentwood
Like Hudsy, EK is another O-K Red school that has fallen on hard times despite a D1 senior, in this case Glass, who has committed to Buffalo. He’s a third-year starter with good if not elite speed for the position — 4.55 40 yards, 10.9 100 meters. This season for the 3-5 (1-3 league) Falcons, Glass is their leading rusher with 80 carries for 393 yards and six TDs and also has caught two TDs.

Adam Vosburg  6-2  185  Sr  RB  Gobles
Vosburg is one of those players who can be tough for college coaches to project because of his level of competition. There’s no denying his high school production. He’s run 150 times for 1,184 yards and 22 TDs. As a junior he ran for 1,459 yards and 24 TDs. Vosburg’s the proverbial “man amongst boys” at the small school level, with reported 4.5 speed and the legs that made him all-state in the high jump, with a pr of 6-4.  He’s terrific between tackles, as he’s hard to wrap because of his strength and hip action, and often delivers hits harder than those he’s receiving.  He also plays defensive end for Gobles, and could project to linebacker or safety.

Class of 2014

Jake Swander  5-11  170  Jr  QB  Grayling
Swander is living the dream. Grayling goes into Friday’s Game of the Week at Boyne City undefeated and playing for the Lake Michigan Conference title. He’s quarterbacking for the school where he was once a ballboy, and now will leave as a record setter. In his first season, he’s completed 136-of-256 passes for 2,402 yards and 20 TDs to four interceptions. As a shorter quarterback who keeps his feet and can  make all the throws in a QB friendly offense, Swander resembles –stylistically– Drew Brees. And as he’s doing it left-handed (again, in manner of play) gives kind of a Tyler Palko look. Playing out of a spread shotgun, Swander benefits from good protection, and can also throw on the move both with momentum and against his body. He has a real nice looking ball, and can mix up velocity and placement depending on the circumstances.

Northern Michigan Game of the Week: With undefeated records on the line, Grayling and Boyne City play for LMC title

Grayling @ Boyne City

On Friday night, two of Northern Michigan’s best teams will put their undefeated records on the line in a winner-take-all game.  The game will be a battle of two high-powered offenses as Grayling and Boyne City face off for the Lake Michigan Conference title.  For Grayling, everything starts with Jake Swander, the junior quarterback who is on pace to pass for 3,000 yards this season. Swander is another college prospect hidden in the woods of Northern Michigan, but boasts a good arm and strong pocket presence.  Senior running back Ty Jensen will look to keep the Boyne City defense honest as he strives for another big game on the ground.  The offensive line will be anchored by junior Lucas Walesky, a 6-4, 250 mauler. On defense, watch for 6-3, 190 senior middle linebacker Wes Dean, who has been the Vikings’ top tackler.

The Boyne City attack will be led by sophomore quarterback Corey Redman, a CMU basketball commit.  Redman has a strong arm, good speed, and leadership that sparks the Ramblers.  In the backfield, freshman Malik Smith gives the Ramblers a potent running game.  Smith is a power back who runs with a vengeance despite his age.  He also has deceptive speed that has accounted for many big runs this year.  The Ramblers have been able to outscore teams and will look to do the same on Friday night.

Only one team will walk away with the title and preserve their undefeated record, but we’re expecting a whale of a game. This game will be the biggest thing to hit the southern shores of Lake Charlevoix in a long time.

Friday night’s standouts

Geovante Weston slept well. The Kalamazoo Hackett senior carried the ball 52 times (fourth most in state history) for 423 yards (16th most in state history), with three TDs. And it’s not like those numbers were overkill, Hackett beat Parchment by only a couple scores 34-24.

Grayling junior QB Jake Swander is on pace for a 3,000-yard season. He completed 23-of-44 throws for 362 yards and six TDs. Undefeated Grayling beat up on win-less East Jordan 62-29.

Not far behind Swander is GR Christian senior Alex VanDeVusse, who added to his total by completing 16-of-24 passes for 341 yards and three TDs as the Eagles beat Forest Hills Central 38-16. Junior Drake Harris caught 10 passes for 205 yards and two TDs.

The Drake has scored in every game and has 15 TD catches total. That’s not the highest mark in the Lake Michigan area though. That goes to another 6-4 junior wideout, Holland Christian’s Kyle Steigenga. He has 17 after a 115-yard, three TD night as the Maroons toyed with ol’ Holland Public 42-20. It was 42-0 at halftime, after Holland Christian QB Ross Schreuer completed 15-of-18 passes for 284 yards and five TDs.

Cadillac’s junior QB, Jalen Brooks, played a little longer than Schreuer, three-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter. He ran 22 times for 240 yards and six TDs as the Vikings beat Clio 42-6. It’s Brooks’ second six touchdown game.

Another Big North QB with wheels is senior TJ Schepperly of league champion TC Central. He ran for 196 yards and three TDs and threw for two more in a 43-19 defeat of Gaylord.

Just when we’d given up on Hamilton for dead, the Hawkeyes beat Zeeland West 42-38. Senior QB Nick Kronemeyer threw for 186 yards and three TDs and ran for another, including the gmae-winner with a minute left in the game. For West, Braden Werley ran for three TDs and threw for another. That’s whey we rank Werley so high amongst senior running backs, he does so many things.

Zeeland East has the running backs too. Junior Spencer Viening rushed for 162 yards and five TDs and senior Josh Blauwkamp 277 yards and two TDs. The Chix unbeaten streak was threatened by Mona Shores but won 55-41 to send them into Friday’s O-K Black title game with

Brandon Moore ran for three TDs and returned a kick 90 yards for another as Montague topped North Muskegon 44-14.

Fill-in running back Ryheem Stokes ran for 181 yards and two TDs and had a 76-yard kickoff return TD in GR Catholic Central’s 28-14 win at Hastings. Stokes credited the offensive line of the undefeated Cougars.

Paw Paw remained unbeaten with a 46-23 defeat of Otsego. DeMarcus Leak ran for four TDs.

Ogemaw Heights has been a different team the second half of the season. They beat Traverse City West 56-39, as senior Brandon Benac ran 19 times for 194 yards and three TDs. Both teams need a win next week to guarantee a playoff berth.

Lawton whupped Lawrence 62-18. Brandon St. Clair had 191 yards and three TDs on just nine carries.

Payton White ran for four TDS in Constantine’s 62-34 win over Olivet.

It was a rare 2012 victory for East Grand Rapids, 54-14 over Jenison. Jahaan Brown ran for 167 yards and three TDs.

South Christian kept its playoff hopes alive beating Ottawa Hills 44-7, behind 297 yards and two TDs via the air from soph QB Jon Wassink.

Northern Michigan Game of the Week: Glen Lake is unbeaten, TCSF fighting for playoffs

Traverse City St. Francis @ Maple City Glen Lake
Going for an unbeaten regular season with just two games left, 7-0 Maple City Glen Lake hasn’t played in a game like this since 2001.  4-3 Traverse City St. Francis is trying to maintain a streak of playoff appearances that dates back to the 1980s. Despite their proximity, these schools haven’t played since that 2001 season, when Glen Lake beat St. Francis in the regular season then again in the playoffs, which the Gladiators sneaked into with a 5-4 mark.

St. Francis could conceivably take the five-win rout again, but why leave it up to computers when you can take care of it between the lines? That’s what the Glads did last week, with what they hope was a season-changing 13-6 win over favored Saginaw Nouvel (whose only other L is to loaded Flint Powers). Prior to beating Nouvel, TCSF endured losses to schools they don’t usually lose to, Kingsley, Grayling and Boyne City. St. Francis’ main problem on the field is a lack of team speed. But this is still a team that will hit you hard with a strong front seven, led by junior Big Ten recruits Byron Bullough and Jake Khoury, and two other tough juniosr up front in Jake Brodeur and Eric Coggon. Their power running game is built perfectly for winning on the Leelanau Peninsula in mid October.

The Lakers clinched the Northwest Conference title last week with a 15-12 defeat of Frankfort. Prior to that, they’d blown out teams. Now in coach Jerry Angers third season, Glen Lake has been building towards this since getting a five-win bid in 2010. It’s been an even longer path for five fourth-year seniors: Curtis Bunek, Mike O’Brien, Matt Omerza, Dale Pleva and Tyler Stachnik. O’Brien, a 6-3, 210 linbebacker and tight end, and Omerza, a 6-2, 290 lineman, have the strength to bang heads with the Gladiators. Stachnik is a playmaker in the defensive backfield.

When they have the ball, like St. Francis, Glen Lake will look to run, with junior QB Carter Lee, senior Anthony Czapek and junior Trevor Apsey the primary threats. Apsey, a 5-11, 185 junior, could be the game-changer here, as he’s a special teams threat and faster than anyone St. Francis has.