Friday’s State Finals Preview

Division 8, 10 am
Beal City 13-0 vs. Harbor Beach 12-1
Beal City is just three years removed from a state championship. After going 8-19 in 2008-10, Harbor Beach is 23-2 the past two seasons. Their defense allows 12 points a game.  5-11, 180 junior Eli Kraft makes Harbor Beach go. He’s completed 71-of-95 passes for 1,129 yards and 11 TDs to one interception, while running for 740 yards and 14 TDs. On defense Kraft has five interceptions, one he returned for a touchdown. Beal City doesn’t have a running QB, 6-1, 180 senior Sam Schafer has completed 74-of-107 throws for 1,546 yards, 19 TDS and four interceptions. He works with five backs — Ty Rollin, Hayden Huber, Joe Rau and Austin Cook — who have rushed for at least five TDs, paced by Rollin a 5-6, 180 junior with 124 carries for 869 yards and 18 TDs.

Division 2, 1 pm
Muskegon 11-1 vs. Birmingham Brother Rice 11-2
These are historically elite programs in the state of Michigan. Brother Rice is synonymous with head Al Fracassa, now in his sixth decade of coaching and the state’s all-time leader with 415 wins. He still knows what he’s doing apparently, as the Warriors are the defending Division 2 champion. They and Muskegon have one common opponent this year. The Big Reds beat Division 3 finalist Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 21014, while Brother Rice lost 24-14. BR’s only other loss was to another team playing for as state title, Cass Tech. Muskegon has run for over 4,000 yards behind what might be the state’s best offensive line. But they have yet to have to contain a player as good as linebacker Jon Reschke, a 6-3, 232 senior who is the heir apparent to Max Bullough at Michigan State. Muskegon will need to play with more discipline than it did Saturday against Caledonia. That mean both in execution, such as crisper decision-making on the option and holding onto the ball, and after the whistle, as the Big Reds were flagged twice for unsportsmanlike conduct. You can’ t give a team like Brother Rice those kind of additional chances.

Division 6, 4:30 pm
Contantine 11-2 vs. Ithaca 13-0
When these teams met in the 2011 state final, Constantine was without injured QB Tommy Reed. Reed, now a senior, is back, but now Constantine doesn’t one of their top two running backs, senior Peyton White who was suspended and missed last week as well. But they do have All-Lake pick Ben Mallo, who last year at Ford Field ran for 189 yards and two TDs. And in the wing -T it really is the x-and-o’s no the Jimmys and Joes, and Constantine’s offense has rushed for 5,532 yards and 75 TDs. Hopefully the Falcons learned from experience and can put together two halves. Last season’s championship was tied 14-14 before Ithaca marched to a 42-14 win, as QB Travis Smith threw for 300 yards and a TD and ran for two more scores. If anything, Ithaca is stronger this time around, because that quarterback is no longer an underclassman. The 6-2, 200 junior has completed 140-of-226 passes for 36 TDs to four picks, while running for 732 yards and 13 TDs. Ithaca is in dynasty mode — 41 straight wins. Unfortunately for Constantine, which looks to be on the verge of another runner-up finish, and win No. 42 for the Yellowjackets.

Division 4, 7:30 pm
Grand Rapids South Christian 10-3 vs. Detroit Country Day 11-2
What looked like an entertaining game between two of the state’s top quarterbacks likely won’t come to fruition because of a collarbone injury to South Christian super soph Jon Wassink. DCD junior Tyler Wiegers, who has completed 129-of-209 passes for 18 TDS, one interception, is good to go. He’s protected by a  front five averaging 6-3, 250 and has helped Richard Wilson run for 1,074 yards and 24 TDs. But they’ll have their hands full with an athletic South Christian defensive front  seven led by 6-5, 215 senior linebacker Seth VanEngen.

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