- Projected winners are italicized.
- All games are 7 pm Friday unless otherwise noted.
- Last week’s record: 40-11
Hudsonville 7-3 at Rockford 9-1
Rockford’s defense pitched its second shutout of the season in the pre-district game against Traverse City West, limiting their annual Big North opponent to 41 yards of offense. The D played well the first time Rockford and Hudsonville met, too, with senior linebackers Randy Garvin and Brent Showers stymieing Hudsonville’s run game to the tune of 35 yards on 29 carries. The Eagles are playing well though, and with its cobbled together offense Rockford isn’t likely to blow anyone out, this should be a good one.
Muskegon 9-1 at Lowell 10-0
Game of the week not just in the Lake Area, but in the entire state. Seems to happen every year. This is a district final in name only. In actuality, it’s one of the D2 state semifinals. This game has been a springboard to the state championship game the past five years. The preview came in the regular season, when Lowell gave Muskegon its only loss 31-20. These teams have it all, not just solid, championship programs through and through, but with fan-friendly star players in their QB’s, Lowell’s Kyler Shurlow and Muskegon’s Deshaun Thrower. The first time around, Lowell put the Big Reds into passing situations and Thrower was 7-of-20.
Battle Creek Lakeview 10-0 at Portage Central 10-0
Two SMAC teams that hardly play each other. Til now. They did have a lot of common opponents though, from which all we can distinguish is yeah, these teams are both pretty good. Which we already knew from their record. 20-0 combined, somethings’ gotta give. Lakeview has a terrific defense led by senior linebacker Donnie Ernsberger, and will face its toughest challenge yet as Portage Central is big and physical on the ends, and runs two tough senior backs in Jacob Allen and Jerrod Davis.
Grand Rapids Christian 8-2 at Zeeland West 9-1
If not for Lowell-Muskegon, this game would be getting all the buzz. This is a rematch of last year’s district final, a ridiculous offensive showcase which GR Christian won 68-44. That game also proved to be a preview of Drake Harris’ out of this world state finals performance, and of what a backup Zeeland West running back named Danny Bauder would do nearly every game as a senior. Unlike 2012, Zeeland West is the healthier team this time around, and they can play some defense.
Wayland 6-4 at Byron Center 7-3
Two teams that weren’t necessarily supposed to be here. Except we should know by now, don’t pick against an O-K team early in the playoffs, as they’re tough teams forged by competition. We’ll take Wayland’s size and toughness over Byron Center’s speed. We’ve already told you how much we love Wayland’s Quinton Sweeney, who may be the top MIKE linebacker in the Lake Area not named Spencer Viening. Byron Center’s best player, Alex Lake, is one of the most dangerous pass rushers in the Lake Area — he’s gotta be, given that last name — but Wayland rarely passes. In face, the Wildcats don’t even have wide receivers.
Stevensville Lakeshore 7-3 at St. Joseph 9-1
St. Joseph senior Jack Turak has set school records for rushing attempts the previous two games. At this rate, Lakeshore can expect to see him with the ball 50 times this game. In the 1930s, in Lowell, Mass., there was a running back with a similar name, Jack Kerouac. The future beat author went on to play at Columbia.
West Branch Ogemaw Heights 7-3 at Cadillac 10-0
The larger schools in the Big North just can’t compete at the state level, so it’s fitting that the league’s two remaining teams are in D4. Ogemaw beat Cheboygan last week, keyed by a 93-yard kickoff return by Josh Awrey. Cadillac’s 10-0 record is particularly impressive given they’re doing it with a new offensive line from last season. But the constant has been senior QB Jalen Brooks, who will go down with the likes of Burt Zagers and Jim Bowman as the best players in Vikings history. When these teams met in the regular season, Cadillac won 53-27 behind 200 rushing yards from Brooks
Belding 7-3 at Comstock Park 10-0
Belding was all the buzz back when these teams met in week 5, coming in averaging 48 points per game. Then Comstock Park beat them up 30-7, starting a three-game skid. This should be more of the same, the Panthers have too many veterans, too many weapons.
Allendale 9-1 vs. Grand Rapids South Christian 9-1 @ Grandville HS
The complexion of this one really changed when Allendale’s Haiden Majewski went out with an ankle injury in the Falcons’ 24-21 OT win against Grand Rapids Catholic Central. If he were healty, this would be a real dogfight. The Sailors have won nine straight games, and like last year’s championship team have a little bit of everything — a run-or-throw QB in Jon Wassink, beef on both lines, and skill position players starting to come into their own. Still, if he had a guy with yacability like Allendale junior Nate Couturier, Wassink might have 2,000 instead of 1,700 passing yards.
Dowagiac 7-3 at Battle Creek Pennfield 9-1
After avenging a regular season loss to Edwardsburg with a playoff-opening win, does Dowagiac have another upset in them?
Grayling 9-1 at Menominee 10-0 2 pm Saturday
This is a 10-hour round trip for Grayling, all the way to the Central Time Zone. This will be a style in contrasts, the single-wing power from the UP, against the pass-happy nouveau riche program from the Mitten.
Muskegon Oakridge 9-1 at Reed City 10-0
The best team Reed City has played this season was Newaygo, which they beat 22-14. Oakridge beat Newaygo last week 35-14.
Grand Rapids West Catholic 6-4 vs. Lansing Catholic 6-4 @ Holt Jr. High
Oh, ye of little faith! Was it because last week was Reformation Day, that we doubted West Catholic? Forgive us, Coach Rohn, for the sin of short-sightedness, and ignorance of history. Penance? Some up-downs, and hold the blocking pads for Mitch Stanitzek. At this point, if the Falcons went 0-9 in the regular season, they should still get a waiver for the playoffs. And you know no one would want to play them even then. Lansing Catholic does have an interesting prospect of its own, as Tony Polljan is a 6-7 sophomore QB.
Parchment 7-3 at Olivet 9-1
Who had Parchment beating Lumen Christi? If Clay Wilkey can run for 280 yards again, maybe they’ll pull off another upset. Olivet already won once in the regular season.
Boyne City 8-2 vs. Negaunee 9-1 @ Superior Dome
Boyne City won their opener against Elk Rapids without QB Corey Redman. That loss could really kick in North of the Bridge, even if Negaunee is a a basketball school.
Maple City Glen Lake 9-1 at Ithaca 10-0
This would be a monumental upset, given Ithaca has the nation’s longest winning streak. No. 53 is looming.
Grandville Calvin Christian 7-3 at Shelby 9-1
Shelby’s postseason success if a recent phenomenon, but Calvin Christian’s is even newer. Last week’s win over NorthPointe Christine was the first postseason victory in school history.
Schoolcraft 9-1 at Watervliet 10-0
Much like the “O-K”s, the KVA teams flexed football muscles in the opening round, going 5-0, including Schoolcraft. Their only loss this season was to Olivet, which is still alive in Division 5. He’s doing it in semi-obscurity, so few know just how good Watervliet’s Luke Traver is at QB. The 6-3, 185 senior is 118-of-186 passing for 2,009 yards, 24 TDs and 4 interceptions, while running 134 times for 830 yards and 16 TDs.
Constantine 6-4 at Hillsdale 7-3
Put Constantine in the West Catholic category. Never mind the record going into the playoffs, they simply know how to win in the postseason. This is a rematch of a 2012 playoff game, which Constantine won 49-34.
Lake City 9-1 at Lincoln Alcona 10-0 1 pm Saturday
Alcona beat McBain last week, 38-28. Lake City beat McBain a month ago, 46-0. Alcona has a monster ground game. Senior Nathan Fettes has run for 1,423 yards; senior Josh Mead, 1,110 yards; and senior Garrett Norlong 801 yards. But they don’t have the D7 Tim Tebow, Lake City’s Drew Marion.
Decatur 7-3 at Cassopolis 7-3
Lawton 9-1 at Homer 9-1
If Lawton can slow down Homer’s ground game, they have a shot, regardless of Homer playing at Home. And yes picking the local team makes us homers.
Johannesburg-Lewiston 8-2 at St. Ignace 8-2
St. Ignace feature one of the top two-sport athletes in the class of 2016 not just in the UP but the entire state, in sophomore Gage Kreski. He made the UP Dream Team after picking off eight passes.
Fowler 8-2 at Muskegon Catholic Central 8-2
Two traditional powers with first-year coaches — MCC’s Steve Czerwon and Fowler’s Kris Ernst. The Crusaders are playing so well right now, it’s shaping up to be a classic next week between Muskegon Catholic and Mendon.
Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart 7-0 at Beal City 10-0Beal City is putting up points like few others. They scored 68 in the pre-district win over Mio, after 74 in week 9 against Pinconning. When they played Sacred Heart back in August, Beal City won 61-0.