Regional Playoff Picks

  • Winners are italicized.
  • All games are 1 pm Saturday unless otherwise noted.
  • Playoff pick record: 61-15.

Division 1
Hudsonville 8-3 at Flint Carman-Ainsworth 10-1
Hudsonville has won five in a row. The Eagles are big and physical, with junior QB Mason Opple mixing it up with various offensive threats like senior running back Mark Dieterle, senior receiver Curt Doornbos and junior running back Kyle Toth, who was all over the place defensively in their win over Rockford. Key for both defenses will be containing the quarterbacks, Hudsonville’s Opple and C-A senior Malik Seales. Pay less mind to the teams’ records, and recognize the Eagles’ O-K Red pedigree, the pace and power of that style football, make them the favorite.

Division 2
Midland 10-1 at Muskegon 10-1
Muskegon embarrassed Midland in last year’s regional 49-21, and this time around have the home field. The only thing that could stop the Big Reds in this one is Lowell hangover. But that’s less of a concern for a program that knows how to do it in November.

Farmington Hills Harrison 10-1 at Portage Central 10-1
Harrison doesn’t have as tough a schedule in the OAA-White as when it was in the Western Lakes, and make a rare trip West as a result. Harrison lore and mystique may be lost on the iphone generation. Mill Coleman and John Miller? That was so long ago, their exploits were on fishwrap, not Hudl. Portage Central is a physical, athletic team, similar to Caledonia last year that made the D2 semifinals.

Division 3
Zeeland West 10-1 at Mt. Pleasant 10-1
The Lakeshore is going to come crashing down on the middle dwellers. Now that soph QB Casey Brinks has become a runner in his own right for Zeeland West, what was already the Lake Area’s most potent offense is that much more virile. MP back Michael Tweh will get the Oilers on the board, but the Dux’ offense is too big, fast, powerful and relentless.

Byron Center 8-3 at Stevensville Lakeshore 8-3
Both these teams have blown up my bracket. It’s come around for Denny Dock’s team at Lakeshore, as it was bound to. They’re winning with defense and a senior QB, Mike Adams, who in last week’s payback defeat of St. Joseph, ran 20 times for 238 yards and 3 TDs (one of them 78 yards). Byron Center has three dangerous backs, in QB Jake Bylsma and senior running backs Jarod Rodgers and Erik Chard. Colleges looking for pass-rush linebackers should be all over this one, with Byron Center’s 6-3, 215 senior Alex Lake and Lakeshore’s 6-1, 200 senior Jake Achterberg. As if there was going to be much passing to rush in this one.

Division 4
Cadillac 11-0 at Comstock Park 11-0  7 pm Friday
Comstock Park has played the tougher schedule in Grand Rapids, but to nitpick too much an undefeated record is to underestimate a Cadillac team that’s surpassed everyone’s expectations except their own. Being not that distant each other on 131, CP and Cadillac have shared two opponents. Cadillac beat both Traverse City West and Bay City John Glenn in close ones, while Comstock Park had a ballgame from TC West, but handled John Glenn easily. The Vikings may have less talent than last year, but is a better team. There are already major contributors in the junior and sophomore classes, so even after QB Jalen Brooks graduates, they’ll be back in the playoffs. That’s the position Comstock Park found itself sans Jake Brown. All that’s ensued has been the best season in school history and a sophomore QB, Pat Naughton, has played  the most efficient ball of his career in the postseason. CP’s defense is like a Mini-Muskegon, strong at all three levels, led by Pass Rush Piece de Resistance Ryan Gruszka; leading tackler Craig Armock; and DB Sam “Lucky” LaRoche. Cadillac hasn’t seen a back like the Panthers’ Jake Bush. And that means all kinds of trouble.

Battle Creek Pennfield 10-1 vs. Grand Rapids South Christian 10-1 @ Byron Center 7 pm Friday
There’s just no comparison between these teams’ schedules. Actually there is a comparison, and it’s been a much tougher route to 10-1 for the Sailors. As well as the KVA has acquitted itself in the playoffs, that success is with smaller schools. They may not be as fast as last year’s state championship team, but South Christian could be better overall in 2013.

Division 5
Grand Rapids West Catholic 7-4 at Olivet 10-1
These teams last met in the 2010 state finals. West Catholic won that one, and should again en route to another Ford Field appearance, that “4” be damned.

Millington 9-2 at Muskegon Oakridge 10-1
Oakridge’s D came up big in their 22-20 win last week over Reed City. Millington is thick up front, Oakridge can knock heads itself with 6-5, 305 Tony Curry and 6-0, 265 Steve Stadel.

Division 6
Schoolcraft 10-1 at Shelby 10-1
Shelby has had to come from behind the first two rounds of the postseason. If they turn it over against Schoolcraft like they did last week against Calvin Christian, it could be a tough go. But Lorenzo Rodriguez is building something special in Shelby. Not that it’s been particularly easy for Schoolcraft. It took an interception with under 30 seconds to play to seal last week’s win over Watervliet.

Constantine 7-4 at Clinton 11-0
Constantine has taken its offense up a notch in the playoffs, scoring nearly 50 points a game. But Clinton’s not undefeated by giving up 50 a game.

Division 7
Lake City 10-1 at Ishpeming 11-0
The UP could be where Lake City’s dreams die, against the defending state champoin. But not before QB Drew Marion gives the Cheesehead fans some Brett Favre flashbacks.

Decatur 8-3 at Homer 10-1
With an offense stagnant at the wrong time, Decatur’s got to figure out something to do with Homer QB Alex White. Lawton didn’t, and he threw for five TDs. But they can beat you on the ground, too, with senior running back Chaz Hopkins.

Division 8
St. Ignace 9-2 at Beal City 11-0  7 pm Friday
These schools met in last year’s semifinals, which Beal City won. The Highland Conference champion will beat you with various backs. They’d better, because if they have to go to the air, St. Ignace soph Gage Kreski is averaging an interception per game.

Muskegon Catholic Central 9-2 at Mendon 11-0
It’s been a real title drought for these small school powerhouses. Mendon hasn’t come home with the hardware since 2011, MCC 2008.  Muskegon Catholic should be the first team to reach double-digits against a Mendon anchored by junior lineman Logan Slaughter, but that may not be enough.

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