Semifinal Playoff Picks

  • Winners are italicized.
  • All games are 1 pm Saturday unless otherwise noted.
  • Playoff pick record: 73-13.

Division 2
Muskegon 11-1 vs. Portage Central 12-0 at East Kentwood
Caledonia played valiantly in this semi last year, won by Muskegon. Undefeated Portage Central could too. Last week they doubled up Farmington Hills Harrison. Much hinges on the health of running back/linebacker Jacob Allan and QB Ryan Mergener, both knocked out of PC’s historic school regional win. They team up with senior Jerrod Davis, all bringing something a bit different to the field, behind an athletic, vet line; Portage Central has been able to pound out points all season. Just not against a defense as strong at all three levels like the Big Reds. Midland’s offense was in the negative against them last week. Nor has the Mustangs’ D seen a player as dangerous as Deshuan Thrower, Muskegon’s old school athlete at QB. Last season at Ford Field, he came off the bench to almost lead an epic comeback against Brother Rice. This season, he starts and finishes.

Division 3
Zeeland West 11-1 vs. Stevensville Lakeshore 9-3 at Vicksburg
The way West is rolling, it looks like you’ll have to break 50 to beat them. Lakeshore has a shot if it can do what Wayland did with a stout albeit ultimately futile regular season performance at Zeeland. Wayland played terrific assignment football on West’s playmakers and at least kept what were typically 75-yard TDs, to 15-yard gains. It’s just that ultimately the Dux’ size and fast pace wear you down.

Division 4
Comstock Park 12-0 vs. Grand Rapids South Christian 11-1 at Rockford
Near perfect matchup. This is a repeat of last year’s semifinal, which South Christian won 21-7. No way it’s 2 TDs either way this time around. Your gut tells you Comstock Park is due. And it’s not sentimental — the Panthers are undefeated and did it against some good teams, that’s a hard-earned mark. They still haven’t seen a team as big and talented across every level like South Christian. Both teams have playmakers. May come down to CP having more of them on defense.

Division 5
Menominee 12-0 vs. Muskegon Oakridge 11-1 4 pm Saturday at Marquette’s Superior Dome
Oakridge’s bus will have already left by the time you read this. They’re round three of a UP football jamboree at NMU. Who would guess that’s where one finds Godfather of Soul, Meominee’s James Brown and his 25 TDs. Oakridge’s D is looking at Brown and more, with all of Menominee’s success this is the highest scoring team in school history. But don’t count out Oakridge as QB Austin Wright is a gamer who can beat you with arm or legs, while James Abriatis has a 1970s football name and 21st century running back game.

Grand Rapids West Catholic 8-4 vs. Livonia Clarenceville 12-0 at Battle Creek Harper Creek
Here’s an example of why the MHSAA’s playoff points only tell some of the story. Losses count for nothing, so while Clarenceville was ringing up Ws, West Catholic was losing against a tougher schedule. Yet surely improving, apparently, per this postseason run. Clarenceville’s athletic advantage is a myth. No one on the field matches the size/speed/explosion ratio of West Catholic senior Mitchell Stanitzek. And the one closest is a teammate, Stanitzek’s opposite end junior Bryce Witham. With junior LaSavian Majewski healthy, West Catholic now has two backs who can break big with the Alabama transfer and senior Andy Corey. Said transfer Majewski ran the second-fastest 40-yard dash at our March combine. Should be a double-digit win for the Westsiders.

Division 6
Clinton 12-0 vs. Shelby 11-1 at Middleville
Shelby has found unprecedented success with coach Lorenzo Rodriguez, and are playing in consecutive state semifinals. They combine tough D with a multi-talented offense, which last week saw Devin Mussell run for 5 TDs against Schoolcraft. That may be tough to duplicate against unbeaten Clinton.

Division 8
Crystal Falls Forest Park 12-0 vs. Beal City 12-0 10 am Saturday at Marquette’s Superior Dome
When you get to the regional level, don’t expect spankings like the 55-0 Beal City put on St. Ignace. Senior QB Kurt Gross has not just a prolific but diverse Beal City offense, with senior Ty Rollin out of the backfield and senior Ryan Tilmann. This will be Forest Park’s first game against a non-UP team. They have a stud in Lee Graff, the 6-0, 190 junior is Forest Park’s leading rusher and tackler.

Muskegon Catholic Central 10-2 vs. New Lothrop 12-0 at Greenville
In its proud history, this is the highest scoring team in Muskegon Catholic history. They’ll need the points, to keep up with New Lothrop’s Amari Coleman.

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