Winners are italicized.
Playoff pick record: 53-12 (84-15 in 2013).
Hudsonville 7-4 at East Kentwood 10-1 1 pm Saturday
EK won the regular season matchup a month ago 35-28. Hudsy’s hot, and Kentwood was vulnerable against Grand Ledge which was able to slow down star running back Michael Ivy. But that may be a wakeup call for EK more than a sign of weakness.
Battle Creek Lakeview 9-1 at Muskegon Mona Shores 10-1 7 pm Friday
On paper this is Mona Shore’s easiest opponent in a month. But this is a program that’s never been this far and won’t take anything for granted. The Sailors’ stout defensive front will slow down Lakeview’s typically productive running game.
Petoskey 9-2 vs Muskegon 10-1 1 pm Saturday at Holton
Poor P-town luck, to have one of its best teams when Muskegon gets bumped down to D3. Maybe the Northmen can channel some of the old Traverse City High success against the Big Reds … sans the extra 2,000 students.
Lowell 10-1 at Zeeland West 11-0 7 pm Friday
Zeeland West can’t put it on the deck again like they did last week against Lakeshore. But in this case the cliche may hold true, that the Dux needed that, a true close, pressure-filled game. Can’t imagine they’ll lack focus against Lowell in one of the state’s top games.
Whitehall 9-2 vs Grand Rapids South Christian 7 pm Friday at Byron Center
Few would have suspected Whitehall, with one win last season, to be here. Everyone knew South Christian would be. And Jon Wassink will show Whitehall why.
Eaton Rapids 8-3 at Edwardsburg 10-1 7 pm Friday
Can Eaton Rapids hold Edwardsburg’s Isaiah Miller to fewer than three TDs? He ran for six in the two district rounds. If any D is up to that it’s Eaton Rapids, which has allowed 10 points in the playoffs. Except it doesn’t end there in the Eddies’ wing T. Like Miller, Dustin Vires has run for over 1,000 yards, and junior QB Dante Razzano has passed and run for over 1,000 yards and 20 TDs.
Reed City 9-2 at Grand Rapids West Catholic 11-0 7 pm Friday
Reed City just won the first district title in school history. West Catholic, well …
Pine River 8-3 at Boyne City 11-0 7 pm Friday
No team has taken a more amazing route to the regionals than Pine River, which won at Tawas on a 95-yard kickoff return by Brandon Fulks then at Sanford Meridan thanks to a 47-yard TD from Mason Powell to Greg Park with under a minute to play. It’s hard to imagine this Boyne City defense folding like that in crunch time. The Ramblers, battle toughened against the likes of St. Francis, Elk Rapids and Negaunee, should be heading to their first semifinal since 2001.
Watervliet 10-1 at Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 10-1 1 pm Saturday
NorthPointe is peaking at the right time coming off a 37-0 defeat of Ravenna in the district final. It hasn’t been anywhere that easy for Watervliet which beat Brandywine 22-21 then Schoolcraft 28-21.
Traverse City St. Francis 9-2 vs Ishpeming 10-0 8 pm Friday at Superior Dome
Ishpeming is what TCSF was not that long ago — a dominant small-school program. The Hematites are trying to win their third-straight state championship.
Bridgman 8-2 at Pewamo-Westphalia 9-2 7:30 pm Friday
With all eyes on Detroit Loyola and Ishpeming, this is the stealth regional of D7. P-W’s strength of schedule could mean even more than the home field here. But look for good things to continue in Bridgman, with young talent like sophomore running back Julian Sheriff and sophomore receiver Ryan Chang.
Baldwin 10-1 at Beal City 9-2 7 pm Friday
It’s been an historic season for Baldwin, which had never won a playoff game, and their QB Brandon Childress, who has passed and run for 2,681 yards and 47 TDs. The Panthers will get a full dose of Beal City’s run game, which accumulated 510 yards and 53 points in the district final with Johannesburg-Lewiston.
Mendon 10-1 vs Muskegon Catholic Central 11-0 1 pm Saturday at Grand Haven
Mendon will have the most talented player on the field, CMU commit Logan Slaughter on the lines. But Muskegon Catholic may have the dozen next talented.
Class of 2015
Mason Banbury 6-4 230 Sr TE/DL East Grand Rapids
East made a return to the playoffs behind the play of a strong senior class, which included QB Mikey Roth and his reliable red zone target Banbury who had four TDs. He can also go over the top, adjusting well with the ball. He extends well, isn’t afraid of defenders over the middle and shows athletic feet and hand-eye making plays on the sidelines. Would like to see him cradle it less when catching, and dig out another gear to tack on more yac. Banbury is a willing blocker particularly good against speed end rushers who aren’t as physical. He went both ways in the brutal O-K White and was able to get into opposing backfield as a stand-up end. No one was talking about Banbury when the 2015 tight ends began emerging before their junior seasons. Now, after changing his body prior to his senior year, he stands behind only West Catholic’s Bryce Witham at the position.
Lake Area’s Top 10 2015 Tight End Prospects
1. Bryce Witham 6-4 240 Sr Grand Rapids West Catholic
2. Mason Banbury 6-4 230 Sr East Grand Rapids
3. Matt Seybert 6-4 230 Sr Traverse City St. Francis Buffalo
4. Jared Whited 6-2 230 Sr Vicksburg
5. Trevor Raby 6-4 240 Sr Zeeland West Davenport
6. Sam Heyboer 6-4 210 Sr Grand Rapids South Christian
7. Dakota Scholten 6-4 225 Sr Grant Davenport
8. Mike Egeler 6-4 225 Sr Comstock Park
9. Blake Bockheim 6-4 230 Sr Grand Rapids Northview
10. Alex Bos 6-3 200 Sr Grand Rapids Christian
Alezay Coleman 5-11 175 Sr DB Muskegon Ferris State
He’s been a playmaker at free safety the past two seasons for the Big Reds wth 10 interceptions. Coleman is versatile because he can cover, make jumps on the ball and likes to hit as well. And that’s just defense. Coleman has scored two rushing TDs (including a 40-yard game-winner against Detroit Catholic Central) and a receiving TD (a 45-yard game-breaker against East Grand Rapids), he’s Muskegon’s long-snapper and has even thrown two passes. He’s also a member of the state championship basketball team. Coleman is verbally committed to become part of the West Michigan to Ferris State pipeline that has helped the Bulldogs become the No. 1 ranked team in Division 2. Former Big Reds coach Tony Annese continues to thrive recruiting the Muskegon area with commitments from Coleman, Mona Shores running back Deontay Moffett and Oakridge tackle Tony Curry.
Jordan Ferguson 6-0 225 Sr RB/LB Alpena
Yeah, they’re on the wrong lake, but Alpena’s Big North Conference affiliation qualifies them for our coverage area. And in that league Ferguson had one of the best performances in school history, running for 1,426 yards an Alpena record and 19 TDs one short of the record. He’s effective as either a fall-forward North-South runner out of an I backfield or blocking and creating as the lone running back when spread out. While he’s tough to bring down when he gets to the second level, Ferguson isn’t just a head down brute back. He shows good hands out of the backfield and may be an even better prospect at linebacker where he’s a nasty hitter who can also cover. GLIAC recruit as either a linebacker or fullback. He runs a 4.78 which at his size is serviceable for either position.
Austin Heeres 6-4 200 Sr QB Grandville Calvin Christian
Another guy who gets overlooked with all the glamour QBs that have been doing it for years in the 2015 class. Heeres’ size and success in a passing offense make him an intresting project. As a senior he completed 156-of-273 throws (57 percent) for 1,909 yards, 20 TDs and 11 interceptions. Four of those picks came in Week 2 against Hudsonville Unity Christian when, with Calvin playing from behind, Heeres put it up 44 times. He didn’t just beat up on small-school patsies. In a 35-27 loss to Hopkins Heeres was 21-of-35 for 284 yards three TDs and an interception while running 14 times for 173 yards and a TD. Heeres plays exclusively out of the shotgun with one or no other backs. He throws well on the move and sees plays develop. He has a looping motion and will need more velocity and less hang-time on the ball if he’s going to get it down against quick-twitch cover men. Heeres is also a good punter averaging 37 yards a kick and putting six of his 18 kicks inside the 20.
Sam Heyboer 6-4 210 Sr LB Grand Rapids South Christian
Coming into the season he was known more as a receiver. But he’s playing with a broken wrist so has been making his name on the defensive side of the ball and as a blocking tight end as South Christian looks poised for their third straight appearance in the Division 4 state championship game. As he’s matured he embraced the physicality you need for the position and has really improved to the point of benig the Sailors’ leading tackler. Heyboer is an active, long-armed edge rusher who can also envelop the run on his side. He was dominant in the Sailors’ 35-0 opening round win over Allendale with 12 tackles including three sacks. Allendale senior QB Tucker Kloote is small and quick but had trouble escaping Heyboer’s length and athleticism. Heyboer also finally got involved on the offensive end, with a two-yard TD catch in the back of the end zone, his first score of the season after scoring six as a junior.
Michael Ivy 5-9 205 Sr RB East Kentwood
When Tony Kimbrough became EK’s head coach he said he wanted the Falcons to run the ball more. He’s been true to his word and with Ivey has just the man for the job, rushing for 317 yards in their season opening win over Lansing Everett and never looking back. He’s carried he ball 179 times for 1,841 yards and 24 TDs for the 10-1 Falcons. Ivy is deceptively quick with his upright style, and just a pain to bring down because the legs keep churning and really anticipates and reads well in the open field. Because he’s not a blazer, Ivy’s level of college ball could come down to how coaches think he’ll develop as a receiver, blocker, all-around back.
Class of 2016
Daryn Snow 6-3 190 Jr WR Portage Northern
It was an unfortunate end to a great season for Portage Northern, and particularly painful given their district final shutout to Battle Creek Lakeview came with their most explosive offensive threat, Snow, on the sidelines. He’d suffered a concussion in the opening round win against Portage Central. He finished the season with 44 catches for 552 yards and seven TDs. What’s striking about Snow is that despite his youth and height, he’s not a lanky, fragile, finesse receiver. He’s big, physical and will not just high-point the ball but knock corners out of the way while doing it. Snow has been both prolific and clutch in pressure situations all season for the Huskies. All kinds of athletic bona fides, he’s already twice and all-league player and was Portage Northern’s leading basketball scorer as a sophomore.
Lake Area’s Top 10 2016 Receiver Prospects
1. Hunter Broersma 6-1 180 Jr Muskegon Mona Shores
2. Gabe Steed 6-0 160 Jr Lowell
3. Daryn Snow 6-3 190 Jr Portage Northern
4. Ryan Knight 6-3 180 Jr Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern
5. Darece Roberson 5-10 160 Jr Muskegon Mona Shores
6. Garret Lundteigen 5-9 165 Jr Petoskey
7. Zach Pangborn 6-0 175 Jr Grand Rapids Northview
8. Dylan Otolski 6-1 180 Jr Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central
9. Tony DeWitte 6-1 170 Jr Grandville Calvin Christian
10. DaJuan Thomas 5-8 155 Jr East Kentwood
Class of 2017
Austin McCullough 6-3 170 So WR/DB Portage Central
Three miles South on Westnedge, Portage Central has their own answer to Portage Northern’s Daryn Snow in McCullough. McCullough moved in before his freshman year from Alabama and has already established himself as a possible D1 basketball prospect. He can carry himself on the grid too, with all the physical tools though not the sexy numbers in a Mustangs program known for its running game.
Lake Area’s Top 10 2017 Receiver Prospects
1. Jacorey Sullivan 6-1 185 So Muskegon
2. Austin McCullough 6-3 170 So Portage Central
3. Tahari Braggs 6-1 170 So Grand Rapids Christian
4. Sam Neville 6-3 190 So Grand Rapids West Catholic
5. Riley Fairfield 6-4 200 So North Muskegon
All games are 7 pm Friday unless noted.
Winners are italicized.
Playoff pick record: 33-10 (huge letdown after going 84-15 in 2013).
Hudsonville 6-4 at Rockford 8-2
Your know it’s playoff time when rockfordfootball.com takes the stats offline. Black ops! While Hudsonville has more reason to be excited for the basketball season than Rockford, they’ll get to miss another week of conditioning.
Grand Ledge 7-3 at East Kentwood 9-1 1 pm Saturday
EK is just too talented for Grand Ledge. But going forward their receivers need to hold onto the ball better than they did against Grandville.
Muskegon Mona Shores 9-1 at Midland Dow 10-0
The state’s going to see just how talented is in this one. Too many weapons but the real story in this one will be the talent of the Sailors’ defense. Can’t wait for the Ford Field fireworks against Brother Rice.
Portage Northern 7-3 at Battle Creek Lakeview 8-2
The Huskies may need some more fourth-quarter magic from QB Thomas Scheffert’s and the Lake Area’s top 2016 WR prospect Daryn Snow to beat Lakeview like they did back in August 28-24.
Mt. Pleasant 7-3 at Petoskey 8-2 1 pm Saturday
The Northmen will finally see a more dangerous junior than their own Garret Lundteigen in MP junior receiver Kalebb Perry.
Cedar Springs 9-1 at Muskegon 9-1 1 pm Saturday
Muskegon came out angry from the Mona Shores loss and Northview bore the brunt of their ire 59-21. There have been no indications from this Cedar Springs squad’s talent and character to suggest they’d go out like that. Ball security will be key for the Big Reds, who have lived dangerously at times.
Grand Rapids Christian 6-4 at Lowell 9-1
It’s back to the O-K White for GR Christian after a respite at St. Johns. Lowell didn’t have it so easy and escaped by a point over league rival East Grand Rapids thanks to game-breaker junior Gabe Steed. The Red Arrows won this regular season meeting 20-12.
Stevensville Lakeshore 8-2 at Zeeland West 10-0
This isn’t West’s most talented team but its offense is cohesive where the three main runners all average well over a first down yardage per carry. The Dux D just posted their first shutout 50-0 over Byron Center in the opening round.
Comstock Park 6-4 at Whitehall 8-2
A fourth straight semifinal berth would still be an upset, but this CP team is playing its best ball at the right time. To go on the road to beat a then undefeated Cadillac team was a great program win.
Hudsonville Unity Christian 6-4 at Grand Rapids South Christian 8-2 (@Byron Center)
There’s no way South Christian is taking this one lightly after beating Unity 33-30 in the regular season. The Sailors have one every game and have scored more than that since.
Vicksburg 8-2 at Edwardsburg 9-1
Edwardsburg’s only loss is to Vickburg, but the Eddies are just humming right now beating Paw Paw last week 60-34. They run two 1,000-yard backs out of the wing-T, Isaiah Miller and Dustin Vires.
Hopkins 9-1 at Grand Rapids West Catholic 10-0
No one can say it was handed to Hopkins, going through a gaunlet in this district which opened at home against Oakridge. Unlike most of Hopkins’ schedule, West Catholic have the athletes on defense to keep a blanket on senior running back Quincy Collings and his nearly 1,500 yards
Reed City 8-2 at Chippewa Hills 8-2
Reed City put up 60 points the first time they played.
Negaunee 6-4 at Boyne City 10-0
UP teams have typically treated Boyne Tough as a paper slogan in the postseason, the Ramblers 1-4 in the last decade. When Boyne made the semifinals in 2001 it avoided any Yoopers along the way. The Miners won this game last year in memorable form 42-19. But Boyne has more players back from that year than Negaunee and it shows in the records.
Pine River 7-3 at Sanford Meridian 8-2
The Bucks already made one trip across the badlands to win at Tawas, Pine River’s first-ever playoff victory. They’ll need more magic from Brandon Fulks who in the fourth-quarter against Tawas had a 68-yard go-ahead TD catch and the game-winner a 95 yard kickoff return.
Ravenna 8-2 at Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 9-1 (@Comstock Park)
Ravenna rotates junior QBs — every play. It’s working, as they’ve combined for 652 yards and nine TDs and most importantly get the ball to sophomore David Thompson. NorthPointe plays just one QB, Luke VanDyke, and he’s thrown for 13 TDs and run for nine.
Schoolcraft 7-3 at Watervliet 9-1
Watervliet turned heads early in the year when it gave Mendon its first regular season loss in 36 games. Now they’re further battle-tested coming off a gut-wrenching 22-21 opening win over Brandywine.
Traverse City St. Francis 8-2 at Suttons Bay 9-1
St. Francis’ 35-7 dispatching of Onekama was the Gladiators’ first playoff win in three seasons.
Cassopolis 7-3 at Bridgman 7-2
Bridgman tore up the ground game in their 33-8 opening win over Gobles, running for 516 yards. That was the school’s first playoff win.
Central Lake 6-4 at Baldwin 9-1 2 pm Saturday
Freshman little brother Braeden Childress got the job done against Brethren for the first postseason win in Panthers history. Now senior Brandon Childress is back under center for Baldwin when they need him most.
Johannesburg-Lewiston 9-1 at Beal City 8-2
Joburg has 2016 college prospects on the D line in Nate Fox and linebacker or safety in tackling machine Logan Huff.
Fowler 10-0 at Muskegon Catholic Central 10-0
Both are undefeated, but in the past two district finals Fowler couldn’t score a point on Catholic. Classic case of a rural true Class D school running up against an urban parochial power.