Monthly Archives: October, 2015

Playoff Picks: Opening Round

Predicted winners are italicized.

All games are 7 pm Friday unless otherwise noted.

Division 1

No. 2 Grandville 6-3 @ No. 1 Rockford 6-3: The Bulldogs were shutout by Rockford in the midst of a three-game losing streak then ended up sharing the O-K title with the Rams. But that was without Nolan Meekhof, and the best running back in the Lake Area means there’s upset potential here.

No. 3 East Kentwood 6-3 @ No. 4 Hudsonville 6-3: The Falcons find the Eagles on a two-game losing streak, and knock them out of the playoffs again.

Division 2

No. 6 Forest Hills Northern 7-2 @ No. 1 Mona Shores 9-0: Forest Hills Northern may be playing for pride in this one against a Mona team even better than last year’s state runner-up, but the Huskies showed they had a ton of it last week when they deprived Forest Hills Eastern an undefeated regular season.

No. 3 Muskegon 7-2 @ No. 4 Traverse City Central 9-0: This one is for the old heads, a renewal of the Lake Michigan rivalry of the 1960s-80s between two of the state’s most storied programs. In the 21st century version, it’s not that Muskegon is that much faster than Traverse City Central, but how quickly they start playing at the Big Reds’ speed..

Battle Creek Lakeview 6-3 @ No. 2 Lowell 8-1: The Red Arrows haven’t lost a game since August, and it’s not going to happen in October, either.

No. 8 Byron Center 7-2 @ No. 5 Portage Central 8-1: Byron Center lost to Zeeland West 42-13, and could similarly have its collective arms full with Portage Central’s veer offense where Brandon Sturgeon and Theo Kizer pile up yards. There are two very athletic juniors at receiver, and college coaches will want to try and convince Byron Center’s Brayden Smith and Portage Central’s Austin McCullough to forego the hardwood for the pads.

Division 3

No. 8 Gaylord 6-3 @ Mt. Pleasant 7-2, 1 pm Saturday: While they haven’t had the postseason success of smaller neighboring schools like Ithaca and Beal City, the Oilers are battle-tested in the Saginaw Valley and have a monster at linebacker in Hunter Buczkowski and breakout threat at QB in Kalebb Perry.

Sault Ste. Marie 6-3 @ No. 7 Petoskey 7-2: It will be bookends for the Sault, with Petoskey both beginning and ending their season with a loss. It ws 42-14 the first time around.

No. 3 Grand Rapids Christian 5-4 @ No. 2 East Grand Rapids 6-3: Their regular season contest left EGR bitter after squandering a 26-0 lead only to lose 39-33 in overtime.

No. 4 Cedar Springs 6-3 @ No. 5 Zeeland East 6-3, 1 pm Saturday: East’s rep is built as much on losing to quality competition like Muskegon, Mona Shores and Grand Rapids Christian, as it did in beating good competition, as Hudsonville is the only W that made the playoffs. If healthy, Cedar Springs may have the athletes on defense to stymie the Chix’ CJ Otteman to Khylin Barton connection that had 14 regular season TDs, but could struggle up front if junior lineman Patrick DePiazza is out.

Sturgis 6-3 @ No. 1 St. Joseph 8-1: Speaking of QB to receiver combos, St. Joe’s Griffin Baudette to Jordan Brewer is hot right now, which complements a rushing attack with three backs with at least 400 yards and five TDs.

No. 10 Stevensville Lakeshore 6-3 @ No. 6 Edwardsburg 9-0: The streak is now 18 playoff appearances for Lakeshore. Their defense will have to slowdown a wing-T offense so potent that at times it has Edwardsburg looking the Zeeland West of the borderlands.

Vicksburg 7-2 @ Marshall 7-2, 1 pm Saturday: Ryan VanDyke is not coming through that door.

Division 4

No. 5 Whitehall 6-3 @ No. 9 Chippewa Hills 7-2: Between the Aylor Bros. Connection and tough play up front, Whitehall won three straight to make the playoffs.

Big Rapids 6-3 @ Escanaba 5-4: There are road trips, and then there’s this one.

Plainwell 5-4 @ No. 1 Zeeland West 9-0: West isn’t just the favorite in this game, but to win the entire Division 4 field.

No. 8 Wyoming Godwin Heights 6-3 vs No. 4 Grand Rapids Catholic Central 8-1 @ Grand Rapids Christian: Godwin is in the playoffs for the first time in over a quarter century. Three years ago, they had to cancel their season. Now they go up against one of the Lake Area’s bluebloods, coming off yet another O-K Gold title.

Alma 6-3 @ No. 3 Forest Hills Eastern 8-1: FHE should regroup from its first loss, and the O-K conference pedigree should mean they roll here.

Saginaw Swan Valley 6-3 @ No. 4 Comstock Park 7-2: CP’s only losses are to teams that could very well be hoisting hardware championship weekend, Zeeland West (just a 10-point loss and the only game the Dux scored under 40 points) and West Catholic.

No. 10 Dowagiac 6-3 @ No. 7 Benton Harbor 5-4: Elliot Uzelac’s first season as Benton Harbor’s coach coincides with the school’s first-ever playoff appearance. Despite being a five-win qualifier the Tigers play host in the opener thanks to wins over bigger schools.

No. 6 Hudsonville Unity Christian 6-3 @ 7-2 Lakewood: If Unity Christian pulls this off, it will be their first win over a playoff qualifier.

Division 5

No. 6 Grayling 6-3 @ Menominee 9-0: Menominee plays one of the state’s unique schedules, and have come through it cleanly.

No. 7 Manistee 7-2 @ No. 3 Reed City 9-0: As always, Reed City can really run the ball. A second straight district title will be a tough order, as if the Coyotes win they face either West Catholic or Oakridge.

No. 2 Muskegon Oakridge 7-2 @ No. 1 Grand Rapids West Catholic 7-2: These two have shared the Lake Area’s top rank in Division 5 all season. West Catholic is a rare team with the size and athleticism to slow down Oakridge’s go-to target James Cooper.

Hillsdale 6-3 @ No. 4 Buchanan 9-0: Buchanan reached at least 60 points three times during their undefeated regular season.

Olivet 6-3 @ No. 5 Berrien Springs 8-1: Steven Spenner will continue his Chris Spielman impersonation for Berrien Springs.

Division 6

Oscoda 6-3 @ No. 6 Boyne City 8-1: Boyne City senior Malik Smith has run for 1,500 yards and 20 TDs.

Glen Lake 5-4 @ No. 1 Traverse City St. Francis 9-0, 1 pm Saturday: The “other” 9-0 team in TC, St. Francis, beat Glen Lake just three weeks ago 41-7.

Lake City 5-4 @ No. 7 Mason County Central 6-3: It took a season for Lake City to adjust to life without star QB Drew Marion, but after that sabbatical they’re back in the playoffs. Mason County Central was forged in the rugged West Michigan Conference, giving them the edge.

Morley Stanwood 6-3 @ No. 2 NorthPointe Christian 9-0: With a dominant defense that has allowed just over 7 points per game and a dominant QB in senior Spencer Peterson, NPC has state championship ingredients.

Delton Kellogg 5-4 @ No. 3 Montague 9-0: Few saw this coming, with Montague going from a two-win team in 2014 to an undefeated regular season in 2015.

No. 8 Constantine 5-4 @ No. 4 Schoolcraft 9-0: Despite the disparate records, Constantine is the only team to have led Schoolcraft this season, before falling 42-24. Schoolcraft has a weapon in junior QB Ricky Clark, with 2,200 yards and 30 TDs combined passing and running.

No. 9 Lawton 7-2 @ No. 5 Watervliet 8-1: Watervliet scored at least 50 points in their eight wins, largely on the arm of senior QB Blake Kiekenapp who has thrown for 1,800 yards and 28 TDs.

Division 7

Whittemore-Prescott 5-4 @ No. 4 McBain 6-3: It’s baptism by fire for McBain’s sophomore QB Alex Utecht, making just his second start.

Harbor Springs 6-3 @ Iron Mountain 6-3: A stranger to the postseason, Harbor Springs, travels over the Bridge to meet a playoff regular. Iron Mountain has pitched four shutouts while holding opponents to fewer than 10 points per game.

No. 1 Saugatuck 9-0 @ No. 2 Hesperia 9-0: Saugatuck’s Blake Dunn will continue a monster season which thus far has over 3,000 yards from under center with 45 TDs.

No. 7 Gobles 5-4 @ No. 3 Bridgman 8-1: It just continues to get better for Bridgman. Last year the Bees go the first playoff win in school history — against Gobles — and followed that up with the most regular season wins in school history.

No. 8 Hartford 5-4 @ No. 5 Cassopolis 7-2: Cassopolis’ offense is peaking, scoring 137 points in the past two games.

Division 8

Hillman 6-3 @ No. 2 Johannesburg-Lewiston 8-1: If we know one thing about this game, it’s that Jo’burg’s Logan Huff will have double-digit tackles.

Baldwin 4-4 @ No. 4 Frankfort 7-2: Frankfort went undefeated to win the Northern Michigan Football League 2.

No. 5 Central Lake 7-2 @ No. 3 Onekama 8-1: The good news for Onekama, the Portagers went undefeated in the West Michigan D League. The bad news, it was the West Michigan D League.

Sacred Heart 6-3 @ No. 1 Muskegon Catholic Central 6-2: Catholic Central is embarking on a playoff path towards a possible third-straight state championship.


Lake Area Honors: Week 9

Lake Area Offensive Player of the Week

Bryce Fraser  6-0  180  Sr  RB  Forest Hills Northern: He ran 14 times for 183 yards and two TDs, including the game-winner, a 64-yarder in the fourth-quarter. Fraser then made an interception on previously unbeaten Forest Hills Eastern’s ensuing possession as Northern won 24-22.

Lake Area Defensive Player of the Week

Chase Tarwacki  6-0  170  Jr  DB  Edwardsburg: The Eddies’ offense was a juggernaut during their 9-0 regular season. They’ll have to do it on both sides in the post-season, and players like Tarwacki look up to the task. He led with 10 tackles a defense that made two fourth-down holds in a 52-20 win over Sturgis.

Lake Area Small School Player of the Week

Brady Luttrull  5-10  155  Jr  QB  Muskegon Oakridge: Oakridge comes into the playoffs having last beat Orchard View 41-13 as Luttrull completed 16-of-28 passes for 311 yards including five TD throws of 26, 25, 18, 17 and 14 yards.

Lake Area Northern Michigan Player of the Week

Mitch Hoffman  Sr  QB/K  Harbor Springs: Hoffman kicked a 24-yard field goal with three seconds to play as Harbor Springs held on to beat Charlevoix 22-20. The win guaranteed the Rams their first playoff appearance since 2000..

Lake Area Coach of the Week

Ryan Oshnock, Forest Hills Northern: The Huskies looked impotent in week 6 when they lost All-Lake QB Jason Martin to a broken foot on the first play of the game against Cedar Springs. While that ended Northern’s chances at an undefeated season, they eventually regrouped under Oshnock and in the final game of the regular season put an end to Forest Hills Eastern’s bid for a perfect regular season of its own, winning 26-24. FHN has now qualified for the playoffs in each of Oshnock’s two seasons.

Lake Area Prospect Watch: Week 10

Class of 2016

Derek Boone  6-4  225  Sr  OL/DL  Watervliet: He’s a two-way starter for Watervliet’s Division 6 state qualifier. Though he may not have scholarship size for it, Boone is plenty big eough for left tackle in the SAC. He’s a good athlete who consistently gets out onto linebackers. Should be a popular MIAA recruit along with another Watervliet lineman David Curl.

Jake Boonstra  6-4  285  Sr  OL  Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills: He’s one of the biggest centers in the Lake Area. He plays that to his advantage, and Boonstra figures out how to move his man. He goes hard in the running game and can plant to pass protect. Mobility and athleticism may impede and D1 aspirations, but he is one of the top 10 senior offensive linemen in the Lake Area.

Lake Area’s Top 25 2016 Offensive Linemen

  1. Jacob Cerny  6-5  290  Sr  Traverse City West  Illinois
  2. Michael VanHoeven  6-5  305  Sr  Paw Paw  Eastern Michigan
  3. Keegan Golder  6-5  270  Sr  Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern
  4. Juanye Johnson  6-3  275  Sr  Muskegon
  5. Derices Brown  6-2  280  Sr  Muskegon
  6. Trenton Fincher  6-8  305  Sr  East Kentwood
  7. Mike Bourdeaux  6-3  270  Sr  Muskegon Mona Shores
  8. Jake Boonstra  6-4  285  Sr  Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills
  9. Kyle Augustine  6-3  320  Sr  Gaylord
  10. James Haverkamp  6-6  260  Sr  Grand Rapids Christian
  11. Nick Brown  6-7  240  Sr  Muskegon Mona Shores
  12. Evan Macauley  6-2  280  Sr  Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern
  13. Ian Woodruff  6-2  270  Sr  Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern
  14. Ben Hoerle  6-4  280  Sr  Grand Rapids Christian
  15. Karson Murley  6-1  290  Sr  Lowell
  16. John Lipscomb  6-3  305  Sr  Grand Rapids Catholic Central
  17. Braden Schrotenboer  6-6  235  Sr  Zeeland East
  18. Andy Rietveld  6-6  305  Sr  Saugatuck
  19. Jake McDowell  6-2  290  Sr  Lawton
  20. Ryan Rearick  6-2  255  Sr  Grand Rapids South Christian
  21. Dylan Olplinger  6-1  260  Sr  Muskegon
  22. Alex Galovan  6-2  225  Sr  Plainwell
  23. Josh Ezinga  6-2  245  Sr  Grand Rapids South Christian
  24. Patrick Koning  6-2  250  Sr  Kalamazoo Hackett
  25. Cameron Wright  6-3  290  Sr  Grant

Simeon Smith  6-6  205  Sr  WR  Kalamazoo Loy-Norrix: Intriguing preferred walk-on to Michigan who has some Matt Trannon qualities at that height, but not the physicality or toughness. With his frame and the willingness he’s shown to block downfield, we have Smith ranked as a tight end though he may end up at receiver for U-M. He’s more than just a big target, as Smith doesn’t move awkwardly and can make a man miss.He also plays defense, returns kicks and was also in kick coverage for Loy-Norrix.

Class of 2016 Tight End Rankings

  1. Keidren Davis  6-5  230  Sr  Grand Rapids Union  Toledo
  2. Simeon Smith  6-6  205  Sr  Kalamazoo Loy-Norrix  Michigan
  3. Taylor VanDyke  6-3  215  Sr  Cedar Springs
  4. Chris Veenstra  6-6  235  Sr  Wyoming
  5. Jackson Ammon  6-2  235  Sr  Rockford

Class of 2017

Walker Christoffersen  5-9  175  Jr  ATH  Muskegon Catholic Central: He did it under the radar last season for Fremont, was a revelation at last spring’s Lake Michigan Football Report combine (4.6 40, 3.98 pro agility, 33 1/2″ standing vertical), and this fall has proven he’s not just big stats on an average team or a workout warrior. As part of the Crusaders’ potent three-back attack along with fellow juniors Logan Helton and LaTommy Scott, he’s particularly dangerous catching the ball, like his two TD catches in MCC’s playoff-clinching win against Ravenna. Explosiveness and versatility — running back, receiver, defensive back — should help coaches see past Christoffersen’s speed as his recruitment ramps up.

Jack Mandryk  6-1  175  Jr  ATH  Hudsonville: When Mandryk broke his wrist in Hudsonville’s season-opening win against Holt, the Rams lost not just their top big-play threat on offense, but their leading tackler from 2014 when Mandryk did it as a sophomore from his safety position. He’s back, playing with a cast that limits him to just offense, as the Eagles’ QB. You don’t run on your wrist, so Mandryk’s 4.5 speed hasn’t gone anywhere. He run for three TDs in Hudonsville’s one-point loss to Rockford, including one of 61 yards in the third quarter that was one of the top runs in the Lake Area this season.

Lake Area Team Rankings: Final

Division 1

  1. Rockford  6-3
  2. Grandville  6-3
  3. East Kentwood  6-3
  4. Hudsonville  6-3
  5. Grand Haven  3-6

Division 2

  1. Muskegon Mona Shores  9-0
  2. Lowell  8-1
  3. Muskegon  7-2
  4. Traverse City Central  9-0
  5. Portage Central  8-1
  6. Forest Hills Northern   7-2
  7. Caledonia  5-4
  8. Byron Center  7-2
  9. Grand Rapids Northview 4-5
  10. Wyoming  3-6

Division 3

  1. St. Joseph  8-1
  2. East Grand Rapids  6-3
  3. Grand Rapids Christian  5-4
  4. Cedar Springs  6-3
  5. Zeeland East  6-3
  6. Edwardsburg  9-0
  7. Petoskey  7-2
  8. Gaylord  6-3
  9. Vicksburg  7-2
  10. Stevensville Lakeshore  6-3

Division 4

  1. Zeeland West  9-0
  2. Grand Rapids Catholic Central  8-1
  3. Forest Hills Eastern  8-1
  4. Comstock Park  7-2
  5. Whitehall  6-3
  6. Hudsonville Unity Christian  6-3
  7. Benton Harbor  5-4
  8. Wyoming Godwin Heights  6-3
  9. Chippewa Hills  7-2
  10. Dowagiac  6-3

Division 5

  1. Grand Rapids West Catholic  7-2
  2. Muskegon Oakridge  7-2
  3. Reed City  9-0
  4. Buchanan  9-0
  5. Berrien Springs  8-1
  6. Grayling  6-3
  7. Manistee  7-2
  8. Parchment  5-4
  9. Kalkaska  5-4
  10. Grant  3-6

Division 6

  1. Traverse City St. Francis  9-0
  2. Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian  9-0
  3. Montague  9-0
  4. Schoolcraft  9-0
  5. Watervliet  8-1
  6. Boyne City  8-1
  7. Mason County Central 6-3
  8. Constantine 5-4
  9. Lawton  7-2
  10. Niles Brandywine  5-4

Division 7

  1. Saugatuck  9-0
  2. Hesperia  9-0
  3. Bridgman  8-1
  4. McBain  6-3
  5. Cassopolis  7-2
  6. Decatur  5-4
  7. Gobles  5-4
  8. Hartford  5-4
  9. Harbor Springs  6-3
  10. Pine River  4-5

Division 8

  1. Muskegon Catholic Central  6-2
  2. Johannesburg-Lewiston  8-1
  3. Onekama  8-1
  4. Frankfort  7-2
  5. Central Lake 7-2

Lake Area Honors: Week 8

Lake Area Offensive Player of the Week

Dom Shermeta  6-0  220  Sr  RB  Muskegon Mona Shores: In the biggest game in the Lake Area, Shermeta had 171 yards and two TDs on 25 carries as Mona Shores held off Muskegon 21-18 to claim a share of the O-K Black title.

Lake Area Defensive Player of the Week

Jacob Buchberger  6-1  185  Sr  DB  Montague: Buchberger didn’t show much empathy to his Muskegon Oakridge counterpart, making three interceptions in Montague’s 36-29 OT win. His third pick ended Oakridge’s final possession of overtime and won the game. His second interception prevented what would have been the winning score for Oakridge in regulation.

Lake Area Small School Player of the Week

Malik McIntyre  5-10  185  Sr  RB  Berrien Springs: He carried the ball 32 times for 198 yards and a TD in Berrien Springs’ two-point loss to Buchanan.

Lake Area Northern Michigan Player of the Week

Camden Summers  Jr  QB  Grayling: Grayling earned a playoff berth with a 48-35 defeat of Benzie Central. Summers threw for 393 yards and six TDs and ran for 132 yards and a TD.

Lake Area Coach of the Week

Todd Kolster, Grand Rapids Catholic Central: This is the second of Kolster’s two-year stints with the Cougars. The first tenure included a state championship in 2010. That would be looking a long way ahead for the 2015 edition. But they have claimed one championship already, the O-K Gold after beating Middleville 35-7. In their last season in the Gold before moving to the O-K Blue, CC, 7-1 overall, should do it in undefeated still this week against South Christian.

Lake Area Prospect Watch: Week 9

Class of 2016

Christian Bos  5-10  165  Sr  Hudsonville Unity Christian: Prototype wing-T back who will eventually break one for 65-yards up the middle. Bos is a 1,000-yard rusher for playoff-bound Unity Christian. Smooth cut-back runner between tackles who will get physical with or without the ball when he has to. Doesn’t have the physique of go-to college running back, he’ll likely make his way as a cover and return man.

Pat Naughton  6-2  210  Sr  QB  Comstock Park: The Panthers have now made the playoffs six straight seasons. They’ve had just two QBs during that span, Jake Brown, now at Michigan Tech, then Naughton. The latter is a true-to-the-times shotgun wristband reader who is on pace to throw for 5,000 career yards, and has earned even more respect this season playing with a beat up ankle. He’s a much more efficient passer this season, with favorite targets Nick Turowski and Monterio Smith. Naughton has such a rapport, and is really able to spot it to Turowski. Good athlete who runs for the down marker not out of panic. Can step up in the pocket to complete throws and will also stand in and follow through while being hit. Coaches will have to determine actual arm strength. He’s the best senior QB in the Lake Area.

Top 10 Senior QB Prospects

  1. Pat Naughton  6-2  210  Sr  Comstock Park
  2. Spencer Peterson  6-5  220  Sr  Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian
  3. Jake Martin  6-0  190  Sr  Forest Hills Northern
  4. Ryan Stevens  6-2  175  Sr  Lowell
  5. Lucas Fotis  6-2  190  Sr  Grand Rapids Christian
  6. Jacob Buchberger  6-1  185  Sr  Montague
  7. Evan Whitmore  6-3  210  Sr  Petoskey
  8. Dante Razzano  6-2  190  Sr  Edwardsburg
  9. Jon Olsson  6-3  190  Sr  East Grand Rapids
  10. Wade Buckman  6-6  210  Sr  Holland

Jean Pierre Nkolo  6-3  220  Sr  DL  East Kentwood: We were high on him last year with real flashes in condensed playing time. Nkolo rarely comes off the field now, as he moves up and down EK’s D line on both short and long yardage situations, and also starts offensively at left tackle with Trenton Fincher injured. His usage rate speaks well to how JP’s taken to the coaching. Still looking to define himself as a player, a calling card, so continue to like his potential.

Kurtis Schultz  6-3  225  Sr  DL  Grand Rapids West Catholic: He’s the lithe counterpart to West Catholic’s other defensive end and offensive tackle, Carl Myers. Schultz is both a run blocker and run stopper. Plays in both three- and four-man fronts. Not as patient as Myers containing runners. Quick hands and shows speed whether getting to loose balls or pursuing upfield.

Monterio Smith  5-10  180  Sr  RB  Comstock Park: He’s as dangerous as any back in the Lake Area when you get Smith the ball and some space. Adds double damage as he can beat tacklers one-on-one while remaining patient for blocks even as plays develop downfield. Versatile, CP will use him on straight go routes and he can make over-the-shoulder catches. You don’t have to take him out for power yardage, as Smith can accelerate and cut between tackles.

Chris Veenstra  6-6  245  Sr  DL/TE  Wyoming: Wyoming has the Lake Area’s fastest player, senior Michael Williams. He had the game-winning, 65-yard TD against Forest Hills Northern. That was only the Wolves’ second loss but they’ve fought hard all year in the O-K Bronze and Williams has some help. Veenstra is one of the Lake Area’s high-return sleeper prospect. The length and motor immediately stand out. He’s raw, but has great measurables and where he starts to separate is how hard he plays, the buy-in and contributions offensively, defensively and on special teams. Throws himself into blocking assignments and when it comes together just unloads. As he sharpens his technique and routes,Veenstra intrigues at a bunch of positions.

Class of 2017

Jake Bouma  6-3  200  Jr  QB  Grandville Calvin Christian: He had a huge day in Calvin’s win over Kelloggsville, completing 24-of-47 throws for 376 yards and five TDs. He was due, a month before NorthPointe Christian picked off Bouma five times. To even it out tells you a bit about the kid right there. Bouma will certainly get looks in the spring and summer as he has the frame for it, and will get his reps with how Calvin Christian plays.

Sam Neville  6-3  195  Jr  WR/DB  Grand Rapids West Catholic: Very similar to Muskegon junior Jacorey Sullivan, as they move so well and close on the ball covering a bunch of space with long strides and wingspan. Neville knows how to use his body catching balls on slant routes and shows an extra gear with quick acceleration out of wide receiver screens. He and senior Conner Nemmers are ideal targets for Gaetano Vallone, the Falcons’ talented sophomore lefty QB. Another trip to Ford Field for West Catholic and it’s easy to see all kinds of college camp invitations coming his way.

Turner Ruby  6-4  285  Jr  OL  East Kentwood: Likely a guard in college, he’s EK’s right tackle. The Falcons also use Ruby as a tight end to down block in short yardage situations. He’s a competent, methodical run blocker who tends to play high. He competed well against one of the Lake Area’s top pass rushers two weeks ago, Gabe Bauman, who gave Ruby some trouble with wingspan, repertoire, second effort and hashline-to-hashline speed.

Lake Area Honors: Week 7

Lake Area Offensive Player of the Week

Ryan Stevens  6-1  175  Sr  QB  Lowell: We’ve come to expect little less than excellence from not just the Lowell program, but their quarterback position as well. The Red Arrows haven’t lost since the season opener, a two-point heartbreaker to still undefeated Walled Lake Western. As for the QB position? It’s in capable with Stevens, a second-year starter. In Lowell’s 47-19 defeat of Forest Hills Central, he completed 9-of-15 passes for 172 yards and four TDs while running for 121 yards and two TDs.

Lake Area Defensive Player of the Week

Jamari Booker  6-0  175  Sr  LB  East Kentwood: In a never-say-die comeback win at Rockford, Booker paced the Falcons’ defense with 10 tackles and recovered a fumble.

Lake Area Small School Player of the Week

Denny Alt  Sr  RB  Grand Rapids Weat Catholic: In West Catholic’s comeback win over Comstock Park, Alt carried the ball 29 times for 279 yards and five TDs.

Lake Area Northern Michigan Player of the Week

Logan Huff  Sr  RB/LB  Johannesburg-Lewiston: Jo’burg is back in the playoffs after a 48-22 win over Lincoln Alcona. Huff ran 16 times for 252 yards and two TDs and made 16 tackles.

Lake Area Coach of the Week

Dan Rohn, Grand Rapids West Catholic: If you’ve overcome an 0-3 season start and gone on to win a state championship, what’s a 21-7 second-quarter deficit? Not much to Rohn, who turned it around for his West Catholic squad to knock off Comstock Park 42-35 and take over sole possession of first place in the O-K Blue.

Lake Area Prospect Watch: Week 8

Class of 2016

Gabe Baumann  6-3  260  Sr  DL  Rockford: In one of the most entertaining, if not most cleanly played, games of the season was East Kentwood’s 30-29 comeback win at Rockford. In an O-K Red instant classic with talent up and down both rosters, Baumann dominated stretches with his motor and wingspan. He’s been one of the Lake Area’s top pass rushers for years, but is strong enough to move to tackle and hold up blockers, making him effective whether Rockford goes with three or four down linemen. Combines physical power with the clean footwork that comes from coming up in one of the state’s top programs. A similar prospect to Comstock Park’s Blake Mazur, now a redshirt sophomore nose tackle at Wayne State.

Keegan Golder  6-5  270  Sr  OL/DL  Forest Hills Eastern: He’s an athletic run blocker at right tackle for one of the surprise teams in the Lake Area. He moves well enough in space that FHE will sometimes line him up at tight end. A three-year starter, and plays with commensurate poise and technique. A college that invests in developing his upper body strength on him could be onto something.

John Lipscomb  6-3  305  Sr  OL  Grand Rapids Catholic Central: Starts at right guard for Grand Rapids Catholic Central, giving the Cougars some width in what is a largely a lithe lineup. Good strength and drive going down hill, will have to improve flexibility and agility if he’s going to pull at the next level.

Daryn Snow  6-3  190  Sr  WR  Portage Northern: He won’t end the season with gaudy stats — he certainly didn’t in Portage Northern’s loss to Portage Central with a pair of catches for 11 yards — but Snow has the tools that make him one of the top senior receiving prospect in the Lake Area. He can adjust and go get the ball like you’d expect from the basketball standout he is, then what really separates Snow is how he gets yards after the catch, looking more like a running back than receiver with how hard he is to bring down. If not throwing his way, Northern also looks to take advantage of that running ability getting Snow the ball on end-arounds.

Class of 2016 Receiver Prospects

  1. Hunter Broersma  6-1  190  Sr  Muskegon Mona Shores
  2. Tyler Bradfield  6-0  190  Sr  Rockford
  3. Darece Roberson  5-9  160  Sr  Muskegon Mona Shores
  4. Daryn Snow  6-3  190  Sr  Portage Northern
  5. Gabe Steed  6-1  175  Sr  Lowell
  6. Kobe Burse  6-3  205  Sr  Muskegon Mona Shores
  7. Ryan Knight  6-2  200  Sr  Forest Hills Eastern
  8. Adam Farah  6-1  175  Sr  Forest Hills Northern
  9. Jordan Brewer  6-2  190  Sr  St. Joseph
  10. TJ Swore  6-2  200  Sr  Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian
  11. Bret Patton  6-2  190  Sr  East Kentwood
  12. Kylin Barton  6-3  180  Sr  Zeeland East
  13. James Cooper  6-3  170  Sr  Muskegon Oakridge
  14. Michael Clifford  6-0  165  Sr  East Grand Rapids
  15. Logan Panetta  6-0  185  Sr  Coopersville
  16. Conner Nemmers  6-1  185  Sr  Grand Rapids West Catholic
  17. Nick Turowski  6-1  180  Sr  Comstock Park
  18. Lukas Thompson  6-0  180  Sr  Grand Rapids Christian
  19. Dylan Otolski  6-1  180  Sr  Forest Hills Central
  20. Zach Pangborn  6-0  180  Sr  Grand Rapids Northview

Taylor VanDyke  6-3  215  Sr  LB/TE  Cedar Springs: He’s a terrific two-way threat for Cedar Springs. He’s lanky and athletic and looks like a receiving tight end, so VanDyke surprises you with his aggressive blocking for the Red Hawks. On the other side of the ball he’s a stand-up end who is fluid coming around the corner where he looks more like 6-5, and reads the pitch well. He’s a versatile athlete who played cornerback as a junior.

Class of 2017

Patrick DePiazza  6-4  260  Jr  DL/OL  Cedar Springs: A two-way tackle for Cedar Springs. He and tight end Taylor VanDyke give them a Zeeland West-caliber wing-T blocking combo on the right side of the offensive line. His physical potential wasn’t as overwhelming against a quick front like Grand Rapids Catholic Central where the need to keep tuning technique and footwork showed at time. You could also project him at a variety of spots on the defensive line because he’s explosive over short spaces and plays with attitude which is uncommon in many young linemen. Before being lost to a concussion in Week 6, when Cedar Springs gave Forest Hills Northern its first loss, DePiazza showed his athleticism with a shoe-string tackle behind the line to stymie a fourth-down play on the Huskies’ opening drive. He’s clearly one of the top junior line prospects in the Lake Area.

Class of 2017 Lineman Prospects

  1. Philipo Paea  6-4  260  Jr  Berrien Springs
  2. Nate Umlor  6-5  245  Jr  Allendale
  3. Johnathan Berghorst  6-3  260  Jr  Zeeland East
  4. Erik Ditzhazy  6-5  260  Forest Hills Northern
  5. Conner Chupailo  6-4  270  Zeeland West
  6. Ben Sherwin  6-4  230  Jr  Traverse City Central
  7. Jayk Slager  6-4  230  Jr  Zeeland West
  8. Turner Ruby  6-4  284  Jr  East Ketnwood
  9. Levi Finley  6-4  290  Jr  Mattawan
  10. Reide Klinger  6-4  265  Jr  Jenison
  11. Brady Eding  6-7  260  Jr  Hamilton
  12. Calvin Luurtsma  6-4  260  Jr  Hudsonville
  13. Joe Hruska  6-4  255  Jr  Kalamazoo Loy-Norrix
  14. TJ Dymond  6-4  260  Jr  Portage Central
  15. Dominic Hathaway  6-3  280  Jr  Traverse City St. Francis
  16. Craig Ladd  6-1  250  Jr  Petoskey
  17. Lane Potter  6-3  265  Jr  Hudsonville
  18. Nick Kunkel  6-1  255  Jr  Holland Christian
  19. Derek Monje  6-4  235  Jr  Fruitport
  20. Josiah VanTil  6-3  240  Jr  Thornapple Kellogg
  21. Nick White  6-0  250  Jr  Forest Hills Central
  22. Darrius Thomas  6-3  365  Jr  Benton Harbor
  23. Andrew VanHoeven  6-4  275  Jr  Portage Central
  24. Cameron Waller  6-2  245  Jr  North Muskegon
  25. August Shettler  6-4  315  Jr  Martin

Steven Spenner  6-3  215  Jr  LB  Berrien Springs: A three-year starter already and tackling machine who is tracking similarly to Nathan Ricketts, the former Holland star who now starts for CMU. Spenner is an active middle linebakcer plays big at the point of attack. Where we really like his improvement from a year ago is his ability to change direction and defend the pass while putting on 10 pounds. While teammate Philip Paea may be Berrien Springs’ top prospect, Spenner continues to be their top defensive player. He had 16 stops in their shutout of Parchment.

Class of 2018

A number of underclassmen have emerged this fall, some starting and contributing to some of the Lake Area’s best teams. Chief among them is Antwan Reed, Muskegon’s prototypical left tackle who already has an offer from Tennessee and could be the Big Reds’ best offensive line prospect since Jay Achterhoff over 40 years ago. Here are Reed and the other young players who have emerged on what will be a fluid list over the next two-and-a-half years.

Lake Area’s Top 25 Overall Sophomores

  1. Antwan Reed  6-7  285  So  OL  Muskegon
  2. Ryan Hayes  6-6  240  So  ATH  Traverse City West
  3. Cody Carone  6-4  290  So  OL  Rockford
  4. Jalen Mayfield  6-5  225  So  DL/OL  Grand Rapids Catholic Central
  5. Jason Whittaker  6-4  185  So  QB  Rockford
  6. Braeden Childress  6-4  215  So  QB  Big Rapids
  7. Marcus Remtma  6-0  170  So  ATH  Rockford
  8. Nelson McCauley  6-3  190  So  WR/DB  Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills
  9. Keontae Watson  6-3  245  OL/DL  Muskegon Mona Shores
  10. Darius Barfield  5-9  165  So  WR/DB  Grand Rapids Christian
  11. Trevor Dilley  6-4  255  So  DL/OL  St. Joseph
  12. Job Mayhue  6-2  190  So  LB  East Kentwood
  13. Aiden Burns  6-2  195  So  LB/TE  Grand Rapids Catholic Central
  14. Malachi Price  6-2  240  So  DL/OL  Grand Rapids Christian
  15. Cody Schutt  6-3  255  So  OL/DL  Holland
  16. Eli Jackson  6-1  250  So  DL/OL  Muskegon
  17. Jalen Shaffer  6-1  185  RB/LB  Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian
  18. Matt Loney  6-2  175  So  WR/DB  Frankfort
  19. Toby Hulst  6-0  200  So  LB  Grand Rapids South Christian
  20. Jake Hoekstra  5-11  190  LB  Hudsonville
  21. Mason Gardner  6-2  175  So  QB  Boyne City
  22. Andrew Hahn  6-2  175  So  QB  Grand Rapids South Christian
  23. Jake Heilman  6-4  240  So  OL/DL  Forest Hills Central
  24. Nathaniel Mitchel  5-11  200  So  LB  Grand Rapids West Catholic
  25. Logan Lee  6-4  195  So  DL/TE  Rockford

Class of 2019

Jordan Ringler  5-9  175  Fr  LB  Cedar Springs: A prodigy out there, making adjustments and delivering hits as a ninth-grader playing varsity. Has gotten more confident and vocal as the season has progressed. Recruiting will largely depend on how he grows and improving in coverage, but the kid knows how to play for sure.

Lake Area Honors: Week 6

Lake Area Offensive Player of the Week

Kalil Pimpleton  5-7  185  Jr  QB  Muskegon: He’s been dynamic all season for the Big Reds, with totals of 11 rushing TDs and six throwing. Pimpleton got it done both ways in Muskegon’s 47-6 O-K Black win over Zeeland East, with TD runs of 80 and 47 yards and a scoring toss to Jacorey Sullivan of 49 yards. He ran for 111 yards and completed 6-of-9 passes for 123 yards.

Lake Area Defensive Player of the Week

Dalton Agers  5-10  180  Jr  LB  Hudsonville: For the second season, he’s Hudsonville’s leading tackler, on a defense that shut out East Kentwood over the final three quarters in a 22-13 O-K Red win. Agers did it both ways for the Eagles, as he ran for all three of their TDs.

Lake Area Small School Player of the Week

Austin Knapp  6-4  195  Sr  TE  Niles Brandywine: He had two touchdowns in Brandywine’s 42-8 defeat of New Buffalo, on a seven-yard reception and 65-yard fumble return.

Lake Area Northern Michigan Player of the Week

Jacob Klinglesmith 5-11 180 Sr RB & Joe Trucco 5-9 185 Sr RB Traverse City St. Francis: St. Francis qualified for the playoffs with a 63-28 win over Grayling. Klinglesmith had 189 yards and threes TDs on 14 carries and a 41-yard TD catch while Trucco ran 15 times for 195 yards and three TDs.

Lake Area Coach of the Week

Eric Schugars, Traverse City Central: He’s been on TC Central’s staff for over a dozen years. This is Shugars’ first season as the head coach, and he has the Trojans in the playoffs at 6-0 after a 28-27 OT win at Petoskey. They came back from down 21-0 and eventually stopped Petoskey on a two-point conversion.

Lake Area Prospect Watch: Week 7

Class of 2016

Tyler Bradfield  6-1  190  Sr  ATH  Rockford: He set the tone last week on the first play from scrimmage, coming up from his safety spot to lay a TFL on Caledonia. A lot of Bradfield’s ability was displayed in that play alone, as for a lanky athlete he closes quickly and can really deliver a hit. He has 4.6 speed but looks faster in pads because with intelligence and feel (and the experience of a third-year starter) he always seems to be in the right spot, he accelerates both defensively and offensively allowing him to make plays on the ball in coverage, then causes havoc in blitz packages. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better all-around football player in the Lake Area than Bradfield, who in his Rockford tenure has scored TDs via the run, catch, kickoff return, interception return and fumble return. More versatility? Last season Bradfield led the Rams in tackles, this year he’s their leading receiver. He should have multiple MAC offers.

Mike Bordeaux  6-3  270  OL/DL  Muskegon Mona Shores: Christian Boyd gets much of the attention, but Bordeaux gives the Sailors another ballast at D tackle which allows all the athletes behind them to run wild in what looks like the Lake Area’s most dangerous defense. He’ll most likely end up on the interior of a college offensive line. He admirably plays the same either way, physical, low, powerful, the one initiating contact. He doesn’t flash like or have the shoulders and reach of a D1 lineman, but Bordeaux should make a blue-collar living in the GLIAC.

Carter Eckhardt  6-1  195  Sr  RB/LB  Manistee: Closing in on 200 pounds with 4.7 speed and a handful of all-state track honors, Eckhardt can physically dominate against smaller schools. But he’s an end-around not cut-back runner, so will most likely end up a 4-3 weakside linebacker for a small college.

Jake Martin  5-11  190  QB/DB  Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern: Simply one of the best players in school history, Martin has Northern on the brink of another playoff berth, 5-0 going in this week against Cedar Springs. The Huskies were dominant last week opening O-K Gold play with a 62-22 win over Greenville. Martin was 8-for-14 passing for 176 yards and TDs of 50, 15 and 26 yards (two of those to favorite target Adam Farah) while running for 209 yards and 5 TDs, with a long run of 59 yards. Through five games he’s run for 14 TDs and thrown for 10. While you look at his size and say he’ll have to play in the defensive backfield in college, maybe not so fast … Martin isn’t that small, he operates behind a big line able enough, and he’s a die-hard leader and winner. High-end grades make him that much more attractive a recruit for the Ivy, Patriot or GLIAC

David Williams  6-3  225  Sr  LB  Holland Christian: The Maroons are rarely thought of as a defensive team, but Williams has been a stopper for them for now three seasons. He’s both Holland Christian’s leading tackler and rusher as a senior. Few players in the Lake Area have a better frame for their position, though Williams may be an even better baseball catching than outside linebacker prospect.

Jacob Tumele  6-3  230  Sr  DL  Muskegon Orchard View: Davenport continues to build the foundation of its new program with Lake Area talent, and Tumele is the latest commitment. He’s a defensive end who uses his 4.8 speed to flush the pocket for Orchard View. With more finishing power would be a GLIAC recruit.

Class of 2017

Reide Klinger  6-4  265  Jr  OL  Jenison: East Kentwood’s speed-over-size defense has served the Falcons well. Until they ran into Jenison’s running game last week, when the imposing Klinger swallowed up both linemen and linebackers from his right tackle spot and helped the Wildcats’ senior running back Brock Bethke run for 282 yards on previously unbeaten Kentwood. What stands out about Klingler is that unlike so many young linemen, he’s neither skinny, nor sloppy, just a real solid physical specimen that can can continue to add good weight. His pass blocking technique needs to be seen more, and flexibility and speed need to improve. But this is a rugged run blocker that is GLIAC for sure and should be on MAC radars.

Ben Sherwin  6-5  230  Jr  OL  Traverse City Central: Another prospect from the offensive line proving ground that is the Big North Conference. He’s a sometimes two-way lineman for TC Central, which is undefeated and looking to clinch a playoff berth this week against Petoskey. Offensively, Sherwin has shown some versatility as a left tackle but also some time at guard, with some speed consistently getting into the second level; does a good job of getting parallel with a straight back when pass blocking. Needs to get stronger at point of attack and lock up more consistently, can get caught off balance and lunging. His father Greg Sherwin was a left tackle for CMU, and it’s no stretch to imagine the son playing at that level as well.

Nate Umlor  6-5  245  Jr  DL/TE  Allendale: With a last name made for line play and the frame to boot, Umlor hasn’t disappointed since we saw him starting as a freshman for Allendale at Hopkins back in 2013. He anchors the line as the strongside D end, drawing a lot of attention but still consistently bringing pressure. Offensively, Allendale has looked Umlor’s way a bit more often as an upperclassman, as he posts well in the end zone and has three TDs, and when not a target blocks well in space. Power Five programs have noticed the talent. Umlor visited U-M for the BYU game last week, was at Iowa earlier in the season and plans to visit Tennessee in November.

Andrew Ward  6-2  215  Jr  LB  Muskegon: Ward put himself on the board as a sophomore when he was thrown into the starting lineup in the Division 3 state semifinals, and held his own helping shut down the most potent wing-T offense in the Lake Area, Zeeland West’s. As an upperclassman he’s become a stalwart at middle linebacker for the Big Reds. Ward certainly passes the look test with an athletic frame and 4.6 speed, and more importantly is aggressive and plays to that speed. As he continues to pick up the nuances of the position don’t be surprised to find him in the MAC in two years.

Class of 2018

Jaylen Mayfield  6-5  225  OL/DL  Grand Rapids Catholic Central: He’s on track to be a four-year varsity player for one of the Lake Area’s most storied programs. CC’s right tackle, he has the length and speed that you can do so much with on either side of the ball. Could play tight end as well.