Playoff Picks: State Semifinals

  • Predicted winners are italicized.
  • All games are 1 pm Saturday unless otherwise noted.
  • Playoff picks record: 64-14.

Division 2

Lowell 11-1 vs. Walled Lake Western 12-0 @Alma College: These teams began the season together, with Western winning 42-40 in August, and now one of them will see the the other’s season end. Lowell hasn’t given up anything like 40 points since then, and had one of the state’s most impressive regional wins beating Muskegon 36-7. While both teams can pound it, they also feature two of the state’s most dangerous receivers in Lowell senior Gabe Steed and WLW’s Cody White, who both have QBs more than capable of getting it there in Lowell’s Ryan Stevens and the Warriors’ Kyle Thomas.

Division 3

East Grand Rapids 9-3 vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 11-1 @ Howell: The only surprise about these teams meeting is that it’s in the state semifinals and not the final, where they’ve met three times previously.

Division 4

Forest Hills Eastern 11-1 vs. Zeeland West 12-0 @ East Kentwood: Was West’s regional win over Unity Christian by a mere touchdown a blip on the screen, or indicative of a chink in the armor? We’ll go with the former, and postseason pedigree has to count here too. This is the fourth semifinal in five years for the Dux, while FHE has never made it this far.

Division 5

Grand Rapids West Catholic 10-2 vs. Lansing Catholic 11-1 @ Greenville: These teams met 51 weeks ago at Ford Field, where West Catholic won its second straight state title 24-20. It was in that game where Lansing Catholic QB Tony Poljan showed his D1 bona fides on the big stage. He’s back, having committed to Minnesota in the interim. Most high school linemen are mere nuisances to the big signal-caller. But not West Catholic senior Carl Myers, a recent U-M commitment who has the strength to tangle with him.

Division 6

Traverse City St. Francis 12-0 vs. Ithaca 12-0 @ Clare: These are two of the state’s elite programs of the modern era, Ithaca with four championships in the 21st century and St. Francis three. Ithaca has five shutouts this season and St. Francis six, though the Glads will be seeing an elite QB for the first time in Ithaca junior Jake Smith.

Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 12-0 vs. Clinton 12-0 noon @ Battle Creek Harper Creek: NorthPointe Christian is living right, both lucky and good to beat Constantine, in overtime, for the regional crown. How many more Sports Center catches are left in TJ Swore’s hands? And does NorthPointe have anyone who can keep up with Clinton running back Matthew Sexton?

Division 8

Muskegon Catholic Central 9-2 vs. St. Ignace 11-1 @ Thirlby Field: Catholic Central is taking another trip Up North after needing a fourth-quarter comeback to win the regional at Frankfort, their closest call in the past three playoffs. St. Ignace has the best player on the field, senior QB Gage Kreski. Conversely, St. Ignace hasn’t seen the overall speed of a team like MCC.

 

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