New rules and (somewhat) shorter seasons
So what will the teams look like this shortened, masked, and everybody-is-tourney-bound season?
We imagine there will be smaller crowds rooting them on should the attendance requirements of two persons per participant be in play and it’s a later start since this would normally be game #3 but everyone has at least one extra game in the postseason.
The delay has also given teams longer to practice, and if one might recall until the playoffs arrived in the 70’s and then expanded a few times this was traditionally (meaning back when some of us were substantially younger) the week high school football kicked off anyway.
As far as who might be in the hunt for the playoffs?
As we said... everyone is in so what remains up for grabs are the bragging rights in simmering and long standing rivalries and the conference titles..
In the Silver all teams will get a chance to face each other but the Gold is going to lose a conference game so, locally, Newaygo misses Big Rapids, Grant won’t play Chip Hills and Fremont doesn’t get the chance to face Central Montcalm.
At N3 we hope to keep you informed with a weekly preview as well as coverage of the games that matter to you and some that don’t.
Here’s a bit of a preview of this week's games with last season’s records and a smidge of a historical glance.
Newaygo (7-3) at Fremont (0-9)
The Lions got a bit dinged by graduation as a lot of talent cap and gowned it a few months ago.
The Packers have a new coach and received an injection of talent from a JV team that put together a strong season with players who have been competing and winning together since their youth football years.
The location of the game was in question but we were assured the remodeled athletic field will be ready for Friday’s game though a limited number of spectators will be watching the opener.
The teams have played 25 times with Fremont holding a 14-11 advantage in wins. The Packers haven’t beaten the Lions since they joined them in the CSAA but outside of a mid season win over Central Montcalm 2 seasons ago they haven’t beaten anyone since 2014.
Unlike last season Fremont will win some games this season. They have the talent and they have the right coach for this team. Whether they win their first one Friday night will depend on how well the Lions fill some of those holes created by senior departure.
Tri County (4-5) at Grant (7-3)
Outside of Newaygo this is the longest rivalry for the Tigers and is the longest of all for the Vikings.The series stands at .29-26 With Grant holding the edge and 2 games ending in a draw. The Tigers have won 12 of the last 14 including all 6 of the contests as CSAA members. Prior to that run the Vikes had peeled off 7 in a row and in addition there were those early games when TC was known as Howard City.Grant went 5-0 in those matchups.
Both teams return a solid cadre of players.
White Cloud (No team) at Holton (1-8)
Holton owns the advantage with 31 wins to WC’s 26. They also tied once.
The Cloud had a huge edge in this series until 200 4. They had been to their last playoff game the prior year and beaten the Red Devils 34-0.
They haven’t hung a W on Holton since.
WC is coming off a season when they failed to field a team and Holton’s only win was the forfeit over the Cloud.
The Devs graduated a team of all stars the year before when they made that magical tourney run and struggled under a new coach and depleted numbers last season. They’ll be better this year and obviously so will White Cloud.
Lakeview (4-5) at Hesperia (3-6)
The Panthers and Wildcats have faced each other a dozen times with Hesperia coming out on top in 3 of those contests. Last season Hespo got a forfeit win from WC and collected victories over 2 teams that combined for one win on the field, Lakewview opened with a 4 game losing streak that was halted when they took a 24-8 win at home.
This time they’re playing in Panther country and though the stands in Hesperia won’t be as jam packed as they usually are, Doug Bolles’ team would relish a season opening win with Kent City and Morley looming the next 2 weeks.
Reed City (6-4) at Chippewa Hills(4-5)
Central Montcalm (7-3) at Big Rapids (1-8)
Kent City (7-4) at Morley Stanwood (6-4)