Lions and Devils play for District Titles.
By Ken DeLaat
While Tri County was ousted by the offensive steamroller known as Saginaw Swan Valley last Friday two of our area teams survived to fight on with district titles on the line.
Newaygo is playing Saturday afternoon in the not so friendly confines of Montague's home field and Holton once again hops on a southbound bus to play at Decatur Friday night.
Here’s a bit of a preview.
Newaygo (7-3) At Montague (8-2) Saturday 1pm
From 1950-1953 the two teams played 4 times with Newaygo winning each of those contests.Their next matchup came 38 years later, a game won by the Wildcats and 2 years later the Lions returned the favor when they knocked off a Montague team that was on their way to reaching the semi-finals that season.
Now fast forward 25 years and the two will do battle to see who grabs a district title enroute to a week 12 game.
Montague has lost 2 games both of them to undefeated teams from upper divisions who are still playing.
And both on the road as well.
On the Montague football field the ‘Cats are in their element and the offense has averaged 56 points a game on home turf. They are one of three teams from the WMAC still playing and a fourth (North Muskegon) took a powerhouse Lake City team to the edge before losing by just 2 points last week. While cruising to many of their victories they also put together an improbable comeback win over Oakridge erasing a 14 point deficit in just over 3 minutes.
They’re a good team. A solid team. A team with a playoff legacy that includes a pair of state titles.
Newaygo has clawed their way through the season. Nothing has come easy and they have shown a lot of grit along the way. To move on they will need an outstanding game from their skill positions and limit turnovers because the Wildcat defense thrives on forcing mistakes.
Few teams have impressed me more than this year’s Lion squad. After the week two debacle against Chip Hills that left the season in shambles at 0-2 these players could have cashed it in emotionally. They rose to the occasion and slammed 6 of the next 7 games into the win column. Then they bested their cross conference foe Mohawks to earn Saturday’s ride west.
The Lions have earned this spot and won’t come in merely happy to be here. They are a quality football team going up against another quality program and on a good day with a few breaks they just might grab this one, but fall behind early and the Wildcats will pounce.
And should the Lions get in front, remember, no lead is safe here. Just ask the Eagles.
If you’re a Sparty follower they start at noon and the Wolves take on Penn State at 3:45pm but this one is set for kickoff at 1pm and if you want to see true student athletes rather than athlete students play…..
Holton (6-4) At Decatur (6-4) Friday 7pm
The Red Devils will take on the Raiders in a game between two teams with somewhat similar seasons. Both teams won the games they should have won, and struggled against the better teams in their conference. Both have 4 losses and both have had games when the offene shows up late.
4 of the Raiders 5 wins came against teams with a combined record of 5-31. They have defeated just one team with a winning record and it was not the Climax Scotts team they played last week. The Panthers came into the game 4-4 and were playing their final 11 player version of the game having decided to go 8 player next season.
I like this Holton team a lot. They shook off the three losses at the end of the season to survive a one point contest against Martin on the Clipper home field. They are confident and ready to bring it.
The line play elevated them to victory last week and chances are they will need to stand tall again if the Devils are to advance. A quick start wouldn’t hurt here.
Should they come out on top it will be the first district crown for Holton and will send the team into uncharted playoff territory.
Clare at Reed City Friday 7pm
Reed City is the only other CSAA team still playing and they will be hosting a rematch with the Pioneers of Clare. The Coyotes have ousted their old rivals from the U.S. 10 and North Central B leagues twice in playoff action including last year’s 34-7 game a loss the Pioneers would like to atone for. Reed City is on a collision course with Swan Valley for their own shot at redemption next week but they won’t be looking past this one.