Football Preview Week VII: THE Game at Grant; A Title Tilt?; Cats and Devs Face Tough Tasks; Pack Visits Vikes
By Ken DeLaat
Newaygo at Grant
A storied history runs through this annual battle for pigskin pride.
There was the 12 game Grant winning streak that ended in 1966 when the Lions stopped the bleeding before the Tigers ran off 4 more wins.
Newaygo ruled the 90’s winning 9 in a row before the 2000 Grant team triumphed and since the century began the Lions have had a 10-8 edge.
Overall? Since 1950 the Tigers have won 35 games and the Lions 34. They have twice met in the postseason and, of course, they split those games.
Both teams come in with 4-2 marks so the playoff implications are huge.
Grant has not allowed any team other than Central Montcalm to score more than once. Their defense is formidable and the offense that was stymied in the win over Reed City and the loss to Chip Hills has turned it around albeit against lesser defenses than the ones fielded by the ‘Yotes and Warriors.
The Lions average just over 32 points a game and give up 20. The only time they failed to get into the endzone at least 4 times was in the opener against Kent City.
In their 2 losses Newaygo was within one score of winning. So was Grant in their two setbacks
This looks a lot like the old irresistible force meets immovable object type of game but there is no way to predict the outcome of any game between these two and this year it looks to be even more so.
Both need this for a shot at game 10 but one thing is certain.
The players on the field won’t be thinking about playoff aspirations or games that lie ahead of them.
Because this is the big one.
Central Montcalm at Reed City
Whaddya got, Hornets?
Central Montcalm has been a great story rising from the ashes of a winless season to run off 6 straight wins and punch a playoff ticket.
But this one looms large.
Since the CSAA Gold was formed Reed City has taken or shared the title and this year’s team does not want to be the one that finally yields the crown to another school.
The Hornet team is filled with players who recall seeing Reed City run up the score on the CM home field last season posting 80 points and holding the Bees scoreless.They would love to grab a little revenge as well as their first outright title in football since 1999.
But Reed City is an opportunistic and point scoring machine when they’re clicking, and they do some serious clicking at home. They can run away in a hurry if given the chance. I’m sure the Hornet staff has been giving more than a glance to some tape from the RC loss to Grant when the Tigers held the offense scoreless
Fremont at Tri County
The Vikes have shown they can move the ball, particularly if their opponent has some defensive holes.The Pack have yielded over 40 points a game and it seems most of those get lit up in the first quarter.
Last season the Packers halted a 30 game losing streak before it reached the school record for futility, a 34 game skid in the late 80’s. But now they’ve lost another 10 in a row embarking on another streak
.They wouldn’t need to play flawless to have a shot at the Vikes bit they would have to be real good and find a way to avoid yielding those early big play scores. They will have to keep it close and hope for a break or two.
Last year at this point in the season, the Vikes won out, taking the last 3 games and getting into the postseason with 5 wins. The teams they played? Fremont Central Montcalm and Holton
This season to have a shot at returning they would need to sweep the 3 games ahead of them. Those teams are Fremont, Central Montcalm and Holton.
Chippewa Hills at Big Rapids
The Cards do well against the lesser defenses.The Warriors aren’t one of those, despite getting waxed by a steamrolling Coyote squad. Their 2 wins were over two good teams in Tri County and Grant. The Cards have beaten one team.
Morley Stanwood at Hesperia
The Mohawks are a good team getting better as the season progresses and that looks to spell trouble for the Panthers.
Logan Balkema is back as of last week and having a week under his belt will help but the o-line might have to step it up a few notches to keep the Morley defenders out of the backfield.
Coach Bolles’ team will need a few breaks to stay with an MS squad that has found their stride after dropping their first two. On the positive side it’s homecoming in Hesperia and this town turns out big time for their hometown football team.
The Mohawks have to face two tough teams to end the season including the undefeated Beal City Aggies a program that has missed the playoffs just 5 times in 30 years.
The Panthers might catch them looking past this one but they will need to capitalize on any opportunity they get.
Kent City at Holton
The Eagles need 2 to get in. Holton is carrying on with limited troops but they showed a lot of grit in the loss to Lakeview last week.
Now they’re home for the first time since a month ago when they lost a game and several players.
The Eagles aren’t who they were with that diamond studded backfield they put on display last year but they can still bring it offensively and the Devs will need a lot of homecoming magic to stay close enough to upset KC.
But as we said last week, this team deserves the kind of support the tourney bound team got last year. They may not win with this shorthanded team held together by duct tape and wire but they will give it all they got.