Lions & Tigers facing big tests in pre-district play
By Ken DeLaat, N3 Sports
Note: All games listed begin Friday November 1 at 7pm.
Newaygo (6-3) at Montague (7-2)
The West Michigan Conference this season had no ties for any final place in the standings. The teams from 1st to 8th respectively won 7,6,5,4,3,2,1,0 conference games. The best team beat all of the others, the second best beat all but the first the third beat all but the first two, etc. etc. etc.
The WMC is also perhaps the toughest conference in the region boasting top tier programs that have gone deep into the second season and engraving more than a few state titles on its resume.
The Wildcats finished third in the WMC losing to Oakridge and Ravenna. They outscored the 3 teams resting in the bottom tier of the conference 199-6 and pasted Reed City in the opener 42-0.
But more impressive was last week's win over Portland. The Cats outlasted a Red Raider squad in a matchup of teams that got to within one win of a state title last year and each with their eyes on a return appearance at Ford Field.
I like the Lions a lot. They have a good coaching staff, some talent, and while a bit enigmatic at times they showed tremendous heart in their victory over Reed City. And even though they’re playing at Montague both losses for the Wildcats came at home.
North Muskegon had Montague on the ropes before falling short and they were the only team to put up more than a couple of scores on their defense. I’m sure Coach Van Essen’s crew has paid some extra attention to the film from that one.
The Lions need to find a big play or two and maybe force an early turnover to keep the often creative offense of the hosts in check.
And they will need every ounce of the heart they played with when they faced the Coyotes.
Grant (7-2) at Oakridge (9-0)
The Eagles are another pedigreed WMC team who ran up the numbers on the weaker teams.
4 of their 9 wins were by 8 points or less and these were against the better teams on the schedule.
Grant is one of those better teams on the Eagle schedule.
The Tigers came within 13 points of an undefeated season. Their defense has been outstanding and when Kent City scored three times last week it was only the second time all season the opposition has found the endzone more than once,
It’s likely Oakridge will get there more than once. They have a good offense and more so they are one of those programs who know how to close games out. Especially at home.
Coach Geraghty and his staff have done a great job with this team and while the defense stirs the drink the Tigers have shown they can score...unless they’re playing in Remus, apparently.
The last two times Grant made it into the postseason Oakridge dispatched them handily. A win over the Eagles would be huge for the Tiger program.
Northpointe Christian (6-3) at Kent City (6-3)
The Eagles go up against an old OK Silver rival. They’ve faced 4 playoff teams and lost 3 of those. The ‘Stangs had 3 playoff teams on their schedule and went 0-3,
Kent City is at home.
Whoever comes out of this one with a victory gets the winner of North Muskegon/Pewamo Westphalia. The PW Pirates have been to Ford so often they should start getting mail there.
Morley Stanwood (6-3) at Hemlock (7-2)
The Tri Valley West conference has 5 teams. All five are in the playoffs. The Hemlock Huskies (in our world their nickname would be Poison) aren’t the best in the TVCW but the conference doesn’t have a worst. The ‘Hawks need to bring their A game and keep in mind this is the team that halted Ithaca’s 66 game conference winning streak.
Yes, we said 66
Merely a decade’s worth.
Central Montcalm (7-2) at Portland (7-2)
Tough initial game for the Gold champs but their two late losses took away home field and pitted them against a rugged group of Red Raiders (see Newaygo/Montague).
Reed City (6-3) at Kingsley (9-0)
The Stags have taken teams apart all season. They average 45 a game and no team has finished within 2 TDs of them. The Coyotes are a good team. Kingsley lost in the Regionals to conference rival TC St Francis. They avenged that loss in the regular season and are on target to make a deep run once again. Winner gets the survivor of Grant/Oakridge.
Oakland Christian (7-2) at Fowler (8-1)
My LSC (Lifetime Spousal Companion) the ever patient Ms. Lil is an alumnus.
Last year when the Eagles didn’t make the playoffs it was the first time they sat home two seasons in a row since the early 80’s.
The storied CMC program is back after a nearly unblemished season but for a bit of a stumble against the perennial powerhouse P-W Pirates their longtime arch-rival.
Fowler always seems to get these matchups with one of the top non public schools in the playoffs but the Lancers aren’t the MCC Crusaders of a few years ago who blasted past them on their way to a pair of state titles and the Eagles are playing in front of a Spicer Field crowd larger and louder than generally found at a D-8 school.
I know. I’ve been there.