By Ken DeLaat
Will any teams in our coverage area make it to the dance?
Well, two of them (Newaygo, Holton) have a chance but both face opponents who have been inconsistent enough to be dangerous. Two nearby schools, Silver titleholder Kent City and Morley Stanwood, are already in as is Gold champ Reed City. Big Rapids needs to beat a really good Panther team on the road as they take on 7-1 Alma while Hesperia and White Cloud will play games involving four teams with a total of 2 wins between them, both over other teams in the quartet. Grant looks to end on a winning note but Kent City wants to shake off their lone loss of the season as they head into the pre-districts It might be a long bus ride home for the Pack if the Ramblers are on their game and the Vikes can close out a winning season with a win over the playoff-hungry Red Devils.
Muskegon Catholic Central at Newaygo
It comes down to this for the Lions...win and you’re in.
Last weeks debacle against Reed City aside the Lions have had a good year rebounding after two tough losses to open the season by peeling off 5 straight wins. One more lets them play at least an additional week and all they have to do is defeat the perennial state champion Crusaders.
Granted MCC is having an off year. Midseason they were shut out by Cassopolis the first time they had gone scoreless in 82 games, but the Rangers have only allowed 4 TDs all year.
They handed playoff bound Ludington one of the two losses the Orioles have on the season and battled an undefeated Manistee team to the end before coming up short.
They also lost to OV whose only other victory was against winless Muskegon Heights.
They give up points and the Lions can certainly put points on the board but the Crusaders can also score and score quickly.
Newaygo is at home which should help and they are playing for an automatic invite which should provide extra incentive.
This will be the final game of the season for the Crusaders as they miss the postseason for just the second time in 12 years, a span that has included 6 state championships.
They won’t be playing for the playoffs.
They’ll be playing for pride.
Grant at Kent City
The Tigers fell short in their bid to make it to the dance and they finish their season with a trip to the Eagles Nest where they face a Kent City team coming off a battle of unbeatens that saw them fall short by a touchdown.
Only Beal City and Lake City have been able to contain the Eagle offense. The Tigers might find it hard to keep up with the speed of a team that has averaged over 45 points a game when playing a team that doesn’t have the word City in it.
Holton at Tri County
All three of the Red Devil losses have come against teams already prepping for the postseason. The Vikes aren’t going anywhere beyond Friday night but they have won 2 in a row during a season that has seen their football fortunes turn for the better. A season ending victory at home would give them their first winning record since 2005.
Holton wants this one to ensure their spot in the playoffs. They were bested by Kent City then lost a close one to a very good Pine River squad. They will need to win in the trenches and the in-your-face-defense of the Devils can create turnovers, a problem for TC in their four losses.
Coach Nummerdor was disappointed in the first half play of his team last week and after this week’s practice they are more than likely to come off the bus in Viking territory ready to go.
Shelby at Hesperia
One.This team has persevered through a tough season with limited numbers and they deserve as much support as the town can muster entering the final game. The seniors will be playing on their field for the final time.
Two. They have a pretty good chance of picking up their second win. The Tigers have been giving up points by the dozens in most games and the Panthers have some playmakers who can score.
Still, even though Shelby has won just once in the last 39 games?
That win came in last year’s season finale against Hesperia.
White Cloud at Hart
In the last three games these two teams have been outscored by their opponents 317-0 or an average of 58-0.
The Pirates have a win under their belt and have gotten to double figures three times a mark that has eluded the Cloud thus far.
The Indians struggle to score and often fall victim to the turnovers that come with offensive woes. If they can keep from getting bogged down by penalties and other mistakes and piece together enough of a defense to hold in any Pirate offensive, win number one might be within their grasp.
Or given the recent scoring drought these teams have endured this one might well end in a tie.
Fremont at McBain
The Packers lost their opener to Evart who sits at the bottom of the Highland Conference. McBain is one of three teams in the top tier of that rugged league that will still be playing next week and the Ramblers are a solid team with a strong defense and pretty fair offensive talent.
The Packers close out the season and the Fremont seniors will be lacing them up for the last time. The team has shown improvement on both ends of the ball and are a better team than the one that opened the season.
But the playoff bound Ramblers are playing in front of their fans for the first time since September and they return to town riding a five game winning streak. The team will be pumped, the stands will be filled and the game might be a long one for the Packer faithful.