All games at 7pm Friday
Three teams from our coverage area are playing game 10 this Friday in three different divisions.
Newaygo muscled their way to a second straight home game to open playoff action by grinding out a tough regular season finale win over perennial powerhouse Muskegon Catholic Central. Tri County celebrated their first postseason call since ‘04, and the Red Devils of Holton edged in despite a trio of losses to end the season.
Teams are pumped, fans are excited and there is some serious school pride emerging among students staff and alumni.
Here’s a bit of a preview along with hopes for success on the field for the Lions, Vikes, and Devils.
Morley Stanwood (7-2) at Newaygo (6-3)
This will be the 50th meeting on the field for these two teams and the Lions have won 31 of them but that history means nothing when it comes to Friday night.
The Mohawks are about defense. Outside of the 42 tossed on the scoreboard by the offensive gauntlet of Kent City they have yielded just under 7 points a game.Their schedule however, included only three matchups against teams with a winning record and they lost two of them.
Since a mistake filled season opening loss to Kent City and the bizarre ending when Chip Hills came to town and handed them a week 2 defeat, the Lions have been roaring, winning 6 of their last 7. The only loss in that span? Reed City, of course. The ‘Yotes dominated the Gold but Newaygo’s comeback this season landed them the runner up spot and a playoff berth, both scenarios many thought unlikely after the 0-2 start.
The Lions are at home and they have the type of offense that can wear down opponents. They pound the line, can toss a variety of passing plays at you and find opportunities for big plays. The defense has improved markedly over the season and though the RC score might make it look otherwise remember those Coyotes averaged 51 a game this season.
The defense of the Mohawks will have to come up big and the offense might find the going tough when it comes to putting points on the board.
The Lions shook off what could have been a crushing loss to stake their claim with a hard fought win against a Crusader team that is far better than their record indicates.
Coach Scott Van Essen: “We’re extremely excited to continue our season. And to host another playoff game, is great for our program and community. Coach Clark has build a strong program with great winning tradition and were looking forward to Friday night.”
The winner moves on to face the Fennville at Montague survivor. The Tigers have lost twice both to D-5 teams with an 18-0 combined record. They don’t lose much and they don’t lose at home. The Blackhawks of Fennville also won 7 games but their schedule didn’t match Montague’s. Not even close
Tri County (5-4) at Saginaw Swan Valley (9-0)
Vikings against Vikings except…
Ok, it’s like you get invited to the dance but once you’re there you find out your date is Godzilla.
Swan Valley has a devastating, punishing, turnover-producing, loved by their offense defense. They simply shut teams down and have a boatload of young men on board who are still stinging from last year’s state finals loss to West Catholic.
Our local Viking fans are ecstatic to see the team in the playoffs. They haven’t always played with a lot of consistency but they have shown some talent along with a gritty determination that propelled them to a few more wins than most folks predicted going into the season. This team really believed in themselves and they are about to make the school’s first postseason appearance since the current players were either in preschool or daycare.
But SSV is a truly outstanding team that makes few mistakes while creating confusion and turnovers across the line. We’re not saying it couldn’t be a close game at the end and then anything could happen but TC would likely have to get more than a few breaks going their way and execute their game plan to absolute perfection.
And then try to find a way into the endzone. Their counterparts have built a wall in the red zone that few have been able to penetrate.
Coach Phil Butler: “We’re excited about the playoff berth. It is only the 6th time in school history that we have qualified. Credit goes to the players. They have worked extremely hard on the field and in the classroom to make this dream a reality. We knew some things needed to be cleaned up and we have done that. We are excited to go to Swan Valley and compete against the number 1 team in the state. They are good but our guys will put in the work this week and go over and give it our best shot. We told the players they have put their mark on Tri County Football and will be the foundation for many years to come. Don’t be happy just making it but lets go shock the world.”
The winner moves on to play either Chippewa Hills (5-4) or Freeland (6-3). The Warriors went up against teams who are in the postseason 5 times and lost 4 of those. The Falcons come from the Tri Valley Conference where SSV and Alma do business accounting for 2 of their 3 losses.
Holton (5-4) at Martin (6-3)
. The Red Devils have played the Clippers just once and that was game 2 last season with Holton posting a 21-8 win. Martin beat the teams they should have beaten and their three losses were to teams still playing.
The Red Devils skidded to three straight losses and all of their 4 defeats were also against schools scheduled for Friday games.
The Devils have been slow in arriving to games of late falling behind early before getting some traction on offense. They have the talent at the skill positions and should the defense be able to contain a Clipper offense that has run wild the last three games Holton just might be moving on.
Coach Jack Nummerdor: “We have been on quite the rollercoaster as of late. Losing our last three and then feeling as if we would not get in after the loss to Tri-County. Myself and Mark Jalovec came in late Saturday night to work numbers and read forums. Sunday morning around 1:00 we had it figured that we were in and it's been a waiting game ever since. We are very excited to have new life and we look forward to seeing what we can do in the postseason.”
The winner gets whoever comes out of the Climax-Scotts (4-4)/Decatur(5-4) contest.
Other CSAA Schools
Big Rapids (5-4) at Alma (8-1)
Last week the Cardinals traveled to Alma and took a 55-12 drubbing.
They get to travel there again Friday night for a rematch with the Panthers
Alma lost one game this season to top ranked Swan Valley. While it is always tough to beat the same team twice in a season BR would have to put out their best effort to have a shot. Who knows, though? The hosts might be overconfident after last week and the Redbirds might catch them napping.
The survivor moves on to play the Escanaba Ludington winner
Benzie Central (6-3) at Reed City (9-0)
BC beat who they should and struggled against the better teams.
The Coyotes are one of those better teams.
The winner has a date with the Manistee (9-0)/Clare (8-1) victor. The Chips went undefeated but played just 2 games against teams with a winning record. The Pioneers also played only twice against teams over the .500 mark and lost one of those.
Saugatuck (8-1) at Kent City (8 -1)
The only blemish on the Saugatuck record is a double overtime battle royale with a powerful Schoolcraft squad that saw them come up a point short.
The Eagles only setback was a 14-7 loss to Lake City and the devastating defense of the Trojans.
Both teams can put up the points in bunches and this one, weather permitting, could resemble a track meet.
Saugatuck made the state finals last year where they lost to Pewamo Westphalia. In fact the Pirates have ended the season for the Indians four of the last 5 years in pre district, district and state final games.
The team pulling out the victory will face the winner of that Pewamo Westphalia team (9-0) and Saranac (7-2). The Saranac squad is better than they were when they lost to the Pirates 42-14 in game 2, but P-W, the two time defending state champions are a buzzsaw with an offensive line that can blow open holes and break down defenses. The Pirates have missed the playoffs just once in this century, the same amount of times they were bested by their current postseason visitors.