By Ken DeLaat
The good news from the baseball world?
Justin Verlander tossed a winner from the mound in the opening game of the playoffs and JD Martinez knocked a dinger as well.
The not-so-good news?
They did their deeds in the uniforms of the ‘Stros and the D-Backs.
The Tigers just missed the playoffs this year finishing a mere 21 games behind the Twins for the second wild card berth and came within just 38 games of first place Cleveland.
But let’s talk about teams who possess a brighter immediate future…
This Friday on the gridiron in Grant the Tigers and Lions will write the latest chapter in a lengthy interscholastic story.
Since 1950 this historic rivalry is dead even at 33-33.
I find this a bit surprising in a way since the classic community clash that takes place each fall (well, except for ‘13 and almost ‘12 if not for their matchup in the postseason) has been a rather streaky series.
For instance, the Tiger Class of ‘53 didn’t see a single victory during their high school years but then the southern half of the rivalry ripped off 13 consecutive wins during a stormy span for Lion fans who saw their teams get shut out 5 times and score just 46 points, or an average of about 3 ½ a game.
Ironically the following year Newaygo equalled their entire 13 year output by notching 46 points while breaking the futility streak.
That year (‘66) Newaygo was undefeated. The following year they failed to win a game and got outscored by opponents 200-21 while Grant ran the table.
The 1990 game was the only one the Tigers would win in that decade as the Lions claimed honors in the next 9 but since the turn of the century it’s been 8-8.
Having only lived in these parts for a mere couple of decades I didn’t grow up with this rivalry.
And I did not attend either educational institution since my ‘high school madness’ days extend a bit beyond those couple of decades.
Well, truth be told, quite a bit beyond.
But I certainly recall the importance of such games between well-acquainted and epically adversarial opponents.
Ours was Caledonia/Middleville another storied competition between small towns also separated by 5 miles along M-37.
Just a bit farther south.
It was THE game. We had no playoffs then (seriously dating myself) and both teams came in undefeated. The Trojans had dominated our Fighting Scots for a spell but this year on the Middleville home turf the boys of ‘Donie fought them to a tie (yup, no overtime either back then) and it was a monumental kind of tie that included a final seconds goal line stand against the Mudville crew as those of us who populated the stands screamed until hoarse.
We were ecstatic.
So while high school remains but a distant and increasingly fading memory
the atmosphere at games like this remains familiar.
And this one has even more drama attached since the winner gets a trip to the playoffs.
Grant is looking to return after last years post season play and Newaygo wants back in after a two year sabbatical.
And it’s Grant’s homecoming game as well.
Get ready for a good one folks.
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