All Systems GO! Football Starts Tomorrow!

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First and foremost, I want to thank Hondo Carpenter Sr. for the opportunity to write for the Spartan Nation website again this year. I had a blast writing my articles last football season and I feel like I am better prepared this year because of the experience of last year. Hondo does a lot for all of us fans out there and put a lot trust in the people who help him out, which has made the Spartan Nation family of websites grow exponentially. Take some time to post on The Phalanx message board to thank him and the rest of the crew that has made this *THE BEST* Michigan State news and information website on the internet.

It’s here baby! The youngsters will start the high school football season Thursday and the college players start this weekend. Players and coaches are itching to get on the field of competition and see what they can do or prove who they are. There are some very interesting games this week including the rematch of last season’s Division 3 game that went into five overtime periods. As the races for conference titles heat up or if you want me to cover a specific game (rival game, “brown jug” game, etc), make sure to post on The Phalanx so I can take a look.

Detroit

Detroit Martin Luther King vs. Muskegon (at Rynearson Stadium, Eastern Michigan University) August 29, 2008 – 2pm

The major showcase game for the Big Day Prep Showdown IV will pit two very good teams against each other. MLK has lost some players and moved up a division, but Reynolds knows how to get the most out of his players. The big question is whether that loss will affect the team in the win/loss column. I do have to make an assumption though; when King won their state title, players from other schools in the Detroit Public School system transferred to King so they could play for a winner. People always want to play for a champion. This will be a fantastic early test for the Crusaders.

Muskegon is coming off a tough off-season. Coach Tony Annese retired. The school board made an exhaustive search for a new coach, but was turned down at least once. Reenter Coach Annese. They may not have found the new coach of their dreams, but they retained a mighty fine one. After the tough loss to Hudsonville last season in the playoffs, they will be hungry to get back to their former glory because they are one of the top programs in the state of Michigan. These kids know the system and should be able to execute their option offense, which is very hard to defend if executed correctly.

West Coast

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s vs. East Grand Rapids (at EGR) August 28, 2008 – 7pm

Yada yada yada…state championship game…five over-time periods. These are two talented teams and there could be a rematch in the playoffs. Orchard Lake has 6’5” receiver Dion Sims, but from what I’ve been able to tell, they are more of a running team than a throwing team. This team is well coached by George Porritt but yada yada yada, seniors graduated. The Eaglet team reloads every season from their lower level. This team has had only one losing season since Marty McFly took the DeLorean for a spin. They have the capability to win their first state championship since 2000. Only time will tell if they can accomplish their goal of a state championship.

East Grand Rapids began looking for a team to fill this opening day spot before the playoffs began last season. It just so happens that both teams went on to have a fabulous run and met up in the Division 3 State Championship Game. Running back Joe Glendening will be back to run the ball for the Pioneers under Coach Peter Stuursma. They have won plenty of championships in the past, but will they be able to do what Detroit Catholic Central, Farmington Hills Harrison, and Detroit DePorres have done and win their third consecutive championship? This game should be a fantastic one and both teams will be raring to go and to show who is the best Division 3 team in 2008.

Mid Michigan

Sanford Meridian vs. Midland Bullock Creek (at Sanford) August 28, 2008 – 7pm

Bullock Creek has gotten it done in the past few seasons. It was just four years ago that they were in the state championship game against Jackson Lumen Christi. When you play the Lancers, you know that Coach Darren Kalina is going to run the ball. They can do this due to a strong offensive line most seasons. Playing in the very tough Tri Valley Central Division, teams must be able to run the ball against teams like Saginaw Swan Valley, Alma, and Chesaning. The Lancers are positioned to win their conference, but must get off to a good start against a non conference team.

The Mustangs of Sanford Meridian have been improving as of the past few seasons. They were pretty terrible in the 1990’s, but since the turn of the millennium, they have won eight games four times. That was the work of former coach Paul Reid. Now Keith Schulte is at the helm. Will he be able to continue their winning ways? They made it to the regionals before losing to Saginaw Nouvel. By most accounts, they are the favorite to win the Jack Pine Conference this season.

North

Fife Lake Forest Area vs. Indian River Inland Lakes (at FLFA) August 29, 2008 – 7pm

Most teams from northern Michigan know that Fife Lake Forest Area hasn’t been very good since they started up their football team in 2002. Reality is they won a total of three games. Last season, they managed six wins and secured a playoff spot. After the season, they fired Don Crossley and hired Brian Lark. A couple of players graduated, but much of the team is back. Lark knows that he needs to fix a defense that gave up too many points because their offensive production should win games if the defense can get the score down a bit. I just love writing about teams that have risen from no where to be a good team.

Indian River Inland Lakes has long traveled the road of mediocrity. Some seasons they hover just above .500, other seasons they can’t win a dang game. Coach Jack Rowan needs to get his Bulldogs rolling in the Ski Valley against another division team in Fife Lake. Can they get things going in the right direction against a playoff team and push past mediocrity into a consistent winning team? Only time will tell.