Week 11 - District Finals - Hungry Like The Wolf

Jeffrey Cottrell
MHSAA

Onto the District Finals! This is where the Michigan shaped trophies start getting handed out. Although one of these is a nice consolation prize, teams are gunning for that trophy that says “2010 State Champions.” There are a lot of very, very good teams left. I’ve been harping on everyone for some time, but if you haven’t caught a game, or you want to see a good football game, head to one of the local high schools and watch them play. Tickets are typically $5, and you can’t beat the entertainment you get for that price because all the teams left are Hungry Like The Wolf.

North

Negaunee (6-4) at Iron Mountain (9-1) (Friday November 5, 7pm) (Division 6)

The Miners of Negaunee were a bit of a surprise last week. After a 5-4 season, they made the playoffs. Unsatisfied with just making the post season, they went into Elk Rapids and beat the Elks 22-15. Surviving another day means having to take on a very good Iron Mountain team. On the first offensive play this past week, the Miners recovered a fumble and they were on their way. Although it took two fourth down conversions, sophomore quarterback Tanner Uren was able to get into the end zone for a score. It wasn’t going to be easy though; Elk Rapids rallied and went up 15-14. Jordan Velmer, who had already scored once in the game, rumbled into the end zone from 21 yards out early in the fourth quarter. While this is somewhat of a surprise victory for Negaunee, they played well and believed in themselves when most people outside of their town did not. Although Elk Rapids did not play well, credit the Miners for capitalizing on the chances they had.

For the seventh year in a row, the Mountaineers of Iron Mountain started the playoffs with a victory. Although they have a few more games to go if they want to make regional finals like last season, they are off to a good start. Last week, they shut out their opponent for the second straight game. Calumet played tough defense and forced three fumbles, but it wasn’t enough in the end. Quarterback Alex Herman completed seven of his ten passes for 93 yards and a touchdown while also running nine times for 58 yards and another score. Josh Pender did most of the heavy running for the Mountaineers, carrying 25 times for 100 yards. Joe Wender only carried the ball four times, but gained 66 yards which included a 55 yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Receiver Nick Rowell caught four footballs for 45 yards. This should be a very interesting game. IM has done well in the playoffs in recent seasons. They have been playoff bound every season since 1999 (and somehow made the playoffs in 2005 with a 1-10 record…must have found someone ineligible after the season).

Capital Area

Holt (7-3) at Howell (7-3) (Friday November 5, 7pm) (Division 1)

Though Holt started the season 0-2, they stormed back and were one touchdown away from winning the Capital Area Activities Blue Division championship. Jake Gallimore and Curtis Nick each scored twice in the 41-16 win over Hartland. Nick ran the ball 27 times for 154 yards. Gallimore ran 10 times for 56 yards. He also completed five of his nine passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. That receiving score went to Daniel Middleton (three receptions, 49 yards). Coach Al Slamer credited the offensive line for opening holes for the backs to run through and controlling the line of scrimmage. The Rams had two long drives (six minutes, eight minutes) that chewed up a lot of two quarters. The defense also came through with a strong performance. They held Hartland to 96 rushing yards. This game looks to be pitting two evenly matched squads. It will be fun to see what the outcome is.

Unlike the whipping Holt put on their opponent, the game between Howell and Brighton was much, much closer. Howell won the game 7-3 in what appeared to be a defensive struggle. Other than a 75 yard drive that gave them a field goal, Brighton only gained another 28 yards on the night. Quarterback Greg Cauley completed six of his 12 passes for 49 yards. He also scored the game’s lone touchdown on a one yard quarterback sneak in the third quarter. Running back Matthew Sullivan gained 108 yards on 18 carries. Jimmy Dobson toted the rock 11 times for 48 yards. Howell remembers what happened when the two teams met in the District Final last season. They want to show that they are better than the 34-0 stomping Holt laid on them. This is their chance at redemption.

Mid Michigan

Fulton-Middleton (6-4) at New Lothrop (10-0) (Friday November 5, 7pm) (Division 8)

It wasn’t like the first time these two teams played this season. Back on September 24, Fowler beat Fulton 34-12. This time, a change in the defensive game plan gave the Pirates the W. F-M WAY out-gained the Eagles, 305-104, but took the game because of a missed extra point. Zero of those yards were through the air. Fulton trailed most of the game after Fowler’s Mitch Thelen scored from three yards out in the second quarter, but got on the scoreboard with nine minutes left. Zach Baker, the quarterback, had a nice game. He completed seven of his 12 passes for 105 yards and ran for 55 yards on 11 attempts. A 55 yard pass to Jared Barton set up the score…a six yard run by Baker. Eric Litwiller ran the ball nine times for 84 yards and caught one pass for 14. The defense hasn’t come through this way for the Pirates all season. Now, they will need another stout defensive effort to beat a very good New Lothrop team.

Winning is nothing new for the Hornets of New Lothrop. It was only four years ago they went undefeated and captured the Division 8 state title. With their prefect record on the line, they will host Fulton-Middleton. Against Ashley, they trailed for the first time all season. Ashley went up 6-0 at the end of the first quarter. Then, the Hornets rattled off 33 straight points. Spencer Gross was the man with the rushing plan; he scored four of the team’s five touchdowns. Although he only gained 69 yards on ten attempts, he found the end zone four times. Quarterback Tyler Bennett completed two of his four passes for 51 yards and ran 15 times for 70 yards and the other score. Cody Peterman caught one for 26 yards and Jeremy Emmendorfer caught the other for 25. Peterman also ran seven times for 104 yards. It will be interesting to see what Coach Clint Galvas comes up with to get past Fulton-Middleton. He must see what a great game they played on defense and find a few wrinkles to confuse the Pirates. They have a defense that has only surrendered 38 points on the season and posted shutouts in half of the games so far. The Ashley squad may have been the only team that didn’t finish the game with a running clock.

Detroit

Temperance Bedford (10-0) at Wyandotte Roosevelt (10-0) (Friday November 5, 7pm)

(Division 2)

The Kicking Mules are getting things going in the right direction under third year coach Jeff Wood. They have won the Southeastern Conference Red Division the past two seasons. Last week, the Mules won a playoff game for the first time in school history. Nothing came easy against a very tough Southgate Anderson team. There was an 89 yard kickoff return touchdown by Tom Ferry in the second quarter. Then, in the fourth, the Kicking Mules faced a fourth and eight on their 37 yard line. Coach Wood went with a fake punt and luckily Jared Kujawa is the quarterback in addition to being the punter. The conversion kept the drive alive and they scored on a Kujawa run with 17 seconds remaining to take the lead. Kujawa completed three of his six passes for 42 yards and a score while also running 25 times for 90 and another two touchdowns. Erik Jones toted the rock 18 times for 61 yards. They faced a very tough defense last week, but this week will get even tougher. Wyandotte Roosevelt has one of the top defenses in Detroit.

Wyandotte Roosevelt didn’t have their typical game last week. After playing with a lead all season, they found themselves down at halftime 19-14. Most of that was due to the pressure Allen Park put on them and the turnovers that created. When it came to crunch time, the Bears got the job done. The stats weren’t overly impressive, though. Quarterback Mitchell Kell completed eight of his 19 passes and hooked up with Edge Jelsomeno for a 16 yard touchdown. Kell also threw an interception that was returned to the one yard line, but a fumble on the next play ended that drive. Avery Kleist rushed 11 times for 107 yards of which 104 came after the break. He found the end zone twice in the game. Tyler Dunn ran for 63 yards on 10 carries and also caught two passes for 25 yards. Their defense is what will take them to the next round. Allen Park put up 18 points on a team that has posted six shut-outs in their 10 games. Wyandotte has to clean up the fumbles, make smart decisions, and keep the ground game churning if they want to win.

West Coast

Muskegon Heights (6-4) at Muskegon Oakridge (8-2) (Friday November 5, 7pm) (Division 5)

When you talk about Muskegon Heights, you have to start at the quarterback position. Willie Sneed IV is under center for his dad’s team (Willie Sneed III). He will be headed to Ball State in the future, but right now he’s focused on the MHSAA football playoffs. Although they have a 6-4 record, they have played a lot of tough games. In the 28-6 win over Grant, the Tigers took good care of the ball and didn’t turn it over while forcing five Grant turnovers. Sneed IV played a very good game. He ran in the first score from five yards out, tossed a second quarter score to Deontae Hudson (41 yards) and found running back Adam Ross for a 25 yard strike in the third. The score was rounded out by a 60 yard interception return by Jalen Brooks. Muskegon Heights is one of the few teams to beat Oakridge three times in a row. Now they are looking for #4.

Muskegon Oakridge is one tough team when it comes to the playoffs. They have only missed the playoffs once (2004) since 1995.  Coach Jack Schugars is one of the best in the business. After 30 seasons of success, you can apply that title. He does have a strong cast of characters this year including quarterback Jamie Potts. Potts has been a three year starter and is an all-state kicker. He had his hand a lot of the scoring in the 35-0 beat-down of Shelby last week. Jamie started the scoring with a 45 yard run in the first quarter and also ran in a touchdown from eight yards out in the second. Also, he found Derek Suarez for a nine yard score before the half. All in all, he ran the ball 16 times for 175 yards and completed three of his seven passes for 33 yards. Nick Eely, who was playing fullback for the first time in high school, ran the ball 17 times for 81 yards and two scores. This game is going to be exciting to watch. Both offenses are good at scoring and have head coaches who excel at what they do. The question is this; can Oakridge avenge the three losses to the Heights and move on in Division 5?

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