At this point in the season, itâ€™s mental. The coaches have taught their players all they will need to win the games. For some players, the daily grind of football is starting to wear on them. I had a teammate with the nicknamed Hammer who would count the days until the season was overâ€¦in August! No one wants to go home at this point. Everyone is dreaming about that Michigan shaped trophy.
Since I profiled Divisions 1, 3, 6, and 8 last week, Iâ€™m profiling games in Division 2, 4, 5, and 7 this week.
Traverse City St. Francis hosts Mancelona (Division 7)
After getting whipped in Week One by Suttons Bay, the Gladiators have surged forward with nine wins. Included in those wins was a 51-0 dismantling of St. Ignace last week in the first round. They have shown why they are considered one of the top teams in the north. Itâ€™s hard to argue with two Division 7 state championships in the past five seasons. Last week they had strong performances from Andrew Rushlow, who had 83 yards on eight carries and another 14 players had at least a carry for St. Francis.
Mancelona has their first victory in a playoff game. They had lost their only two (2006 and 1977) playoff games previous to playing last Friday. They did have a heck of a game against Rogers City. Adam Duerksen had 243 rushing yards and four touchdowns last week in the victory. The linemen on both sides of the ball had a good night, as can be deduced from the 243 rushing yards by one player. The Ironmen will have a tough game in a tough environment (Thirlby Field) for their District Final against TCSF. Winner will play either Ishpeming or Stevenson.
Millington hosts Chesaning (Division 5)
Looking to sweep the top teams in the Tri Valley Conference East Division in back to back weeks, Chesaning travels to Millington to take on the tough Cardinals. Last week against Frankenmuth, the Indians had a great game from Joe Bitterman, who had 141 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns. Not only did he have a great game running the ball, he also kicked off, kicked extra points, punt and kick returns, and the whole game on defense. He will have to perform like he did against Millington if they want to win the game.
Millington had a heck of a game as well. They erased a six-point halftime deficit to win the game 34-26 over Montrose. The Cardinals have one of their own â€œall everythingâ€ players in Dustin Griesing; he had 121 yards on 15 carries for three touchdowns, five passes for 73 yards, and nine tackles. Both teams will have their hands full when the ball is kicked off. Chesaning has a football tradition and Millington has made the playoffs 17 times in the past 19 seasons. The winner will take on either Almont or Madison Heights Madison.
Detroit Country Day hosts Detroit Crockett (Division 4)
Country Day will have itâ€™s hands full with a tough team like Crockett, which plays in the top division in the Detroit Public School League. Their star player, Jonas Gray switched his commitment from Nebraska to Notre Dame. Over the course of the season, he rushed for 1500 yards and 20 touchdowns. He had better be ready to use that 4.4 forty speed if he wants to propel his team past Crockett. Last week he rushed for three touchdowns and 223 yards on 21 carries.
On the flipside of that, Crockett had better be ready to contain the top recruit out of the state. They should be use to tough games, having played their Detroit PSL schedule. That being the case, they were one of the few 5-4 teams to make the playoffs. Last week, the team rushed for over 300 yards. They hope to have another great day and want to move past the District Finals and inch closer to Ford Field. Both teams make their plays on the ground so Iâ€™m guessing the game will move quickly and the clock wonâ€™t stop too much. Winner will play either Milan or Dearborn Heights Robichaud.
Muskegon hosts Hudsonville (Division 2)
The first game was a blowout. Muskegon won 52-0. Everything seemed to work right for the Big Reds a week after a very sloppy outing. Fast-forward a month. Now we have the same matchup, but this time Muskegon has a loss two weeks ago and a sloppy win last week. Thanks to Jubenal Rodriguezâ€™s 33-yard field goal with three seconds left, Muskegon held off the upset in the first round. Rodriguez wasnâ€™t even on the team until the third week of the season.
Hudsonville came to play against Muskegon Reeths-Puffer. Jordan Jonker had 154 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown. Combine that with Alex Debinakâ€™s 134 yards on 15 carries and you get a heck of a backfield duo. These two and the offensive line have got to be ready this week. Last time they played Muskegon, they played about as poorly as they could. That doesnâ€™t work against Muskegon and the final score proved that. Letâ€™s hope there are some fireworks for this game. One of these two squads could be at Ford Field 1pm on November 23 (Division 2 State Championship game). The winner will play Lowell or Caledonia.