Week Eight - Mama Said Knock You Out!

Jeffrey Cottrell

 

As unbelievable as it seems, this season is about to pick up the intensity and fervor heading into the playoffs. It seems like just yesterday we were preparing for our first game of the season. Now, my team has two games left. It was around this time of year when I was in high school and we got a win to get a share of the conference title. I remember my old coach, “Ground Chuck” dialing up a pass to Adam Miller in the waning seconds to give us a share. Also, I want to send a shout-out to my buddies in The Phalanx Forum Lairdda1 and SpartanKid for the awesome suggestions of games this week. Although I chose not to profile what appears to be a tough game between Milan and Monroe St. Mary’s Catholic Central, I appreciate that they are giving suggestions.  If anyone has any games they’d like me to consider profiling, please stop by The Phalanx Forums and post a message to me. Now that my housekeeping is finished, let’s get straight into the games ‘cause Mama Said Knock You Out!

MHSAA

Capital Area

Stockbridge (6-1) at Hudson (7-0) (Friday October 15, 7pm)

This is a very interesting game. Although both teams have finished their conference play for the season (Hudson won the Lenawee County Athletic Association title, Stockbridge came in second in the Southern Michigan Activities Association…with a better overall record than Hillsdale but Hillsdale beat Columbia Central to win it all last week), this game is very important to both squads. Quarterback Jeff O’Brien completed seven of his 10 passes for 135 yards and three touchdowns while also running six times for 40 yards and another two scores. Two passes went to Devin Allen for 80 yards, including a 35 yard touchdown score in the first quarter. Matt Klann ran 12 times and gained 98 yards and a one yard touchdown to open the scoring. The Panthers are a decent sized school and will probably end up in Division 5 (500 students…Class B) with a possible first round game against Jackson Lumen Christi.

Hudson won the Lenawee County Conference with a huge 43-20 homecoming victory over Ida. The #1 ranked team in Division 7 (Class C) made sure they took care of business because with only 23 players on varsity, it is very important that you do things correctly. It was the 21st straight regular season victory for the Tigers. Hudson recovered Ida’s onside kick to start the game. On the first offensive play, tailback Drew Milligan raced 51 yards to paydirt. He finished with 20 carries for 176 yards and scored three touchdowns; in addition to the two touchdowns runs, two receptions for scores, Milligan also threw a touchdown pass and converted a two point attempt. Hudson’s Jimmy Williams completed six of his seven passes for 135 yards and two scores. Many other running backs contributed to this victory. This will be a great test for both teams as they are both very strong and have many weapons.

Detroit

Lake Orion (7-0) at Farmington Hills Harrison (7-0) (Saturday October 16, 1pm)

This is probably, in my opinion, the top game across the state this week. Whenever you have two undefeated teams battling it out, even in this non-conference game, you know it’s going to be a good one. Lake Orion is ranked #2 in Division 1 (large Class A). If I had to guess, I’d say that Farmington Hills Harrison is the best team Lake Orion has faced to this point. It will be a great tune-up for the game against Clarkston next week. That game next week will decide who wins the Oakland Activities Association Red Division championship. Last week, the Dragons dismantled Troy Athens 45-7. Marcus Stephenson ran 11 times for 167 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Sean Charette tossed two touchdowns and ran in another to help his team win the game. Lake Orion has a lot of weapons they can utilize and they will need every one. Charette has a lot of experience and knows what to do. Coach Chris Bell will have his team ready to battle.

High school football is very cyclical. After dominating for most of the 1990’s and the early part of this decade, the Hawks fell on “hard times.” By hard times, I mean they weren’t winning five consecutive state championships. This school has only had five losing seasons since 1970. Two of those came in the past six years. When you have a legendary coach like John Herrington, it’s hard not to keep up tradition. He has his team running like a well oiled machine and sitting on top of Division 2 (Smaller Class A). Last week, they beat up on Rochester Adams 54-21. In the first half, they dominated to the tune of a 40-7 lead. Quarterback Tommy Vento threw for 284 yards and five touchdowns on 13 completions in 20 attempts. His brother, Jake Vento caught five footballs for 136 yards. Like Lake Orion, the final game of the season will be important in regards to the league championship. Harrison plays cross town rival Farmington who is also sitting at 7-0 and plays Clarkston this week. Interesting how things match up isn’t it?

West Coast

Grant (6-1) at Fruitport (6-1) (Friday October 15, 7pm)

The race for the Lakes Eight title is heating up quick. Three teams are tied in conference play with 5-1 records. Two of these teams are playing each other and the other, Spring Lake, is playing an always tough Muskegon Orchard View squad one week after beating Grant. Max Lyon ran in a four yard touchdown in after a scoreless first quarter. Quarterback Taylor Fahlen tossed two fourth quarter touchdowns. The loss dropped Grant out of the top 10 in Division 5. There may not be a lot of info about this team, but we all know how important this game is. The Tigers have already made the playoffs and are now hoping to bring home that banner for the gym.

For the Trojans of Fruitport, it’s a nice feeling to be back in the playoffs after a two year absence. It took a close win over Muskegon Orchard View, but they are back. Quarterback Steve Devries scored two rushing touchdowns, the first and last scores of the game. Mike Reyes had 94 yards, Bobby Steinman racked up 82, and Devries gained 75. It was a balanced game between running and passing for the Trojans. Now, with it all on the line, they will need to continue that balanced attack. We all know that it can be a memory to last a lifetime if you win a title.   I’m sure Devries and his teammates want to experience that feeling as well.

North

Fife Lake Forest Area (5-2) at Mancelona (6-1) (Friday October 15, 7pm)

he Warriors have come a long way in eight years. When they restarted the football program in 2002, they only scored eight total points. In those first three seasons, they didn’t win a game. The next season, 2005, they picked up the program’s first victory while making the playoffs in 2007 and 2008. This season, they need to win another game to automatically qualify for the playoffs. Last week, they blanked Johannesburg-Lewiston 22-0. It didn’t start fast for the Warriors; the second quarter was when they put up the first points. Quarterback Bob Steile hit tight end Ryan Burke for a 31 yard touchdown pass. He finished the game 11 of 19 for 176 yards and two touchdowns. The other touchdown pass went to Jared Caldwell from 32 yards out. Interim coach Josh Merchant was happy with the defense as they only allowed Jo-burg to cross the 50 yard line twice. The final score came from a three yard touchdown run by Tom Hall in the fourth quarter. It will be interesting to see how these two teams play. Mancelona is scoring a ton of points this season and Fife Lake has been playing pretty good defense.

For the Ironmen of Mancelona, they are perfect in league play. A lot of that has to do with running back Austin Spires. He rushed for 236 yards on 12 carries and scored three times last week. Taylor Borst gained 129 yards on 20 carries and got into the end zone twice. Last week, they gained 417 yards rushing on 43 carries. Coach Dan Derrer said that one of the goals for this season was to win the outright title in the Ski Valley Conference. Mancelona’s offensive line will need to have their heads on a swivel because Fife Lake Forest Area likes to attack and blitz a lot. After being blanked 39-0 by Elk Rapids to open the season, the Ironmen have scored at least 38 points in every game and put 50+ on the scoreboard four times.   Mancelona is ranked 12 in Division 7.

Mid Michigan

Ithaca (7-0) at Merrill (6-1) (Friday October 15, 7pm)

For those who follow high school football, surely you have noticed Ithaca. The star player on their team, quarterback Alex Niznak, is tearing it up this season. He is 67 of 99 for 1,358 yards and 19 touchdowns. Niznak is also very dangerous, if not more so, when he runs the ball. The offense scored a ton of points (at least 49 in every game and 69 on Durand) while the defense has only given up 53. Only one team put more than one score on them (St. Louis). Last week, Niznak completed 11 of his 19 passes for 230 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran seven times for 144 and another score. Receiver David Brown caught two passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns. He also intercepted a pass and ran it 53 yards the other way to score. Luke Capen caught a punt and ran it 67 yards for a special team’s touchdown. It will be tough for Merrill to contain this prolific offense and slow Niznak. Ithaca is ranked #1 in Division 6.

Typically at this time of year, Merrill is worried about making the playoffs. Not so much this season.  The lone loss came at the hands of Tri Valley Conference West Division rival St. Charles. A win this week over Ithaca would mean a three way tie for the conference championship between those three teams. Although Ithaca may have the more hyped quarterback, Merrill’s Kyle Tack has completed 81 of his 131 passes for 1,424 yards. Last week in their 47-7 victory over Saginaw Valley Lutheran, Tack had a great game. He completed 14 of his 18 passes for 248 yards and three scores. Kyle Mayan caught five footballs for 73 yards and two scores while Jimmy Schoof caught four balls for 91 yards and another score. Tyler Guthrie ran eight times for 108 yards and two scores. It will be interesting to see how these two spread offenses will attack the opposing defense.

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