Week Nine - Last Chances

Jeffrey Cottrell

It’s the final week of the regular season. The blood, sweat, hours spent in the weight room, summer camps, preseason two-a-days, and the games this season are all about to come to an end for some unlucky seniors. For 256 teams, they will be playing past this week with their lifelong dreams of being crowned state champions. The rest will pack up the helmets and shoulder pads and wonder what could have been. This year I didn’t say much about my football team, but last night we beat up our rivals 46-20 and finished on a positive note. I bought my boys some pizza after school even though they dumped the huge water cooler on me and it was COLD last night.

North

Lake Linden at Crystal Falls Forest Park (Friday October 24, 7:30pm)

Two of the top teams in the UP will face off this week. Each has an undefeated record going into the game. The winner will take the Great Western Conference football title for the 2008 season. For the Trojans of Crystal Falls Forest Park, they have rolled past everyone so far this season. The only close game they had was against Baraga when they won 30-22. In the rest of their games this season, no one has scored more than eight points. On the season, the Trojan defense has given up 56 total points while the offense has scored 342. The injuries have piled up for CFFP, but they soundly beat Bessemer last week 48-6. Quarterback Bob Reid kept handing the ball of to running back Josh Siler, who had a fantastic night. He had 154 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries. Siler also had a 50 yard interception return for a touchdown to give him four scores on the night. Reid didn’t pass the ball too much (he didn’t need to) but went two of five for 58 yards. The defense was opportunistic and returned two of their four interceptions for touchdowns. Coach Bill Santilli knows that his team needs to be sharp and healthy to complete their first perfect regular season since 2005.

Lake Linden has been bad against CFFP lately. They haven’t won since 1999. It’s quite a turn-around because Crystal Falls had only one win against Lake Linden in the 90’s. This season has been very successful so far. In their game last week, Quarterback Logan Chadde scored early on a 26 yard run. Running back Brandon Sundblad has good size and can be tough to bring down. Travis Ambuehl can make plays while running the ball and can catch pretty well out of the backfield also. Their defense has been able to capitalize on the mistakes of the opposing offenses to get points. They will need Crystal Falls to help them a little by making mistakes if they want to win this game. The winner gets the Great Western Conference title. In all probability, the two teams will probably meet early in the playoffs as they are in the same district.

Central Michigan

Stanton Central Montcalm at Remus Chippewa Hills (Friday October 24, 7pm)

For Chippewa Hills, they aren’t in uncharted territory. Just two years ago, they won the Central State Athletic Association football title. The difference is that this year they have an undefeated record. The Warriors has never been this far into a season with a record this good. Quarterback Alex Wilson is part of that equation. Last week, he ran for two touchdowns and tossed the ball for 119 yards. Running back Tarek Flowers had two rushing touchdowns (including an 87 yard scamper) to go along with his 171 yards on 13 carries. The Warriors are ranked 10th in Division 4. They might be looking at West Branch Ogemaw Heights, Cheboygan, and Kingsford for their region in the playoffs.

For Stanton Central Montcalm, the defense is key if they want to win. In the eight games this season, the Hornets have shut out six of their opponents. Senior defensive end Ben Zerka is one of the cogs on the machine that is their defense. The team is ranked fifth in the AP Division 5 poll. Payback might have something to do with the motivation that Central Montcalm has because of the 54-12 loss at the hands of Remus last season. Quarterback Spencer Miller played well last week against Holton. He passed for 140 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for 91 yards and a score. The defense was able to hold Holton to zero passing yards and only 214 total yards. It looks like they will end up in the region with Muskegon Oakridge and Grand Rapids West Catholic.

West

East Grand Rapids at Lowell (Friday October 24, 7pm)

This is one of the top games in the state this weekend. East Grand Rapids is undefeated and one of the top football teams in the state, regardless of division. In the past three seasons, they have a lost a total of two games. Unfortunately, one of those games was to Lowell. Last year’s state champions are tough on defense and explosive on offense. The Pioneers are riding running back Joe Glendening and utilizing their tight end Chris Blair. In the 66 times this team has met Lowell, EGR leads the series 44-16 with two ties (according to Lowell’s football website). Head coach Peter Stuursma knows that winning the OK White Division outright would be very nice after tying with Lowell multiple times. When we get into the playoffs, they will be a favorite to win their third straight Division 3 football championship. Each of the teams they might play in the regional playoffs is not traditional powerhouses and two of them have to win this week to ensure that they make the playoffs.

For the Red Arrows it would be a feather in their cap to beat East Grand Rapids, finish the regular season undefeated with a win at home, and win the outright Ottawa Kent White Division crown. They are expecting over 13,000 fans to attend the game at Red Arrow Stadium. Senior Torsten Boss is a great wide receiver is having a fantastic season with over 1,100 yards. He also is a talented return man and defensive back. Quarterback Kyle Nichol had played very well. This is partly due to their offensive line playing at a very high level this whole season. The Red Arrows don’t make too many mistakes and are very quick to capitalize on the mistakes of other teams. As much as these teams are rivals, it is a respectful rivalry. When the Red Arrows take to the field next week in the first round of the playoffs, they will have to play well. In their region could be Muskegon, Holland, and Hudsonville.

Capital Area

Manchester at Onsted (Friday October 24, 7pm)

When Manchester takes on Onsted this Friday, neither team will be playing to make the playoffs or to win a conference title. Both teams have that stuff wrapped up. That doesn’t make this game any less significant though. Last year’s game was very close with Onsted winning 23-21. This year, junior quarterback Logan Zigila has won games for them with his arm. Last week, he went 18 of 25 for 203 yards and a touchdown while not throwing any interceptions to East Jackson defenders. They had a lot of people returning to the team that was just over a .500 record last season. Coach Wes Gall has his team playing well headed towards the playoffs. It won’t get much easier though because they will be in a region with last year’s Division 6 runner up Blissfield and also a tough Allen Park Cabrini team.

Onsted is rolling into the playoffs with a tough defense. They have only given up 67 points this season and 20 of those were to Brooklyn Columbia Central in the second game of the season. They are within one win of their first perfect regular season since 1996. Last week, their top runner Carl Ream had 177 yards and two scores. Nate Sanborn had 145 yards and a touchdown as well in their victory over Parma Jackson County Western. They had 457 rushing yards on the ground in that game. On the defensive side of the ball last week, the Wildcats only allowed 70 yards of total offense and four first downs. This team is obviously focuses on the run and will need their offensive line to push Manchester around if they want to have the success they typically have. The Wildcats could be in a region with perennial powerhouse Jackson Lumen Christi. The two other teams they could be matched up with are Battle Creek Pennfield and Hillsdale.

Detroit

Detroit Osborn (away) vs. Detroit Southwestern (home) at Detroit Renaissance, Saturday October 25, 1pm

Southwestern has had a fantastic season so far. They are currently 7-1 and are in the Detroit Public School League B Division championship game. Coach Tony Blankenship has his team humming along in only his second season as the top man. They have made the playoffs for the second straight season and returned 13 starters. One of those is the quarterback, Brandon Person. The only loss that the Prospectors had this season was to Detroit Martin Luther King, a school with 1,200 more students. In the PSL semifinal last week, Deontay Clemons had 12 carries for 125 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Person went nine of 12 for 127 yards, a touchdown, and also intercepted a pass which he returned 45 yards for another score from his safety spot. Southwestern is a Division 5 playoff qualifier and might take on Madison Height Madison, Lavonia Clarenceville, or Almont.

The Knights of Detroit Osborn have been much better in the past couple of seasons. Before last year’s team went 6-4 (losing in the first round of the playoffs to Detroit Denby Tech) the team hadn’t had a winning season since the 5-4 team of 1990. Now they sit at 8-0 poised to be the top seed of their region. All that stands in their way is Southwestern. Head coach Robert Hunt has two four year starters in tackle Rodney Hamilton and center Marcel Anderson. Quarterback Michael Jones helped his team beat Detroit Douglass 41-24 last week by throwing three touchdown passes. The star of last week’s game though was Levander Jackson. He ran the ball 12 times for 174 yards and two touchdowns. One of those touchdown runs was 60 yards and the other was 90. Deonte Cherry had a good game, catching a touchdown and running for another. The Knights will have to play perfectly if they want to beat a good Southwestern team. When they enter the Division 2 football playoffs, they could be in a region with Highland Park, Southfield, or Dearborn.

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