Week Seven - The Pressure Is Turned Up

Jeffrey Cottrell

Wow! It’s already Week Seven! Seems like just yesterday I was unable to sleep the night before we started practice. As is evident by my football beard I began growing on that August morning, the season has been going on for some time. For many teams, it’s do or die. They can’t afford any more losses. Other teams are trying to wrap up a conference title. Unfortunately, other teams are starting to look at basketball/wrestling/bowling season. Whatever the situation, teams are grinding out the end of the regular season. Will your favorite team get to play on Halloween or All Saints Day?

West Coast

Montague at Muskegon Oakridge (Friday October 10, 7pm)

A battle of the undefeated teams will determine who wins the West Michigan Conference. For Montague, quarterback Cody Kater has helped his team put up a lot of points. His steady hand at quarterback teamed with Dustin DeHoff catching passes and running the ball pushed this team to their first six victories. Wide receiver Anthony Root has caught a few balls and scored plenty as well. AJ LeRue, a returning starter and leading rusher from last season makes sure they can run the ball. Coach Pat Collins knows that when the get the ball deep into enemy territory, even if they are unable to score a touchdown, kicker Matt DeJong can put the ball through the uprights and add to their score.

Now comes the hard part for Montague; beating a tough Muskegon Oakridge team who has yet to give up more than 20 points in a game (they gave up 20 to Hart last week, but scored 70 of their own). Other than that Hart game last week, Oakridge has only given up 34 total points this season. It helps your team tremendously when you return 15 starters from last season. Only three seasons removed from their 2005 Division 5 state championship, they are looking to rebound with a new man holding down the quarterback position. Sophomore Jamie Potts is not only the QB, but also the kicker. Oakridge is more of a running team than a passing team, but can get the ball to the receivers when needed. Jack Schugars has won two state titles with Oakridge and knows what it takes to win big games. Will he be able to get his team past Montague and win the West Michigan Conference?

Capital Area

Lansing Sexton at Mason (Friday October 10, 7pm)

After winning the job last season, Carlous Kelley has had his ups and downs. Against Holt, he ran wild for 168 yards and three touchdowns. In some of the other games he hasn’t had nearly the yardage. Obviously, it hasn’t been all cherries and chocolate for Sexton; they lost quarterback Drew Valentine for the season in their first game when he tore his ACL. Taurean Jackson has stepped in for him and knows the offense because Valentine was off playing basketball for much of the summer. The Big Reds have shown that they can win tough games. Just a few weeks ago, they beat Davison in the second overtime on a nine yard run by Onija Miller. Even though Sexton has been though a lot this season, they are in a position to make the CAAC Red a three way tie for the football championship. (Congrats to Valentine who committed to Oakland University recently)

Mason has been rolling over everyone so far. Unlike last season when they only beat an Eaton Rapids Greyhound team with eight wins since 2000, this season has been much, much better. In their five wins, they have scored at least 30 points. Only undefeated Grand Ledge has held them down in their 14-10 loss. Quarterback Cody Morrison has played well and running back Zach Mellios had 138 yards and four touchdowns last week against Pontiac Central. As most coaches know, the offensive line is the cog that makes an offensive machine work. They had some questions at the beginning of the season about it, but this offensive line has played well. A win for Mason means they will have the CAAC Red all to themselves, so expect Coach Jerry VanHavel to have his boys up and ready to go.

Mid Michigan

Standish-Sterling at Bay City John Glenn (Friday October 10, 7pm)

The Northeast Michigan Conference will be decided with this game. Undefeated Bay City John Glenn, ranked #3 in Division 3 will take on Standish-Sterling, also undefeated and ranked #2 in Division 5. The Bobcats of John Glenn have won every game by at least 10 points. In that game against Muskegon Heights, they had to come from behind (it was 24-6 at halftime) in order to win. In a tough game last week, the Bobcats played well enough in the first half to be up enough so that they could stave off a Tawas second half comeback. Primarily a running team, Coach Mark Miller has a good running back to work with. Matt Balen has played very well and even when spelled, the backups hold their own. Tyler Clemons has run for many Bobcat first downs this season. It will be imperative for the Bobcats to shut down Panther quarterback Austin Collier.

Standish needs this win. They took a share of the conference title last year (with Ogemaw Heights) and were the preseason favorite to win. That pick is due to the fact that many of their starters are back from the 2007 regional finals runner up. Their quarterback, junior Austin Collier has committed to Bowling Green and Rivals has him as a dual threat quarterback. Last week against Pinconning, he ran the ball 25 times for 200 yards and went nine of 14 for 133 yards. 105 of those 133 yards went into the hands of Mark Lorence. With so much on the line, Panther coach Paul Walderzak has to be ready for anything that John Glenn High brings to the game. They seem more susceptible to the pass than the run, so they have a very good chance of shutting down the Bobcat running game and taking home the win.

Detroit-ish

Croswell-Lexington at Richmond (Friday October 10, 7pm)

This game isn’t exactly Detroit “proper,” but y’all know how I roll in regards to areas; I’m like horseshoes and hand grenades. New head coach Jason VanDerMaas left Flint Carman-Ainsworth high and dry last May when he resigned to take the job at his alma mater. Marlon Brando must work for C-L because they made him, “an offer he couldn’t refuse.” He brings his version of the spread offense, something they’ve been running for six years, back with him. They like a balance between the run and the pass, orchestrated by senior quarterback Cameron Barrett. Luckily for the Pioneers, Barrett has a good arm and strong legs (another dual threat quarterback). David Soflin has played well and in last week’s 35-0 win over Armada he had 122 yards on 15 carries. In the same game, Barrett had 100 rushing yards and two touchdown runs to go with his 41 passing yards and two touchdown tosses.

For Richmond, everything starts up front. They have two huge guys up front in John Mataao and Phil Howell. Both are over six foot tall and weigh nearly 300lbs each. Last week, the offensive line pushed their way to 274 rushing yards. No one person had huge rushing stats as four players had 40+ yards each with senior quarterback Devin Leach leading the way with 88 yards on 11 carries. The Blue Devil’s other quarterback, Blake Malburg, had an 81 yard pass for a touchdown to Matt Schwab in the fourth quarter. Richmond beat up Yale with tough defense that allowed only 30 yards and gave up points to Yale in the fourth quarter on an 80 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. If Coach Kevin McKiernan can get his defense to play like that against Croswell-Lexington then they have a very good chance of winning and taking the Blue Water Conference football title.

North

Traverse City West at Petoskey (Friday October 10, 7pm)

Traverse City West has a big game ahead of them. It wouldn’t be the first conference title for the Titans, but every team wants to win ever year. They have two losses so far this season and both of them were against teams that play in the very, very tough Ottawa-Kent Red (42-14 loss to Hudsonville and 57-35 loss to Grandville). Since then, they’ve been on a roll. New coach Tim Wooer comes over from Kingsley to coach the Titans and knows that this game isn’t the final game for the Big North Championship, but the winner will be in the driver’s seat. Quarterback John Purdy has played well this season (back in September, he went 12 of 18 for 264yds and two touchdowns against Cadillac) and leads the squad into a tough game with undefeated Petoskey. One of his favorite targets is Greg Forrester. Defensive back Anthony West makes the secondary tough to pass against. Against Carman-Ainsworth last week, Jon Flynn scored twice and Anthony West intercepted a pass that led to Flynn’s second score. Purdy hit Forrester on a nice 23 yard TD pass and the Titans won 28-13. This game is very important if Traverse City West wants to win their 8th football title since the school opened 12 years ago and make the playoffs for a 7th straight year.

For Petoskey, this year is the complete opposite of last season. They were beat up by everyone until they played TC West and won on a Grant Reed 22 yard field goal in the fourth quarter to spoil TC West’s homecoming. After that, they won their final two games of the season and it’s rolled over into this year as well for the 6-0 Northmen.  Coach Kerry VanOrman still gets emotional about that game and knows that his squad has made the playoffs for the fourth time in school history. They have gotten some breaks though. With only 25 guys on the roster, no major injuries have sprung up to set them back. Quarterback Hunter Keiswetter is a tough young man. Not many schools run the double wing (similar to the single wing that schools like Menominee and St. Charles run) and Keiswetter ends up as a lead blocker on many plays. This offense is predicated on misdirection and can be very effective. Petoskey uses three backs in Mike Suter, James Proctor and DJ Van Slembrouck. These guys help carry the load and have done their part to will the Northmen into the playoffs this season.

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