Week Six - Conference Championships On The Line

Jeffrey Cottrell

Week six is here and the regular season is beginning to wind down. After this week, some teams will make the playoffs and others will be totally eliminated. We have some hot games on tap this week! I chose major games that will have a huge influence on who will end up with their respective league crowns as the criteria for the slate of games I selected. Many of you have been asking for more coverage of the Lansing area football teams. This week, I added a new section for that area in hopes that it will be a weekly part of my writings. If you haven’t seen this yet, here is a map of who might make the playoffs with color coding of how the regions could be split up. Check it out here.

Detroit

Livonia Stevenson at Novi (Friday October 3, 7pm)

Livonia has a tough team. They made it all the way to the Division 1 state championship game before they fell to Macomb Dakota. This season, they have returned four starters from that team and a couple of other players who got some PT last year as well. The Spartans have some good players like Austin White, who last week had 133 yards on 24 carries. The defense has a knack for carrying the team if the offense is slowed down. Quarterback Jacob Gudeman has played decently this season with only a few hiccups. If Stevenson wants to return to Ford Field, they will need to take a big step this week and get a win over Novi.

The Wildcats of Novi are on a roll this season. They have only lost one game, the season opener to Milford. Luckily for the Wildcats, four starters are back on offense and four on the defensive side. One of the more high profile guys for Novi is Paul Favorite, their running back. Last week, he had a career day with four rushing touchdowns and 249 all purpose yards. Chris Bellamy, their quarterback, has some starting experience under his belt and will try to get the ball to senior wide receiver Brandon Bradford. This game will give the winning team sole possession of first place in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association Central Division.

West Coast

Hudsonville at Muskegon (Friday October 3, 7pm)

When it comes to the top high school conferences in the state, the first one typically mentioned is the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red Division. This conference has Muskegon, Hudsonville, and Rockford to name a few of the teams. The Big Reds of Muskegon are one of the winningest programs in the state. They have won 15 state championships and two in the past four seasons. Earlier this year, they beat up a well coached Birmingham Brother Rice squad and have steamrolled over everyone so far. Against Grandville last week, full back Jason Hannett accounted for all of their touchdowns (three). Quarterback Elan Banks has ran wild in their veer option offense and passed the ball efficiently. The Big Red defense has kept the scores low; giving up 27 to Brother Rice was their worst outing on the season back in early September.

Hudsonville is no slack team. Their only loss on the season has come at the hands of a very good Rockford team and was only a three point loss. Led by tailback Jordan Jonker, the offense has been able to run the ball fairly well against most everyone. Casey Blackport, the quarterback for the Eagles, hasn’t had a huge need to throw the ball. When the season began, there were some questions about their offensive line and whether or not they would develop quickly enough. They only returned Zac Plowman at guard and Trent Kramer at center. So far, so good for the Eagles. The last time Hudsonville played Muskegon was when they beat up the Big Reds 41-7 in the second round of the playoffs. I’m sure the Big Reds will be looking for some redemption.

Mid Michigan

Bay City Western at Midland High (Friday September 3, 7pm)

Most people have heard about Midland High this year. After losing to Detroit Martin Luther King in the Division 2 state championship last season, they have been on fire. Typically, by the beginning of the second half, the Chemics have a running clock and the reserves are playing the game. The first game in which they weren’t allowed that luxury was against Saginaw High two weeks ago. In that game, MSU recruit Andrew Maxwell looked poor, throwing five interceptions. Other than that hiccup, Maxwell has played very well. He’s tossed a bunch of touchdown passes to Northwestern recruit Drew Moulton. When Maxwell and Moulton aren’t hooking up, it’s Chuck Leffingwell who carries the ball. He’s averaging near 10 yards per carry so far this season. Almost forgotten in the mix is Michael Albrecht, another very good receiver who has not garnered the attention, but has caught a many touchdowns. Another interesting fact is that Midland hasn’t had a losing season since they went 4-5 back in 1976 and only that one time since 1967

Bay City Western did not play well last week. They were probably looking past Traverse City Central to their game with Midland. Unfortunately, they lost Justin Gwizdala to injury and Matt Grew was roughed up as well. The spread offense that the Warriors run can be very effective if they are able to protect their quarterback and get the ball out to the receivers quickly. It also helps that Bay City Western has one of the best coaches in the area at the helm in Jim Eurick. Eurick has coached many teams over the years and has a state championship from when he coached at Saginaw Arthur Hill. Still, this game will be for the Saginaw Valley League Championship unless the winner somehow loses one of the remaining games. Bay City Western still has Arthur Hill on the schedule while Midland looks to be able to roll past the Flint schools and their rival, Midland Dow.

The Northlands

Kingsley at Frankfort (Friday October 3, 7pm)

Kingsley has gone through a transition this year. Coach Tim Wooer left for Traverse City West and Jason Leonard left Traverse City West to be the new head man for the Stags. He has installed a spread option offense and has been successful at it so far this year. Kingsley has rolled to a 4-1 record with their only loss coming at the hands of undefeated Royal Oak Shrine in the season opener.  Last week, Kingsley smoked Glen Lake 49-0 behind Maurice Sims three touchdowns, 100 yard rushing night. Quarterback Josh Nix has adapted to the new system and their record reflects that transition. On the defensive side, Kirk Turner and Dustin Ankerson played exceptionally well last week, getting 25 tackles between the two. Turner had four sacks as well. This game will decide who will be the Northwest Conference champions. Next week is the final week of league play and then the Northwest Conference goes into non-league games for the rest of the season.

Frankfort has been on a roll as well. Like Kingsley, they lost their first game of the season; a 13-8 loss at the hands of Marion. Coach Matt Stapleton’s team rebounded from that loss to play very well to this point of the season. The defense has given up 26 points and half of those were to Marion. The last two games have been shutouts of Glen Lake and Suttons Bay. They haven’t made the AP prep football poll, but have received votes. Last week, they rode the defense for a 14-0 homecoming-spoiler win over Suttons Bay. A few weeks back, they had three of their backs go over 100 yards rushing. Quarterback Wade Luxford has tossed a few touchdown passes and scored with his legs as well. A double threat quarterback is always tough to prepare for. After being picked by the coaches to win the conference, they will need this win to make that hold true. The Panthers have a good chance of making it through districts, but might have to face a tough Crystal Falls Forest Park team in the regionals.

Capital Area

Potterville at Pewamo-Westphalia (Friday October 3, 7pm)

This clash will decide whether Pewamo-Westphalia is going to have a great chance at the outright title in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference. Potterville is nipping at their heels and has only one loss; a 14-6 loss to Laingsburg. Laingsburg and Potterville will get a chance at sharing the title if the Vikings can beat the Pirates on Friday. Fulton can bring themselves back into contention of things fall right. New coach Brad Weber has only one returning starter, but his team is FAST! P-W’s, Dale Spitzley is a tough running back who gets the majority of the carries. Coach Weber says he is a senior leader for the team. Last week he had 128 yards and a touchdown in their win over rival Fowler. Quarterback Charlie Hengesbach played well also, he went six of seven for 79 yards and a touchdown to Cody Martin in the win.

It’s do-or-die time for Potterville. If they want any part of a conference title, they need to win now. Their games won’t get much easier with Fulton scheduled next week. In order to make the playoffs, at least two wins in their next four games has to be accomplished. Under Coach Mike Selzer, the team has improved and with 12 returning starters from last season, they might be able to put it all together and take that next step. From what I can tell, the last time they won a football championship, the Miami Dolphins had a perfect season and the album Desperado was a new release from The Eagles (1973). David Worgiss led the way last week with 124 yards and two touchdowns. When they get things going well, like they did two weeks ago against Fowler (428 yards of total offense), then they are a hard team to beat. Quarterback Chad Titmus has to play well in the passing game to take some pressure off of the running game. This should be a good game with major implications for both teams.

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