Week Twelve - For Whom The Bell Tolls

Jeffrey Cottrell
MHSAA

The Regional Finals are here. A win this week will put teams into the state semifinals. Two wins will send them to Ford Field. Three wins will give them eternal glory in their communities. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. There is still plenty of football before the photographs proclaiming “2010 Division __ State Champs.” The intensity of practices is at a season high for these teams. Without long hours of sunlight, the practices have to be short and concise. It’s time to put up, or shut up. There are no second chances or re-dos at this point. Win or go home. On Friday and Saturday, the Bell Will Toll for some seniors.

Capital Area

Mendon (10-1) at Hudson (11-0) (Friday November 12, 7pm) (Division 7)

Historically speaking, these are two very significant programs in regards to smaller schools. Mendon has 10 state championships since the playoff system began in 1975. Hudson had that HUGE win streak (72 games from 1968 through 1975). Last week in the District Final, Mendon was down at the half, and then came through after the break to pull out a 35-26 victory over Cassopolis. The momentum swing came in the third quarter when junior linebacker Tanner Cook blocked a punt which Spencer Howe picked up and scored with on a 27 yard return. It was the kind of shift they needed after being down. Quarterback Chance Nightingale completed five of his eight passes for 110 yards and three touchdowns to three different receivers. Logan Ahrens caught one pass and it went 46 yards for a score. Tanner Cook, in addition to blocking that punt, caught two passes for 32 yards and scored once. Cody Bigaman caught one ball for four yards and a touchdown. The workhorse in the backfield was Tyler Harris. He ran 26 times for 97 yards and a score. Mendon will want revenge after losing in the regional final to Hudson last season 42-41.

Hudson was pretty close to a state title last year. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they ran into Traverse City St. Francis in the championship game. Once again, it was running back Drew Milligan who carried the offense on his back. He rushed 23 times for 206 yards and four touchdowns. It was the defense that really came through in a big way for Hudson. For the second game in a row, the opposing team could not find the end zone. Petersburg Summerfield could only muster 29 yards of offense (37 passing, -8 rushing). Fullback Dimitri Nealy carried nine times for 55 yards and a score. Quarterback Sandor Heistan completed one pass for eight yards and also ran in a score from the seven yard line. Milligan will tell you that his offensive line is the reason he has so many rushing yards. They dominated P-S last week and imposed their will for Milligan. With a strong defense and a tough offensive line, Mendon has some hard work to do on Friday. It’s not an impossible task, but they must dominate the line of scrimmage and impose their will on the Tigers defense.

West Coast

Zeeland East (11-0) at East Grand Rapids (11-0) (Saturday November 13, 1pm) (Division 3)

It’s not very often that a Chix beats a Bear, but in this instance, the Chix came home to roost and the Bears were more like teddy bears. Zeeland East scored five first half touchdowns and smacked around St. Joseph. Offensively, ZE racked up 598 yards to StJ’s 378. Quarterback TJ VanDyken attempted four passes, completed three of them, and racked up 129 yards and two scores. Leading the rushing attack was Brad Horling who ran 12 times for 228 yards and four touchdowns. Josh Snyder led in the reception yardage department with two catches for 111 yards and two scores. This season has been quite a turnaround for Zeeland East. Since splitting into Zeeland East and Zeeland West High Schools in 2005, East had won a total of 11 games. This season alone, they have matched that win total. Unfortunately, this week they play four time defending state champion East Grand Rapids. They will need a great game plan if they want to move into the semifinals.

It’s always hard to play a team like East Grand Rapids. They haven’t lost a game in over two years (30 straight wins). With 10 state titles since the playoff system began, they only trail Farmington Hills Harrison and Detroit St. Martin dePorres in regards to most titles (12). Last week against Grand Rapids Christian, people went to watch a football game and a track meet broke out. When you win by one point and score 49, defense is the last thing on your mind…you are just trying to keep pace. GR Christian did have a goal line stand on their one yard line late in the third quarter that kept it close. Quarterback Ryan Elble completed 15 of his 25 passes for 164 yards and three touchdowns. DeAndre Grady caught four of those passes for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Trent Voss led the rushing attack with 26 attempts for 149 yards and three scores. Nick Muhall scored twice, once on a fumble recovery and again on a 15 yard pass from Elble. This game will be very interesting to watch. It seems to me like EGR has more to lose than Zeeland East as they have a long string of wins and state titles to defend. They are the hunted. Zeeland East is the upstart.

North

Menominee (8-3) at Morley-Stanwood (11-0) (Saturday November 13, 5pm) (Division 5)

Alright all you Menominee fans! The Maroons have returned to the Prep Sports Report on Spartan Nation! Coach Ken Hofer’s single wing offense continues to befuddle defenses who have never experienced anything like it before. Built on deception, these players run the offense to near perfection and really turn it on during the playoffs. The closest game Menominee has played so far in the playoffs was a 41-22 win over Reed City to open the post season. Last week in their 60-16 victory over Grayling, the defense came though in a huge way, intercepting five passes. On offense, they rushed for 369 yards and threw for another 124. Tanner Maccoux intercepted two footballs and ran for 109 yards and a score on 11 carries. Keefer Conery completed eight of his 11 passes for 124 yards and two scores. He also ran 15 times for 90 yards and two touchdowns. J. Plautz caught two of the passes for 63 yards and a score. Coach Hofer says his team is peaking at the right time and playing the best football of the season. That’s exactly what you want from your team. It doesn’t matter if you win your first game of the season, but in the playoffs, if you lose, you are done.

Menominee has a tough game ahead of them. Morley-Stanwood is undefeated and one of the top ranked teams in Division 5. Last week, after not trailing in any game this season, Saginaw Swan Valley had a lead on them late in the third quarter. The Mohawks rattled off 22 straight points to win the game. It was a close one though, as Swan Valley moved the ball down the field and Tyler Hanks had to intercept the ball at the two yard line as time expired to get the W. Quarterback Travis Zajkowski completed five of his 12 passes for 92 yards. Jordan McDonald caught one for 54 yards. McDonald also ran nine times for 82 yards and a touchdown. Tyler Hanks ran the ball 16 times for 61 yards and a score while also catching a pass for two yards. Tyler Havens ran the ball 14 times for 87 yards and a touchdown. The combo of Hanks and Havens has been a rushing force to be reckoned with all season. They will need to play at the top of their game if they want to beat a Maroon team who is peaking right now.

Mid Michigan

Mio (7-4) at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (10-1) (Saturday November 13, 1pm (Division 8 )

Oh, the fond memories of Mio. My family used to go up there camping and then canoe down the AuSable River. Although I asked a few times if we could go see the Thunderbolts play on Friday night, I never got to go. Last week, the Thunderbolts drubbed Cedarville 57-18. Though they mostly ran the ball, they did throw some good passes. Quarterback Grant Price completed eight of his 12 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Price was also the workhorse of the team, running 26 times for 292 yards. KC Fox ran 18 times for 79 yards. Joey Krupp was the leading receiver with five receptions for 104 yards. Krupp and Price were the only two players to score touchdowns. Five different Thunderbolts recovered fumbled in the win. The win is nice, but they will need to keep the pedal to the metal if they want to beat a very good Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart squad.

The Irish of Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart Academy are humming along this season. After losing the first game of the season 26-19 against Beal City, the Irish avenged the loss last week by shutting out Beal City 37-0. MPSH was kept to their lowest point totals of the season against the Aggies, but still played to near perfection this past Saturday. Sophomore quarterback Mitch Myler played a very good game. He completed 14 of his 24 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns. Bennett Myler caught four of those passes for 72 yards and two scores. Nick Hire ran 14 times for 107 yards and a touchdown. My question is now that MPSH has beaten Beal City, will they have a letdown this week or can they keep the momentum going?

Detroit

Macomb Dakota (9-2) at Detroit Cass Tech (11-0) (Saturday November 13, 1pm) (Division 1)

Interestingly enough, there are only two teams in Division 1 left that are outside of what I consider “Metro Detroit.” Howell is a bit out of that, and Rockford is definitely outside of Detroit. But we aren’t talking about those two teams. The Cougars of Macomb Dakota are only three years removed from back to back state titles. Head coach Mike Giannone credits one play for his win last week against Utica Ford. Quarterback Mark Morris found receiver Bryan Basilico, threw between two defenders, and gave Basilico a chance to get the first down, keeping the drive alive. Shortly thereafter, Morris ran the ball in for the go-ahead touchdown. Basilico ended the night with 12 catches for 177 yards. Morris completed 13 of his 20 passes for 190 yards and a score. He also ran 10 times for 81 yards and that three yard score. Brandon Huges ran the ball 27 times for 255 yards and two scores. I have no idea what the outcome of this game will be. Cass Tech is typically a very good team.

Detroit Cass Tech is off to their best start ever. The last time they won this many games, well, they haven’t won more than 9 games in a season since 1950. They rolled past Dearborn Fordson this past week 37-32. Quarterback Keith Moore completed 11 of his 17 passes for 245 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran the ball for 54 yards. Kishon Wilcher gained 118 yards and scored three touchdowns receiving. The Technicians were just too strong and too fast for Dearborn Fordson. Ruben Lile caught three footballs for 69 yards. Luckily, Wilcher and Terry Richardson are All-American track stars which help the Technicians outrun defenders. There have been a lot of good players to come out of Cass Tech in recent years.

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