With a game under their beltsâ€¦coaches and players alike are starting to feel more comfortable.Â For those just playing their first varsity game, the butterflies are gone and they know what to expect, as far as the speed of the game and the hitting is concerned.Â Teams typically take a nice jump from week one to week two.Â If only this weather would cooperate and start cooling down, we would be able to enjoy the game with a sweatshirt and jeans.Â I would also like to take this moment to tell all of the Spartan Nation readers out there to have a safe and enjoyable labor dayâ€¦whether you are laboring around the house/work or hanging out by the pool/campsite.Â Now, on with the show.
Clare at Beal City (Friday September 2, 7pm)
Clare had a fantastic season last year.Â They went 13-0 and got to the state finals before falling to Jackson Lumen Christi.Â In their season opener, they faced Freeland, who they beat twice last season in very close games.Â Last weekâ€™s opener wasnâ€™t any different.Â This season, it all came down to a special teams play.Â Jake McFadden returned a kickoff 86 yards in the fourth quarter to get the lead and eventually, the win.Â Freeland had a chance, but Clare recovered a fumble and ran down the clock.Â Quarterback Brent Luplow completed seven of his 16 passes for 118 yardsâ€¦five of which were caught by Taylor Jenkins for 95 yards.Â Travis Smith rushed 15 times for 100 yards and two scores.
With all the success Clare had last season, it canâ€™t match what Beal City has done in recent history.Â Last season, the Aggies also went 13-1 (their only loss was to Clare), but beat Crystal Falls Forest Park in the state title game.Â Beal City didnâ€™t have quite as exciting game as Clare did, but it was still an interesting 27-19 win over Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart.Â With nearly 625 yards of total offense between the two teams, it showed a lot of offensive firepower.Â Jake Hahn led the rushing attack with 17 rushes for 100 yards and also caught two footballs for 53 yards.Â Stone Beckwith ran 18 times for 79 yards and two scores.Â Quarterback Jay Warner only attempted three passes and all were complete for 53 yards.Â Mark Gross ran five times for 18 yards and two scores.Â Beal City is about half the size of Clare, but can typically compete with the â€œbig boysâ€ because of their solid foundation of football fundamentals.
Battle Creek Central at Stevensville-Lakeshore (Thursday September 2, 7pm)
While the Battle Creek Central Bearcat football squad didnâ€™t have the cleanest game ever, they did pull out a nice 14-6 victory in a Southern Michigan Athletic Conference crossover game with Benton Harbor.Â Part of that is the switch from the Wing-T to the Spread and the time it takes to adjust to a different offensive scheme.Â Greg Williams had a nice night for the Bearcats.Â He carried 31 times and gained 118 yards, while scoring twice and getting a two point conversion.Â Denzel Williams, another running back, gained 66 yards on 10 carries.Â With a great starting running back, you need a quality backup.Â Quarterback Richaud Clark completed five of his nine passes for 45 yards.Â This week they will go against a very tough Stevensville-Lakeshore team.
The Lancers of Stevensville Lakeshore are a good team.Â They have been in the playoffs every season since 1998 and made it to the semifinals back in 2008 before falling to eventual champion East Grand Rapids.Â S-L is familiar with Battle Creek Central, as they play for the fifth time in the past six years.Â This past week in their game with Sturgis, they got up fast and never looked back, winning 44-27.Â Within the first 12 seconds of the gameâ€™s opening kickoff, the Lancers were up 7-0.Â At the half, it was 30-7.Â Alex Padla ran 16 times for 198 yards and completed five of his seven passes for 106.Â Nick Adams rushed 12 times for 108 yards.
Fowlerville at Lansing Catholic (Thursday September 2, 7pm at Holt Jr. High)
One thing you need to take into account when looking at a high school program is consistency.Â Coach Jack Wallace is working on season 31 at Fowlerville.Â With a head man there for so long, he knows that execution and technique needs to be his teamâ€™s calling card.Â The offensive line is chocked full of three year starters in Tommy Howerman (center), Ethan Gibbons (guard), Billy Behe (tackle) and Adam Coon (tackle).Â Last week, Nate Wilkinson (tailback) ran for 158 yards on 20 carries and Josh Sefton (fullback) chipped in 101 on his 19 carries.Â Quarterback Tim Wedesky should have time to pass or hand off behind an experienced offensive line.Â The secondary of Fowlerville will need to come through in a big way to stop the potent passing attack of Lansing Catholic.
The Lansing Catholic Cougars have a good young quarterback.Â Cooper Rush, a junior, has high expectations placed upon him.Â Last season, he threw for nearly 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns.Â Last week, he completed 14 of his 19 passes for 313 yards which included eight to receiver Matt Macksood for 221 yards and four touchdowns.Â Macksood also ran five times for 71 yards.Â The offensive line is sprinkled with young men who have never played on the line, but as is evident by last weekâ€™s performance, they are picking it up quickly.
Brighton at Westland John Glenn (Thursday September 2, 7pm)
Last week started with a bang for the Bulldogs of Brighton.Â Although they didnâ€™t start the game with an early touchdown (their first score came 10 minutes into the first quarter), an explosive 21 point second quarter set the tone.Â Coach Cliff Kiefer was happy with the performance and thinks he has something to build on.Â Shane Dokey busted an 86 touchdown run with an off tackle play for a nice touchdown.Â They also had two touchdown passes to Billy Albert from John Oberpaul.Â It is critical for Brighton to keep the momentum going into the second week and ensure the players are taking some responsibility for getting themselves mentally ready for the game.
Westland John Glenn has been the high school of a few recent Michigan State football players (Keshawn Martin, Jeremy Langford).Â This season with Langford residing in East Lansing, they will need to figure out a new way to win.Â Two offensive linemen returned and Coach Tim Harding says the line is one of their strengths.Â Only three defensive starters from last yearâ€™s team have returned.Â Jeff Kuhary is the quarterback, getting his first taste of varsity action last week.Â In the game against New Baltimore Anchor Bay, the difference between overtime and the loss was an extra point.Â They battled back from a 14-0 hole to win.Â Kuhary scored the game tying touchdown with only five seconds on the clock.Â Rico Cole toted the rock 29 times for 138 yards and also returned the second half kickoff 75 yards to paydirt.
Flint Northwestern at Flint Powers (Thursday September 2, 7pm)
The Wildcats have a MSU connection.Â Andre Rison, former Flint Northwestern football player who went on to play at MSU and in the NFL, is now the head coach for his Alma Mater.Â Quarterback Dontrail Arnold was happy to throw long passes; the first score for Northwestern was a 90 yard strike to Richard Byrd.Â Arnold also tossed a 20 yard score to Raheen Dudley in the third quarter.Â This is an important game for the Wildcats.Â They need to get some momentum going if they want to return to the playoffs for the first time sinceâ€¦well, they have never made the playoffs.Â The past two seasons have ended with a 5-4 record and they are 23-67 since 2000.Â With a big name head coach and an NFL resume to match, they hope to get some respect in the city of Flint.
Powers did not have the game they wanted last week.Â Going against Saginaw area powerhouse Nouvel, when things went bad, they went bad quickly.Â In a two minute span midway through the second quarter, the score went from 0-0 to 21-0.Â Quarterback Dan Meissner was only able to complete nine of his 26 passes for 86 yards.Â He also was picked off for a score during that fateful stretch in the second quarter. John Oâ€™Brien and Drew Fortier combined for 14 rushes and 43 yards.Â Although the offense couldnâ€™t get anything going, the defense played fairly well.Â The defense blocked two punts and didnâ€™t allow any big plays.Â Coach Jim Neumann knows that they need to eliminate the mistakes (like thoseÂ five turnovers).Â There is room to improve and the Chargers need to improve quickly if they want to beat Northwestern.