MHSAA Football - Week Five Preview

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Here we are on another Football Friday. The leaves are turning beautiful shades of red, yellow, and orange. All too soon, they will fall off and turn brown, being mere memories of their past beauty. This too will be the fate of far too many football teams. Their play will fall off and the playoffs will be a mere memory of what could have been. It’s a very small window of time that most youngsters get to play high school sports. These are the glory days that will be memories forever…good or bad. So if there are any high school athletes reading this, remember to go all out in practice and in games, because you will remember the effort you gave (or didn’t give). Don’t be like Uncle Rico! (Sorry, I watched Napoleon Dynamite last night, but I bet I could throw this football over that mountain!) Andiamo!

Portland (4-0) at Williamston (3-1) (Friday September 21, 7pm)

For those of you who love football in the Capital area, this should be a killer game. Both are good programs that are doing well this season. So far, the Red Raiders of Portland have given up only 34 points have notched a shutout. That goose egg the defense hung was last week against Lake Odessa Lakewood. In that game, Caleb Hickling ran for 114 yards and two scores. Jacob Kimmel added 63 yards and two touchdowns. Justin Goodman ran eight times for 73 yards, which included a 50 yard dash in the third quarter. Quarterback Tanner Allison completed 10 of his 15 passes for 158 yards. Austin Brandt was the recipient of four of those completions and gained 83 yards. For the game, Portland ran 24 times for 301 yards while holding Lake Odessa to 58 yards of total offense. This is a tough defense and Williamston had better come with a good offensive game plan.

For the Hornets of Williamston, they come into the game with a 3-1 record. That loss was the season opener against two time defending state champ Ithaca. Other than that game, they have played pretty well. Last week, they beat Stockbridge by the score of 32-10. Devin Smyth rushed for 108 yards and two scores on 19 carries. Chaz Moore toted the rock 14 times for 52 yards and two scores. He also completed seven of his 13 pass attempts for 89 yards. Isaak Jump led the way with two receptions for 33 yards. This game has major implications in race to win the Capital Area Activities Conference White Division football title for 2012. Both teams still have to play Lansing Catholic Central who is also gunning for that CAAC White title.

Mount Pleasant (2-2) at Midland (4-0) (Friday September 21, 7pm)

Normally, I wouldn’t put a game like this in my column. There is a reason for it though. The Oilers of Mount Pleasant have not lost a Saginaw Valley League game since losing the season opener to Midland in 2008. That’s a streak of 34 conference wins. This season hasn’t gone as planned, after losing in the state title game to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s they dropped the first two games to DeWitt and to Flint Powers. Last week, MtP beat Midland Dow 30-12. Quarterback Robert Backus completed four of his five passes for 40 yards. The workhorse of the team is running back Michael Tweh. He ran 25 times for 209 yards and three scores. Cory Williams chipped in a solid effort of 11 runs for 148 yards which includes a 76 yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He also caught two balls for 11 yards. A.J. Weisenburger caught one ball for 23 yards. The Oilers will need to come with a hard-nosed defense to stop a good Chemic offense.

For Midland, this game has to mean a lot. No one has been able to knock these guys down in league play. They were the last ones to do it and are hoping to be able to do it again. Notre Dame recruit Steve Elmer holds down an offensive tackle position with his 6’6”, 305lbs frame and is one of the best players on the team. Last week, the Chemics knocked off Arthur Hill 28-6. Most of that was thanks to one player. Alec Johnson completed 13 of his 22 passes for 154 yards and two scores, ran 10 times for 41 yards and a score, and also returned a punt 40 yards for yet another score. Why Midland lets their starting quarterback return punts is beyond me, but to each their own I suppose. Ryan Singer grabbed six balls for 53 yards and both passing touchdowns. Travis Patton ran 17 times for 42 yards and a score. This should be a great test for both teams. The winner will have the inside track to the first Saginaw Valley League North Division title.

Cadillac (4-0) at Traverse City West (3-1) (Friday September 21, 7pm)

This is another big game with potential title implications. This time, it’s for the Big North League. The win over Gaylord could have been a trap; Cadillac was coming off a big win over Petoskey and has another big game this week. They beat up the Blue Devils 33-6 though. Tanner Derror rushed 17 times for 114 yards and a score. Jalen Brooks also ran 17 times, gained 80 yards, and scored three times. He also threw the ball for 59 yards. Nolan Goerner toted the rock eight times for 54 yards and a score. With the win last week, they are off to their first 4-0 start since the 2000 season.

Traverse City West also had a big win over an opponent who isn’t very good this season. West blew out Alpena 42-0. Quarterback Donny Cizek completed 10 of his 17 passes for 145 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Griffin Forrester ran the ball 11 times, gained 110 yards, and scored one touchdown. There is a three way tie for the Big North lead. These two teams are also tied with Traverse City Central. West will play their cross town rival next week.

Warren DeLaSalle (2-2) at Detroit Catholic Central (2-2) (Saturday September 22, 1pm)

When I think about the toughest divisions in the state, pound for pound, there are three that come to mind. In no particular order, they are the O-K Red, Catholic League Central Division, and the Tri Valley Conference Central Division. When you have two good programs like the Shamrocks and the Pilots squaring off, you write about it. First, the big news this week was that quarterback Shane Morris has mono. For those who have never experienced it, imagine not feeling well, and having no energy to even get up to go into the other room. That’s what it felt like for me at least. Last week, DeLaSalle lost to Brother Rice 28-0. Morris completed eight of his 15 passes for 87 yards and did not play the second half. He also ran five times for 13 yards. Damorria Lilly was the leading rusher with 11 carries for 30 yards. Josh Cox caught six footballs for 70 yards. Giovanni Rescigno completed three of his six passes when he replaced Morris in the second half.

This is the first league game for CC. It’s also their annual “Boy’s Bowl.” More or less, this is homecoming for the Shamrocks. Last week, they beat a Canadian team in Vineland Niagara Academy of Sports 42-0. The week before that, they lost to Cincinnati Moeller 61-33. In that game, quarterback Garrett Moores completed nine of his 18 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Leading the rushing attack in that game was Anthony Darkangelo. He finished with 13 runs for 117 yards and two scores. David Houle ran seven times for 34 yards. The Catholic League is filled with coaching legends. At CC, Coach Tom Mach is a legendary coach with a ton of wins and a bunch of state titles on his résumé. When you have that, it’s tough to beat.