Week Seven - The Final Countdown

Jeffrey Cottrell

MHSAA

It’s getting down to crunch time. Some teams have already made the playoffs and other teams need a strong finish to get in. Still other teams are looking toward basketball or wrestling. With that said, there is an awesome slate of action this week. Most of the games have huge implications in the conference standings. Let’s get right into the games because this season is ending soon...we are on The Final Countdown!

West Coast

East Grand Rapids (6-0) at Lowell (6-0) (Friday October 8, 7pm)

This game is very significant for those who follow both of these fantastic programs. EGR has won four straight Division 3 state titles and six of the last eight. The Pioneers have won 25 straight games. Who did they last lose to you ask? Lowell back in 2008! Last week, they overcame a rough first half with a second half explosion and beat Greenville 35-14. Quarterback Ryan Elble completed seven of his 16 passes for 79 yards and a score. That touchdown went to receiver DeAndre Grady. Grady finished the night with four receptions for 43 yards. The real work horse of the night for the Pioneers was David Drummond. He rushed 21 times for 155 yards and two scores. Kicker Bobby Aardema got the scoring started with two field goals in the first quarter. Trent Voss returned an interception 30 yards for a score in the fourth quarter.  He also rushed for 72 yards. The field position flipped from the first half to the second and East Grand Rapids took advantage of that. This will be a very important game for both teams. EGR wants to keep its winning streak alive and win that Ottawa-Kent White Division championship and Lowell wants it back.

The Red Arrows of Lowell are another very good football team. They also won a state title last season and have three state championships (two in Division 2 and one in Division 3) since 2002. This squad is led by junior quarterback Gabe Dean. In their 55-7 win over Grand Rapids Christian, he had a monster of a game. Dean rushed 31 times for 257 yards and seven of the team’s eight touchdowns. When he aired it out, he completed nine of his 11 passes for 156 yards. With the option offense they run, Dean is going to put up monster numbers (like his 413 total yards last week). Gabe can’t do everything himself, so he has some help. Leighton Watson chipped in eight carries for 62 yards and also caught two footballs for 38 yards. Matt Houston was the leading receiver with six catches for 100 yards. The defense has only given up two scores on the season! They have four shut-outs and put up at least 30 points in every game. That defense will need to come up huge for the Red Arrows if they want to beat a very good East Grand Rapids team.

Mid Michigan

Bay City Western (5-1) at Mount Pleasant (6-0) (Friday October 8, 7pm)

The visiting Warriors of Bay City Western are finally getting into the meat of their season. Quarterback Austin Pichiotino has a fantastic game going. He can pass and he can run. Pichiotino was nominated for the national player of the month award recently. After putting up huge numbers on five teams who have six wins total among them, BCW lost to a very tough Midland Dow squad 41-14. Pichiotino completed 19 of his 31 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns while also running 12 times for 23 yards. Five of those receptions went to Charles Proctor for 42 yards. The other person who is tough to defend for the Warrior team is Josh Alba. He ran 26 times for 116 yards. With a bad loss like this, you have to wonder which of two things the loss can be attributed to. Was it a game in which they were over-confident and just not prepared or could it be that they were putting up huge numbers against teams who aren’t very good? The game with the Oilers will tell the tale as BCW tries to regain the lead in the Saginaw Valley League.

Mount Pleasant is rolling along through the Saginaw Valley League schedule. They have won 20 straight SVL games and are 36-5 since the Oilers joined the league back in 2005. Last week they faced Flint Southwestern Academy and were up 7-0 within 18 ticks of the opening kickoff. Alex Horton ran 46 yards on the first play for that first score. They scored on all eight of the first half possessions and led 55-8 at the break. Quarterback Ryan Elliott completed five of his 10 passes for 75 yards and three touchdowns. Horton ran the ball only five times, but racked up 103 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Wilson ran three times for 61 yards and caught a 12 yard scoring pass. Coach Jason McIntyre has his team alone at the top of the standings with a perfect 6-0 record. Mount Pleasant is tied with DeWitt for second place in the Division 3 rankings. This game against Bay City Western is a huge test for both squads and a win for the Oilers should allow them to win the conference championship two years in a row (both of their final games are against teams that aren’t doing too well). It all comes down to executing against the Warriors.

Detroit

Utica Eisenhower (5-1) at Macomb Dakota (5-1) (Friday October 8, 7pm)

The Eagles of Utica Eisenhower are doing pretty well this season. They come into the game with a 5-1 mark after losing to Romeo back in early September. Last week they beat up on Macomb L’Anse Creuse North 45-23. The special teams were special as Yosseff Bujaidar returned a punt 81 yards for a score and teammate Alfonzo Vultaggio returned a kickoff 84 yards to set up another touchdown. Kicker Daniel Gjocaj made all six of his extra points and also kicked a 34 yard field goal. Mike Connolly ran the ball 10 times for 34 yards and scored twice. Quarterback Joe Zerafa completed eight of his 14 passes for 70 yards and a score. Three of those footballs were caught by Troy Zilli for 26 yards. Both teams have lost to Romeo and it doesn’t look like they will have a chance to catch them for the league title, but this is a very important Macomb Area Conference Red Division game.

Macomb Dakota took it to Grosse Pointe North last week, winning 34-6. Quarterback Mark Morris completed 11 of his 18 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdown receptions were caught by Seth Balogh. He finished with five receptions for 96 yards. Brandon Hughes ran for 140 and a score on 14 totes. After winning back to back state titles in 2006 and 2007, Dakota has been good, but not able to reach that level again. The Macomb area has many good football teams including Dakota. It’s not easy to keep up the high quality of play year in, year out. I will say that I think this is the most important game of the season for the Cougars. First, a win will put them in the playoffs. Second, they will stay in second place in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division with an overall record equal to leader Romeo. Third verse, same as the first…it will put them in the playoffs.

Capital Area

East Lansing (4-2) at Saint Johns (5-1) (Friday October 8, 7pm)

For the Trojans of East Lansing, this week is about rebounding from a tough loss. Last week they battled to a 0-9 loss at the hands of Grand Ledge. It was scoreless through three quarters. Quarterback Tyler Tucker went 11-23 for 99 yards. He also ran seven times for 25 yards. Spencer Treadwell, son of MSU offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, caught three passes for 24 yards. On the defensive side of the Trojans, Chris Hagan made 21 tackles in the game. This game, like the Eisenhower vs. Dakota game, is very important for both teams. East Lansing needs to get the offense going again and put points on the Redwings defense.

St. Johns has a nice little program going. Sure, they don’t make the playoffs every season, but they have battled against tough competition in the Capital Area Activities Red Division. Last week, they went into the fourth quarter trailing Lansing Waverly 7-8. Then, they rattled off 22 unanswered points. Running back Andrew Mulliken gained 105 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Tim Moinet rushed for 98, a score, and a two point conversion. If the Redwings can win this game, they will put themselves into the MHSAA playoffs. It’s a big game for both teams involved.

North

Suttons Bay (6-0) at Frankfort (4-2) (Friday October 8, 7pm)

Maybe it’s because I got married in Suttons Bay, maybe it’s because they have been a good program, but I will say that I like the Norsemen. I don’t know if they will win the game with perennial powerhouse Frankfort, but I’d put money on it being a fun game to watch! Suttons Bay put a beat-down on Benzie Central 35-0 to keep their record spotless. Noah Reyhl rushed 13 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns. While he was doing that, he broke the school record for touchdowns (35) and points (218) in a career. Quarterback David Horton completed all seven of his pass attempts for 141 yards and a touchdown. Layton Korson caught that 58 yard scoring strike, kicked five extra points, made 15 tackles, and recorded a sack. Good night for the young man, if you ask me. Aiden Keilty ran eight times for 78 yards and two scores. It will be interesting to see how these two teams match up with Suttons Bay being a Division 6 school and Frankfort being in Division 8.

Things didn’t go as well for Frankfort as they did for Suttons Bay last week. The Panthers lost their second straight game (both in conference play), and first since 2006 to Kingsley by a score of 24-22. Quarterback Cam MacArthur tossed a 20 yard touchdown pass to Talon Bigley and twice converted a two-point attempt with passes to Joe Nugent. Zach Terwilliger and Nick Tondu both punched in scores from a yard out. Brandon Miller made ten tackles. The Panthers need to get moving in the right direction again to gain momentum before the playoffs begin. With only three games left this season, they can’t afford to lose this game. The season ending game with Onekama could be for a playoffs spot that both teams covet. It will be interesting to keep an eye on this team.

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