In the blink of an eye, the high school football regular season has reached its final week. For some teams, this is the last tune-up before the playoffs. For others, it is their last chance to make the postseason. Finally for some, it is their final time strapping their shoulder pads, snapping their helmets, and lining up to play the great game of football. This week, the Michigan Sports Radio crew covers contests involving teams that fill each mold. Before you read the previews below, check out our Playoff Central page, where the playoff fates of each team are laid out, showing what must be done in Week 9. Without further ado, the eight Week 9 previews:
ROCKFORD (5-3, 4-1 OK RED) VS HUDSONVILLE (4-4, 2-3 OK RED)
There is a lot to play for in the final regular season game between Rockford and Hudsonville. Though it appears that Rockford should get into the playoffs with five wins, a victory over Hudsonville would seal their postseason berth. They also could earn a share of the OK Red title in the event that Grandville knocks off West Ottawa (previewed below). For Hudsonville, they could give themselves a shot at at-large status with a win over the Rams on Friday night. Last season, Hudsonville defeated Rockford in the regular season 14-7, but the Rams got the last laugh in the playoffs a week later, winning 24-7.
#6 WEST OTTAWA (7-1, 5-0 OK RED) VS GRANDVILLE (6-2, 4-1 OK RED)
The West Ottawa Panthers, by virtue of a Week 7 win over Rockford, already owns a share of the OK-Red title. With a win over Grandville on Friday night, they would secure the league title outright. In the event of a win by the Bulldogs, something they have done each of the last three years, there is potential for up to a three-way tie for the OK Red crown. Regardless of the outcome, the Remax-United Power Poll #6 Panthers and the Bulldogs will both qualify for the state playoffs, and there is potential for an early rematch.
#2 EAST GRAND RAPIDS (8-0, 5-0 OK GOLD) VS SOUTH CHRISTIAN (7-1, 4-1 OK GOLD)
The Pioneers have clinched at least a share of the OK Gold title with their win last week against Forest Hills Eastern, but there is still a possibility for two other teams to share that title with them. If the Sailors win on Friday night, they would be crowned co-champions of the OK Gold conference, and if Grand Rapids Christian were to beat Middleville, that would create a three-way tie. That scenario would of course be rendered useless if the Pioneers would complete their first undefeated regular season since 2010, the end of their five-year State Championship streak in which they won 67 of 70 contests. Last year, East Grand Rapids defeated the Sailors 49-21 in the regular season finale.
FRANKENMUTH (8-0, 6-0 TVC-EAST) VS FREELAND (6-2, 5-2 TVC-CENTRAL)
The Falcons of Freeland got a huge win last week at Carrollton to clinch their tenth straight playoff appearance. In their final tune-up for the playoffs, they will take on Frankenmuth, who will enter this contest 8-0. These two teams have been frequent opponents the past five seasons, as this will be their sixth matchup. Also, don’t be surprised to see these teams get paired up in the playoffs, something that has happened three of the past five years, including a 49-14 Frankenmuth win a season ago. This was different than the regular season result, which saw Freeland emerge as 7-3 winners.
COOPERSVILLE (6-2, 3-2 OK BLUE) VS #4 CATHOLIC CENTRAL (8-0, 5-0 OK BLUE)
The Coopersville Broncos defeated Holland a week ago to reach the postseason for the first time since 2008. This week, they will tune-up for the playoffs by taking on the reigning State Champion in Division 4, Remax-United Power Poll #4 and undefeated Grand Rapids Catholic Central. The Cougars won a share of the OK Blue last week by defeating West Catholic 35-33. This week, they can win the league title outright win a win over the Broncos. In seven all-time meetings that date back to 1987, Catholic Central has never been beaten by Coopersville. Last year, the Cougars shut them out 24-0 in the regular season finale.
TRI-COUNTY (1-7, 1-6 CSAA-GOLD) VS KENT CITY (8-0, 5-0 CSAA-SILVER)
Last week, Tri-County went on the road and defeated Fremont, snapping an eight-game losing streak. This week, they will take on Kent City, a team that has been absolutely dominant this season. In their eight wins, they have outscored their opponents 353-109 (44.1-13.6 average). Zero of their eight contests have been closer than 20 points, and their defense has pitched a pair of shutouts including last week against Maple Valley. West Michigan area fans may remember the Eagles from their time in the OK Silver (2000-2013). These teams have faced off each of the past five seasons, and Kent City has taken four of five, including a 49-0 shutout in last year’s regular season finale.
#10 WEST CATHOLIC (6-2, 4-1 OK BLUE) VS ALLENDALE (2-6, 1-4 OK BLUE)
Last season, Allendale upset West Catholic and earned a share of the three-way title in the OK Blue. This season, they are in a different boat as they enter the last game at 2-6. For West Catholic, their conference title dreams dimmed with a loss to Catholic Central. If Coopersville can pull out a win on Friday night, then the Falcons would need a win to create a two-way tie for the league title. Regardless, Gaetano Vallone and the Falcons will use Friday night as one final tune-up to prepare for the playoffs, where they aim to win their fifth straight State Championship.
SCHOOLCRAFT (5-3, 2-2 SAC-VALLEY) VS KALAMAZOO UNITED (6-2, 2-2 SAC-VALLEY)
The Kalamazoo Area Game of the Week features a battle between one team, Kalamazoo United, that has qualified for the playoffs, and another, Schoolcraft, that needs a Week 9 win to seal their trip to the playoffs. Snooze2You currently has the Eagles in the postseason, though I am sure that they would like to take matters into their own hands. These teams have not met since 2014 when Schoolcraft defeated United 28-7. Schoolcraft has won all twelve all-time meetings in the series.