The OK White went through a complete overhaul in the alignment as just two of the seven teams in this year’s White were in the league in 2015 (Lowell and Forest Hills Central). Ottawa Hills joins the OK White after eight years in the OK Gold. Cedar Springs, Forest Hills Northern, Greenville and Northview all join the league from the disbanded OK Bronze. This league is not as intimidating as the OK White of the last four years that included East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Christian and Caledonia, but it is certainly a top three OK Conference league. Lowell is the heavy favorite in this league this fall, however Cedar Springs, Forest Hills Central, Forest Hills Northern and Greenville all have their eyes set on the postseason.
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
3-Forest Hills Northern
4-Forest Hills Central
CEDAR SPRINGS (6-4 in 2015)
In the final season of the OK Bronze, the Red Hawks took home their second consecutive league title behind a strong junior class. This year, senior quarterback and safety Collin Alvesteffer returns for his third season on varsity along with two-way lineman Patrick DePiazza. Christian Twichell and Jaron Spencer will also be back to bolster the offensive and defensive lines for Cedar Springs. The Red Hawks should make the postseason yet again in 2016 and could pose the biggest threat to Lowell in their pursuit of an undefeated conference season.
FOREST HILLS CENTRAL (2-7 in 2015)
The Rangers are coming off back-to-back two win seasons, but they will benefit from the OK White realignment, as they no longer have to face Caledonia, East Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Christian. Coach Tim Rogers will have Tanner Hallock back under center, a solid dual-threat quarterback. Ty Collins will be back alongside Hallock in his third year as a tailback. Bryce Clay and Jack Uecker, both defensive backs and wide recievers, will also return as key targets for Hallock. Sal Sidebotham will also provide experience on the defensive side at linebacker. An experienced club with a favorable schedule, the Rangers will have their best chance in five years to make the postseason.
FOREST HILLS NORTHERN (7-3 in 2015)
A year ago, the Huskies reached the playoffs for the third straight year behind eighteen returning starters. This year Northern will have to replace several starters along with Coach Ryan Oshnock, who departed to West Ottawa. The Huskies new coach Matt Moffett was the head coach at Homer the past four years, and he will try to continue Northern’s winning ways. Chase Bennett returns as a quarterback with five games of experience that he gained last year following an injury to Jake Martin. Bennett will be joined by linebacker Brett Budjos, running back and linebacker Connor Brunius, and wide receiver/defensive back John Atem. The Huskies are going to be one of the top teams in the White and they should return to the postseason yet again.
GREENVILLE (2-7 in 2015)
After leading Forest Hills Eastern to the state semifinals in 2015, Eddie Ostipow is in as the new head coach at Greenville as they rejoin the OK White, a league they were a member of from 2003-2011. The Yellow Jackets are led by two Central Michigan commits, tight end Keegan Cossou and linebacker Evan Plate, who are looking for strong senior seasons. Greenville has a very favorable non-conference schedule and they should improve on their win total in 2016.
LOWELL (12-2 in 2015)
Last season, the Red Arrows won twelve straight games after a season opening loss to advance to the state championship against Detroit Martin Luther King in which they led 38-34 with under a minute to play. On the game’s final play, MLK receiver Donnie Corley hauled in the Hail Mary for the win and the Crusaders took home the championship. This year, the Red Arrows will have to replace a large amount of skill players including quarterback Ryan Stevens. Lowell reloads as well as any program in West Michigan, so expect them to be the runaway favorites in the OK White. The Red Arrows face a daunting three non-conference opponents to open the year in Warren De La Salle, Rockford and East Grand Rapids, which will test their new personnel immediately.
NORTHVIEW (4-5 in 2015)
Northview is returning to the OK White, a league it spent 1984-2012 playing football in. Last year’s Northview football team suffered through some injuries and finished 4-5. The shuffling of players to various positions has created some experience for this year’s roster. Eric Pearson be back to bolster the offensive line and Justin Meier, a wide receiver in 2015, will be a top target for Shomin this fall. The Wildcats face two perennially tough teams in the non-conference in Comstock Park and Hudsonville, but the Wildcats could have a chance to make some noise in the second tier of the OK White this fall.
OTTAWA HILLS (4-5 in 2015)
Last fall with a record of 4-2, the Bengals were on the brink of the playoffs with three games to go. Two close losses by four combined points in Week 8 and Week 9 prohibited the Bengals from reaching the postseason. For the first time in 15 years, the Bengals will be led by a new coach on the sidelines as Chuck Ruffin has retired. A former Bengal who graduated in 2006, Christian Verley will take over this fall. Verley will benefit from having strong leaders in Jeremy Glasco, who returns for this third season as quarterback, along with two way players Tomari Jemison and Paris Trotter. The Bengals will have to find answers to replace nineteen seniors from last year’s team, many of them key contributors. The Bengals should be in some contests this fall, but they will have to close games unlike last year to match their record.
2016 FOOTBALL PREVIEWS