1-Forest Hills Central
4-Forest Hills Northern
Cedar Springs (7-4 in 2017)
The Red Hawks and coach Gus Kapolka reached the playoffs last season and surprised many people by knocking off East Grand Rapids in the first round of the playoffs. In the second round, they fell short to Dewitt, ending their season. This year, they return star Ryan Ringler, who plays both running back and linebacker, earning all-state honors last year for the latter. Lucas Pienton also returns to make an impact running the football and manning the defensive backfield. The largest questions will be how they get the football (quarterback position), and who blocks for them (the offensive line).
Non-Conference Schedule: at Saginaw Swan Valley, Caledonia, Allendale
The Red Hawks have three non-conference games that will ultimately decide their postseason fate. It is possible that they can sweep this slate but losing two of these may keep them out of the playoffs.
Forest Hills Central (12-1 in 2017)
Last season, the Rangers continued the momentum from 2016 as they went undefeated in the regular season advancing all the way to the State Semifinals. Luke Majick returns under center, he is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the area. There are many weapons surrounding Majick, such as Tate Hallock (MSU commit), Jimmy Scholler, Jackson Clay and Cam Deines. Manning the interior both ways will be a bunch led by Kyle Wojczynski, a starter a year ago.
Non-Conference Schedule: at Jenison, West Ottawa, Grandville
The Rangers drew a pair of tough OK Red foes this season in West Ottawa and Grandville. Last year, Forest Hills Central was the lone team to knock off West Ottawa in the regular season, who made a run to the regionals. Grandville returns a large amount of talent from a bunch that made the playoffs.
Forest Hills Northern (3-6 in 2017)
Coach Matthew Moffett and the Huskies missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012 as they were unable to win any of their non-conference games. This year, they have experience and a more favorable crossover opponent that gives them the potential to return to the postseason. Quarterback Xavier Webster and running back Brandon Matthews lead the way for an offense that sees seven starters returning. Matthews and Drew Moore anchor a secondary that is the cornerstone of a defense that returns eight starters.
Non-Conference Schedule: at Byron Center, East Grand Rapids, at Kenowa Hills
The potential is there for Northern to reach the playoffs, but the biggest game will be the season opener. These two schools have played every season since 2007, and last year they fell just short of defeating the Bulldogs. Given the improved strength of the OK White, this game is vital in their pursuit of the postseason.
Greenville (4-5 in 2017)
The Yellowjackets were in prime position to reach the playoffs last season, before losing a pair of games to schools who finished with three wins a piece. This year, Coach Ostipow’s bunch has a plethora of skill players returning. Quarterback Cameron Heppe will call the shots offensively, and he will be joined by running backs Sam Plate and Ryan Burden. In the passing game, both Jake Rassmussen and Ryan Olsen will see action at wide receiver and defensive back. In the trenches, seniors Elijah TerHaar and Hunter Kroesnig will look to lead the way.
Non-Conference Schedule: South Christian, at Allendale, Reeths-Puffer
Greenville has a completely new non-conference schedule from a year ago, and they play two teams (South Christian and Allendale) for the first time ever. Reeths-Puffer is an opponent that they have not faced since 2009. Finding themselves in the middle of the OK White pack, they need to be successful in the non-conference if they wish to make the playoffs.
Lowell (6-4 in 2017)
The Red Arrows went 6-4 a year ago, and they have some holes to fill, especially at the quarterback position, but the biggest change is on the sidelines. Noel Dean will not oversee Lowell for the first time in 23 years, but the late announcement resulted in his entire staff staying intact and longtime assistant Juston Miller taking over. He will look to Andy Anschutz to lead the way, who will start for the third straight year in the defensive backfield, and he is joined by Gabe Smith and Grady McDonald at the running back position.
Non-Conference Schedule: at South Bend Adams, Rockford, at Zeeland West
Much like every season, Lowell faces a tough non-conference slate. The biggest game will be the season opener at South Bend Adams. Whomever wins the quarterback competition will get the opportunity to go on the road and cross state lines to play South Bend Adams. They were 3-7 last season, so this is a game that Lowell must have to reach the six-win plateau.
Northview (1-8 in 2017)
The past two seasons for Northview have been a challenge, as the Wildcats have gone 2-16, with both wins coming against league foe Ottawa Hills. This year, Trip Gallery’s bunch benefits from having a third-year starter under center in Kennedy Smith, with hopes that they will improve on their record. Smith is happy that his top target from a year ago, all-state recipient Cody Tierney, is also back as they try to carry the load offensively for a bunch that improved their overall scoring by overall seven points a game from 2016 to 2017.
Non-Conference Schedule: at Comstock Park, Jenison, Caledonia
The Wildcats open with the same two opponents (Comstock Park and Jenison) that they have faced the past two seasons. The only change to their schedule comes in their crossover against Caledonia in Week 8. The Scots finished 4-5 a year ago, and their last meeting was in 2007 when Caledonia won 45-9.
Ottawa Hills (0-9 in 2017)
Twenty-one. That is the number of football contests in a row that the Bengals have walked off the field with less points than their opponents. This year, third year coach Christian Verley hopes to build off the momentum that his team finished last year, as they more than doubled their scoring production last season from 2016. Ottawa Hills is led by defensive lineman Viquente Sandifer, who has caught the attention of Division I programs. On offense, Larry Phillips is back at quarterback, as one of 14 seniors on the Bengals roster.
Non-Conference Schedule: Union, at Kelloggsville, at Middleville
In week one, the Bengals have a fantastic opportunity to snap their losing skid against the other longest losing streak in West Michigan. Former City League foe Grand Rapids Union has lost 25 in a row, and 50 of their last 51 contests. In addition to this opponent, they face Middleville in Week 9, a team that improved last year to 2-7, but they have only won two of their last eighteen games.
The other OK Conference previews can be found at the following links: