After months of waiting, the MHSAA Football season is finally here. The two-a-days and scrimmages are behind the players, and nine regular season games now lie in front of them. Two of these contests will happen before Labor Day, and this week’s action will take place before many schools are in session. The Michigan Sports Radio team is ready for the season, with LIVE action on all three nights of opening weekend. Below is a preview of the games that will be on our coverage radar this week.
Holt at Caledonia
The Holt Rams make their first ever trip to Caledonia to take on the Scots in the season opener. Holt has a familiarity with OK Red foes, as this will be the eighth season that they open with a pair of league members. They have been relatively unsuccessful in these matchups however, posting a 3-17 all time record. Caledonia will face a member of the CAAC for the first time since the 2012 playoffs when they defeated East Lansing in the district finals.
Grand Ledge at Hudsonville
For the third straight season, the Comets of Grand Ledge will open the season against the Eagles of Hudsonville. In the 2016 season opener, Hudsonville emerged a 21-14 winner. Last year, Grand Ledge got the best of Hudsonville with a 41-14 victory. This will be the first game for new Hudsonville head coach Brent Sandee.
Freeland at Marshall
For the tenth straight season, Freeland reached the playoffs in 2017. The pursuit to an eleventh straight playoff berth begins on Friday night in Marshall. The Falcons will make the 140 mile drive to take on the Redhawks, who turned in their second straight 4-5 season a year ago. There is very little history between these two schools, as they have never played.
Holland Christian at Coopersville
Last year, Coopersville surprised many people in reaching the postseason. Fresh off their first playoff appearance since 2008, the Broncos open their 2018 season at home against Holland Christian. The Maroons have never faced Coopersville in any of their fifteen seasons as a program. Last year, Holland Christian finished 3-6 for the second straight season.
#8 Zeeland East vs East Grand Rapids
A pair of 2017’s top teams in the area face off at Grand Valley State on Saturday. The Chix of Zeeland East rolled through the regular season with an undefeated record and an OK Green championship. East Grand Rapids finished the regular season in a similar fashion, without a loss and a championship in the OK Gold. Both teams had disappointing trips to the playoffs however, as they were knocked out in the first round. These should be two of West Michigan’s top teams again this season, so this is one of the best matchups in week one.
Tri County at Lakeview
The Vikings of Tri-County open their season for the fifth straight year against the Lakeview Wildcats. After earning a victory in 2014, the Vikings have lost three straight in this series. In 2016, it was a 38-6 Lakeview victory. 2017 was much of the same as Lakeview won 37-6. The Wildcats have made the playoffs in four of the past five seasons, including a first round exit a year ago. Tri-County meanwhile finished 1-8 last season, and they have missed the playoffs every year since 2004.
#8 Newaygo at Kent City
Newaygo opens their 2018 campaign on the road against Kent City, a team who went 10-1 to the district finals. The Lions are also looking to build off a strong season in 2017, as they won seven games and made the postseason. These two former members of the Newaygo-County Conference have met on the gridiron 50 times. Newaygo has won 28 of these matchups, including the last two in 2014 and 2015.
Loyola Academy (IL) at #3 Rockford
The Rams open the 2018 campaign at home against Loyola Academy from the state of Illinois. This marks the first time that Rockford has played an opponent from outside Michigan. Last year, Rockford went 7-4 with a loss to West Ottawa in the District Finals. Coach Ralph Munger’s Rams will look to extend their record long playoff streak that dates to 1995 and includes three state titles.
#8 Mona Shores vs East Kentwood
The Sailors and the Falcons open their seasons at Grand Valley State on Saturday. Last year, Mona Shores went 9-2 with a pair of losses to teams that reached the state semifinals. This year, they will look to make the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons. East Kentwood has four lineman that have garnered major Division 1 offers, led by Logan Brown who has committed to Wisconsin. The Falcons have missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. These schools have met eighteen times with East Kentwood winning fourteen. The most recent matchup was in 2002, both schools were in the OK Red, and the Falcons won 42-27.
#7 West Catholic at Jackson Lumen Christi
The Falcons have won five consecutive state championships in Division 5. Their quest for a sixth will begin with a tough opponent in Jackson Lumen Christi. A season ago, Lumen Christi defeated Ithaca to bring home the Division 6 crown, their second straight. This is the fourth consecutive year that these teams have met in the season opener. Lumen Christi won in 2015 as well as last year with a 27-24 win. In 2016, West Catholic won by a score of 30-13.
Unity Christian at Allendale
One of West Michigan’s more underrated rivalries kicks off the 2018 season in Allendale. These teams enter the year trending in opposite directions. The Crusaders are fresh off of their fourth straight playoff berth while Allendale went 2-7 last year, their worst season since 1997. This is the fifteenth straight year that these two teams have met. Unity Christian holds the 8-6 series edge, as they have now won four consecutive meetings.
South Christian at Greenville
The Yellowjackets of Greenville open the season hosting South Christian. Greenville posted a 4-5 record last year, losing a pair of winnable games to end the season and keep them out of the playoffs. South Christian made the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years in 2017, bowing out in the first round. These two teams have never faced off against each other, and their only common opponent a year ago was Wyoming. South defeated Wyoming, while Greenville fell short.
Northview at Comstock Park
Coach Tim Johnson had a major turnaround from 2016 to 2017 as the Panthers went from two wins to reaching the postseason with a 7-4 record. They fell just short in a shootout against Belding in the district finals. This year, they hope to make the postseason for the eighth time in nine years. Their pursuit opens with a contest against Northview, a 1-8 team in each of the past two years. The Wildcats had won five of the nine meetings, but Comstock Park has won the season opener each of the past two years. In 2016, Comstock Park won 34-17, and last fall the Panthers emerged victorious 51-21.