Photo courtesy of Lou Murray
The MHSAA Playoffs treated us to an exciting first round last weekend. Things continue to heat up this week as the district finals are here. Michigan Sports Radio will continue our coverage, as we will be live at six contests this weekend. Below are previews for those six, in addition to a quick look at other games in the area:
ROCKFORD AT HUDSONVILLE
The Rockford Rams and Hudsonville Eagles, both members of the OK Red Conference, have lined up to meet in the District Finals in the Division 1 Playoffs. This is the sixteenth straight trip to the District Finals for the Rams, and they have won nine district titles in that span. They have lost two straight district title games however, so they will look to break that streak on Friday night. Hudsonville is back in the playoffs after a one-year absence, and they will look to win the district title for the first time since 2014. These two teams met back in Week 7, and the game went down to the wire. Rockford eventually walked out 13-7 winners, their third straight win in the series.
EAST KENTWOOD AT SALINE
The East Kentwood Falcons are back in the playoffs after a two-year hiatus. They played a tough game in the opening round against Brighton, ultimately pulling out a 31-28 victory. This week, they hit the road to take on Saline. The Hornets are also 9-1 on the season, and they are coming off a 26-7 win over Kalamazoo Central in round one. Saline’s defense has held eight of its ten opponents to seven or more points, so it is truly a battle of strengths against a Falcons offense that averages 45.9 points per game. These two schools have never met in their respective histories.
JENISON AT MONA SHORES
The Jenison Wildcats, back in the playoffs for the first time since 2003, showed an explosion of offense in a 64-43 road win against Traverse City Central in round one of the postseason. This is the most points that Jenison had scored in a game in program history. Their offense has topped 35 seven times this season, and they will need all of those points this Friday when they take on Mona Shores. The Sailors are 9-1 on the year, and they average 43.7 points per game. Last week, they defeated Forest Hills Central 34-28 in the opening round of the postseason. These two teams played back in Week 7. Jenison took the Sailors to the wire before a late touchdown gave Mona a 49-42 win. Mona Shores has won all three meetings since they joined the OK Black, but Jenison owns the all-time edge 15-6.
FREELAND AT SWAN VALLEY
The Freeland Falcons are back in the postseason for the eleventh straight year, and they opened the postseason with a win over Chippewa Hills last Friday night in a sloppy game for both teams. This week, they will need much sharper play when they take on Swan Valley. The Vikings have been dominant this season, as they have won all ten of their games. Their defense has been stout, holding seven opponents to single digits and allowing an average of 8.8 points per contest. Freeland will need their best ballgame on Friday night to upset the Vikings, who are looking to improve on last year’s Division 5 Runner-Up finish. These two teams met back in Week 3 and Swan Valley dominated from opening kick to final kneel-down in a 41-3 affair.
OAKRIDGE AT UNITY CHRISTIAN
The Unity Christian Crusaders started their playoff push by knocking off five-time defending Division 5 State Champion West Catholic by nineteen points. This week, their task remains tall when they take on the Eagles of Muskegon Oakridge. This is the fourteenth straight playoff appearance by Oakridge, and they have won two State Championships in that span (2005, 2008). Throughout this season, the Eagles have dominated in all nine of their wins, all coming by at least four touchdowns. Their only loss, Montague, was a one-point contest. W
NEWAYGO AT MONTAGUE
The Lions of Newaygo won their fifth ever playoff game last Friday night against Morley-Stanwood to advance to the District Finals. Montague awaits the Lions this week, and they are a very strong team. The Wildcats are 8-2 on the season, but they had little trouble defeating Fennville in last week’s opening round game 49-20. Playing in the West Michigan Conference, Montague defeated three (North Muskegon, Oakridge and Whitehall) teams that reached the playoffs, two of which remain in play. They outscored their opponents this year on average 43.9-15.4. The Newaygo offense will need to play above its 30.1 points per game average if they want to walk out winners on Friday. The only common opponent this season was Reed City. Newaygo lost to Reed City 50-7, while Montague fell 34-13 in Week 1. These teams have not played since 1993, when Newaygo defeated Montague 30-14.
OTHER AREA GAMES
There are some other games that are taking place in the area that will not be broadcast LIVE on Michigan Sports Radio, though their scores will be updated in real-time on the Scoreboard Page.
In Division 3, there are a trio of games involving area teams. First, there is a rematch of the battle of Zeeland as Zeeland East takes on Zeeland West. The Chix (9-1) defeated the Dux (8-2) back in Week 7 in a 48-34 shootout. Remember however, that the same scenario happened last year, and Zeeland East won the regular season game and West took home the playoff showdown. Muskegon (10-0) hosts Grand Rapids Christian (8-2) in the district finals. The Big Reds have won six straight district championships, and are looking for their second straight State Championship while riding a 24-game winning streak. Finally in Division 3, Cedar Springs (9-1) travels to Mt. Pleasant (10-0). The Red Hawks have won nine straight since a season-opening loss to Swan Valley, but they have a tall test against an Oilers’ team who has allowed just 7.4 points per game.
In Division 4, the Catholic Central Cougars (9-1) look to win their third straight State Title, but they first must get past Whitehall (8-2). The Vikings average 34.3 points per contest, and the Cougars average 38.2, so expect a shootout in Grand Rapids Friday night. In the other Division 4 district final, Holland Christian (7-3) hosts South Christian (6-4). The Maroons blew out Otsego in the playoff opener, and they are riding a three-game winning streak. South Christian handily defeated Godwin Heights, and they have allowed just six points in their last two games.