After nine weeks of the regular season, we have finally reached the postseason. 288 teams across ten different divisions have the opportunity to earn a State Championship in football this year. The MSR team is also gearing up for the playoffs, as we have eleven crews covering games across six divisions of action. A preview of our games is below:
**All games start at 7:00 Friday unless noted otherwise**
East Kentwood (5-4) at Rockford (8-1)
The Rams and the Falcons are set to square off in the first round on Friday night. This is a rematch of a game that these two played just one week ago. In that game, Rockford clinched the OK Red title in a 17-7 victory. This was the latest example of stellar play by the Rockford defense, which allows 12.6 points per game. The Falcons have scored at least 28 points in five games thus far, and they will hope to capture some of that magic this week.
Hudsonville (6-3) at Traverse City West (7-2) (Saturday, 7:00 PM)
The Eagles are back in the playoffs for the second straight year. They will hit the road to face the Titans of Traverse City West, who are making their fourth straight visit to the postseason. The 7-2 Titans have won games by an average of seventeen points this season. In common opponents faced this year, Traverse City West defeated both Grand Haven (19-7) and Holt (26-21), while the Eagles defeated the Buccaneers (33-0) but lost to the Rams (21-22). These two schools have met four times, most recently in 2015. Hudsonville has won all four contests.
Mattawan (5-4) at Forest Hills Central (7-2)
The Rangers of Forest Hills Central make their fourth straight trip to the postseason. Their defense has been strong, allowing 12.1 points per game this season. In the first round, they will take on the Mattawan Wildcats, who have won four consecutive games to qualify for the postseason. During this win streak, the Wildcats have outscored their opponents 130-21. In the only prior meeting between these schools, Forest Hills Central won 40-14 in the 2017 Pre-District matchup.
Lowell (5-4) at East Grand Rapids (6-3)
One of the area’s best rivalries in back in action this week for a first round matchup. After playing for thirty four straight seasons, these two teams did not meet in 2018. For just the third time in that span, they will square off in the postseason. Lowell has played one-sided games all season, as all five of their wins and three of their defeats were by double digits. East Grand Rapids lost three games this year, but all three of those teams (GR Christian, Muskegon and Zeeland West) reached the postseason. In the most recent meeting, East Grand Rapids won back in 2017.
Zeeland West (8-1) vs Zeeland East (5-4)
Crosstown rivals Zeeland East and Zeeland West square off in the first round of the playoffs. The Chix are reeling entering the postseason, as they have lost three straight games. Zeeland West on the other hand, has an offense that averages 40.7 points per game, and they have won four straight games. These two are frequent playoff opponents as of late, as this will be their fifth postseason matchup since 2012. In three of those four matchups, the regular season winner lost the playoff rematch. The lone exception to this trend was last season, when the Chix won both games. In this year’s regular season contest, the Dux won 34-14.
Sparta (8-1) at Orchard View (9-0)
The Sparta Spartans are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013. They will hit the road in the first round to take on the Cardinals of Orchard View. Sparta’s offense averages 38 points per game, and their defense has held five opponents to seven points or less. Both of these figures will be put to the test against an undefeated Cardinals team that has made their first playoff trip since 2008. Orchard View can score (40.7 PPG), and their defense has been sturdy as well (13.8 PAPG). This is a true test of strengths against strengths on both sides of the football. In their only prior meeting, Sparta defeated Orchard View 41-13 in the 2017 regular season opener.
South Christian (5-4) at GR Christian (7-2) (Saturday, 1:00 PM)
The Sailors are in the playoffs for the fourth straight season, earning an at-large bid this fall. They will get a matchup against the Grand Rapids Christian Eagles, who complete the decade with ten playoff appearances in a row. GR Christian is hot, winners of their last seven games and the outright OK Gold title. They have scored at least 27 points in their last eight games, topping the 35 point mark on six of those occasions. This will pose a tough challenge for the South Christian defense, who yielded 38.3 points per game in their four defeats. These two met on October 11, and the Eagles squeaked out a 27-20 victory, so this could be an intriguing rematch.
Shepard (5-4) at Freeland (7-2)
The Freeland Falcons are in the playoffs for the twelfth straight season. They will try to advance to the district final round for the seventh time in that span with a victory over Shepard. The Bluejays are making their first playoff appearance since 2005, and they have won four of their final five games. Their offense scored 34 or more points in four of five victories, but the biggest question will be their defense that gave up nearly 27 points per game. These two teams were both members of the TVC-Central the past thirteen seasons, and Freeland won the last twelve matchups. This includes the 36-0 Falcons victory in 2018.
Central Montcalm (7-2) at Portland (7-2)
The Hornets of Central Montcalm are into the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The CSAA-Gold Champions will look to advance when they travel to Portland. The Raiders are making their fifth straight playoff trip, including a runner-up finish in 2018. After winning their first seven games, the Raiders have dropped two straight contests by a combined eight points. Their defense will be a challenge for the Central Montcalm offense, as they have allowed 11.2 points per game. These two teams have met twenty five times, most recently in 2010. Portland won that first round playoff game by a score of 41-14.
Essexville Garber (6-3) at Swan Valley (6-3)
For the eighth straight season, the Vikings of Swan Valley are into the state playoffs. They will try to make another deep playoff run, when they start play against Essexville Garber. The Dukes, making their first trip since 2016, have had a strong defense this season, but they have offensive concerns. The biggest question will be if the Dukes can control the pace of play similar to the Week 8 matchup between these two teams. In that game, the Dukes slowed the game down and stayed in it late before Swan Valley pulled out an 8-0 win.
Newaygo (6-3) at Montague (7-2)
The Newaygo Lions are into the playoffs for the third straight year. They hope to advance to the district finals by avenging last year’s loss to Montague. In the postseason a year ago, Montague defeated Newaygo 48-14. The Wildcats have had an astoundingly impressive team on both sides of the ball. They average 37.3 points per game, while only allowing an average of 9.3 per contest. It will be an uphill battle for the Lions, but they do enter with some momentum. In their last two games, they have scored 47.5 points on average, a showing that the offense is capable of success.