Photo courtesy of Lou Murray
The MHSAA Football Playoff fields have been cut in half, as now sixteen teams remain in each of the eight divisions. There were some tremendous upsets in Week 1, and there were some games that went as expected. Our MSR team will be back on the call this weekend as District Championship trophies are at stake.
Grand Haven (6-4) at Hudsonville (7-3)
In an OK Red rematch, the Eagles will play host to the Buccaneers of Grand Haven. Each of these teams went on the road and scored big victories in the first round of the playoffs. For Grand Haven, they earned their first playoff victory since 2009 when they shocked Grandville in the opening round. They will be looking to win their first ever district title with a victory over the Eagles. Hudsonville played a stellar game in their 38-7 opening win over Traverse City West. A victory in this game would give the Eagles their first district title since 2014. In the regular season matchup, Hudsonville dominated the game from the opening kick in a 33-0 blowout.
East Kentwood (6-4) at Brighton (8-2)
The Falcons of East Kentwood scored a tremendous upset in the playoff opener against Rockford, a twenty six point win. Standing in the way of their second straight district championship are the Brighton Bulldogs, who enter this game after defeating Holt 26-7. If Brighton were able to win this game, it would be their first district title since 2005, when they advanced to the Division 1 Semifinals. In last year’s first round matchup, East Kentwood was able to pull out a 31-28 victory.
Forest Hills Central (8-2) at Portage Northern (9-1)
The Rangers are looking to capture their third district title in four seasons on Friday night when they travel to Portage. Their opposition is very tough, as the Huskies enter this game on a six game winning streak. Their explosive offense has averaged 40.5 points per game, while their defense allows just 15.3, both key figures in their SMAC-West title. The scoring ability of the Huskies will be a tall task for the Forest Hills Central defense, which has allowed 12.3 points per game throughout the season. The winner on this side of the ball should go a long way in determining the winner. The only prior meeting between these two schools was in the 1984 season opener, when the Rangers defeated Portage Northern 33-17.
East Grand Rapids (7-3) at Byron Center (10-0)
The Pioneers look to win their first district title since 2015 when they travel to Byron Center. The undefeated Bulldogs will look to set a new school record for victories in a season, as well as earn the first district title since 2016. Byron Center’s offense has been able to score in bunches, averaging 41.1 points per game, and their defense has held opponents to just 13.7 per contest. East Grand Rapids has proved they have been able to score, putting up 39.1 per game, and they give up 18.6 per game. This is a battle of strengths on both sides of the ball. The last time these two teams met was in the playoff opener back in 2010. In that game, East Grand Rapids won 45-29.
Edwardsburg (10-0) at Zeeland West (9-1)
The Dux and the Eddies are set to square off in the district finals, with a deep tournament run in sights for the winner. Zeeland West has averaged 40.4 points per game this season, but they will go up against an Edwardsburg defense that has allowed just 6.7 points per game over the whole year. The Eddies can score too, racking up 45.5 points per game, providing a tough challenge for the Dux defense. Last season, Edwardsburg rolled through the playoffs en route to a Division 4 State Championship, and they are currently riding a twenty four game winning streak.
Sparta (9-1) at GR Catholic Central (9-1)
The Spartans earned their first playoff win since 2011 last week when they were able to take down Orchard View. This week, they will matchup with conference foe Grand Rapids Catholic Central with hopes of winning their first ever district championship. The Cougars are a perennial power, winners of the Division 4 State Championship in 2016 and 2017, and they fell in last year’s semifinals. This year’s team enters this game on a seven game winning streak, and their stout defense has allowed 9.2 points per game this year. Catholic Central can score as well, topping forty points four different times on their way to a season average of 34.2 per game. Sparta is well prepared, with a 37.7 points per game offense and a 14.1 points allowed per contest defense, but they will need to take it up a level to win this contest. In the regular season meeting, GRCC walloped the Spartans 44-0.
South Christian (6-4) at Unity Christian (7-3)
The Sailors are looking for their first district title since their 2014 State Championship season. They will need to avenge a regular season loss to do so, as they square off against the Crusaders of Unity Christian. Back in Week 5, the two teams played a phenomenal contest that Unity was able to win 32-20. Some missed opportunities cost South Christian that contest, and they will look to right the ship in the postseason rematch. Unity Christian has been stellar on the offensive end this year, scoring 35 points per contest. It appears that the magic number that the Sailors’ defense has to hold them to is twenty, as Unity has lost all three games when scoring twenty or fewer points.
Ogemaw Heights (8-2) at Freeland (8-2)
Freeland is hoping to win their first district title since 2015 on Friday night when they host Ogemaw Heights. With their only two blemishes being teams that remain in the playoffs (Frankenmuth and Swan Valley), Freeland has played some of their best football as of late, riding a three-game winning streak. Ogemaw Heights defeated Bullock Creek in last week’s first round game by a 28-19 score, and they are trying to advance to the regionals for the first time since 2012. This is the first time that these two schools have ever met.
Swan Valley (7-3) at Frankenmuth (9-1)
The Vikings look to capture their third straight district title this week when they hit the road to take on Frankenmuth. This is another rematch of regular season action, as the Eagles defeated Swan Valley 23-20 back in Week 5. Swan Valley has nearly doubled up their opponents all season, outscoring them by a 33-17 score on average. They will need to keep finding ways to put points on the board against the Eagles’ offense that scored a season high 57 points last week against Carrollton.