The Michigan Sports Radio high school football coverage continues with the MHSAA Semifinals. We will be live for four games across the area, with a brief preview below:
DIVISION 1 SEMIFINAL: DAVISON (10-0) AT ROCKFORD (8-0)
A berth to Ford Field is on the line at Carlson-Munger stadium as Rockford hosts Davison. The Cardinals are the reigning Division 1 State Champions, as they defeated Brighton 35-25 in last year’s State Championship game. The SVL-Blue champions enter on a fifteen-game win streak, but they are without quarterback Brendan Sullivan, who early enrolled at Northwestern. Last week, the Cardinals turned to Dion Brown Jr. to pilot the offense. He threw for two touchdowns in their 20-7 win over Detroit Catholic Central. Davison has played phenomenal defense all season, allowing just 9.1 points per contest, and their offense is averaging 43.3 per contest.
So far in the playoffs, Davison has beaten Lapeer 47-6, advanced due to a forfeit in round two, toppled Grand Blanc 48-19 and defeated Detroit Catholic Central 20-7. This will be their first matchup against any OK Conference team since 2010, when they lost to Rockford 27-10.
Rockford comes into this game a perfect 8-0, having navigated through a COVID shutdown to preserve a perfect record and an OK Red championship. They have faced little resistance throughout the season, with only two contests decided by single digits. They needed overtime to defeat Jenison in the opener and triple overtime to take down Grandville in the district finals. Defense has been the strong suit for Coach Brent Cummings’ squad, as they have allowed 13.8 points per game. Offensively, Rockford is averaging 35.4 points per game. They are led by explosive quarterback Zak Ahern, who has shown the ability to score with both his arm and his legs.
This is the Rams’ first semifinal appearance since 2012, when they made three straight semifinals. This is Rockford’s first game against an SVL-Blue team since 2011, when they took down Grand Blanc.
Davison and Rockford have played four previous occasions. In 2010, Rockford won 27-10 in a season opener. The Rams also won the 2009 season opener 38-13. These two teams played the second game of the season in both 2007 and 2008, with Rockford winning 27-21 and 20-19 respectively. Rockford will look to advance their all-time record against the Cardinals to 5-0, and clinch their first trip to Ford Field since 2008 when they won the championship.
DIVISION 2 SEMIFINAL: TRAVERSE CITY CENTRAL (9-1) AT MONA SHORES (10-0)
The Trojans of Traverse City Central are returning to postseason marks they have not seen in a quarter century. After taking down Saginaw Heritage, Swartz Creek, Midland and North Farmington, TC Central is in the semifinals for the first time since 1988, when they captured the Class A State Championship. Their offense is electric, as it scores an average of 48.6 points per contest. They have gone for sixty or more points three times, including 70 in a win over Swartz Creek. Josh Burnham has been a catalyst, scoring five touchdowns in the regional final victory, a game in which Traverse City Central created distance by scoring thirty-eight unanswered on their way to a 50-22 win. Burnham is a four-star recruit at the outside linebacker position according to 247Sports, and the junior currently holds offers from Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State, amongst others. On defense, they allow 16.3 points per game, though 25% of their points allowed came in a 42-16 loss to Macomb Dakota.
Traverse City Central has struggled against the OK Conference as of late, their 2018 playoff loss to Jenison (64-43) being their seventh straight. They last beat an OK Conference team in 2009, when they opened the year with a win over Forest Hills Central.
Mona Shores is the defending Division 2 State Champions, and they are back in the semifinals for the third straight season. The Sailors are looking to advance to the State Championship for the third straight year, as they enter this game on a sixteen-game winning streak. They have beaten Wyoming, Forest Hills Central, Caledonia and East Lansing to reach the semifinals. The last three games have all needed late game heroics to deliver victories. Offensively, they average 42.9 points per game. They are led by Brady Rose, Mr. Football in the state of Michigan. The Ferris State commit is a jack-of-all-trades type player, as he plays in every facet of the game. Last week, in a 24-21 victory over East Lansing, he had two pivotal rushes on the game-winning drive to set up Keegan DeKuiper’s field goal with no time remaining. The plethora of weapons surrounding him include Elijah Johnson, Elijah Farnum, Gary Humphrey, Dahmir Farnum and Keondre Pierce. On defense, they allow 17.6 points per game. In addition to Rose, they are led by DJ Caviness and Larry White. Last week, Caviness recorded the interception that gave Mona Shores the ball back late.
The Sailors have not played a member of the Big North since their 1984 loss to Traverse City Central (41-14). These two teams have met eighteen times in their history, fourteen of which came as members of the Lake Michigan Athletic Conference. Traverse City Central holds a 17-1 all-time edge, with Mona Shores’ lone win coming in 1973. They defeated the Trojans 23-0 in that game.
DIVISION 4: DETROIT COUNTRY DAY (7-2) VS WILLIAMSTON (9-1) AT OKEMOS
The Detroit Country Day Yellowjackets are the reigning runner up in Division 4, but with Grand Rapids Catholic Central in Division 5, they are hoping to ascend to the throne. They have only lost one game on the field, a 23-13 defeat against Brother Rice (though they had to forfeit against Armada). A low scoring bunch, they average 25.1 points per game. Defensively, Country Day is allowing 11.3 points per game. Brandon Mann has been a crucial part of both sides of the football, playing at quarterback and defensive back. The ‘Jackets will certainly have the edge in the trenches with 6-7 Caleb Tiernan (Northwestern commit) and 6-3 Will Leggon anchoring. During this postseason, they have defeated Henry Ford (41-12), Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (21-14), Madison Heights Lamphere (20-10) and North Branch (38-0).
The last CAAC team that Country Day faced was Lansing Catholic Central back in 2017, a game they won 14-8. They have not lost to a CAAC school since falling to Sexton in the 2014 semifinals.
Williamston is back in the semifinals for the first time since 2018, and the Hornets are looking to return to Ford Field for the first time since they were the runner-up back in 2010 (a loss to GR Catholic Central). This bunch averages 26.3 points per game on offense and allows 15.4 per contest. They look to Sullivan Sparks to carry the load offensively. In their regional win over Milan, he had two touchdowns and over 200 yards rushing. Luke Mahaney has been an effective thrower, with Cade Conley serving as a key target. This postseason, Williamston has defeated Owosso (forfeit), Lake Fenton (35-21), Battle Creek Pennfield (28-12) and Milan (38-21) thus far.
This is the first meeting between Detroit Country Day and Williamston.
DIVISION 5: FREELAND (9-1) AT GRAND RAPIDS CATHOLIC CENTRAL (9-0)
The Freeland Falcons are in rarely-chartered waters for their football program. After defeating Saginaw Valley Lutheran (60-6), Midland Bullock Creek (41-28) and Essexville Garber (35-14), they got a forfeit victory over Reed City to advance to the semifinals. This is the first trip to the semifinals since 1998 for the Falcons, a year they lost in the Class CC final four against Whittemore-Prescott. It was the third of three trips to the semifinals in the 1990s, but they lost all three contests. In order to advance to Ford Field this year, they will need stellar play out of Bryson Huckeby at the quarterback position, and other weapons like Jacob Kundinger, Easton Armstrong and Garrett Pistro. Freeland is averaging 33 points per game, and they are giving up 18.1 per contest.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central comes in as the reigning State Champions in Division 4, but they are playing down a division this postseason. They have won twenty-one straight games dating back to a season ago. Offensively, they put up 41.6 points per game, as they are led by a trio of weapons in quarterback Joey Silveri, running back Nick Hollern and wide receiver Jace Williams (Miami OH commit). On the defensive side, they yield 14.1 per game. Nolan Ziegler (Notre Dame commit) is the biggest playmaker on that side of the football. This postseason has been a breeze for the Cougars. They got a first-round bye, defeated Belding 41-6, advanced past Portland on a forfeit and thrashed Oakridge 58-7 last week.
Freeland has never faced an OK Conference team, while GR Catholic Central’s only TVC experience was a 1987 victory over Frankenmuth in the semifinals on their way to a Class B State Championship.