After just seven short months, we are back! High school football returns to the gridiron this week with games across the Michigan Sports Radio coverage zone. The following games are live on Michigan Sports Radio this week:
Rockford v Sterling Heights Stevenson (Thursday)
The Rams begin 2021 with a home game against the Titans. This is a rematch of the 2004 Division 1 State Finals, a game in which the Rams secured the State Championship with a 31-6 victory. Rockford looks to build off of their 2020 Semifinal run, an 8-1 campaign ending with a loss to Davison. Zak Ahern is back at quarterback for the Rams. Sterling Heights Stevenson was 7-2 a year ago, falling to eventual State Champion West Bloomfield in the playoffs.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central v Lapeer (Thursday)
Grand Rapids Catholic Central has won three State Championships in four years, including two straight titles. Their march for a third straight State Championship starts on Thursday in Ann Arbor, as they take on Lapeer at Michigan Stadium. Lapeer is a Division 1 school with over 1700 students, while GRCC is a Division 5 club with just under 600. Joey Silveri and Nolan Zeigler star for the Cougars once again this year.
Coopersville v Big Rapids (Thursday)
The Broncos begin their 2021 season at home against the Cardinals. With Colton Bosch under center and Tim Allen and Ryan Serba as crucial returning weapons, Coopersville will be poised for a strong year. They return 16 starters, eight on each side of the football. Big Rapids returns Wil Strickler at quarterback and the speedy Jamal Strickland at wide receiver. This is a battle of two teams that should be well-improved in 2021.
West Catholic at Forest Hills Eastern (Thursday)
The Falcons and the Hawks battle it out in an opening Battle of the Birds this Thursday. West Catholic recorded their first winning season since 2017 a year ago, though they lost in the district semifinals to Portland. Noah Arsulowicz and Tim Kloska are amongst the most valuable returning players for West Catholic this fall. FHE is coming off a memorable run to the Division 4 Regional Finals where they won three great playoff matchups. Caden VandenBerge is the key returning weapon for the Hawks.
Northview at West Ottawa (Thursday)
This battle of OK Conference schools with new head coaches has a unique twist. Ryan Oshnock, the head coach at Northview, spent the past few seasons in Holland coaching the Panthers. In his first game with the Wildcats, he will go up against his former team. West Ottawa is now coached by Pat Collins, who led Montague to the 2020 Division 6 State Championship last winter. The Panthers have lost 17 straight games entering the 2021 campaign.
Central Montcalm v Morley-Stanwood (Thursday)
The Hornets and the Mohawks begin 2021 with a non-league showdown. Last year, Central Montcalm was the #1 team in their district with a 4-2 regular season, but they were upset by Tri-County. They will try to rebound this year with Fisher Hill and Preston Scott amongst the returners. Morley-Stanwood posted a 4-3 record last year.
East Grand Rapids v Zeeland West (Thursday)
A battle of two of the area’s best programs takes place on Reeds Lake on Thursday. The Pioneers are coming off of a 6-4 season that saw the club knocked out in the Regionals by Muskegon. Zeeland West was 4-1 a year ago entering the postseason, but they had to forfeit against Middleville in the District Semifinals due to COVID. Coach Shillito’s Dux bring their T-offense back for another season, poised for success. EGR will look to Nathias Grady amongst others in the backfield, with Nick Collins, Josh Klug and Hayden Bentley anchoring the line.
Freeland at Clare (Friday)
The Falcons made history a year ago when they advanced to the State Semifinals. Despite losing to eventual State Champion Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Freeland impressed many with their play. They open 2021 with a road trip to Clare, who was 7-1 last season. The Pioneers posted an undefeated regular season and took down Kent City before a loss to Montague in the District Semifinals.
Tri-County vs Lakeview (Friday)
The Vikings were 4-5 a year ago, but due to the “All-In” MHSAA Playoff format, they were able to advance to the District Finals. Tri-County took down Central Montcalm and Grant before a loss to Oakridge last year in the District Finals. This club returns 18 starters, including quarterback Tyler Tompkins, skill player Trent Behrenwald and lineman Zach Princer. Lakeview lost all seven games last fall.
South Christian at Grand Rapids Christian (Friday)
The Sailors and Eagles line up for their annual rivalry game once again this fall. This series that dates back to 1972 (though it would be 1969 if you include Grand Rapids East Christian), and South Christian leads 27-23. This series was in danger last year, but the clubs met in the playoffs. Jake DeHaan is back at quarterback for South Christian, after stepping in last postseason when he threw seven touchdowns against Kelloggsville. South Christian has to replace 9 starters on the defensive side of the ball.
Hudsonville vs Saline (Friday)
The Eagles and the Hornets will start their 2021 season in Ann Arbor at Michigan Stadium. Hudsonville posted a 5-3 record a year ago, with a second-round playoff exit against Rockford. Saline also had their season end at the hands of the Rams, falling to Rockford 40-17 in the Regionals. Hudsonville will have many starters to replace, with only six returners. Dylan Ham is the most explosive of those players.