Photo Credit: Lou Murray
The MSR football previews continue with the OK White. This looks to be a tough league once again this fall. Reigning champion Forest Hills Central has some key returners, while Byron Center and Grand Rapids Christian have gotten a year older. East Grand Rapids is reemerging with a new coaching staff. Lowell and Northview wait in the shadows, hoping to factor into the mix in this league. Even Forest Hills Northern and Greenville feel more likely to tangle with the top dogs than last season. There are certainly bound to be numerous battles in this league throughout the fall.
2021 Season: 7-3 (lost in playoff opener)
Last Conference Championship: 2020 OK White
Last Playoff Victory: 2019
Non-Conference Schedule: at Battle Creek Central, at Grandville
In 2021, the young Bulldogs proved early that they weren’t a pack of puppies. They raced out to a 6-0 start, putting West Michigan on notice. Two tough league defeats took them out of the OK White race, but they still made the playoffs. In their opener at Caledonia, Byron Center snagged an early 14-0 lead. That would be the only two scores for the Bulldogs in this game, as they ultimately fell 28-14.
As the 2022 season approaches, expectations are high in Byron Center. Hunter Schichtel is back as one of the better quarterbacks in West Michigan. Last fall Schichtel showed his dual threat ability by rushing for 9 touchdowns and throwing for 7. Jason Sevigny and Luke Laska are back as compliments to Schichtel in the run game. Brady Breit, who had 12 touchdowns in 2021, is also back as a threat on the ground and in the passing game. As the young defense sorts itself out, Byron Center’s offense will look to carry the load. A pair of road tests in non-league play, the first at historic CW Post Stadium, and a week later against Grandville, will push the Bulldogs before they settle into league play. This team has their eyes set on battling for the OK White title, and snapping a two-year streak of first round playoff exits.
East Grand Rapids
2021 Season: 3-6
Last Conference Championship: 2018 OK Gold
Last Playoff Victory: 2020
Non-Conference Schedule: at Rockford, South Christian
Last fall was one to forget for the loyal fans on the shores of Reeds Lake. East Grand Rapids lost five of their first six contests, something they hadn’t done since 1969, when they played in the Valley Coast Conference! Two straight wins in Weeks 7 and 8 left the Pioneers at an outside chance for a playoff berth, but they suffered a shutout loss to Forest Hills Central.
This year, the Pioneers will aim to return to their historic glory under new leadership. Josh Shattuck, who most recently served as the head coach at Elkhart High School in Indiana, has been tapped to lead that climb back to the top. The 11-time State Champions return many key contributors from last year, including Drew Caswell (8 rushing TDs), Jack Higgins, Nick Collins (3 field goals and 19 extra points) and Nick Rowland. These seniors were starting elementary school back when the Pioneers made their most recent trip to Ford Field (2010), something this program hopes to experience again soon. East Grand Rapids starts their season off with a bang, travelling to the newly renovated Carlson-Munger Stadium for a dance with Rockford, the three-time reigning OK Red champions.
Forest Hills Central
2021 Season: 8-2 (lost in playoff opener)
Last Conference Championship: 2021 OK White
Last Playoff Victory: 2020
Non-Conference Schedule: Jenison, at Portage Central
Last year was nearly perfect in the regular season in Ranger Country. FHC suffered a last-second loss to Grand Blanc, but otherwise went unblemished through the first nine weeks. The OK White Champions were back in the playoffs, and matched up against their playoff rivals from Mona Shores. For the second straight year, FHC was eliminated by the Sailors in the postseason.
Justin Osterhouse returns to the Rangers as their quarterback. Last year, he played in this role for a portion of the season, scoring 7 touchdowns. He looks to thrive with a full-time opportunity this fall. JT Hartman, who rushed for six touchdowns last year, returns as well. A junior, he will also make a strong presence on the defensive side at linebacker. A third player to watch for FHC is Ty Hudkins. Another junior, Hudkins will also be a threat on both sides of the football. Up front, Crandall Quinn will serve as an anchor in the trenches. Tim Rogers has built this program into one of the most consistent winners over the past six seasons, and it won’t be a surprise to see that continue in 2022.
Forest Hills Northern
2021 Season: 3-6
Last Conference Championship: 2013 OK Bronze
Last Playoff Victory: 1999
Non-Conference Schedule: Wyoming, at Jenison
The Huskies had a symmetrical season last fall. They opened with a win, then proceeded to suffer three straight defeats. After a Week 5 win, they lost three again. FHN wrapped up the year with their third victory. A silver lining for FHN was finally beating EGR for the first time since 2000 and just the second time ever.
Travis Myers, the signal-caller from a year ago, is graduated and now playing at Hope College. There is competition to replace him, with Drew Dabaja serving as one of the contenders. Curt Andrews returns as the biggest cog in their offensive wheel. Last fall, Andrews rushed for five scores. Chris Arrington, Zachary Kelly and Arman Singh are amongst the key returners for this Huskies squad that looks to get back to their winning ways.
Grand Rapids Christian
2021 Season: 7-4 (lost in District Finals)
Last Conference Championship: 2019 OK Gold
Last Playoff Victory: 2021
Non-Conference Schedule: at South Christian, Fruitport
The Eagles made a twelfth straight trip to the MHSAA playoffs last fall. In the opening round, they doubled up Spring Lake. They would fall to Unity Christian in the District Finals, their second defeat to the ‘Saders in the 2021 campaign.
With their pursuit of a conference title falling seven points short a year ago, the Eagles are hungry and ready to compete for the crown again. Alek Wickstrom is back at the quarterback position, fresh off a season in which he threw for 15 touchdowns. He is joined by other key contributors, such as Donovan Thames, Gabriel Armstead, James Baker, Jaylin Garcia, Luke Selfe, Tem Warners and TeQuan Culbreath.
2021 Season: 0-9
Last Conference Championship: 2000 Mid-Michigan A
Last Playoff Victory: 2010
Non-Conference Schedule: at Allendale, Kenowa Hills
September 27, 2019. That is the date of the last victory that Greenville’s football team experienced, a drought of 18 games. Tom Hallock, in his second year at the helm, hopes to snap that drought this fall.
Case Johnson, Isaac Dailey and Kam Cooper are three integral parts to the Greenville team this season. Cooper is the most-heralded player of the three, with his All-Conference honors last fall. This trio will all make an impact on both sides of the football. Last season, Dailey and Cooper each found the endzone once. It is reasonable to assume they will both have more scoring opportunities this fall. This program has not posted a winning season since 2016. While that may be tough to achieve this season, given the strength of the OK White, this is a program that is building back toward its proud tradition.
2021 Season: 4-6 (lost in playoff opener)
Last Conference Championship: 2016 OK White
Last Playoff Victory: 2020
Non-Conference Schedule: at Mattawan, Middleville
The Red Arrows had one of the toughest schedules in the state last season, with Caledonia and Mona Shores on their non-conference slate. As a result, they were able to qualify for the postseason with a 4-5 record, thanks to the new playoff point system. Unfortunately for Lowell, their trip to the postseason was quick. They were eliminated in the first round by the Muskegon Big Reds.
Nate Jannenga, Dawson Huhn (one touchdown) and Ethan Krieger (two touchdowns) will return as threats on both sides of the football. Carson Crace (linebacker), Easton Rich (offensive line) and Ian George (offensive line) will be back as well. This is a strong supporting cast around Jackson Reisbig, who will take over at quarterback, as he tries to lead the Red Arrows back to their first winning season since 2017.
2021 Season: 4-5
Last Conference Championship: 1970 OK White
Last Playoff Victory: N/A
Non-Conference Schedule: West Ottawa, at Wyoming
In the fall of 2021, Ryan Oshnock’s Wildcats started strong with a 4-2 record. Needing one win in the final three weeks to feel good about their postseason chances, Northview suffered three straight defeats. None was more heartbreaking than a 17-14 loss in Week 8 to East Grand Rapids.
This year, the Wildcats will hope to return to the postseason, and perhaps secure the school’s first ever playoff victory. There will be a new quarterback in place, but the surrounding cast is strong. Aidan Kowalczyk, Carter Spetoskey, David Snow, Donyea Robertson, Easton Denton, Jacob Szurna, Max Haveman and Wayne Topp are all back and looking for expanded roles in a growing program.
2022 MSR FOOTBALL PREVIEWS