The West Michigan Conference is bigger than ever this fall. With a seven-team expansion, the league now has two divisions: the Lakes and the Rivers. Our team at MSR will bring you coverage of both divisions all season long!


Oakridge v Sparta. This matchup provided nothing short of a classic in 2021, as Oakridge defeated Sparta 22-21. They meet once again in 2022, in what’s certain to be another close game. Oakridge finished the 2021 campaign at 5-1 in conference record and a 9-3 overall record. Sparta finished with an identical conference record, at 5-1, and a 7-3 overall record on the season. Both teams saw their offense post just north of 27 points per game in 2021 offensively. Sparta saw their defense only allow 17.4 points per game in 2021, while Oakridge allowed 21.7 points per game. 


Ludington v Petoskey. In 2021, Petoskey posted a 1-4 conference record, and a 3-6 overall record. Their offense recorded 19.5 points per game and gave up nearly four touchdowns a game (27 PAPG). Their opponent, Ludington, will be a new member of the expanded West Michigan Conference, formerly competing in the Lakes Eight conference. The Orioles posted a 1-2 conference record, and a 3-6 overall record in 2021. Their offense averaged 16.9 points per game, while their defense allowed just over four touchdowns per game (29 PAPG). This should be a tightly contested game, controlled by the ability of both offenses.


Manistee v Holton. Two of the new additions to the West Michigan Conference face off against each other in the opening week of the year. Both of these teams are part of the new expansion that will see the conference divided into two separate divisions, the Lakes and Rivers divisions. Manistee, a new member of the newly-founded Lakes Division, participated in the Lakes Eight conference in 2021. They were 1-2 within that conference and 5-5 overall on the season. The Manistee offense scored 26.4 points per game while their defense allowed 21.4 points per contest in 2021. The other WMC newcomer, Holton, joined the Rivers division after playing in the CSAA Silver in 2021. They posted a 3-2 league record, and a 4-5 overall record on the season. The Holton offense averaged a whopping 35.8 points per game last season, but their defense allowed 34.1 points per contest. The Red Devils will also be under new leadership, as Alex Smith took a new position. Tommy Moore, an experienced assistant in the WMC, will now lead Holton this fall. Two seemingly evenly matched teams with two high-powered offenses is a recipe for a great game to start the season. 


Fremont v Hart. Hart is one of the original teams from the West Michigan Conference that benefits from the expansion. They now find themselves as the biggest school by enrollment in the Rivers Division, after many years as one of the WMC’s smallest schools. Hart finished with a record of 1-5 in WMC play a year ago, and they were 4-5 overall under first year head coach Joe Tanis. Their offense recorded 27.8 points per game, while their defense allowed 32.2 points per contest. Fremont, part of the 7-team expansion of the Western Michigan Conference, finds itself as the Lakes Division representative in this cross-division matchup. Most recently part of the CSAA Gold, Fremont posted a 1-6 conference mark, and a 1-8 overall record in 2021. Their offense struggled, racking up just 15.6 points per game. Their defense allowed about four touchdowns per game, 28.9 to be exact. What better way to welcome the Packers to the WMC than by having them play a cross-division matchup against the Pirates!


Mason County Central v Frankfort. Frankfort posted a 4-1 conference record last year in the Northern Michigan Football League, and a 6-4 overall record on the season with an exit in the first round of the playoffs. The Frankfort offense did not explode, averaging just 20.3 points per game. Their defense surprisingly allowed more points than their offense, with an average of 22.5 points against per game. Mason County Central posted a 2-5 record last year, but they only played five games on the field (2-3 record). In their two victories, Mason County Central averaged 52 points per game. In their three on-field defeats, they scored just eight. The disparity of those outcomes shows why Mason County Central is ecstatic about joining the newly-formed Rivers Division of the WMC this season. They will play nearly all of their games against like-sized opponents. This opening non-conference bout, however, will be a challenge.


North Muskegon v Muskegon Catholic Central. North Muskegon, now in the Rivers Division, played in the traditional West Michigan Conference in 2021. The Norsemen posted a 2-4 conference record and a 4-6 overall record. Their offense averaged just north of three touchdowns a game, at 21.6 points per contest. On the other side of the football, the defense allowed 15.1 points per game, posting four shutouts. Muskegon Catholic Central posted a 3-0 conference record in the Lakes Eight Conference, and a 10-2 overall record. Their high-powered offense averaged a whopping 36.7 points per game in 2021, while their defense allowed 17.8 per game. Muskegon Catholic Central found themselves in the Division 7 Regional Finals in 2021, losing to Lawton. They look to pick up where they left off and make it to Ford Field for the first time since 2016. Playing an independent schedule, the Crusaders are challenging themselves each week this fall. Cross-town games are always fun to watch, and these two Muskegon teams are no exception in the season opener. 


Hesperia v Manton. Hesperia, a new team in the Rivers Division of the West Michigan Conference for 2022, was formerly part of the CSAA Silver. In 2021 they lost all four conference games, managing a 1-7 overall record. They averaged 13.9 points per game, while allowing 42.5 points per game defensively. Tyler Fehler takes over as Hesperia’s new coach this fall, looking to restore the program’s winning ways. Manton recorded a 2-5 conference record in the Highland Conference a year ago, narrowly missing the playoffs at 4-5 overall. They scored 22.9 points per game offensively and allowed 31.1 points against per game. In the 2021 opener, Manton defeated the Panthers 26-6. These two teams will look to open up the 2022 campaign, with Hesperia seeking to change last year’s script.


Ravenna v Beal City. Last year, these two teams met in Week 1, where Ravenna topped Beal City by a score of 21-20. Beal City scored a late fourth quarter touchdown, but the Bulldogs defense stopped a game-winning two-point conversion attempt. Ravenna enters 2022 as one of the favorites in the newly formed Rivers Division. Last season, Ravenna went 7-4 overall. Their offense was consistent, averaging 28 points per game. Their defense also kept them in winning positions, allowing just 20.7 points per contest. Beal City fell just short in 2021, making it all the way to the state championship, before falling to Hudson, 14-7. This was the second State Championship loss in three years for the Aggies. They finished the season 6-0 in Highland Conference play and 12-2 overall. Scoring 31 points per game while allowing only 8, it’s safe to say that if Beal City can repeat their formula from 2021, they will once again compete for a State Championship. Ravenna gave Beal City their closest game in 2021, and it feels as if another classic game between these two schools looks to be in store. 


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