**ARTICLE BY HUDSON HARKNESS**
Big Rapids @ Newaygo
Both Big Rapids and Newaygo look for their first wins of the season after getting beat by double-digits in week one. The Cardinals fell to Coopersville in week one, 42-19. The Big Rapids offense showed promise in the second half, scoring all 19 points in the final 24 minutes. As suspected, Wil Strickler led to the Cardinals throughout the game with 36 yards on the ground and 175 in the air, completing 17/31 passes. Riley Vennix was on the other end of many of those completions, having 65 yards on five receptions. With the Newaygo defense struggling to stop the run during week one against Kent City, there is a great possibility that Strickler will be using his legs more than his arm. The Cardinals defense combined for 40 tackles for loss and with a struggling Lions offense line, it could create opportunities for Big Rapids to add to their TFL total.
Newaygo was unable to put any points on the board in their 20-0 loss to Kent City. The Newaygo defense had a difficult time slowing the run down especially inside the redzone. With Big Rapids ability to run the ball, it could create problems on the Lions sideline. The Newaygo offense had no answer to the blitz last Thursday. Kent City was able to sack Grant Harkness several times, making it difficult to get the ball into the strong receiving core hands. The Lions were only able to cross mid-field a handful of times.
With a struggling offensive line for the Lions and a Cardinal defense that is flying to the ball in the backfield, watch for Newaygo to do quick screens to get the ball in their playmaker’s hands. Play attention to Big Rapids’ Ayden Hewer and Garrett Foster out of the backfield. I still see Big Rapids coming out with their first win of the season.
Central Montcalm @ Kent City
Two 1-0 teams battle it out in a CSAA crossover matchup when Central Montcalm travels to Kent City. Central Montcalm picked up the shutout to Morley-Stanwood in week one, 38-0. The Hornets used their legs to give them the advantage, rushing for five touchdowns, four of them inside the 10-yard line. The Hornet defense also provided to the scoring, with a scoop and score from Carter Jeffrey and 40-yard pick six from Laine Nielson. With the Kent City power run game from Kyler Larson, Caden Hartzell, and Mason Westbrook working in week one it could be an early test for the Hornet defense.
Kent City also pitched a shutout in week one, when they beat Newaygo 20-0. The Eagles’ defense was able to hold Newaygo from crossing mid-field only a handful of times by utilizing their blitz first scheme. The Kent City played on a short field a majority of week one, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they were able to run the ball right through the heart of the Newaygo defense.
From the eye test, this game is a toss-up but will Kent City defense be able to stop the strong running of Isaac Johnson and Joey Morrow or will Mason Westbrook and the Eagle defense step-up big like they did in the week one win? I think Central Montcalm will come out with the win because of their ability to score at any point on any side of the ball.
Chippewa Hills @ Grant
Chippewa Hills and Grant look to pick up their first wins of the season as the Warriors travel to play the Tigers. Chippewa Hills didn’t have the game they wanted in week one when they faced off against Gladwin and lost 62-0. The Flying’s G offense was too much for the Warriors. This week the Warriors face off against a tough opponent in Grant who held their own against Comstock Park in week one. Chippewa Hills is going to have to figure out where things went wrong in their blowout loss. Whether that is having to move around players on their defense or trying something new on offense, another big loss may set the Warriors up for another tough season.
The Tigers held their own against a Comstock Park team that beat Grant 55-6 just a year ago. This season, the game ended in a 24-14 score. The Tigers offense and defense showed promise and improvement from last season. This week playing a Chippewa Hills team that is coming off a big loss, it is important for the Tigers not to take this game as a pushover. If the Tigers come out and play the way they are expected, and the Warriors aren’t able to make any adjustments, expect for Grant to get a big win in week two.
Lakeview @ Saugatuck
Lakeview travels to Saugatuck in the battle of two 0-1 teams searching for their first wins in the 2022 campaign. In week one, Lakeview took a big loss to Tri-County, 50-19. The Wildcats had trouble protecting the ball. Lakeview had five fumbles, one interception, and two blocked punts. This offseason, the key emphasis for the Wildcats was to limit the mistakes that hurt them last season. In week one those mistakes came back, as they lost the turnover battle. If Lakeview wants a shot at winning their first game against Saugatuck, they are going to have to get the turnover problem fixed.
Saugatuck fell to Buchanan in week one, 46-20. The Trailblazers had a slow start that didn’t allow them to score until the second quarter, and by that time Buchanan had already put 16 points on the board. Saugatuck must come out firing in week two if they want to win.
If the Wildcats want any shot at winning this week, they must limit and win the turnover battle. If they are unable to get the little mistakes fixed, they will come out on the wrong side of the game.
Morley-Stanwood @ Carson City-Crystal
Both Morley-Stanwood and Carson City-Crystal are looking for their first wins after both getting shutout in week one. Against Central Montcalm, Morley-Stanwood had no answers to the Hornets run game. The Mohawks offense was also not able to move the ball down the field in multiple attempts to run and pass. If the Mohawks want a shot to get the win against Carson City-Crystal, they will have to get their offense started early and hold the Eagles’ run game.
The Eagles fell to a strong Fowler team, 29-0, in week one. Fowler’s power running was too much for CC-C to slow down in week one. With Morley-Stanwood being a run first team it could create an interesting matchup on for this Eagle defense.
Morley-Stanwood will have to find their run game early in this game and set the tone if they want put Carson City-Crystal down early. If the Mohawks let the Eagles stick around, there is a good shot CC-C pulls it out.
Reed City @ Tri-County
A matchup between the top two teams in the CSAA Gold a season ago highlights the Week 2 slate, as the heavyweights meet up in a potential early season conference championship. Reed City started the season off just the way they expected, with the 64-16 win over Orchard View. Orchard View, however, is a different team than Tri-County. The Cardinals didn’t play at all during 2021, while the Vikings are bringing back several of their players from their team last year. The Reed City offense, led by Noah Morgan and Seth Jackson, are going to have their work cut out for them with the strong Tri-County defense. The tiring run game that the Coyotes use could push Reed City to a win, but the Coyote defense is going to have to step up big. The Vikings have multiple targets in Stuart Gould, Trent Behrenwald, Ian Boden and more; Seth Jackson will be responsible to cover one of them at all times, and time will reveal what other defenders the Coyotes have.
Tri-County took down Lakeview in week one, 50-19. The Vikings looked nearly flawless, like Reed City, in their win. Their defense had six takeaways, and their offense ran the ball wherever and whenever they wanted. The challenge comes this week when they face the Reed City Wing-T offense based of deception and physicality. This game will test the discipline of the Vikings defense, as Tri-County will have an array options on offense. As mentioned, they have reliable choices at every position, and they could score at any point. The question will be on the Viking O-line, that graduated all five starters from last season. Will they be able to hold up with the physical play of Reed City all game, both ways?
This game should be on everyone’s watch list. This will be one of the most exciting games of the season in the CSAA. Both teams having the ability to make a game changing play on any play on all three sides of the ball should make this matchup a shootout and could very easily come down to whoever has the ball at the end.
Hart @ White Cloud
In the CSAA-WMC crossover game, Hart travels to White Cloud after the Pirates have a tough week one. Hart fell to former CSAA member, Fremont, 22-8 in week one. The Pirates offense stalled from the start. They were not able to reach the triple digits in total offense, and they were only able to move the chains seven times. The Hart defense had no answer to the Fremont offense as they allowed 250 total yards. With White Cloud’s run game stealing the show in week one, it could make for a long 48-minutes for the Pirates.
White Cloud took down another WMC team in week one, when they beat Shelby 40-20. The Indians were led by Jace Silverthorn on offense, rushing for 315 yards and 4 touchdowns. Silverthorn also led the team on defense, as he and Lloyd Sebright-Johnson each totaled 11 tackles. The Pirates’ defense is going to have a difficult time slowing down the run game of the Indians. White Cloud’s defense will also create issues for Hart as White Cloud produced five players with five or more tackles in week one.
If White Cloud is able to keep their run game strong and keep the gang tackling mindset on defense, they should come out on top of this crossover game. However, Hart has room to improve from week one and could upset the Indians.
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