**ARTICLE BY JOSH LONGSTRETH**
Frankenmuth vs Birch Run
The Frankenmuth Eagles picked up a historic win last week as they defeated the Swan Valley Vikings 41-16. The win would give Frankenmuth head coach Phil Martin his 93rd with the program. It puts him ahead of every Frankenmuth coach in history for career victories. Taking over for the previous coach, John Blankenship, the program has continued to flourish. The record setter wouldn’t get off to the greatest of starts for the Eagles. Swan Valley made it a game early on taking an early 9-0 lead. The Eagles found some momentum, and from there they made their presence known taking a big lead into the half. Sam Barger led the way for the Eagles on the ground, while Riley Hubbard led the way on defense with 5 tackles and an interception.
After what was kind of a chaotic season for the Birch Run Panthers in 2021, they have come out with an intent of being a factor in the TVC in 2022. The Panthers are starting to really settle in under 2nd year head coach Nick Maksimchuk. The Panthers return enough where they might just have a say in the TVC Central. Birch Run picked up another impressive win over Bay City John Glenn last week. Birch Run was led by standout running back Kahleel Brown, who ran for nearly 300 yards and 4 touchdowns. It was a close one at the half, as Birch Run led 20-14. The Panthers pounced early and often coming out of the half, as they held John Glenn to just 5-yards of total offense in the second half, cruising to a 42-20 win.
This is a series that has been dominated for much of the decade by the Eagles. Birch Run looks to turn the tide and open some eyes as they travel to Frankenmuth on Friday in a battle of 2-0 teams.
Freeland vs Bridgeport
The Freeland Falcons have soared into the 2022 season in a flourish. The Falcons have opened their first two games by outscoring their opponents 101-16. The dominance continued last weekend, when they defeated the Alma Panthers. The Falcons had their way throughout, leading 45-6 at halftime. That victory was led by the dominance on the lines of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. It’s helped their quarterback, Sam Talaga, really settle into the offense, as he is becoming more comfortable with each series. The Falcons appeared to overmatch the Panthers in every way, with the special teams providing a huge advantage. With the early lead, Freeland was able to shuffle in fresh running backs all night, which only helps late in the season.
The Bridgeport Bearcats have started on the other end of the spectrum. After a close loss to Chesaning, the Bearcats took a step back last week at the hands of Essexville Garber. The Bearcats have had a tough few years, which includes going 0-9 in 2021. The Bearcats were outscored 44-419 last year. But 2022 isn’t last year. They will look to try and improve throughout the season, and have an opportunity for an upset victory against Freeland on Friday night. The Bearcats have an opportunity to get some momentum going with a good showing.
Freeland will soar into Bridgeport on Friday for their first road game of the season. Bridgeport will look to welcome them as they hope to give the Falcons a fight.
St. Louis vs Michigan Lutheran Seminary
The St. Louis Sharks have had a couple tough games to open up the high school football season. St. Louis lost a battle against Calvin Christian on the last play of the game in week 1. This past week, they gave the Hesperia Panthers everything they could handle. Hesperia would hang on 18-12, but you couldn’t have asked for a better effort from the Sharks. Much like the previous week, the Sharks would get off to a bit of a slow start, but they kept fighting. The Sharks defense came up with 2 fumble recoveries, 2 blocked punts, and didn’t allow a single point in the 2nd half against the Panthers. Thomas Zacharko led the way with 10 total tackles, 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and a punt block. RJ Macias chipped in with 9.5 tackles, 5 that were included for loss, a blocked punt and a fumble recovery. The Sharks know they’ll have to get off to a fast start this week against Michigan Lutheran Seminary, “We’re preparing to go against a run game that is well-oiled. We’re working harder to make sure that we correct our early mental mistakes from the previous two games. Just trying to find our footing with a really young team. We’re getting better each week, and we look to keep that going on Friday”. There’s no doubt the young Sharks will be hungry when they take on the Cardinals.
It’s been sort of a different start for the Michigan Lutheran Seminary Cardinals. They rolled Byron in their first game, and were able to knock off a Cardinal Mooney team in week two in a high scoring affair. This will be their first conference game as well, as they look to continue their winnings ways with a pounding run game.
This one should be a good one. Over the last few years, the Sharks were able to hold the Cardinals off in a thriller, including 35-32 last year. St. Louis smells blood in the water as they look to grab their first win of the season at home, against a Cardinals team that will look to keep them at bay.
Clare vs Beaverton
The Clare Pioneers came out in a flurry last week against the Pinconning Spartans. The Pioneers were explosive on offense and dominant on defense in their week 2 matchup. It was a game in which Clare would lead 56-0 at the half. They would go on to take the JPC opener, 76-6. This would be the first win with head coach Steven Spranger at the helm. “Our emphasis was just playing with tempo and cleaning up some of the little things that got away from us in week 1”, said Spranger. He couldn’t have said it any better as the Pioneers were clicking on all cylinders. “We still have a lot of areas where we can improve, but our urgency was much better in this one”. Spranger, however, knows that they face a different set of challenges this week in Beaverton. “They’re a gritty team that always plays with a ton of effort. Coach Seisler has really done a great job with that program. They’re different from Freeland and Pinconning being run first teams, they’re a little more balanced. We’ll need to be prepared.”
The Beaverton Beavers will open what is their JPC opener this Friday. The Beavers fell to 0-2 in a loss against Fremont last week. It was a night where the Beavers were really decimated by injuries. This can be tough especially for a team that is looking to establish chemistry. Beaverton is a program that has gone 40-18 since 2016. They look to gain some momentum back this week against Clare.
Beaverton will look to grab their first win of the season in what would be monumental for them. They won’t have an easy task as they roll into Clare for a Friday night affair with the Pioneers.
Croswell-Lexington vs Armada
The Cros-Lex Pioneers faced their first conference game last week in the Richmond Blue Devils. The first 4:00 minutes of the game each team would turn the ball over twice. This one appeared that it was going to be a nail biter. There wouldn’t be much that would go wrong the rest of the game for the Pioneers. Cros-Lex would go onto a 61-7 win over the Blue Devils. As Head Coach Mike LaGrow put it, “We played very well, I thought. We were able to get things going on offense and our defense played great as well causing 4 turnovers. We started off slow so we’ve been really making sure that we practice ball security this week in practice”. He also knows that they will be faced with another tough test this week in the Armada Tigers. “They’re a very well coached team with Kyle Rowley. They play fast and physical. It’ll be a tough one in the trenches”. The Pioneers have been dynamic on offense and hungry on defense in the early going of the year. They’ll look to continue that in week 3.
The Armada Tigers are a team that has some momentum of their own heading into this week. They’re coming off a 42-18 win last week over the Yale Bulldogs. It’s a team that has been looking to take a big step each week, and through the first two weeks of the season, they’re continuing to climb. Kyle Coenen and Vinny Fodale have lead the charge for the 2-0 Tigers. The Tigers seem to have the toughness to make a statement in week 3.
The Pioneers have had their way in this series for nearly half a decade. The Tigers have not beaten Cros-Lex since 2004. They have a chance at continuing to back strides to a playoff birth this year when Armada goes to Pioneer country on Friday night.
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