Coopersville vs Spring Lake
After a heartbreaking defeat last week, Coopersville enters Week 4 with a 2-1 record. They put up a phenomenal fight against state power West Catholic, falling 17-14 on a game-winning field goal in the closing seconds. This week, they will try to right the ship against Spring Lake. The Lakers are 3-0, defeating Montague, Belding and Unity Christian. What is perhaps most interesting about the Lakers’ start is that every game was 34-28. This week, they will look to surpass their win total from a season ago against the Broncos. In the 2022 season finale, Coopersville bested Spring Lake 31-23.
South Christian vs Forest Hills Eastern
The Sailors were able to bounce back from their Week 2 defeat, outlasting Kenowa Hills 49-28 in a shootout. This week, South Christian will take on an unbeaten Forest Hills Eastern squad. Last week, in their league opener, the Hawks blanked Ottawa Hills 64-0. It has been smooth sailing for FHE so far, outscoring opponents 132-20, but this will be their first true test of 2023. South has dominated this series with a 11-2 all-time advantage. It was 34-14 Sailors last fall, and the last FHE win came in 2015.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central vs Middleville
The Cougars pitched a shutout in their OK Gold opener, keeping the Wayland Wildcats off the scoreboard in a 35-0 win. This week, they will take that momentum into battle with the Trojans. Despite being 0-3 on the season, Middleville suffered defeats to a trio of 2022 playoff teams. Last week, their offense exploded for 52 points, their highest total in two years. This has been a one-sided pairing since they began play in 2008. GRCC has won 10 of 11 games, the lone Trojan win coming back in 2010.
East Kentwood vs Grandville
The East Kentwood Falcons suffered a second straight defeat last week, falling narrowly to Hudsonville 17-14. This week, they match up with another M-6 foe, Grandville. The Bulldogs are 2-1 on the year, after taking down Grand Haven 42-20. These contests are always a physical battle, though Grandville has seized control of the rivalry as of late. Their 34-21 win last fall was their fourth straight and seventh in the past eight games.
Hudsonville vs Grand Haven
The Hudsonville Eagles, with their narrow win over East Kentwood noted above, improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2018. This week, they will try to improve to 4-0 with a league battle against the Bucs. Grand Haven enters play with a 1-2 record, including the loss last week to Grandville. Hudsonville’s high-powered offense propelled them to a 56-30 win last fall, its 12th straight in the series. Grand Haven’s last victory over the Eagles was a 28-6 win back in 2011.
Rockford vs Caledonia
After being road warriors for their first three contests of the 2023 football season, Rockford finally returns to the friendly confines of Carlson/Munger Stadium for the first time on Friday, September 15. And the opponent could not be any bigger as the Fighting Scots of Caledonia provide the opposition in a contest slated for a 7:00 P.M. kickoff.
Both teams enter the contest with perfect records of 3-0. Caledonia has beaten Romeo (35-28), North Farmington (42-7) and West Ottawa (49-3) while the Rams have topped Muskegon (27-7), Muskegon Mona Shores (31-8) and Jenison (49-12). Both squads are ranked in the top five teams in the state in various polls. Rockford has arguably played a tougher schedule with games against the two Muskegon powerhouses. Caledonia has averaged more points per game with 42 versus 36 for Rockford. The Rams allow fewer points per game at nine while the Scots surrender 13. Rockford leads the series between the teams with a record of 8-2. The most recent win for both teams came in the 2022 season with Rockford cruising to a 38-15 regular season win and Caledonia earning a 14-13 double overtime slugfest to knock the Rams out of the state playoffs after a perfect regular season. That win for Caledonia propelled them all the way to the state finals, where they fell to Bellville in Division 1. This time around the Scots will play in Division 2 while Rockford stays in Division 1 to avoid another potential early exit for these two powerful teams in the playoffs.
The Fighting Scots are coached by Derek Pennington SR who is in his third season at the helm. He has racked up an impressive record of 25-4 thus far. He previously coached for 13 years at Zeeland East with a record of 88-43 during that tenure. Rockford is led by fourth-year head coach Brent Cummings. Cummings is also an impressive 32-3 and has led Rockford to three consecutive OK Red championships.
What a start to the season it has been for the Zeeland East Chix. East has gotten off to their first 3-0 start since the 2017 season and has done that by outscoring opponents, 147-78. The Chix defense is still fixing some things but the offense has been running on all cylinders in the first few weeks. That was on display yet again last week as they put up 63 points on Grand Rapids Union. Zeeland East will have a chance to keep rolling as they face a Wyoming team that they match up very well against.
The Wyoming Wolves haven’t gotten off to the start they had hoped for to begin the 2023 season. It hasn’t helped that Wyoming has been through a gauntlet of a schedule in facing three teams with a combined record, 8-1. Offensively and defensively, the Wolves took a step in the opposite direction last week as they never could get much going against a stout Zeeland West defense. It was a rough day in trying to stop the Dux offense as the Wolves couldn’t contain the rushing attack that West posed. This week they’ll need to contain an East offense that can pile up just as many yards in a hurry.
Zeeland West @ Grand Rapids Union
Another week, another strong performance on both sides of the ball from the Zeeland West Dux. The Dux have been dominant, in fact, through three weeks of the football season. West has now outscored their opponents, 146-23, on the year. It’s a team that has gotten off to quick starts and nearly had each game put away by halftime. They have been spear-headed by quarterback Trenton Bolhouse, Parker Holman, and Rolando Robelin. Teams have not been able to stop the trio and it appears that might not change any time soon. The Dux will look to put another strong performance together this week against a vulnerable Red Hawks team.
The Grand Rapids Union offense has been able to do some things to keep the Red Hawks in games at times. The defense, on the other hand, hasn’t been able to limit opposing offenses for the last couple weeks that have ended in one-sided affairs. They won’t have it easy when they take on West this week but if their defense can get on par with the offense, they might be able to make things interesting.
Comstock Park @ Belding
The Comstock Park Panthers have found their way a bit over the last two weeks of the 2023 football season. Comstock Park put together their most impressive performance last week by taking down Kelloggsville, 53-13. The offense has been rolling all season and the defense gained some big confidence in the win over the Rockets. Offensively, the Panthers had everything in tune last week as nearly everyone got involved. This week, they’ll have a different test in front of them in Belding. A performance like last week isn’t out of the question for a Panthers team riding high on momentum.
Three weeks in the season, the Belding Black Knights have been faced with nearly every scenario that a team could go through. In week one, Belding would impress in a gritty win over Ionia. A week later, they would face a different fate as they lost a thriller to Spring Lake. In week three, the Black Knights made sure they got over that in a hurry by dominating Hopkins. They’ll have a chance to see if they can build some big momentum against a Comstock Park team who is finding success.
Central Montcalm VS Chippewa Hills
The Central Montcalm Hornets ran into a bit of a juggernaut in week three. Falling to a Big Rapids team that can put points on the board in a hurry didn’t help. The Cardinals defense wouldn’t let Central Montcalm get into a flow offensively which led to a long night on both sides of the ball for the Hornets. Central Montcalm will look to be up to task this week when they face a Chippewa Hills team that fell to a real good Reed City team last week.
It’s been a mixed bag to the start of the 2023 season for the Chippewa Hills Warriors. Winning a tough fought game in week one, Chippewa Hills cruised in their week two win over Grant. Last week, things would change course a bit. Going up against a Reed City team that was looking for their first win of the year didn’t help. The Warriors would fall in that one, 6-37. They’ll have a chance to bounce back in a big way against a Hornets team that has struggled the last two weeks.
This one should be up for grabs as the two have gone back and forth over the last few years. Buckle up as these two get after it again this Friday in Central Montcalm.
Newaygo vs Tri-County
It was a big week three for the Newaygo Lions. The Lions were able to dominate much of the game against Morley Stanwood and for a team that needed a big boost, they surely did that last week. There’s always a point in a season when a team will find their way and Newaygo hopes that is exactly what happened last week. A deep breath was big for the Lions, especially in the fact of the team that they are up against this week. They will take on a Tri-County Vikings team that is as hot as could be in the early 2023 season.
Tri-County was able to flex their muscle last week in a dominate win over the Grant Tigers. It was just another week where Tri-County put together big performances on both sides of the ball. The Vikings all but had the game in the bag at the half as they held a 38-0 lead to that point. Tri-County will now have a chance to grab another, but it will come with a fight as Newaygo has gained some confidence. These two will square off this Friday night with a 7:00 kickoff time.
Freeland vs Bridgeport
The Freeland Falcons have found themselves in a battle early on in their first few games of the 2023 season. One big difference in each of the last two weeks has been the fact that Freeland is starting to wear on teams throughout four quarters of football. In their week three matchup, the Falcons were met with a solid young Garber team that just wouldn’t go away in the first half. Freeland took some big time momentum into the half and that really would be the story in that one. The ground game was big for Freeland on the night as they racked up nearly 500 yards on the ground. This is what they look to do on a weekly basis, get the run game going to open up the pass game. Right now, that has been a recipe for success early this season. To add to that, the Falcons defense continues to improve each week and that was shown against the Dukes as they had a ton of pressure on the Garber quarterback all night. They’ll look to keep that going against a Bridgeport team who is going through it a bit.
It hasn’t been the start to the season that the Bridgeport Bearcats had hoped for. The last few seasons have been hard on Bridgeport as it has been hard for them to compete each week. After winning their first game of the year, the Bearcats have been outscored 6-94 the last two weeks. The Bearcats will need some big time improvement this week if they hope to make it again with Freeland this week. Limiting the run game of Freeland could be the key here. The Falcons will welcome them in for their first home game of the season this Friday night.
Gladwin @ Clare
The Gladwin Flying G’s have not felt a loss in now 17-straight games for their football program. Much like week one, they had a big bullseye on their backs in a tough fought win over a tough Shepherd team. Gladwin showed yet again why they are the defending Division 5 State Champions. They were able to get off to a big start by leading 20-7 at the half. The ground game was strong yet again for the Flying G’s as they put up 193 yards rushing on the Bluejays. Despite turning the ball over three times on the night, Gladwin was still able to control most of the game. They’ll have a big test in their way this week, maybe the biggest yet.
There may not be a hotter team in the Jack Pine Conference than the Clare Pioneers. Clare piled it on a tough Beaverton team last week, 49-0. It was a night of complete and utter domination from the Pioneers as they piled up 315 yards of total offense on the Beavers. The defense might have been even more impressive as they held Beaverton to just 97 yards of total offense on the night. Clare would just about have the game put away by halftime as they held a 35-0 lead to that point. Turnovers helped the Pioneers as they turned the Beavers over three times on the night. Things won’t be as easy this week against rival Gladwin, but they sure do appear to be up to task.
This will be one of those games that both of these teams will look back on and point to a turning point in each team’s season. One of those games where you sit back and watch a big time football game on Friday night and this one should be as advertised. Buckle up, Gladwin heads over to Clare in a big JPC showdown this Friday night.
Frankenmuth @ Birch Run
Frankenmuth put together another strong performance last week as they took down John Glenn, 35-6. The Eagles had it going on both sides of the ball for a second straight week. It’s something that is expected for Frankenmuth on a yearly basis, being solid on both sides of the ball and making deep playoff runs. They’ll have another stiff test in front of them this week in going against a Birch Run team that has started 3-0 for the first time since the 2018 season.
It’s been an impressive start for the Birch Run Panthers. After cruising the first two weeks of the season, Birch Run was faced with their toughest battle last week against Alma. Birch Run was able to pull off a thrilling 23-21 over Alma and truly showed their resilience throughout. The Birch Run offense was able to get it done on the ground and through the air as they led a balanced attack on the night. They’ll have a big test on their hands this week when they take on the Eagles. Frankenmuth has dominated the series for quite some time as the Panthers look to change that.
Birch Run welcomes in the Eagles this Friday night at 7:00.