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Nick Vlietstra's High School Sports Blog Week 3 Recap, Week 4 Preview

by Nick Vlietstra

Week 3 recap


There were a few big games and a few surprises in the SMAC this week.  While it wasn’t in the Kalamazoo area I would say the biggest surprise might have been St. Joseph beating Stevensville Lakeshore.  It was a rivalry game that was at St. Joe, and the Bears nearly knocked off Lakeshore last season but this time they completed the deal with a sound 32-20 win.  That snaps a 12 game regular season winning streak for the Lancers.

The other big game was in Mattawan where Portage Central took care of the Wildcats in the same fashion they have with other teams this season…fairly easily.  It was a 34-8 win for PC who is now 3-0 and outscoring opponents on average 49-5 this season.  Mattawan, who has had two great seasons, is reeling and now holding a 1-2 record.  They have a lot of work to do with very little room for error and still with games against Portage Northern, Stevensville Lakeshore and St. Joseph.

Over in the East, Harper Creek and Marshall renewed their rivalry on Friday and it turned out to be a great defensive battle and maybe one that a lot of people didn’t see coming.  Marshall had given up a league worst 60 ppg through the first two weeks but their defense showed up in a big way, it just wasn’t enough.  A late safety followed by a late TD was what allowed HC to come out on top 14-6.  It’s another big win for the Beavers who improve to 2-1.  Marshall on the other hand is now 0-3.  The good thing for them is that the toughest part of their schedule is now done, and the last six games are winnable. 

One other team of note is Lakeview who is now 3-0 on the season.  Through three games they are still yet to allow any points.  That’s a great way to start, even if it is against three of the weaker teams in the conference.  So far their opponents have a combined 1-8 record this season.  The opponent doesn’t get any better this week as they travel to Battle Creek Central.

Week 4 Games:



Portage Northern (3-0) @ St. Joseph (3-0)

Stevensville-Lakeshore (2-1) @ Portage Central (3-0)

Kalamazoo Central (2-1) @ Niles (1-2)

Mattawan (1-2) @ Benton Harbor (0-3)



Gull Lake (0-3) @ Loy Norrix (0-3)

Battle Creek Lakeview (3-0) @ Battle Creek Central (0-3)

Coldwater (1-2) @ Harper Creek (2-1)

Marshall (0-3) @ Sturgis (2-1)


Plainwell continued their hot start with another big win on the road in Dowagiac.  It marks the Trojans’ first win over the Chieftains since Dowagiac joined the Wolverine.  It was all about the defense for Plainwell who held Dowagiac under 100 total yards (49 passing and 42 rushing).  It was also the second shutout of the season for Plainwell who has now allowed only seven points in three games.  It was also the first time the Chieftains have been shutout in a game since 2005.  Plainwell has had a tough schedule to start the season but they have responded well.  Two road games in Coloma and Dowagiac with a home game with Three Rivers in-between is not an easy slate.  They have also faced two teams who have slowed down their offense (they’ve only scored 24 points in the last two games) but they also have beaten two more than likely playoff teams.

Paw Paw continues their great start and look like they are not slowing down one bit.  Unlike Plainwell, they have had a relatively easy schedule so far.  Their opponents have a combined 2-7 record, but the Redskins have beaten down their opponents as you would expect them to do, outscoring opponents 138-12 through three games.  Plainwell and Paw Paw look like they are on a collision course later this season, and I don’t see either team falling in any game outside of that game.

Week 4 games


Otsego (2-1) @ Plainwell (3-0)

Allegan (0-3) @ Paw Paw (3-0)

Vicksburg (1-2) @ Comstock (0-3)


Three Rivers (2-1) @ Coloma (1-2)

Berrien Springs (1-2) @ Dowagiac (2-1)

South Haven (0-3) @ Edwardsburg (3-0)


The biggest game of the week was Schoolcraft visiting Olivet, a place they have never won, and as it turns out, they still have never won.  Olivet won 28-14 and the shift at the top of the conference continues.  Schoolcraft had troubles slowing down the Olivet rush attack, primarily Shane Loney who rushed for 139 yards and three TDs.  That now puts Olivet as the team at the top as the team to beat.  It is interesting every year who will be the team who steps up to win the KVA because of those four teams it is anyone’s guess who will win it.  Last year no one saw Schoolcraft winning it and they went undefeated.  Last week Constantine goes down and this week Schoolcraft.  There is a long way to go, but winning the conference now will go through Olivet and Pennfield.

Another big shock was Parchment beating Kalamazoo Christian.  Perhaps it wasn’t a surprise that the Panthers won, but in what was expected to be a close game Parchment won 53-7.  They held a 40-0 lead at the half.  It is a good win for Parchment who needed to have that game with a very tough opening schedule.  Of the four top teams in the conference (Schoolcraft, Constantine, Pennfield and Olivet) Parchment faces them all in four of the first five games.  Getting this win gives them a little confidence before facing Constantine this week.  And look out because a game Parchment team at home could give the Falcons, who clearly have big defensive issues, some problems this week.

Week 4 games

Constantine (2-1) @ Parchment (1-2)

Olivet (3-0) @ Hackett (2-1)

Kalamazoo Christian (1-2) @ Maple Valley (1-2)

Schoolcraft (2-1) @ Galesburg-Augusta (0-3)

Pennfield (3-0) @ Delton (0-3)


The league’s top game this week was Decatur hosting Saugatuck and the Raiders held on in a tight match to win 27-20.  I think this game solidifies a few things.  The first two things are things we probably already knew.  The South is a better division and Decatur is a good team.  The other thing it shows is that Saugatuck is for sure the team to beat in the North and they also are a good team.  It takes a lot to go on the road to Decatur and give the Raiders a battle.  The South is going to be a fun division to watch, while I think the North will be won fairly easily by the Indians.

One interesting game this week was Hartford against Fennville.  Fennville has been a tough team to figure out so far and have a very tough schedule on top of it.  They opened the season giving one of the top teams in the conference, Lawton, a very good game but falling 38-26.  They came back in week two and got blown out by Decatur 48-0.  Then we come to this week where they fall to a tough Hartford team 14-7.  They obviously found a way to slow down the Hartford rush attack but not completely shut it down.  Miguel Meldoza still rushed for 153 yards and two TDs.  Hartford survived and is now 3-0, while Fennville played tough again but falls to 0-3 and they are still a tough team to figure out.

Week 4 Games:

Decatur (3-0) @ Gobles (1-2)

Hartford (3-0) @ Saugatuck (2-1)

Lawton (3-0) @ Bangor (1-2)

Marcellus (1-2) @ Fennville (0-3)

Watervliet (3-0) @ Martin (0-3)

Three Oaks River Valley (1-2) @ Bloomingdale (0-3)


Players of the week

1. Justin Hull, Constantine RB

Have a week Justin Hull.  The RB put up a monster game rushing for 353 yards and six TDs in the Falcons’ 56-28 win over Maple Valley.  Hull scored on three runs of 17 yards and also from 28, 38 and 48 yards.  He averaged over 23 yards per carry on the night.  It is only three weeks in but Hull is approaching 500 rushing yards on the season already.

2. Luke Traver, Watervliet QB

Watervliet stepped outside the conference to face White Pigeon on Friday night but the results on the scoreboard and the results for Traver remained the same.  On the scoreboard the Panthers rolled to a 34-7 win.  As for Traver he completed 23-30 passes for 302 yards and a TD.  He also rushed for another 70 yards and two TDs.  He now has 14 total TDs this season and is approaching 1000 total yards.

3. Jake Doll, Paw Paw QB

I can’t keep this guy out of the top five.  He is back here for a third straight week.  In a 49-6 win over Coloma on Friday Doll completed 22-29 passes for 271 yards and four TDs.  He also added 39 rushing yards on the ground. For the season now he has had a part in 13 out of the 18 TDs that the Redskins’ offense has produced.

4. Clay Wilkey, Parchment RB/LB

Parchment’s two way stud Clay Wilkey stepped up in a big way again on Friday night in a 53-7 win over Kalamazoo Christian.  He was a big part of everything going on both offensively and defensively.  On the offensive end he rushed 11 times for 158 yards and scored three TDs.  He scored on runs of 19, 32 and 43 yards out.  On the defensive end he led a Parchment defense, which held the Kalamazoo Christian offense without a first down in the first half, with 10 tackles and two tackles for loss.

5. Devon Gildea, Gobles RB

Gobles picked up their first win of the season on Friday night with a 44-20 win over Marcellus.  In that game Gildea led the offense rushing for 167 yards and three TDs.  He scored on runs of 22, 37 and 63 yards.  Gildea has been the top rusher this season rushing for close to 300 yards and five TDs.

Big Games for Week 4

Portage Northern (3-0) @ St. Joseph (3-0)

This should be a great match-up between two teams who are battling for the top of the SMAC West.  Both teams are 3-0, although they have taken two different routes to get there.  PN has had a very easy schedule thus far and St. Joe has been just the opposite.  If you want to look at trends in this series, they have split the last four years, both winning every other year.  If that trend continues it would be St. Joe’s year to win, but who looks at that stuff when picking a game?

Portage Northern is 3-0 and is winning with another strong defense and an efficient offense.  The issue with the Huskies so far is that they haven’t really played anyone very good yet.  Their opponents have a combined 3-6 record.  Yes that does include a win over a 2-1 Kalamazoo Central team last week, but I don’t know many people who are putting the Giants anywhere but near the bottom of the West division.  Still, the Huskies were strong last year and I still believe they are a team that is going to battle with the best of the teams at the top of the West division.

On the other side, St. Joseph is coming off a great win, as they ended the Stevensville-Lakeshore 12 game regular season winning streak and ended their four year losing streak to the Lancers.  They also hold another very good road win over Harper Creek in week two.  I don’t think there would have been many people who would say the Bears would be 3-0 after three weeks, and there might have been plenty of people would have said they would be 1-2.  It is a very good start to the season for a team who really wants to be included in the elite of the West division and with last week’s win they certainly took a step in the right direction.  In the stats they do plenty of things well but maybe nothing great.  They have outscored opponents 79-43 in their three games.

My Pick: St. Joseph 23, Portage Northern 20.  The Bears have shown early in the season that they are for real.  I think the home turf will help them to a 4-0 start.

Stevensville-Lakeshore (2-1) @ Portage Central (3-0)

These were two teams that were thought to be the top two teams in the West division going into the season.  They still could be just that, but Lakeshore’s loss last week took a little luster off of this battle.  Still, there is plenty riding on this game and PC looks to solidify their place at the top of the division and SL looks to bounce back and will try to show they still plan on having a major say in this division battle.  The Lancers have won the last two meetings between these two including a 41-40 shootout last season.

Portage Central is off to a great start and is outscoring opponents 148-15.  They are also coming off a good 34-8 win over Mattawan last week.  Their strong rushing attack is running at a great clip.  They have been led in the back field by Jacob Allen and Jarrod Davis who both have rushed for close to 300 yards in three weeks.  They have a veteran team that is pushing to give the Mustangs a great season.

Lakeshore played two opening week games against two teams that are a combined 0-6 (Gull Lake and Marshall).  They, as expected, hammered both of those teams.  That led to this past week when they played a very tough St. Joseph team and fell on the road for the first time in 12 regular season games.  They are a team that graduated some very quality players, but still they are expected to compete for the top of this division.

My Pick: Portage Central 27 Stevensville Lakeshore 20.  After winning 12 in a row Lakeshore could lose two in a row?  I think so.  PC has the veteran team and is at home.

Otsego (2-1) @ Plainwell (3-0)

The longest running rivalry in Michigan adds another chapter on Friday night.  It has been a very good rivalry for the last few years as both have had quality teams.  Plainwell comes in having won last year’s meeting 23-7.  That win snapped a three game losing streak against the Bulldogs.

It has been quite a run of big games for Plainwell.  They have had one of the top games in the area for the last three weeks with games against Three Rivers, Dowagiac and now Otsego.  Their defense has been their calling card so far as they have pitched two shutouts this season and have allowed only seven points in three games.  That includes last week’s 10-0 win over Dowagiac which was the first time Dowagiac has been shutout since they joined the Wolverine Conference and a streak that goes back to 2005.  Their offense has been led by the thunder and lightning rushing duo of Ryan Britton and Jacob Geter.  They have not had to rely on any sort of a passing game this season as they have thrown a total of 15 passes and have only gained 94 yards through the air.

Otsego on the other has played very good defense the last two weeks as they too have pitched two shutouts against South haven and Berrien Springs.  But that came after their opening week when they were smashed by the Edwardsburg rushing attack losing 34-7.  Really, outside of their week two 56-0 win over South Haven, who is allowing over 46 ppg this season, they have struggled on offense.  They scored only seven against Edwardsburg and only 13 against Berrien Springs.

My Pick: Plainwell 23, Otsego 13.  I think Plainwell is the better team and they are at home.  I also think that Otsego will struggle to score points just as they did last year.

Hartford (3-0) @ Saugatuck (2-1)

This should be a great match-up between one of the top teams in the South and the team I feel is the top team in the North.  It has been quite a while since these two have faced each other.  Although they have been in the same conference the different divisions has kept them from actually facing each other.  This will mark the first meeting between these two since a 33-0 Hartford win in 2009.

Saugatuck played one of the top teams in the South tough last week on the road and now they get another one at home this week.  Both of these teams have been able to score the ball at a good rate this season.  Saugatuck is averaging over 42 ppg and Hartford is scoring over 36 ppg.  Both have played very good defense as well.  Saugatuck is giving up just 13 ppg and Hartford is surrendering just over 11 ppg.  Saugatuck will need to slow down Hartford’s rushing attack of Miguel Melgoza and Casper Aviles, who have both rushed for over 400 yards this season.  Hartford will need to key on Saugatuck’s Joey Koscielski who has rushed for close to 350 yards and five TDs while also catching two TDs this season.

My Pick: Hartford 26 Saugatuck 24.  I think Hartford is a very strong team and going on the road and winning in Saugatuck will show that they are for real in the South.