Week 7 recap
Mattawan won the big game of the week dodging a bullet late to win 35-34 and remain undefeated. I know the big talk is about Portage Central going for two and going for the win. I won’t say that it is a terrible call. It is certainly a gamble, but you are at home and at that point certainly have the momentum. If you do get the two point conversion you force Mattawan (who is far from a throwing team) to drive down the field with one minute left. It obviously didn’t work out and Mattawan escapes with the win. It now sets up the showdown in week eight with the undefeated Wildcats hosting Lakeshore. As for Portage Central it is no easy path for the rest of the season. They are going to have a battle this week that could really go either way with Portage Northern. You don’t want to start that snowball effect because Niles is waiting in week nine which is certainly a winnable game but by no means a push over. That could become an even bigger game if Niles beats St. Joe this week because they will be playing for a playoff spot as well.
A big congratulations goes out to Lakeshore head coach Denny Dock who picked up his 250 victory of his career with a 28-24 win over St. Joseph. It didn’t come without controversy though as St. Joe threw what appeared to be a go ahead touchdown with 20 seconds left that was wiped out when the referee ruled it had touched the ground. St. Joe has now lost four in a row but is a team that I believe is better than their record shows. Also congrats to Portage Northern on punching their playoff ticket, improving to 6-1 with their 48-0 win over Kalamazoo Central.
Week 8 Games:
Stevensville Lakeshore @ Mattawan
Portage Central @ Portage Northern
St. Joseph @ Niles
Kalamazoo Central @ Benton Harbor
Sturgis @ Marshall
Loy Norrix @ Gull Lake
Harper Creek @ Coldwater
Battle Creek Central @ Lakeview
Paw Paw’s defense did the job on Friday night as they defeated Plainwell in the big game of the weekend. Plainwell was able to move the ball but the Redskins defense stepped up big when they had to. That included a big goal line stand in the third quarter when they were leading by eight. Plainwell did show a new dimension by throwing the ball and throwing it rather effectively. Junior Carter Yaw came off the bench and looked very strong in leading the passing game. This isn’t something new for Yaw, who has been leading about two drives a game this season, but this was the first game where he saw more action than senior Grant Pell. I don’t think there will be any type of quarterback change for the Trojans, but Yaw did show that he is more than capable of leading the offense when he needs to. I think these two teams could be battling a lot over the next few years. Paw Paw is a very good team and Justin McCauley is a very good player. I just wish we could see them play Dowagiac in the regular season, instead of a possible match-up in the post season.
The other surprising score was Three Rivers nearly pulling off the upset of Dowagiac. The Wildcats trailed by double digits, but came back in a big way in the second half holding Dowagiac to just seven second half points. I think the biggest surprise was the Dowagiac defense surrendering 28 points, mostly because they had allowed only 26 points in the first six games. Edwardsburg and Otsego both picked up their sixth win of the season to qualify for the playoffs. It is going to be an exciting end to the season in the Wolverine with a lot of great games coming up in the final two weeks.
Week 8 games
Paw Paw @ Otsego
Vicksburg @ Allegan
Comstock @ Plainwell
Edwardsburg @ Dowagiac
Berrien Springs @ Coloma
South Haven @ Three Rivers
Pennfield and Olivet battled in the biggest KVA showdown on Friday night with Pennfield winning 28-13. The Panthers were able to become playoff eligible once again with the win. The 6-1 record has come as somewhat of a surprise as this was supposed to be somewhat of a down year for this great program. The loss leaves Olivet with a 5-2 record and now will need to endure the long drive down to Constantine for a battle with the Falcons this week.
Speaking of Constantine, they also picked up their sixth win of the year to once again advance to the playoffs. The KVA was able to get five teams to the playoffs last year, but it appears that only four will make it this year. It has truly become a top half bottom half league this year with not much in terms of middle tier teams.
Week 8 games
Olivet @ Constantine
Pennfield @ Kalamazoo Christian
Hackett @ Parchment
Schoolcraft @ Delton
Maple Valley @ Galesburg Augusta
The south division continues to be a fun division to watch. It still looks like five out of the six teams could make it to the playoffs. This past week’s battles saw Lawton beat Marcellus 38-20 and Decatur impressively shutting out Hartford 28-0. Marcellus and Hartford both need one win to get in, while Watervliet, Lawton and Decatur have already qualified from the south division. Marcellus has the tougher task needing a win over either Hartford this week or Decatur in the final week. Hartford will play the aforementioned Marcellus this week and finishes up with winless Lawrence.
The North isn’t quite as exciting. Gobles will once again be going to the playoffs with their win this past week, but they will be the only team from the North. It still would be impressive to see the SAC get half of their conference qualified for the playoffs.
Week 8 Games
Fennville @ Gobles
Saugatuck @ Bangor
Martin @ Bloomingdale
Decatur @ Watervliet
Marcellus @ Hartford
Lawrence @ Lawton
Players of the week
- Gary Jones, Allegan WR
Allegan picked up their second win of the season with a 34-13 win over Comstock and Jones was the biggest reason why. Jones had three catches for 113 yards and scored four TDs four different ways. He caught a 59 yard TD, ran for one TD, returned an interception for a TD and returned a kickoff for his final TD.
- Trevor Sweeney, Mattawan RB
You saw his name here last week and he is back after his big performance against Portage Central. He didn’t match his week six stats but he did rush for 189 yards and four TDs. He has now accounted for seven TDs in the last two weeks.
- Sam Schutes, Three Rivers QB
Schutes led a furious comeback that came up just short as Three Rivers fell to Dowagiac 31-28. Shutes for the game had 345 total yards, 218 through the air and 127 on the ground, and three total TDs.
- Justin McCauley, Paw Paw QB
McCauley stepped up big in Paw Paw’s 28-14 win over Plainwell. The Redskin’s Senior signal caller accounted for over 200 total yards, threw one TD rushed for another and also intercepted two passes on the defensive side.
- Jake Cowsert, Watervliet QB
Jake Cowsert lit up the stat sheet again on Friday night in a win over Lawrence. He threw for 297 yards and four TDs, while also rushing for 82 yards and a TD. Cowsert is one of the top throwing QBs in southwest Michigan and has now thrown for over 1,400 yards and 24 TDs in seven games while leading the Panthers to an undefeated 7-0 record. Most of his production has been to WR Travis Bolin who has hauled in 19 of the 24 TD passes.
Big Games for Week 8
Stevensville Lakeshore (7-0; 5-0) @ Mattawan (7-0; 5-0)
This is the match-up that we have been waiting for in the SMAC West, as both teams have completed their schedules undefeated heading into this big clash. It was about one year ago (October 14, 2011) that Mattawan took down Lakeshore 27-14 to win the West division outright and complete an 8-1 regular season.
The Wildcats have lost just one game over the last two years. They are a run power team, who very rarely throw the ball (they have attempted about 30 passes the whole season). Trevor Sweeney is the lead back in their offense and has rushed for over 1000 yards this season and accounted for 22 touchdowns, 19 on the ground and three through the air. He isn’t the only one as Brok Lamorandier has rushed for over 700 yards and Austin Collison over 300. They lead the SMAC in offense scoring 42 ppg.
Lakeshore is a perennial power in southwest Michigan and their name can usually be found toward the top of the SMAC west standings. They run a much more balanced offense led by QB Johnny Nate who has thrown for over 900 yards this season with his favorite target being Harold Wiggins who has caught close to 30 of those passes. On the ground they are plenty dangerous too led by Zach Ellis and Zak Drake who have a combined 10 TDs. Their season hasn’t been without drama. They beat Portage Northern 21-14 in double OT in week three and survived Portage Central 41-40 the following week. This past week they were able to beat St. Joe 28-24 but partially because a controversial call took away the Bear’s go ahead score with 20 seconds left in the game.
My Pick: Mattawan 33, Stevensville Lakeshore 25. Tough pick but Mattawan is at home and has been a much more impressive team so far.
Portage Central (5-2; 3-2) @ Portage Northern (6-1; 4-1)
The Battle for Portage is upon us and plenty more than bragging rights is on the line. Northern has already qualified for the playoffs, while Central is one win away. Both teams have had great bounce back years after winning only seven combined games last year. Last year Central went only 3-6, but one of those wins was a 24-21 win over Northern. Northern is trying to end a long losing streak to their rivals. Central has won seven straight dating back to 2005.
Central will be trying to overcome a tough loss last week to Mattawan when they were a missed two point conversion away from upsetting the Wildcats. They are two points away from being undefeated losing to both Lakeshore and Mattawan by one point. Their offense has been much improved this season sitting second in the SMAC at 39.1 ppg. DeJuan James leads the way accounting for 19 TDs this season. While he has been the lead back they have also have had a lot of production out of Jacob Allen and QB Ryan Mergener who have combined for 12 rushing TDs.
Portage Northern has been very impressive this season with their only loss being a 21-14 double OT loss on the road at Stevensville Lakeshore. They have the top defense in the SMAC which has surrendered only 61 points this season and pitched three shutouts. Their offense is not too shabby in its own right scoring 38.6 ppg, good for third in the conference.
My Pick: Portage Northern 23, Portage Central 21. It is a tough pick and it will be a battle but that Northern defense is very good.
Paw Paw (7-0; 4-0) @ Otsego (6-1; 3-1)
Paw Paw passed their biggest test of the season last week, but they still have plenty of work to do with games against Otsego and Edwardsburg left. With last week’s win over Plainwell the Redskins clinched at least a share of the North Division crown. Otsego’s only blemish so far was a 23-7 loss at home to their rivals from Plainwell. Paw Paw has won three in a row in this series, winning twice last season, 23-20 OT in the regular season and 41-29 in the first round of the playoffs.
Otsego has put up some big offensive numbers this season, but a lot of their big numbers have come against the lower tier teams in the league. In their four games against better defenses they have averaged only 19 ppg. Their true team strength appears to be on defense where they rank fourth in the Wolverine giving up 17.9 ppg. Being qualified for the post season already is a very good thing as their remaining games are with undefeated Paw Paw and Dowagiac.
Paw Paw’s best offensive success this season has been when they allow Justin McCauley to run the spread offense with his legs and arm. He is truly one of the better duel QBs at any level in this area, now accounting for 18 total TDs. They lead the Wolverine in offense putting up 42.9 ppg and have outscored opponents 300-90.
My Pick: Paw Paw 31, Otsego 20. The Bulldogs might be able to hang round for a little while but I think Paw Paw is just the better team in the end.