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High School Footbal District Finals Preview


Division 2:

Portage Central (7-3) @ Mattawan (9-1) Friday 7:00

It is an intriguing match-up given what happened in week seven when Mattawan held off a late charge from the Mustangs to win 35-34.  If you have forgotten, Mattawan led by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter when Portage Central scored two touchdowns, but instead of going for the extra point to tie, they went for the win and missed on the two point conversion.  Mattawan’s Trevor Sweeney had another big game that night rushing for 189 yards and four TDs.  On the other side, the Mustangs ran wild too with Ryan Mergner, Jacob Allen and DeJuan James all rushing for at least 111 yards.

Portage Central scored with just a minute left in their game with Portage Northern to advance to the second round with a 21-17 win.  Central’s defense showed up big shutting down Northern after allowing 43 points in their first match-up.  They will need another similar performance this week. 

Mattawan got to the final with a thrashing of Battle Creek Lakeview 66-28.  The most points Mattawan gave up in any game this season was the 34 they gave up to Central.  Neither defense has put up gaudy numbers this season.  Both are allowing over 20 ppg, but it is playoff time and it will be about what defense shows up. 

My Pick: Mattawan 27, Portage Central 23.  It ended in a one point win, but I can’t get away from the fact that the Wildcats were leading by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter before the great comeback.  The winner of this game will get a home game next week against the winner of Caledonia and East Lansing.

Division 3:

Plainwell (7-3) @ Harper Creek (8-2) Friday 7:00

Plainwell showed up big last week turning out their best performance of the season beating Hastings 35-16.  You know it might be a start to a good night when you return the opening kickoff for a touchdown and that was what happened when Homer Roblyer ran one back 87 yards.  That just set the tone for the night and then Junior running back Ryan Britton took over rushing for 210 yards on the Saxons defense.

Harper Creek did not look great against Charlotte and had to mount a major comeback to win 35-21.  They were getting shutdown and trailed 21-7 going into the fourth quarter when they came to life outscoring the Orioles 28-0 to move on.  Casey Carson has been the lead running back all season for the Beavers and he was the man again on Friday, rushing for three fourth quarter touchdowns including a 69 yarder that gave them the lead for good.  He ended the game with four TDs.

The Beavers were the top team in the lesser of the two divisions in the SMAC this season.  After opening the season 0-2 they have rattled of eight straight wins.  They have outscored opponents 299-61 in that stretch.  They are also coming off a 2011 season when they advanced to the division three state semi-finals before falling 14-10 to eventual state champion St. Mary’s Prep.

My Pick: Harper Creek 27, Plainwell 20.  If the same Plainwell team from last week shows up again, they can win this game, but Harper Creek might be as good a team as they have faced all season.  The winner of this game will face the winner of Milan and Tecumseh.  

Division 4:

Grand Rapids South Christian (7-3) @ Dowagiac (10-0) Friday 7:00

This has a chance to be a great game.  A 48-0 win for the Sailors over Paw Paw was a real eye opener.  They were far superior to the Redskins.  On the other side, Dowagiac has been far superior to anyone else in the Wolverine this season.  These two teams won their first round games by a combined 84-0 and I will go out on a limb and say that it could have been much worse.  South Christian led 41-0 at the half and the Chieftains were up on Otsego 36-0 at the half.

A difference of styles will be seen in this game as South Christian employs the full spread attack and that could definitely give Dowagiac issues.  The most points Dowagiac has surrendered all season was 28 to Three Rivers who also runs a spread offense.  Dowagiac’s defense has been their calling card outscoring opponents 376-62 this season.  It will be interesting to see how they fare against what should be the best offense they have seen this season.

My Pick: South Christian 24, Dowagiac 22.  South Christian showed me a ton last week with their win over Paw Paw.  I think the biggest match-up will be whether or not Dowagiac’s great defense can stand up against a very good spread offense.  The winner here will get a home game against either Three Rivers or Williamston.

Three Rivers (7-3) @ Williamston (7-3) Friday 7:00

It is the district final that shouldn’t have been.  Both of these teams pulled off upset wins last week.  Both teams also used their great passing attacks to get by two good defenses.  Williamston pulled off the 29-9 upset win over Marshall led by quarterback Ryan Watters who threw for 270 yards and four TDs.

Three Rivers pulled off their upset over the top team in the district, Pennfield.  They were aided by some crutial Panther’s turnovers, but also used their great passing attack.  Senior quarterback Sam Schutes threw for over 336 yards and a TD while rushing for another 72.

My Pick: Williamston 28, Three Rivers 24.  I think the balls will be getting thrown all over the field in this game, but I think Williamston has a little more.

Division 6

Constantine (8-2) @ Schoolcraft (10-0) Friday 7:00

These two long-time rivals will meet again on Friday night.  They met way back in week two with Schoolcraft winning a shootout 42-32.  In that game the Falcons had no answer to Jeffery Scott and the Eagle’s passing game.  Scott threw for 297 yards and three TDs.  Benny Clark meanwhile rushed for 196 yards and three TDs.  Schoolcraft didn’t have much of an answer to the Falcon’s running game either as Constantine’s duo of Peyton White (194, 3 TDs) and Ben Mallo (142, TD) did plenty of damage. 

These two have met in the playoffs the last three years with Constantine gaining the upper hand each time.  Schoolcraft’s last four playoff appearances have all been ended by the Falcons.  It has been quite a run for the Falcons who have made it to at least the state semi-finals the last three years.  That includes last year’s state final’s appearance.

Constantine’s shootout with Schoolcraft wasn’t their only game of that type this season.  While they have scored 48 or more points in seven out of their ten games, they have also surrendered 34 or more four times.  Their biggest issue has been pass defense, which showed up again last week when they allowed 181 yards and four passing TDs in their 48-39 win over Watervliet.  The bad news for Constantine is that the Eagles have had the best passing offense in the KVA this season.

Schoolcraft has been the opposite as their defense has allowed 20 or more only three times, and while they have scored plenty of points this season, they have scored over 100 less points than Constantine.  They are coming off a 41-8 win over Niles Brandywine in the first round.

My Pick: Schoolcraft 33, Constantine 29.  In the playoffs it comes down to defense and the Falcons haven’t shown much this season against teams who have the ability to throw the ball.  The winner of this game will face the winner of Blissfield and Hillsdale.

Division 7

Decatur (8-2) @ Lawton (9-1) Friday 7:00

Conference foes will meet again as Decatur and Lawton do battle on Friday night.  This is a rematch of a game from week five when Lawton rolled to a 38-7 win.  Lawton comes in ranked #6 in the state while Decatur is ranked #9.  Decatur beat Hartford 27-14 in the first round while Lawton survived Bridgeman 17-10. 

Decatur’s only two losses this season are to one loss teams, Lawton and Watervliet.  Their stout defense has allowed over 14 points only three times the entire season, while their offense has averaged close to 38 ppg.  Decatur has changed some things and has been a little different team since their first game with Lawton.

Lawton looked less than stellar in their first round win over Bridgeman.  They have been a machine all season and if it wasn’t for a Hartford score in the waning seconds of the game, the Blue Devils would be undefeated.  They have outscored opponents 347-171 led in large part by Brandon St. Clair who has rushed for close to 1500 yards and 17 TDs.

My Pick: Lawton 26, Decatur 23.  This could be a great game.  Lawton didn’t look great last week, but I think they bounce back and I’ll give the nod to their home field advantage.

Gobles (8-2) @ Pewamo-Westphalia (7-3) Saturday 1:00

Gobles got the job done easily last week against Springport, but now there will be a step up in competition.  PW got to this game with a 41-10 win over Union City in the first round. The Pirates are coming off a trip to Ford Field last year where they lost in the state championship to Saginaw Nouvel. 

Gobles tied for the top spot in the SAC north this season and has been rolling along at a great clip this season.  They have outscored opponents 453-159 being led by Adam Vosburg who has now amassed an amazing 27 TDs.

The Pirates did face one opponent from West Michigan when they fell at home in week nine to Mendon 15-12 in overtime.  I think it is a telling tail that they were playing right along with the number one team in the state.  They also have played a very difficult schedule with all three losses coming to playoff teams.  They have a great defense that has surrendered over 15 points in a game just once.

My Pick: Pewamo-Westphalia 28, Gobles 20.  Gobles certainly has a chance to keep this game close, but the Pirates are a bigger, stronger and battle tested team. 


Division 8

Climax Scotts (10-0) @ Mendon (10-0) Saturday 1:00

Something has to give between these two former St. Joe Valley rivals.  These two faced each other last season with the Hornets winning 35-10.  Mendon has been the number one team in the state the entire season and they are the defending state champions.  Climax Scotts has been dominate once again ranked number 10 in the state.  These two have met in the playoffs four times (1992, 2003, 2005, 2011) with Mendon getting the upper hand each time.  In fact, to find the last time CS beat Mendon in any game, you need to go back to 1977.

Both teams have dominated competition in a large way this season.  Mendon has outscored opponents 356-83 and the Panthers 387-100.  They have one like opponent in Colon who Mendon defeated in the first round last week 41-0.  CS played them twice this season winning 40-18 and 42-19.

My Pick: Mendon 29, Climax Scotts 19.  Mendon has flexed their muscles every time these two have faced off and they should do it again this week.  With a win Mendon could have another classic match-up next week with either Muskegon Catholic Central or Fowler.