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Nick Vlietstra's High School Blog Week 6 Recap, Week 7 Preview

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Nick Vlietstra
Nick Vlietstra

Week 6 recap SMAC There weren’t any big games in the SMAC this past week. The best game going into the night was probably Portage Northern and Mattawan, but the Huskies made quick work of the Wildcats, doubling up Mattawan 42-21. The win for Northern does really two things. First it officially eliminates Mattawan from playoff competition. That brings to an end a nice run for their program which went to the playoffs the last two years. It is hard to say what direction the Mattawan program goes from here. They lost a lot from their graduating seniors last year, and we all figured they would take a step back this year. Whether this is a bump in the road or if the last two years were just quality years that came to an end will remain to be seen. As for Portage Northern, it in all intents and purposes qualifies them for the playoffs. No, not officially, because they need two more wins to do that. They play Stevensville Lakeshore this week which should be a good battle but even if they drop that game their two wins should come in the final two weeks against Niles and Benton Harbor. In other SMAC notes someone scored against Lakeview. It was going to happen at some point, and it was a great string they put together to have shutouts in their first five. I don’t think it will be the last time someone scores on them either. They have played Gull Lake, Marshall, Loy Norrix and Battle Creek Central so far. Those four make up the bottom four in the East division. That means they still will face Coldwater, Harper Creek and Sturgis who all are in the top half of the division. They should still win at least two more games and will have a look to finish undefeated. We are six weeks in and that means certain teams have now punched their playoff tickets. In the West, Portage Central and St. Joseph both did that this week and in the East Lakeview is the first. Harper Creek would be the only team who could qualify this week as they are the only five win team in the SMAC right now. Week 7 Games: West: Portage Northern (4-2) @ Stevensville Lakeshore (4-2) – Game of the week. See Below for Match-up. Kalamazoo Central (3-3) @ Portage Central (6-0) – PC wins to cruise into their showdown next week with St. Joe. (PC 34, KC 13) St. Joseph (6-0) @ Benton Harbor (0-6) – No trouble for the Bears this week. (STJ 36, BH 6) Niles (2-4) @ Mattawan (2-4) – Two good offenses, two not so good defenses and two contrasting styles. It should be a shootout. (MATT 33, NILES 29) East: Coldwater (3-3) @ Lakeview (6-0) – Coldwater has been playing good football over the last two weeks. Lakeview has been playing good football the whole season though. (LV 27, CW 10) Sturgis (3-3) @ Battle Creek Central (1-5) – Sturgis gets back on the winning path this week. (ST 26, BC 12) Loy Norrix (0-6) @ Harper Creek (5-1) – It’s a safe bet to believe HC punches their playoff ticket this week. (HC 31, LN 6) Marshall (1-5) @ Gull Lake (2-4) – Both teams are just playing for the future at this point. Marshall should get the job done with the stronger offense. (MAR 29, GL 22) Wolverine Like the SMAC, there weren’t many big games in the Wolverine this week. The best match-up was Plainwell and Vicksburg and Plainwell handled that game with ease. Their offense wasn’t dominate, but their defense was in their 26-3 win. Their offense hasn’t been eye opening this season, but that isn’t saying it hasn’t been good, because it certainly has been good. If anything, it has been efficient. It controls the game, and keeps the opposing offense on the sideline for long stretches of time. It will need to do just that this coming week as they have their showdown with Paw Paw . It also allows their dominating defense plenty of time on the sideline to get rest. That defense was just as dominating this past week holding a quality offense to just three points. They forced Bulldogs’ QB Dalton Ketelaar into a 5-15 day passing for just 24 yards and intercepted four passes. Facing a spread offense in Vicksburg is also a nice tune up for Paw Paw. Paw Paw is much better, but facing it in back to back weeks I think will be a benefit to the Trojans. Three Wolverine teams clinched playoff spots this week. Plainwell and Paw Paw both clinched in the East while Edwardsburg clinched in the South. Dowagiac is the lone five win team in the conference and the lone team who can clinch a spot this week. Week 7 games East: Paw Paw (6-0) @ Plainwell (6-0) – See below for game the of week Vicksburg (2-4) @ Otsego (4-2) – Otsego has been winning the games they are supposed to win. I think that happens again this week (OT 24, V 15) Allegan (0-6) @ Comstock (0-6) – Well something has to give between these two. I guess Allegan is giving up only 40 ppg compared to Comstock’s 57. Give the edge to the Tigers. (AL 22, COM 16) West: Three Rivers (4-2) @ Dowagiac (5-1) – It should be a great game. Two very good defenses should shut down the offenses in this one. I think Three Rivers is capable of moving the ball a little better though. (TR 21, DOW 20) Edwardsburg (6-0) @ Berrien Springs (2-4) – BS is playing teams very tough at home and their last two losses to Dowagiac and Three Rivers have been by a combined four points. This one could go in that same category. (ED 28, BS 20) South Haven (0-6) @ Coloma (1-5) – South Haven hasn’t scored since week one. They might score this week, but they still won’t win. (COL 24, SH 8) KVA The game of the weekend was Schoolcraft visiting Pennfield and the Eagles collected a key 28-22 road win. It was a close game throughout and the battle tested Eagles were able to pull it out. They were also helped by three Pennfield fumbles including one with just over two minutes left in the game with the ball at the 15 yard line as they were driving for the go ahead score. Pennfield had not been tested this season before Friday night, and I’m sure it was a game to learn from. Schoolcraft had been tested in big games against Constantine and Olivet prior to that game. Pennfield went into the game with questions in my mind just because of the fact that they hadn’t played any of the top teams yet. Winning the games they had won was doing something they are supposed to do. Winning the other games is what makes your season. Schoolcraft won, and the toughest part of their schedule is done. They will need help if they are going to win the conference as they still sit a game behind Olivet. Still, they look like a team that is getting better as the season goes along. The most eye opening score of the weekend I think was Constantine beating Hackett 49-7. I say it is eye opening because I though Hackett would be able to score. Hackett was coming off a week where they scored 27 against a good defensive Schoolcraft team. I think one of the keys in beating Constantine is getting off to a good start offensively. Constantine is going to score, but I think you need to show them that you can score too, and try and make them play from behind. Hackett clearly didn’t do that as they were down 21-0 after the first quarter and 49-0 at halftime. As for Constantine, they still have work to do. The loss to Parchment put them in a tough spot where they will need to beat either Olivet or Pennfield. They face Galesburg this week and then end the season with both of those teams. They are a proud program who is used to pressure, but it will be interesting to see how they handle having their playoff backs to the wall. Olivet became the first playoff qualifier with their 59-6 win over Galesburg-Augusta. Pennfield and Schoolcraft can become playoff qualifiers with a win this week. Week 7 games Pennfield (5-1) @ Olivet (6-0) – It will be the game of the week in the KVA. It will be close but Olivet pulls it out on their home turf. (OLV 24, PENN 22) Kalamazoo Christian (3-3) @ Schoolcraft (5-1) – The toughest games are done for SC. They shouldn’t have many problems the rest of the way (SC 27, KC 13) Delton (1-5) @ Parchment (3-3) – Parchment is playing good football and marching toward the playoffs. Delton won’t impede that path. (PARCH 34, DEL 14) Galesburg-Augusta (0-6) @ Constantine (4-2) – GA scored last week. That’s their one positive at this point. Constantine needs two wins to get in. This will be one of them. (CONST 42, GA 11) Maple Valley (1-5) @ Hackett (2-4) – Neither team looked good last week. Hackett should slip by in this one (HACK 22, MV 19) SAC The biggest game of the weekend was Lawton and Hartford with Lawton taking a 33-22 win. It is another good with for Lawton, but another tough loss for Hartford. The Indians now have their backs to the wall with one big game left in their stretch of brutality. They have lost three straight games to teams who have a combined record of 17-1. That stretch has one more game this week when they face 5-1 Decatur. It will be a tough game that is a must win. Decatur topped Hartford twice last season the second of which ended the Indians season in the first round of the playoffs. Lawton and Watervliet both locked up playoff spots this past week with their wins. Saugatuck and Decatur both can do the same with wins this week. Week 7 Games: North Fennville (1-5) @ Saugatuck (5-1) – Saugatuck has not had any trouble with anyone outside of Decatur this season. That trend will continue on Friday (SAUG 36, FENN 8) Martin (0-6) @ Gobles (3-3) – Gobles is beating up on the lesser North division and that won’t end this week. (GOB 41, MART 6) New Buffalo (3-3) @ Bangor (2-4) – New Buffalo has won three in a row, but Bangor QB Jordell Jones has been hot lately. Could be a good game in Bangor. (NB 25, BA 23) South Decatur (5-1) @ Hartford (3-3) – Hartford has their backs to the wall and will give Decatur everything they’ve got. It just won’t be enough. (DEC 26, HART 21) Marcellus (2-4) @ Lawton (6-0) – Lawton shouldn’t have much trouble this week. (LAW 38, MAR 12) Watervliet (6-0) @ Bloomingdale (0-6) – Gobles put up 69 on Bloomingdale last week. Now the top offense in the league comes to town. (WV 44, BLOOM 6) Players of the week 1. Josh Leiter, Portage Northern RB Leiter carried a heavy work load on Friday night as he carried the ball 24 times and racked up 262 yards. He also plunged into the end zone twice which helped the Huskies to a 42-21 win over Mattawan. 2. Luke Traver, Watervliet QB Traver’s rampage on the SAC continued this past week when he threw for 333 yards and five TDs. He completed 13 of 20 passes and threw TDs to four different receivers. On the season he has now thrown for over 1400 yards and 16 TDs. That is good because he has two big games over the final third of the season with Decatur and Lawton. 3. Bailey Miholer-Wortinger, Three Rivers RB Three Rivers survived a tight 35-34 OT win on Friday night against Berrien Springs and Miholer-Wortinger was a reason why. He ended the game with 121 yards rushing and three TDs which all came from over 30 yards out. On top of that that his final TD came in the fourth quarter to tie the game. He also returned a kickoff for a TD in the game. He now leads the Wildcats in rushing TDs this season with eight and has also caught two TDs. 4. Clay Whitehead, Parchment QB Whitehead was the signal caller on Friday night for Parchment but he was busy with his legs. He rushed for 170 yards and three TDs on only seven carries. He was scoring early and often and from long distances in the Panthers’ 42-6 win over Maple Valley. He was making just his second start of the season at the QB spot for Parchment. 5. Samuel Eshuis, Climax-Scotts RB Climax-Scotts picked up a key 21-14 victory over Pittsford on Friday night and Eshuis had a big night in the process. He rushed for 202 yards on 16 carries. He also scored two out of the three CS TDs scoring from 52 and 77 yards out. He also caught two passes on the night for the Panthers’ who are 6-0 and in the playoffs for the 11th straight year. Big Games for Week 7 Paw Paw (6-0) @ Plainwell (6-0) The battle has arrived, and it should be as good as we all hoped for. These two are both state ranked and undefeated. Plainwell comes in ranked #6 in Division Three and Paw Paw is ranked #3 in Division Four. As for the series, it is heavily favored toward Paw Paw. They have won eight straight games over the Trojans. In fact Plainwell has never beaten the Redskins since Paw Paw joined the KVA in 2006. Paw Paw won last year’s match-up 28-14. It is also a battle of very differing styles, with Plainwell looking to pound the ball and grind their way to victory, and Paw Paw looking to throw the ball all over the field out of their spread offense. Paw Paw comes in undefeated and nursing a 15 game regular season winning streak. They have yet to be tested this season. Their closest game was a 35 point victory over Vicksburg in week five. They are coming off a 62-13 win over Comstock in which they scored all 62 points in the first half, because the game was called at half time. They lead the league in scoring averaging 52 ppg and have given up just 6.8 ppg. The only issue so far has been the schedule. They are yet to play a team with any more than two wins this season and have played three winless teams. The combined record of the opponents is a dismal 5-31. Still, that was the same way last season and they still handled the Trojans. The offense is led by duel threat QB Jay Doll who has thrown for an area best 1,670 yards. He has tossed 19 TDs. He has also rushed for over 300 yards and five TDs. He has three very good targets to throw to in Ross Beck, Kyle Williams and Bobby Yarbrough. They will give the Trojan defense plenty to think about. As for Plainwell, they also come in undefeated, but unlike Paw Paw, they are very battle tested. Half of their wins have come over teams with winning records. They are hanging their hat on a very good defense that is holding opponents to a league best 4.5 ppg. The Trojans have pitched shutouts in three games this season. They have also come up big in big games. The third ranked offense in the league is Three Rivers who averages over 32 ppg but were held to seven against Plainwell. Dowagiac averages over 31 ppg, but were shutout back in week three. The key in this game will be their very good running game. Last year they were not able to get the running game going as well as they would hope, and were forced to throw the ball, which they were able to do, but not exactly what they want to do. This year they have a Thunder and Lightning duo of Sr. Ryan Britton and Jr. Jacob Geter. Britton is the hard between the tackles runner who has rushed for 550 yards and five TDs. Geter is the exciting and explosive one who is a threat to go for a TD on any play and has rushed for close to 800 yards and 10 TDs. My Pick: Plainwell 23, Paw Paw 21. The history is on the side of Paw Paw, and they are the top dog until someone takes them down. Still, Plainwell is battle tested, has the defense to slow Paw Paw and the offense to grind out a victory. Portage Northern (4-2) @ Stevensville Lakeshore (4-2) This is a pivotal game between two likely playoff teams. While it appears neither team is in line for a division title, both teams need a win here for playoff positioning. On top of that the loser is put in a situation where they will need to win their final two games to get into the playoffs. Lakeshore has won the last two match-ups in the series including last season’s tight 21-14 win. Portage Northern comes in after a solid 42-21 win over Mattawan. Their two losses have come to their two toughest opponents and the two undefeated teams in the division. They are led by their stout defense, which has taken a hit over the last three weeks. They allowed 49 to Portage Central and 21 to Mattawan, but they still are giving up only 17.7 ppg. The offense has not been outstanding, but it has been efficient. They are scoring 24 ppg and are coming off a game where they scored a season high 42 points. Lakeshore has lost two games and they are the same two teams that PN has lost to, Portage Central and St. Joseph. The biggest thing that stands out from those two games was how their offense was held down. In their four wins they are scoring close to 50 ppg. In the two losses they averaged just 24 ppg. Really, they were just beaten by teams who are playing better football than them this season. Still, when the offense is going well, it is a balanced offense that can effectively throw or run the ball. My Pick: Stevensville Lakeshore 23, Portage Northern 20. I think this will be a tight defensive game and I’ll give the slight nod to the home team. The Lancers have not lost a regular season home game in over two years.

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