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Nick Vlietstra's High School Blog Week 7 Recap, Week 8 Preview

by
Nick Vlietstra
Nick Vlietstra

Week 7 recap

SMAC

Portage Northern pulled of a huge win over the weekend as they went down to Lakeshore and did what no visiting team has done in two years…win a game.  They pulled out a 16-14 win.  The win is what Northern wants to be which is a defensive team that wins with special teams.  They did just that as they scored only one TD and then relied on Brandon Bye to do the rest.  Bye kicked three FGs from lengths of 35, 32 and 39.  I don’t think it can be said enough how much of an advantage it is to have a quality kicker in high school football.  I think with a team like Northern, who on some nights isn’t going to score a ton of points, but still needs points when they can take them, Bye is that much more of an advantage.  The win takes some of the pressure off the Huskies who, in all likelihood will still win out, and finish with a 7-2 record.  Lakeshore now has to win out to get into the playoffs.  They more than likely will do just that, with Niles and Kalamazoo Central left, but with their playoff backs to the wall, a small misstep could result in them being out of the playoffs.  We are talking about a team that has missed the playoffs just once since 1989.

In the East Lakeview hammered Coldwater.  With the way the Cardinals had been playing I thought they would give Lakeview a better game than 56-7.  The Spartans are a team that that is playing with a ton of confidence right now on both offense and defense.  They have even added another dimension to their offense in recent weeks.  Donnie Ernsbeger has come on over to the offensive side of the ball and is a major threat out of the backfield.  He also is playing his middle LB position, but he gives defenses something else to think about to go along with Mike Campbell.  Both scored two TDs in the first half this past week.  Campbell is close to breaking the school record for TDs in a season now and is approaching 1,000 yards on the season.  Those two have given Lakeview little reason to throw the ball now and they still have a defense that is dominating opponents and has given up only 21 points on the season now. 

That win, to go along with Harper Creek’s win now sets up major showdowns in both the West and the East this week.  It will be a battle of unbeatens with Portage Central and St. Joe in the West and undefeated Lakeview taking on a one loss Harper Creek in the East. I really believe that both of those games will be great games that will be decided in the fourth quarter.

Speaking of Harper Creek, they clinched a playoff spot this week with their 40-14 win over Loy Norrix.  It is five straight years and also nine out of the last ten that the Beavers have made it.  That makes it now Harper, Portage Central, Lakeview and St. Joe all as playoff teams.  Portage Northern can make it five teams in with a win this week.

Week 8 Games:

West:

 

Portage Central (7-0) @ St. Joseph (7-0) – Game of the week.  See Below for Match-up.

Benton Harbor (0-7) @ Portage Northern (5-2) – Pressure is off and PN will clinch a playoff spot this week. (PN 39, BH 6)

Niles (2-5) @ Stevensville Lakeshore (4-3) – Win and their in for the Lancers.  They will need to slow down the heavy pass attack of Niles this week though (SL 31, NILES 19)

Mattawan (3-4) @ Kalamazoo Central (3-4) – KC has been playing pretty good defense this season and might be able to slow down the Wildcats a bit to keep it close.  I think Mattawan pulls it out though. (MATT 27, KC 19)

East:

 

Harper Creek (6-1) @ Lakeview (7-0) – The battle for supremacy in Battle Creek.  This one should be a good one.  I don’t think a ton of points will be scored.  I’ll have to go with the team that seems to be a steamroller right now and is at home.  (LV 24, HC 21)

Sturgis (4-3) @ Loy Norrix (0-7) – Sturgis is a mystery this season as to how good they are.  A 17-14 win at a very down Battle Creek Central team does not help their look.  They should get their 5th win this week though. (ST 29, LN 12)

Gull Lake (3-4) @ Coldwater (3-4) – Good win for Gull Lake last week, and a rough loss for Coldwater.  It should be a good game on Friday. (CW 23, GL 20)

Marshall (1-6) @ Battle Creek Central (1-6) – It has been a season to forget for Marshall, but they should be able to get another win this week.  (MAR 26, BCC 13)

Wolverine

Paw Paw won the big battle, and what a battle it was.  They pulled out a 15-13 win in front of a capacity crowd at Plainwell.  The Redskins pulled ahead with a FG with just over four minutes to go which hit the upright and bounced through.  They passed the major hurdle and beat the Trojans again.  It is now nine straight wins for Paw Paw over Plainwell.  Still, you can’t not talk about this game without talking about the Plainwell defense which certainly shined bright.  They held down a great Paw Paw offense by taking away a lot of the passing that has been so good this season.  Both of these teams are very quality teams.  The thing you get to is that Plainwell still seems like a team that is a better bet to win a few playoff games.  They play a very physical style which usually can be very successful in the playoffs with rough weather and close games.  With as good as Paw Paw has been, they have little to show for it in the playoffs over the last few years when they have been so good.  They certainly proved they can beat a team who plays a physical style and they will have another chance at that late in the season against Edwardsburg. 

The other big game in the conference was Three Rivers against Dowagiac and the Chieftains got the job done on their home turf 14-7.  It is a very good win for Dowagiac.  They have lost a lot on offense and have struggled to get the job done against the better teams.  Still, their defense has been very good all season and it showed up again on Friday night to slow down a very good Wildcat’s offense.  Three Rivers is now 4-3.  Their three losses have been to three of the best teams in the conference, Plainwell, Dowagiac and Edwardsburg.  Two of those losses (Plainwell and Dowagiac) were both by a 14-7 score.  They still should be a playoff team but that will also mean winning a big game on the road against their rivals Vicksburg to end the season.

Week 8 games

East:

Otsego (5-2) @ Paw Paw (7-0) – Otsego has done what they are supposed to do this season and if they can pull an upset on Friday night it would make for a very fine season.  Still, saying that, I don’t think the Bulldogs have enough to keep up with Paw Paw on Friday. (PP 33, OT 13)

Plainwell (6-1) @ Comstock (0-7) – Plainwell gets back to feeling good in a quick and easy way this week. (PL 43, COM 6)

Allegan (1-6) @ Vicksburg (2-5) – Allegan got their first win of the season.  Vicksburg should get their third this week though.  (V 33, AL 12)

 

West:

Dowagiac (6-1) @ Edwardsburg (7-0) – Edwardsburg has been running through everyone this season.  Dowagiac has the defense to slow them down a bit, but I don’t think it will be enough.  Eddies should claim the South division crown this week. (ED 24, DOW 14)

Three Rivers (4-3) @ South Haven (1-6) – South Haven got a 14-3 win on Friday night against Coloma.  Three Rivers is a little better than Coloma though. (TR 41, SH 6)

Coloma (1-6) @ Berrien Springs (2-5) – Losing and scoring only three points against South Haven is not good.  BS should roll this week. (BS 29, COL 8)

KVA

The craziness at the top of this conference is amazing.  No one will take the chance to win this conference.  Olivet was the top dog until this past week when they fell at home to Pennfield.  Tip your cap to the Panthers, because it is no easy thing to go into Olivet and win.  That came a week after they fell at home in a tough 28-22 game to Schoolcraft.  Olivet really should be walking away feeling a tad bit upset considering they outgained Pennfield 341-164.  Fumbles were a problem last week for Pennfield, but this week Olivet turned the ball over on two fumbles while Pennfield did not turn it over once.  Pennfield showed up in a big way to claim the win and now they still have a chance to win the conference crown.  There is a three way tie for first place now with Pennfield, Olivet and Schoolcraft.  If you wanted to say who might be the favorite it should be Schoolcraft considering they have the easiest path the rest of the way.  Pennfield and Olivet both will still play Constantine who needs to win a game to be playoff eligible. 

The win did get Pennfield playoff eligible again this season.  Schoolcraft also claimed a 5-13 win over Kalamazoo Christian to punch their ticket the playoffs as well.  There are two more teams who need wins to get in with two weeks left.  Constantine needs one and Parchment needs two.

Week 8 games

Constantine (5-2) @ Olivet (6-1) – Game of the week.  See Below for Match-up

Parchment (4-3) @ Hackett (3-4) – Parchment better show up this week because the only thing Hackett is playing for is to knock the Panthers out of the playoffs. (PARCH 28, HACK 18)

Delton (1-6) @ Schoolcraft (6-1) – If SC wins out they will claim a share of the Championship.  Winning this week won’t be a problem. (SC 44, DEL 6)

Kalamazoo Christian (3-4) @ Pennfield (6-1) – Trap game for the Panthers?  Perhaps, but they should still get the job done. (PENN 29, KC 15)

Galesburg-Augusta (0-7) @ Maple Valley (1-6) – A battle at the bottom of the conference.  MV should get their second win this season. (MV 26, GA 12)

 

SAC

Well Hartford did it.  They had to pull the upset and it was their last chance to do so and they took down Decatur 17-14.  They were able to shut down the Decatur offense and did just enough to get by.  Doing enough to get by included having a fourth quarter drive which was capped off by a Miguel Melgoza eight yard TD.  It will most likely mean that the SAC South gets four teams in.  Decatur has lost two out of three technically.  The one win in there was a forfeit victory over Covert last week.  The Raiders now have some work to do which includes a date with Watervliet on Friday night.  Still, they end the season with Marcellus and that should punch their ticket in the final week.

Saugatuck punched their ticket to the playoffs this week with an easy 42-7 win over Fennville.  Three SAC teams are in (Watervliet, Lawton and Saugatuck) and three more are eligible Decatur, Hartford and Gobles.  Decatur is the only team who has five wins and will have a chance to get in this week.

Week 8 Games:

 

North

Bangor (3-4) @ Saugatuck (6-1) – Bangor had an exciting win over New Buffalo on Friday night and they have won two in a row.  The competition takes a step up this week though. (SAUG 31, BA 20)

Gobles (4-3) @ Fennville (1-6) – Gobles is playing better and they need to win out.  Fennville has fallen on some hard times lately.  (GOB 41, FENN 12)

Bloomingdale (0-7) @ Martin (0-7) – Martin is in second to last place in the SAC in both points scored and points against.  The only team behind them in both categories is Bloomingdale.  Martin hasn’t won since 2007 which stretches 53 games.  Call me crazy but I’m calling a Martin victory!  (MART 22, BLOOM 16)

South

Decatur (5-2) @ Watervliet (7-0) – Game of the week.  See below for Match-Up

Hartford (4-3) @ Marcellus (2-5) – The Indians did the hard work but there is no room for error now. (HART 32, MAR 12)

White Pigeon (4-3) @ Lawton (7-0) – White Pigeon would love the chance to get back to the playoffs but that would mean winning their last two games and it would take a big upset to win this one. (LAW 33, WP 13)

 

Players of the week

  1. Corey Burdgick, Hackett RB

Burdgick turned in a great performance on Friday night leading Hackett past Maple Valley 54-34.  On the night he rushed for 352 yards and five TDs and doing it on 17 carries.  His shortest TD run was from 30 yards out.  He also scored on runs of 41, 42, 42 and 49.  Burdgick is now approaching 1,000 yards on the season and has found the end zone 14 times.

  1. Chance Stewart, Sturgis QB

The Sturgis QB and future WMU Bronco had his finest game of the season on Friday night in leading the Trojans to a 17-14 win over Battle Creek Central.  Stewart completed 39 of 48 passes for 356 yards and a TD.  He also rushed for one TD in the game.  His favorite target was Kalvyn Bowdish who caught 12 passes for 164 yards and a TD.  Stewart has thrown for over 1,100 yards this season with nine TDs.

  1. Dalton Ketelaar, Vicksburg QB

Ketelaar turned in a very fine performance on Friday night, but unfortunately for him it was in a 28-21 defeat to Otsego.  The Junior QB completed 14 of 22 passes for 222 yards and a TD.  He also carried the ball 26 times for 88 yards and two TDs.  He hooked up with WR Hunter Van eight times for 115 yards and a score. 

  1. Jordell Jones, Bangor QB

Jones has come on very strong in the second half of the season and put together a fine game on Friday night in leading the Vikings to a 38-36 win against New Buffalo.  He threw for 173 yards and four TDs.  He also did it with his legs rushing for 85 yards and a 60 yard TD.  Jones has now thrown for over 850 yards and nine TDs and rushed for over 250 and nine TDs.

  1. Miguel Melgoza, Hartford RB

It wasn’t a huge offensive night for Melgoza but he also did quality work on the defensive side.  He did rush for 79 yards and scored a TD in Hartford’s big 17-14 win over Decatur.  He also punched in a key two point conversion.  He was also a big part of the Indians’ defense that held down Decatur.  He recorded two sacks to help out the strong defensive effort.

Big Games for Week 8

Portage Central (7-0) @ St. Joseph (7-0)

It’s hard to say that this is the battle we have been looking forward to all season, because I don’t think anyone knew who would be at the top of the division at this point.  Portage Central was certainly one of the teams and St. Joe was in the conversation, but I don’t think anyone will mind a good week eight undefeated match-up.  PC won last year 33-23 which ended a three game losing streak to the Bears.

Portage Central has been a wrecking ball this season on offense and defense.  They have rolled through everyone they have faced.  The closest game they have played was an 18 point win over Lakeshore.  Their defense has allowed over 8 points in a game just twice and their offense has scored at least 48 points in five games.  They currently have the best offense in the SMAC by a wide margin and the third best defense.  The offense is led by Jacob Allen and Jerrod Davis who are both approaching 800 yards on the ground this season.  QB Ryan Mergener has chipped in with close to 300 yards on the ground as well. 

St. Joseph has not been the steamroller the Mustangs have been but they have been very impressive in all of their wins.  They really arrived on the scene after week three.  They went on the road in week two and handed Harper Creek their only loss of the season 14-9, and then came back home to beat Lakeshore 32-20.  The offense is averaging 28.7 ppg and the defense is giving up 14.7.  They are not eye opening stats by any means, but they have been getting the job done week in and week out.  They are however coming off a less than impressive 30-21 win over a winless Benton Harbor team.

My Pick: Portage Central 31, St. Joe 23.  No one has been able to stop the Mustangs this season.  The Bears are 7-0 for a reason.  They are a good team.  I think playing at home will play to their advantage, but I think PC goes on the road and gets the job done to win the West division.

Constantine (5-2) @ Olivet (6-1)

We have two weeks left in the KVA and a three way tie for first place between Olivet, Pennfield and Schoolcraft.  It is going to be an interesting final two weeks here, especially considering some of the other story lines.  Constantine needs a win over either Olivet on the road this week or at home against Pennfield next week.  This is Pennfield’s final year in the KVA and would love nothing more than to claim the KVA championship on their way out the door.  Since the two have both been in the KVA this series has been as even as it gets.  Olivet holds a 3-2 record in that time since 2008 with the two teams alternating victories every year.

Constantine comes in with their strong rushing attack out of their Wing-T offense.  They are led by their strong RB duo of Justin Hull and Andres Montoya.  Hull has already rushed for over 1,100 yards this season and has found the end zone 20 times.  Montoya has rushed for over 750 yards and 8 TDs.  Those two are the two work horses but don’t focus too much on them because QB Matt Hasbrouck has also rushed for close to 600 yards and 10 TDs.  The three of them combine lead an offense that is scoring 49.9 ppg this season.  Their issues have been on the defensive side.  They have had a stronger defense the last two weeks holding Hackett to 7 points and Galesburg-Augusta to 6.  Still, those aren’t the strongest of teams in the league.  Before the last two weeks they were giving up over 33 ppg. 

Olivet is another great program and they are state ranked.  They run a much more balanced offense.  QB Rob Funk has thrown for over 800 yards this season which leads the KVA.  They also have RB Shane Loney who has rushed for over 800 yards with 14 TDs.  They fell at home on Friday to Pennfield 15-14 when they heavily dominated the offensive side of the ball but also fumbled the ball twice.  As many teams can attest to, it is never easy to go into Olivet and come out with a win.

My Pick: Olivet 34, Constantine 27.  Constantine has everything on the line and seem to be playing good football right now.  Still, they can ask their neighbors from Schoolcraft who learned that it is not easy winning in Olivet.

Decatur (5-2) @ Watervliet (7-0)

It is a key division match-up on Friday night with Decatur traveling to Watervliet.  The Panthers come in 7-0 on the season and have yet to be truly challenged on the season.  Their closest game of the season was a 24 point win over Hartford in week five.  They have the top player in the conference so far this season in Luke Traver who has thrown for close to 1600 yards and 19 TDs.  On the ground he has been their leading rusher as well, now approaching 500 yards with his legs and 11 TDs.  Watervliet currently has the top offense and defense in the SAC.  Still, they are yet to play their best competition as they finish the regular season with this game and Lawton in week nine.

Decatur comes in trying to avenge a tough 26-19 loss to the Panthers in week eight last season.  That win last season made it five straight losses to Watervliet.  They currently sit with a 0-2 record in the division with losses to Hartford and Lawton.  They will need a win either this week or next week against Marcellus to qualify for the playoffs.  They started the season strong and looked to be one of the best, if not the best team in the south division.  They posted shutouts in three out of their first four games.  They still have the second best defense in the conference and it will surely be tested against the Panthers this weekend.

My Pick: Watervliet 25, Decatur 17.  This might be the best defense the Panthers face in this regular season, but I can’t pick against a Panthers team who is rolling over everyone right now.

 

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