A Game for Every Fan: District Finals
November 7, 2013
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
If last week's first round of the MHSAA football playoffs was one of the most unpredictable we've seen in years, why bother setting expectations for the encore?
But this weekend should be just as entertaining with rematches the theme, including some second versions of the best games from the regular season and the closest from the 2012 playoffs.
Be sure to follow the scores and schedules all weekend on the MHSAA Score Center, and see below for our games to watch in every division.
Warren Mott (10-0) at Detroit Cass Tech (10-0)
Mott has played football since 1992, and this certainly has been the Marauders' best run as it has included its first perfect regular season, the Macomb Area Conference White title and 10 wins for the first time. Mott's league was competitive this season, but Saturday it gets to see how it matches up against the elite – two-time reigning MHSAA champion Detroit Cass Tech, which has given up only 46 points this season and has 16 straight wins.
Others that caught my eye: Hudsonville (7-3) at Rockford (9-1), Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (9-1) at Macomb Dakota (10-0), Saline (9-1) at Temperance Bedford (10-0).
Muskegon (9-1) at Lowell (10-0)
The best set of games this weekend is in Division 2, and Portage Central/Battle Creek Lakeview also has an argument as the biggest game in the state overall. But the Muskegon/Lowell rivalry has been simply too good of late. They've faced off in the playoffs the last five seasons, with Lowell holding a 3-2 advantage but falling 15-13 to the Big Reds in 2012. Muskegon went on to finish Division 2 runner-up, but then suffered its only loss this fall to the Red Arrows 31-20 in Week 4. This game features two of the state's most dynamic quarterbacks in Muskegon's Deshaun Thrower and Lowell's Kyler Shurlow.
Others that caught my eye: Battle Creek Lakeview (10-0) at Portage Central (10-0), Birmingham Seaholm (9-1) at Birmingham Brother Rice (10-0), Detroit East English (7-3) at Detroit Martin Luther King (8-1).
Grand Rapids Christian (8-2) at Zeeland West (9-1)
This is a rematch of one of last season's most high-scoring playoff games; Grand Rapids Christian beat West 68-44 in a District Final on the way to winning the MHSAA title. The Eagles' defense has stuck out a little more throughout this season, but the Dux have scored at least 44 points in eight of their 10 games. And it's a decent prediction that the winner of this game again could be playing for the title in four weeks.
Others that caught my eye: Detroit Mumford (8-2) at St. Clair (9-1), Stevensville Lakeshore (7-3) at St. Joseph (9-1), Melvindale (8-2) at Milan (10-0).
Detroit Country Day (7-3) at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (8-2)
This is another rematch of a 2012 game that helped decide an eventual MHSAA championship contender. Country Day defeated Notre Dame Prep in the District Final 14-12 on the way to finishing division runner-up at Ford Field, and quarterback Tyler Wiegers is back and committed to play for Rutgers next season. The Yellowjackets haven't lost since opening 0-3, but the Fighting Irish also are riding high with four straight wins after two straight midseason losses.
Others that caught my eye: Richmond (9-1) at Marine City (9-1), Dowagiac (7-3) at Battle Creek Pennfield (9-1), Belding (7-3) at Comstock Park (10-0).
Muskegon Oakridge (9-1) at Reed City (10-0)
Oakridge hasn't allowed an opponent to come within three touchdowns since suffering its lone loss of the season, to Shelby, in Week 6. Oakridge has won at least nine games in each of the last four seasons, but is riding its strongest offense since the 14-0 team in 2008. Reed City is 10-0 for the third straight season thanks in part to its highest-scoring offense ever and shooting for its first District title after falling by a point to Newaygo in last season's Final.
Others that caught my eye: Millington (8-2) at Frankenmuth (9-1), Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (8-2) at Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (9-1), Grayling (9-1) at Menominee (10-0).
Saginaw Nouvel (9-1) at Montrose (10-0)
These two along with Madison Heights Madison and Flint Beecher make up arguably the most competitive Region in the playoffs, with the winner likely earning the right to face national winning-streak leader Ithaca in a Semifinal. Nouvel is back in Division 6 after playing in Division 7 the last three seasons and winning the championship in 2011, while Montrose long has been a contender in this division and no doubt would like another shot at the Yellowjackets.
Others that caught my eye: Grass Lake (9-1) at Clinton (10-0), Schoolcraft (9-1) at Watervliet (10-0), Maple City Glen Lake (9-1) at Ithaca (10-0).
Ishpeming (10-0) at Iron River West Iron Country (10-0)
This is the biggest game in the Upper Peninsula this week. Reigning MHSAA champion Ishpeming is riding two straight shutouts with five total this season, and West Iron is looking for its first District title since 2008. The Wykons earned a little more notice statewide by opening the playoffs with a 14-point win over perennial power Traverse City St. Francis last week. This should be one of Ishpeming's first challenges this season as only rival Negaunee has come within 36 points of the Hematites.
Others that caught my eye: Lake City (9-1) at Lincoln Alcona (10-0), Pewamo-Westphalia (9-1) at Carson City-Crystal (10-0), Lawton (9-1) at Homer (9-1).
Climax-Scotts (9-1) at Mendon (10-0)
How did annual championship contender Mendon bounce back from ending last season in the Regional Final? The Hornets have outscored opponents 513-19 in arguably the most impressive run of any team statewide. Mendon has beaten Climax-Scotts in the playoffs the last two seasons, so the Panthers have plenty of additional motivation. Their only loss this fall was to much larger Flint Powers Catholic.
Others that caught my eye: Waterford Our Lady (8-2) at New Lothrop (10-0), Fowler (8-2) at Muskegon Catholic Central (8-2), Powers North Central (8-2) at Felch North Dickinson (7-2).
Lawrence (7-2) at Battle Creek St. Philip (10-0)
The 8-player playoffs are in their Regional Finals, and these two are plenty familiar with each other after a titanic 54-50 battle won by St. Philip only two weeks ago. In that game, the two traded touchdowns until the end, and this Saturday afternoon rematch could be one of the highest-scoring of the weekend.
Other Regional Finals: Engadine (6-4) at Rapid River (10-0), Owendale-Gagetown (9-1) at Kinde-North Huron (7-3), Carsonville-Port Sanilac (7-3) at Peck (10-0).
PHOTO: DeWitt, carrying the ball, survived with a 14-6 win over rival Haslett last week to advance to tonight's District Final against Linden. (Photo courtesy of Matt Stehouwer.)