By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
As we dive into the midpoint of the 2018 high school football regular season, there’s more than meets the eye to many of our Week 5 matchups.
Sure, we’ve got some of the usual regulars on this week’s preview list – Clinton Township Chippewa Valley vs. Macomb Dakota among them – but it’s fair to say a number of others discussed below are a bit off the usual board, but with plenty of significance upon further view.
Games below are tonight unless noted. Check out the MHSAA Score Center for the full schedule and results as games are completed. MHSAA.tv will broadcast 15 games this weekend, including our top game from the “Bay & Thumb” area. Our “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid.
Bay & Thumb
Davison (4-0) at Grand Blanc (4-0)
The Saginaw Valley League Blue is topped by three undefeated teams – these two and Lapeer – and this one will go a long way toward determining the eventual champion. But it also could have playoff implications down the road – the Bobcats are tied for fourth and Davison is tied for ninth in playoff point average among teams that traditionally fall into Division 1 for the postseason.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Swartz Creek (4-0) at Flint Hamady (4-0), Ubly (3-1) at Harbor Beach (3-1), Harrison (2-2) at Beaverton (3-1), Richmond (3-1) at Yale (2-2).
Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (4-0) at Macomb Dakota (4-0)
Like Davison and Grand Blanc mentioned above, these two rank highly among likely Division 1 playoff teams – Chippewa Valley first in playoff point average and Dakota tied for seventh – and they’ve seen each other in the postseason as well five of the last six seasons. The Big Reds won both meetings in 2017 and this season have handed the only losses to Saline and Roseville. Dakota is averaging 45 points per game during its best start since its 2013 league title season.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Detroit Cody (4-0) at Detroit Mumford (3-1), Garden City (3-1) at Dearborn Heights Crestwood (4-0), Auburn Hills Avondale (3-1) at Farmington (4-0), SATURDAY Detroit Catholic Central (3-1) at Birmingham Brother Rice (3-1).
DeWitt (4-0) at East Lansing (4-0)
They have two of the richest traditions in the Lansing area and will meet as members of the same league for the first time. The winner will earn a strong upper hand in an otherwise middling Capital Area Activities Conference Blue, and these two also met in the playoffs as recently as 2016. DeWitt still scores a bunch and East Lansing has offensive firepower too, but the defenses could emerge as the stars of this meeting – DeWitt has given up only 7.8 points per game, and East Lansing a respectable 16 ppg.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Lansing Catholic (4-0) at Portland (4-0), Canton (3-1) at Brighton (3-1), Ovid-Elsie (3-1) at New Lothrop (4-0), Haslett (4-0) at Williamston (3-1).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Traverse City Central (3-1) at Gaylord (4-0)
First-year coach and former assistant Shawn Sargent has the Blue Devils off to their first 4-0 start since their last playoff season in 2015. Gaylord has some solid wins, but Central will provide the strongest test to date. The Trojans have to be revved up after a close loss to rival Traverse City West last week. Central shines especially on defense, giving up only 9.5 points per game.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Oscoda (3-1) at Rogers City (4-0), Traverse City St. Francis (4-0) at Grayling (2-2), Leroy Pine River (4-0) at McBain (2-2), Traverse City West (2-2) at Alpena (2-2).
Southeast & Border
Athens (3-0) at Adrian Lenawee Christian (4-0)
The Southern Central Athletic Association has only four 11-player teams but two of the most intriguing matchups in the region this weekend. (Pittsford and Climax-Scotts line up on the other side.) Lenawee Christian is 4-0 for the first time ever; the Cougars are in their 11th season as a varsity program. And Athens? The Indians didn’t have an opponent Week 2, but have outscored their three this season by a combined 107-0.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Jackson (4-0) at Chelsea (3-1), Concord (3-1) at Springport (4-0), Union City (2-2) at Reading (4-0), Addison (2-2) at Grass Lake (4-0).
Watervliet (2-2) at Kalamazoo United (4-0)
Watervliet has won outright or shared seven straight league titles, but enters Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley play with a pair of close losses – their first regular-season defeats since Week 6 of 2016. United also was 4-0 coming into this league opener a year ago, and Watervliet won 52-34. But United – giving up only 27 points total over four games this time, might have the defense to slow down a Watervliet offense averaging 43 points per game.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Paw Paw (3-1) at Three Rivers (4-0), Muskegon Catholic Central (2-2) at Cassopolis (4-0), Stevensville Lakeshore (2-2) at Portage Central (3-1), Battle Creek Central (3-1) at Benton Harbor (1-2).
Harbor Springs (4-0) at St. Ignace (2-2)
With their best start since 1999, the Rams have equaled last season’s win total and are lined up to chase their best record since going 6-4 in 2000. But St. Ignace, despite losing to Johannesburg-Lewiston last week, has experienced a turn as well after uncharacteristically winning just a game a year ago. The Saints not only have more wins than last season already, but with 23 more points will eclipse last year’s output.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Norway (2-2) at Calumet (4-0), Negaunee (2-2) at Ishpeming (4-0), Maple City Glen Lake (2-2) at Gladstone (2-2), Petoskey (2-2) at Marquette (2-2).
Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian (3-1) at Hopkins (3-1)
The Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver has the smallest schools of the league’s seven divisions and doesn’t get the attention of the other high-profile leagues. But the Silver’s best have had big moments too over the years, and these two teams are hoping to ride fast starts into more over the next two months. NorthPointe started 5-0 a year ago before hitting the tough part of the league schedule – but did make the playoffs. Hopkins is seeking its first playoff berth since 2014 and already has avenged Silver losses from last season to Belding and Wyoming Godwin Heights.
Others that caught my eye FRIDAY Hudsonville (4-0) at Jenison (3-1), Whitehall (3-1) at Montague (3-1), Muskegon Oakridge (4-0) at Ravenna (3-1), Grand Rapids South Christian (3-1) at Hudsonville Unity Christian (4-0).
Onekama (4-0) at Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (4-0), Saturday
The Portagers seemed on the verge of something special last season, when they finished 9-2 losing in the 8-Player Division 2 Regional Finals. So far this fall they’ve outscored opponents by a combined 196-6, with only reigning Division 1 champion Central Lake getting on the board. Tri-unity is coming off its first challenge of the season – a 38-27 win over Suttons Bay – and could next provide Onekama’s best test to date, and with the Midwest Central Michigan West championship perhaps on the line.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Morrice (4-0) at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (3-1), Battle Creek St. Philip (3-1) at Camden-Frontier (3-1), Cedarville (3-1) at Engadine (3-1), Mayville (3-1) at Kinde-North Huron (3-1).
Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO: Grand Blanc quarterback Tylor Leedom pitches to a teammate during the Bobcats’ Week 3 win over Flint Southwestern. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)
Five showdowns of undefeated teams highlight this week's Michigan high school statewide schedule as we begin our second-half buildup toward the end of the regular season.
If you're not watching in person, check out most of the matchups highlighted below, and several others, on MHSAA.tv. Check in as well with the MHSAA Scores page for all of them as they come in. (Games below are Friday unless noted.)
Bay & Thumb
Croswell-Lexington (5-0) at Almont (5-0) - Watch
Just past halfway through the Blue Water Area Conference schedule, half the teams are 3-1 or 4-0 in league play – with these the co-leaders. Croswell-Lexington hasn’t played a game closer than 19 points this fall, but did lose last year’s meeting with Almont 37-26. The Raiders, meanwhile, have won the last two weeks by seven and one point, respectively – but opened the season with three straight shutouts as the stifling defense they’ve become known for has given up only 34 points total.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Lapeer (4-1) at Grand Blanc (3-2) - Watch, Linden (4-1) at Fenton (4-1) - Watch, Birch Run (4-1) at Freeland (5-0) - Watch, Madison Heights Lamphere (4-1) at Marine City (4-1).
Westland John Glenn (5-0) at Belleville (5-0) - Watch
Belleville’s 42-3 victory over Livonia Franklin last week was the team’s 30th straight, and the Tigers now own the state’s longest active winning streak with Powers North Central’s coming to an end at 41 on the same night. Belleville’s next challenger is John Glenn, which under second-year coach Jason Mensing has as many victories this fall as the last two combined and has nearly guaranteed its first winning season since 2014. Mensing guided his former team Ottawa Lake Whiteford through several memorable moments, and this will be the Rockets’ biggest so far under his leadership.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Gibraltar Carlson (4-1) at Trenton (4-1) - Watch, Romeo (3-2) at Macomb Dakota (4-1) - Watch, Lake Orion (5-0) at Rochester Adams (3-2) - Watch, Marine City Cardinal Mooney (3-2) at Clarkston Everest Collegiate (3-2) - Watch.
Goodrich (5-0) at Corunna (5-0) - Watch
The winner of this matchup clinches a share of the Flint Metro League Stars championship, similar to last season when Goodrich won the league and Corunna was second thanks to the Martians’ 42-7 win in their Week 5 matchup. Both arguably have been even better this fall. Goodrich has handed the only losses this season to Frankenmuth and Linden, and Corunna has given up only 31 points this season and no more than 17 in a game while scoring at least 38 every time out.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Evart (4-1) at Beal City (5-0) - Watch, Grand Ledge (5-0) at DeWitt (2-2) - Watch, Fowler (5-0) at Pewamo-Westphalia (4-1) - Watch, Montrose (4-1) at New Lothrop (4-1) - Watch.
Northern Lower Peninsula
Charlevoix (4-1) at Elk Rapids (2-3)
There’s more riding here than the initial glance my indicate. Charlevoix, with a win, would clinch a share of the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders title – its first since 2020 and after finishing second to Boyne City both of the past two seasons. The Rayders haven’t had a game closer than 13 points since falling to Traverse City St. Francis by one in their season opener. Elk Rapids got off to a tough start but has won two straight – both in shutouts – and is looking for its first win over Charlevoix since 2018.
Southeast & Border
Jackson (4-1) at Adrian (4-1) - Watch
Jackson has a chance to set up a Week 7 winner-take-all matchup with Chelsea for the Southeastern Conference White championship – a nice jump after finishing third last season. The Vikings haven’t defeated Chelsea since 2018 but lost by a respectable 17-0 last fall. But they can’t overlook Adrian, still enjoying its best season since 2016 despite falling to Chelsea 28-18 last week. The Maples would love to hand Jackson a loss tonight and cheer for the Vikings next week with a title share possible.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Michigan Center (4-1) at Grass Lake (4-1) - Watch, Flat Rock (4-1) at Milan (3-2) - Watch, Ann Arbor Huron (3-2) at Saline (5-0) - Watch, Hudson (5-0) at Blissfield (3-2) - Watch.
Parma Western (5-0) at Battle Creek Harper Creek (4-1)
We’re halfway through the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference schedule, and this has emerged as an important matchup with Parma Western tied with Hastings for first and Harper Creek only a game back after falling to the Saxons 34-6 last week. The Beavers struggled to 3-6 a year ago but already have avenged 2022 losses to Battle Creek Lakeview, Battle Creek Central and Marshall – and Western defeated them 34-0 last season before Harper Creek went 2-1 to finish the fall. Western’s defense is a notable strength again, giving up only 37 points total this season despite taking on Dearborn Divine Child and Detroit Country Day over the first two weeks.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Paw Paw (5-0) at Edwardsburg (3-2) - Watch, Constantine (4-1) at Allegan (4-1) - Watch, St. Joseph (3-2) at Portage Northern (5-0) - Watch, Muskegon Catholic Central (3-2) at Schoolcraft (4-1) - Watch.
Gladstone (4-1) at Menominee (5-0)
This is the first of three games that will tell a lot about Menominee’s season as the Maroons enter this stretch alone atop the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper at 4-0 but with Gladstone, Week 7 opponent Negaunee and Week 8 opponent Kingsford all 3-1 in league play. While this is a new conference for the Maroons this season, they have plenty of history with Gladstone as both came from the Great Northern Conference – and Menominee had won three straight in the series before Gladstone’s 28-6 victory last fall. Gladstone’s lone defeat this year came Week 3 to Kingsford, 35-12.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Maple City Glen Lake (3-2) at Sault Ste. Marie (3-2) - Watch, Manistique (3-2) at Iron Mountain (5-0) - Watch, Marquette (2-2) at Escanaba (1-4) - Watch, Houghton (2-3) at Calumet (1-4) - Watch.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (4-1) at East Grand Rapids (5-0)
We’ve been watching East Grand Rapids’ rejuvenation this fall with this among games circled for special attention, and Forest Hills Central’s 15-14 loss to Byron Center last week hardly lessens the intrigue. The Rangers are still among favorites statewide in Division 3, ranked No. 2, and East Grand Rapids is right behind them this week at No. 3 (while Byron Center is No. 2 in Division 2). The Ottawa-Kent Conference White title won’t be decided with this matchup, but it surely will be impacted – and the Rangers have defeated EGR all three times they’ve met since the Pioneers rejoined the division in 2020.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Allendale (5-0) at Spring Lake (4-1), Lowell (4-1) at Byron Center (5-0), Caledonia (4-1) at Hudsonville (4-1) - Watch, Zeeland East (4-1) at Muskegon (3-2).
Mendon (5-0) at Adrian Lenawee Christian (5-0) - Watch
Movement on the overall 8-player enrollment list have made this a matchup we’ll see just this once this fall, as Mendon – last year’s Division 2 runner-up – has moved to Division 1 and is ranked No. 2, while Lenawee Christian is top-ranked in Division 2 after winning Division 1 titles in 2020 and 2021 and reaching a Regional Final last year. Still, many 8-player eyes will be watching. The Cougars have given up just 32 points this season and no more than 12 in a game, and that defense should be part of the key matchup within the matchup because Mendon is scoring 52 per contest and coming off an 80-point performance.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Carson City-Crystal (5-0) at Coleman (4-1) - Watch, Brown City (5-0) at Mayville (5-0) - Watch, St. Ignace (5-0) at Newberry (4-1), Norway (4-1) at Ontonagon (4-1) - Watch.
Second Half’s weekly “1st & Goal” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and X (Twitter) @mistudentaid.
PHOTO Muskegon Catholic Central and Orchard View players reach to get a hand on the ball during their meeting this season. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)