By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Halftime of this weekend’s games will mark the midway point of the 2015 football regular season.
And the final results this Friday and Saturday could prove to be turning points for a number of teams playing for league titles all over the state.
The Week 5 slate is filled with matchups of teams tied for first place in their respective leagues, plus others pitting leaders against those in second and hoping to move up. The report below touches on many, but not all of these – tune in to the Score Center this weekend for scores and updated standings as those games are decided.
Bay & Thumb
Frankenmuth (4-0) at Millington (4-0)
The latest chapter in this Tri-Valley Conference East rivalry should again decide the champion. Millington handed the Eagles their only loss of the 2014 regular season – although these two then shared the title with Birch Run after the Panthers beat the Cardinals. Millington has won nine of the last 15 meetings, but Frankenmuth holds a slim 22-20 edge going back to their first reported meeting in 1956.
Others that caught my eye: Almont (4-0) at Richmond (4-0), Mount Pleasant (3-1) at Lapeer (4-0), Flint Powers Catholic (3-1) at Midland Dow (3-1), St. Clair Shores South Lake (4-0) at Marine City (3-1).
Detroit Cass Tech (4-0) at Detroit Martin Luther King (4-0)
This Detroit Public School League rivalry game always is anticipated, but this season more than most. King’s only regular-season loss last season was to Cass Tech, in the PSL championship game; the Crusaders then saw their season end in the first round of the playoffs the next week. However, they opened this fall by beating reigning Division 2 champion Warren DeLaSalle. Cass Tech hasn’t lost a regular-season game since Week 8 of 2012 – to King – but despite dominating four opponents that had winning records a year ago, might be behind the Crusaders in terms of generating statewide buzz.
Others that caught my eye: Warren Mott (4-0) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (3-1), Belleville (3-1) at Dearborn Heights Robichaud (4-0), Southfield (3-1) at Farmington Hills Harrison (3-1), Warren DeLaSalle (3-1) at Orchard Lake St. Mary's (4-0).
Olivet (3-1) at Lake Odessa Lakewood (4-0)
Lakewood has plenty of history it would like to still make, but consider this from the Vikings’ start: they are 4-0 for the first time since 1974. Those four wins tie the total for all of last season and tie the team’s most for a season since 2005. Lakewood’s 176 points through four games is more than they scored during 14 of the last 20 seasons. But Olivet certainly can dampen the excitement by winning tonight’s Greater Lansing Activities Conference matchup, like the Eagles did last season 42-9 on the way to winning the league title.
Others that caught my eye: Jackson (3-1) at Grand Ledge (4-0), Flint Beecher (4-0) at Corunna (3-1), Haslett (3-1) at Mason (2-2), Holt (2-2) at East Lansing (2-2).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Boyne City (4-0) at Traverse City St. Francis (4-0)
By the smallest of margins, this game gets top billing over two others matching undefeated teams. For starters, Boyne City won the matchup last season 28-27 – and eventually, the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders division title. The Ramblers then made the Division 6 Semifinals, and then graduated a significant group of contributors – but has come back to shut out two of its first four opponents. Then again, St. Francis didn’t give up a point this season until last week and is sparking statewide chatter like its contending teams of a few years ago.
Others that caught my eye: Gaylord (4-0) at Traverse City Central (4-0), St. Ignace (4-0) at Johannesburg-Lewiston (4-0), Onekama (4-0) at Maple City Glen Lake (3-1), McBain (3-1) at Manton (2-2).
Southeast & Border
Clinton (4-0) at Morenci (4-0)
Morenci won 10 games last fall for the first time since 1996 – but the only blemish on an otherwise incredible regular-season run was a 28-26 loss to Clinton that ended up deciding the Tri-County Conference championship. All four of the Bulldogs’ wins this season are against teams .500 or better so far, lining this up as again a likely league title decider – Clinton has shut out two of its first four opponents and won 31 straight regular-season games.
Others that caught my eye: Brooklyn Columbia Central (4-0) at Ida (4-0), Monroe (3-1) at Ann Arbor Pioneer (4-0), Chelsea (4-0) at Tecumseh (2-2), New Boston Huron (2-2) at Milan (3-1).
Berrien Springs (4-0) at Bridgman (4-0)
Both of these programs have enjoyed recent success; Bridgman has made the playoffs three straight seasons, and Berrien Springs made the postseason last year and two of the last four. But there’s a little more intrigue although these teams don’t play in the same division of the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference. Bridgman has never started 4-0 – and looks like the BCS Blue favorite. Berrien Springs likely will battle Buchanan in the BCS White and hasn’t allowed a point in two weeks, most recently shutting out BCS Red favorite Cassopolis.
Others that caught my eye: Saugatuck (4-0) at Decatur (3-1), Dowagiac (3-1) at Edwardsburg (4-0), Jackson Lumen Christi (4-0) at Marshall (3-1), Sturgis (3-1) at Vicksburg (3-1).
Lake Linden-Hubbell (4-0) at L'Anse (3-1)
The Lakes are used to success and have made the playoffs nine of the last 11 seasons – but are 4-0 for the first time since winning 10 games in 2009 and on pace to score their most points since 1997. L’Anse has bounced back from 4-5 a year ago but has a tough schedule over the season’s second half – and would enjoy the momentum from playing a tough opponent well this weekend.
Others that caught my eye: Crystal Falls Forest Park (2-2) at Newberry (3-1), Detroit Country Day (3-1) at Escanaba (2-2), Ishpeming Westwood (2-2) at Iron Mountain (2-2), Felch North Dickinson (1-3) at Bark River-Harris (4-0).
Montague (4-0) at Whitehall (3-1)
The season’s first half has been one of resurgence for Montague, one of the state’s most successful programs during the first decade of the 2000s. The Wildcats are 4-0 for the first time since 2010 and after going only 2-7 a year ago. They’re giving up points, but scoring more including 70 on Ravenna and 55 against Shelby. Whitehall did fall by a score to undefeated Traverse City Central last week, but otherwise navigated well a solid nonleague slate – and beat Montague 48-20 a year ago.
Others that caught my eye: Hudsonville Unity Christian (3-1) at Byron Center (3-1), Grand Rapids Christian (3-1) at Hudsonville (3-1), Zeeland East (3-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (4-0), Caledonia (2-2) at Rockford (2-2).
Posen (4-0) at Pickford (3-1)
Pickford should be finding 8-player football to its liking so far. The Panthers, in their first season, have one more win than they earned all of 2014 and have lost this fall only to reigning MHSAA runner-up Cedarville. Posen has shown to be in a similar elite class so far, especially after last week’s 30-point win over always-tough Bellaire – and the Vikings have guaranteed tying their best finish since 2010.
Others that caught my eye: Webberville (4-0) at Waldron (4-0), Owendale-Gagetown (4-0) at Akron-Fairgrove (3-1).
PHOTO: A Detroit Cass Tech ball carrier breaks through during the Technicians’ win this season against Detroit Renaissance. (Photo courtesy of Detroit Public School League.)