By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
In place of a catchy way to introduce what’s at stake, here’s what’s at stake during Week 6 of this high school football season:
Of 45 matchups mentioned in this “Drive for Detroit” preview, 15 pit teams tied for first place in their respective leagues. Another five games match up teams that are undefeated in their leagues, although not tied for first technically because one of the teams has played one more league game.
Another bunch of games below have first and second-place teams facing off. And we didn’t even have room with the format for a few more title-caliber tilts – like Detroit Western (4-1) at Detroit Osborn (4-1) and Gibraltar Carlson (4-1) at Allen Park (4-1) – or the 5-0 vs. 5-0 showcase between Farmington and Madison Heights Madison.
All games below are tonight; a handful of Michigan teams play Saturday this week. Check out the MHSAA Score Center for the full schedule and results as games are completed. MHSAA.tv will broadcast 11 games this weekend, including Edwardsburg/Plainwell mentioned below. Our “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid.
Bay & Thumb
Mount Pleasant (5-0) at Midland (3-2)
These two and Midland Dow have started Saginaw Valley League Red play 3-0, and the Oilers are enjoying their first 5-0 start since the Division 3 runner-up season of 2011. Only one of their opponents so far has a winning record, but giving up 4.4 points per game is impressive whatever the competition. Midland’s defense has been similarly confining, holding its opponents to 13.6 points on average, and the Chemics have beaten Mount Pleasant in three straight. The winner will earn an edge in the league, of course, but the rest will be decided when Dow faces Mount Pleasant in Week 8 and Midland in Week 9.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Goodrich (4-1) at Flint Hamady (5-0), Grand Blanc (4-1) at Lapeer (5-0), Bad Axe (3-2) at Cass City (4-1), Traverse City West (3-2) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (3-2).
Dearborn Fordson (5-0) at Belleville (5-0)
The co-leaders in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East have played three like opponents and are nearly statistically even, Belleville outscoring its four league foes 179-65 and Fordson its four 178-67. But the Tractors must show they’re even in this matchup after falling 35-7 a year ago when both also entered that game undefeated. Both teams’ superiority stretches outside the league again this season; both rank among the top 10 in playoff point average statewide.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Harper Woods (4-1) at River Rouge (4-1), Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (4-1) at Grosse Ile (5-0), Detroit Loyola (3-2) at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood (4-1), Detroit Cass Tech (5-0) at Detroit Cody (4-1).
Saginaw Swan Valley (5-0) at Alma (5-0)
Only one opponent has slowed down Swan Valley this fall – Cedar Springs in a 21-12 defeat in Week 1. Alma was one of the few that came close a year ago, falling by only 17 in the Tri-Valley Conference Central finale. Neither has been tested much in the league this time around, and the winner tonight will clinch a share of the title.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY St. Johns (3-2) at Haslett (4-1), Fowler (4-1) at Dansville (4-1), East Lansing (4-1) at Holt (2-3), Grand Rapids Christian (4-1) at Middleville Thornapple Kellogg (5-0).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Leroy Pine River (4-1) at Lake City (5-0)
The Bucks have bounced way back from last season’s 1-8 finish and control their Highland Conference title destiny despite last week’s five-point loss to McBain – which fell by two to reigning champion Lake City in Week 3. Before last season, Leroy Pine River had defeated Lake City in three straight meetings. But the Trojans are 17-1 over the last two seasons and have given up 25 points this fall, half the Bucks’ equally impressive 51 points against and while scoring 13 more per game.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Petoskey (3-2) at Traverse City Central (4-1), Maple City Glen Lake (2-3) at Elk Rapids (4-1), Benzie Central (3-2) at Kingsley (4-1), Tawas (3-1) at Oscoda (4-1).
Southeast & Border
Ypsilanti Lincoln (4-1) at Jackson (5-0)
Jackson has arrived as a contender in the Southeastern Conference White with a number of gritty wins – four of five have come by 10 points or fewer, including last week’s over reigning champion Chelsea. The Vikings are new to the league this fall and now get Lincoln, last season’s runner-up and already an avenger of both of its 2017 regular-season defeats. Lincoln last won the league in 2014, and claiming another title next month would of course be a big deal. But Jackson is facing a truly historic possibility – it hasn’t won a league title since 1942.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Grass Lake (5-0) at Michigan Center (5-0), Blissfield (4-1) at Hillsdale (5-0), Saline (4-1) at Ann Arbor Pioneer (3-2), Pittsford (5-0) at Athens (3-1).
Battle Creek Central (4-1) at Kalamazoo Central (3-2)
The 115th meeting between these rivals means more than it has in quite a while. They are tied atop the five-team Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East, both with more wins overall this season than in 2017 and both facing the possibility of making the playoffs for the first time in at least a decade. The Maroon Giants have won the last two of this series and own a 16-point win this season over SMAC West leader Portage Central – the only team to defeat the Bearcats this fall.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Constantine (5-0) at Schoolcraft (4-1), Edwardsburg (5-0) at Plainwell (4-1), Centreville (5-0) at Mendon (3-2), Portage Central (4-1) at St. Joseph (3-2).
Ishpeming (5-0) at Gwinn (4-1)
These two and Iron River West Iron County are all 3-0 in the eight-team Western Peninsula Athletic Conference small-school division. Ishpeming and Gwinn came to the league from the Mid-Peninsula Conference this fall, after the Hematites dominated that league for most of its final decade – but Gwinn won their last meeting on the field, by 32 points in 2016. The Modeltowners have surpassed their 2017 win total, but must bounce back after being stunned by Houghton last week. Ishpeming too has turned things around after two straight three-win seasons, passing a couple of close tests the last two weeks.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Calumet (5-0) at Iron Mountain (4-1), Marquette (2-3) at Kingsford (2-3), Hancock (2-3) at Ishpeming Westwood (3-2), Gladstone (3-2) at Sault Ste. Marie (3-2).
Zeeland West (4-1) at Hudsonville Unity Christian (5-0)
Unity Christian has spent its share of time chasing frequent champion Zeeland West in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green race over the last decade or so, and the Crusaders have earned another chance to push ahead of the Dux and neighboring Chix – all three teams are 2-0 in league play with Unity the lone undefeated team overall. The last three meetings between West and Unity have been decided by seven points or fewer, and signs point to another tightly-contested matchup. West’s lone loss came to O-K Gold co-leader Grand Rapids Christian.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Jenison (4-1) at Muskegon (5-0), Grand Rapids South Christian (3-2) at East Grand Rapids (3-2), Spring Lake (5-0) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (2-3), Grand Rapids Catholic Central (4-1) at Allendale (3-2).
Colon (5-0) at Camden-Frontier (4-1)
First-year 8-player program Colon is one win from tying its best record since 2009 and after going 2-7 last season in 11-player. Camden-Frontier has established itself as an 8-player power the last two seasons and will provide a big test for the Magi – although the latter beat Bellevue in Week 2 and Bellevue handed the Redskins their lone loss, in Week 4. A Colon win would clinch a share of the Southern Central Athletic Association A title – while a Camden-Frontier win could create a three-way tie at the top with just one more league game to play.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Powers North Central (4-1) at Crystal Falls Forest Park (3-2), Posen (5-0) at Hillman (4-1), Mayville (4-1) at Peck (4-1), Stephenson (4-1) at Pickford (5-0).
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PHOTO: Saginaw Swan Valley's De'Ondric Sanders runs for some of his 102 yards Week 1 against Cedar Springs. Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)