By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Every fall we say it again: We can’t believe how quickly football season flies by.
But here we are in Week 8, midway through another October, heading into the home stretch for many and the most anticipated weeks for the most fortunate.
With two regular-season games to play, 117 of 256 11-player playoff spots are filled, and 83 more teams can clinch postseason berths this weekend. The Detroit Public School League begins its playoffs tonight and Saturday, while many other leagues across the state will either be finishing up their schedules and/or crowning champions over the next 72 hours.
All 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 11 games this weekend including five mentioned below. Our “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid.
Bay & Thumb
Roseville (5-2) at Port Huron Northern (6-1)
Both are undefeated in Macomb Area Conference Blue play heading into this winner-take-all league finale. The Huskies are attempting to take the next step after finishing second in the MAC Gold both of the last two seasons, while Roseville was one of three teams to share the Blue title a year ago – and is looking to also avenge last season’s 13-7 first-round playoff loss to Northern.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Midland Dow (5-2) at Mount Pleasant (7-0), Sandusky (7-0) at Harbor Beach (6-1), Fenton (5-2) at Swartz Creek (6-1), Haslett (6-1) at Goodrich (5-2).
Warren DeLaSalle (6-1) at Detroit Catholic Central (5-2), Sunday
The Detroit area features league championship-deciding games Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with this a clash of MHSAA title contenders as well. Reigning Division 2 champion DeLaSalle has clinched a share of the Catholic League Central title after winning it outright a year ago by defeating the Shamrocks. The Pilots then beat DCC the following week as well in the Prep Bowl, and this weekend’s game could potentially be the first of two straight between these powers again.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Farmington (6-1) at Birmingham Seaholm (6-1), Walled Lake Western (5-2) at South Lyon (7-0), Riverview (6-1) at Grosse Ile (7-0), SATURDAY St. Clair Shores Lake Shore (6-1) at Warren Woods Tower (7-0).
Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (6-1) at Ithaca (6-1)
The Cardinals’ loss last week to Hemlock took some of the juice out of this one, but an MLS win would create a three-team share of the Tri-Valley Conference West championship between these two and the Huskies. Ithaca hasn’t lost a league game since 2009, and counting the share it owns already this fall has won 10 straight TVC West titles. The Cardinals’ defense has been especially impressive, giving up just over nine points per game, and it will need to come up big again as Ithaca’s offense remains on a scorching 45-ppg pace.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Pewamo-Westphalia (7-0) at Fowler (4-3), Lake Fenton (4-3) at Williamston (6-1), Climax-Scotts (3-3) at Breckenridge (7-0), Brighton (6-1) at Howell (4-3).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Gaylord (5-2) at Traverse City West (5-2), Saturday
The Blue Devils can’t move into a first-place tie in the Big North Conference with a win in this one, but they can make the league race pretty messy. West is undefeated in league play, but a Gaylord win would give Traverse City Central and Petoskey opportunities to share or win the championship outright. The reigning league champion Titans have beaten Gaylord in 12 straight – but this is a better Blue Devils team than most during that string. A sixth win would tie Gaylord’s most in a season over the last 15.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Escanaba (5-2) at Traverse City Central (6-1), Kingsley (6-1) at Cheboygan (4-3), Boyne City (3-4) at Benzie Central (4-3), Elk Rapids (5-2) at Harbor Springs (6-1).
Southeast & Border
Springport (7-0) at Reading (7-0)
The Big 8 Conference title comes down to this, one of three matchups this week between 7-0 teams. Reading has won 16 straight league games, including a sweep of all seven in earning last season’s championship, but these two have split their last eight meetings. The Rangers might have the most statistically impressive defense in the state – they’ve given up just 19 points this season – and it will be key against a Springport offense averaging 45 points (although Reading averages 50).
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Monroe (6-1) at Saline (6-1), Clinton (6-1) at Ottawa Lake Whiteford (7-0), Hillsdale (7-0) at Brooklyn Columbia Central (6-1), Michigan Center (6-1) at Napoleon (5-2).
Constantine (6-1) at Kalamazoo United (7-0)
Constantine’s loss two weeks ago to Schoolcraft has it sitting third in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley behind the Eagles and United. Those co-leaders meet in Week 9 – but Kalamazoo of course won’t look past tonight. The last two games between the Falcons and Titans have been decided by a combined seven points – although both in Kalamazoo’s favor. Constantine’s running attack may need to be the key to slowing down a United offense averaging 60 points per game.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Olivet (7-0) at Berrien Springs (6-1), Cassopolis (7-0) at Mendon (4-3), Mattawan (5-2) at Portage Central (5-2), Athens (3-3) at Three Oaks River Valley (4-3).
Gladstone (3-4) at Marquette (3-4)
When it a matchup between two sub-.500 teams the best in a region? When both are fighting for playoff possibilities – and a league title. Thanks to one-point wins over Escanaba and Kingsford, the Redmen have all but wrapped up the Great Northern Conference championship. Gladstone has only the slimmest chance of ending up with a piece of the league title, but the Braves can still shake things up – and like Marquette must finish 5-4 to earn an opportunity for an at-large playoff bid.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Iron River West Iron County (5-2) at Gwinn (5-2), Rogers City (6-1) at St. Ignace (4-3), Munising (4-3) at Ishpeming (7-0), Negaunee (4-3) at Houghton (3-4).
Muskegon Mona Shores (7-0) at Muskegon (7-0)
With the reigning Division 3 champion Big Reds down the road, Mona Shores probably isn’t getting as much attention as it might elsewhere. But the Sailors can earn it tonight in this battle for a share of the Ottawa-Kent Conference Black title. Mona Shores gave Muskegon the latter’s closest game a year ago, losing by just 11. The Big Reds have proven themselves again this fall against some of the state’s elite – but the Sailors belong in that conversation too and have the enviable opportunity to show it.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Zeeland East (6-1) at Zeeland West (6-1), East Grand Rapids (5-2) at Grand Rapids Christian (5-2), Lake City (7-0) at Kent City (7-0), Grand Rapids West Catholic (4-3) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (6-1).
Posen (6-1) at AuGres-Sims (7-0)
AuGres-Sims’ first season of 8-player football couldn’t be going much better, as it clinched a share of the Midwest Central Football Conference East last week and can finish the outright title tonight against second-place Posen (which is tied for that position with Hillman). The Wolverines have four shutouts and have given up a combined 30 points over their other three games. But Posen deserves it’s due too – its six wins are as many as the last two seasons combined, and the only defeat was by four to Hillman two weeks ago. An upset tonight would be one of the most memorable wins of the last decade for one of the state’s first 8-player adopters.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Rapid River (5-2) at Engadine (6-1), Peck (5-2) at Kingston (6-1), Suttons Bay (6-1) at Onekama (6-1), Ontonagon (4-3) at Crystal Falls Forest Park (4-3).
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PHOTO: Breckenridge charges ahead against Carson City-Crystal last week on the way to clinching the Mid-State Activities Conference title. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)