By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Every football regular season there’s one week when it’s tough to tell heading in which matchups might eventually have the greatest impact on the season as a whole. That tough-to-forecast week then tends to end up as one of the most exciting of the entire fall.
This might be that week for 2019. There are some definite must-watch games across the state for Week 3 – but in a lot of places, we’re eager to see who emerges as leagues continue to get rolling and summer weather hangs on just a little bit longer.
Below are some pretty strong guesses at games you won’t want to miss from your part of Michigan. You’ll again be able to check out 20 games live on MHSAA.tv – including eight of the games listed below.
Games below are Friday unless noted. "Drive for Detroit" is sponsored by MI Student Aid.
Bay & Thumb
Flint Beecher (1-1) at Flint Hamady (2-0)
These neighbors have begun playing each other during the regular season again only recently, with Hamady winning both matchups as part of the Genesee Area Conference Blue schedule over the last two seasons. Hamady edged Beecher 24-18 in Week 3 last year on the way to winning the league title and both teams qualifying for the playoffs.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (2-0) at Saginaw Nouvel (2-0), Kalamazoo Central (1-1) at Flint Powers Catholic (2-0), Sandusky (1-1) at Ubly (2-0), Chesaning (2-0) at Montrose (2-0).
Rochester Adams (2-0) at Lake Orion (2-0)
The Dragons are one of the stories of the season so far, coming off back-to-back 0-2 starts the last two years with wins over highly-touted Lapeer and Southfield Arts & Technology to open this one. Lake Orion won those games by a combined score of 54-14, but faces another team that hasn’t gotten much attention – yet. Adams has outscored its first two opponents by a combined 91-31, with a 31-7 win last week over 2018 playoff qualifier Oxford.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Detroit U-D Jesuit (2-0) at Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (2-0), Dearborn (1-1) at Belleville (2-0), Utica Eisenhower (1-1) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (2-0), Canton (1-1) at Plymouth (2-0).
Clare (2-0) at Harrison (2-0)
The Jack Pine Conference title continues to go through Clare, which shared the championship with Roscommon last season after outright wins in 2016 and 2017 and four more during the first half of the decade. The Pioneers have lost only three league games this decade – including to Harrison in 2010 and 2015. The Hornets earned their first two wins this season by a combined 70 points, but Clare has to be happy too with a combined 62-point margin during its start that included an impressive 35-0 shutout of Alma in Week 1.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Hartland (1-1) at Brighton (2-0), Fowlerville (2-0) at Williamston (2-0), Haslett (1-1) at Mason (2-0), Lake City (1-1) at Beal City (2-0).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Alcona (1-1) at Oscoda (2-0)
Alcona owns a 7-3 advantage since the teams began playing each other annually again in 2009, but Oscoda won 55-8 last season on the way to a North Star League title. The Owls offense found its stride last week against Coleman with a feat that is at least rare, if not unique – eight players combined to score 10 touchdowns, with Owen Franklin crossing the goal line three times and Andy Dault, Robert Host, Caleb Nagel, Gabe Kellstrom, Zach Ouillette, Gavin Lueck and Anthony Ward all scoring once (and quarterback Brayden Mallak making the MHSAA record book with five first-half TD passes).
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Ludington (2-0) at Manistee (2-0), Grayling (1-1) at Kingsley (2-0), Tawas (1-1) at Whittemore-Prescott (1-1). SATURDAY Holt (2-0) at Traverse City West (1-1).
Southeast & Border
Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (2-0) at Milan (2-0)
This pair frequently of late has decided the Huron League title – although Milan last season followed up a 26-21 win over the Falcons with later losses to Riverview and eventual conference champion Grosse Ile. But these two look like the possible teams to beat again. Milan opened league play last week beating Grosse Ile 35-13, and St. Mary has nice wins over 2018 Division 7 runner-up Madison Heights Madison and Carleton Airport to start this fall.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Coldwater (2-0) at Jackson Lumen Christi (2-0), Hillsdale (2-0) at Erie-Mason (2-0), Brooklyn Columbia Central (2-0) at Ida (1-1), Schoolcraft (2-0) at Ottawa Lake Whiteford (1-1).
Portage Northern (2-0) at Portage Central (1-1)
These neighbors shared the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West title last season, in part because of Central’s 21-20 win over Northern in Week 3. Northern earned a degree of revenge seven weeks later with a 35-7 win over Central in a Division 2 playoff opener and on the way to a District title. The Huskies got past a major league obstacle last week by edging Stevensville Lakeshore 14-6, but haven’t beaten Central during the regular season since 2012.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Centreville (2-0) at Cassopolis (2-0), St. Joseph (2-0) at Mattawan (1-1), Paw Paw (2-0) at Plainwell (1-1), Kalamazoo United (0-2) at Berrien Springs (2-0).
Calumet (2-0) at Ishpeming Westwood (1-1)
A number of contenders facing off immediately this season has put a focus on the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper, and this week reigning champion Calumet will travel to take on 2018 runner-up Westwood. The Copper Kings won last year’s matchup 14-12 and then got past the Patriots 6-0 in a Division 6 playoff opener. But Westwood this time is trying to bounce back from last week’s 20-point loss to Iron Mountain, which has emerged as the possible Copper favorite this fall.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Menominee (1-1) at Gladstone (2-0), Charlevoix (2-0) at St. Ignace (1-1), Ishpeming (2-0) at Norway (1-1), Marquette (0-2) at Sault Ste. Marie (2-0).
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (2-0) at Grandville (2-0)
This matchup features a pair of teams that have been impressive so far and have high hopes of moving up in tough conferences. Forest Hills Central was 5-5 a year ago and third in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White, but has beaten 2018 playoff teams Jenison and Holland West Ottawa to start and held both to seven points apiece. Grandville tied for fourth in the O-K Red last season and finished 4-5 overall despite a one-point Week 3 win over the Rangers. The Bulldogs have outscored their first two opponents by a combined 106-44, with a 39-point win over playoff regular East Lansing last week.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY East Grand Rapids (1-1) at Muskegon (2-0), Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1-1) at Zeeland East (2-0), Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (1-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (2-0), Hamilton (2-0) at Byron Center (2-0).
Pickford (2-0) at Powers North Central (2-0), Saturday
If nothing else, this matchup might feature the two best offenses in 8-player football this season – and might be pitting two teams that will be playing for MHSAA championships at the Superior Dome in two months. Reigning 8-player Division 1 runner-up Pickford has put up 106 points, against 34, over its two wins over playoff regulars Crystal Falls Forest Park and Engadine. North Central’s combined tally is 128-18 against two more annual powers, reigning 8-player Division 2 champion Rapid River and Cedarville.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Pellston (2-0) at Au Gres-Sims (1-1), Bellevue (1-1) at Climax-Scotts (2-0), Battle Creek St. Philip (1-1) at Colon (2-0), Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (1-1) at Deckerville (2-0).
Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews 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 Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO: A Newberry ball-carrier looks for an opening during last week’s 8-player 32-8 win over Stephenson. (Photo by Jeff Rochefort.)