PICKS: Muskegon, CC meet in East/West Showdown
Muskegon – So much history surrounds the first meeting between two of the state’s top football programs.
Muskegon High began playing football in 1895 and on Friday it will host Detroit Catholic Central in the season opener at Hackley Field at 7 p.m. C.C. open its doors in 1928 and since 1975, the start of the state playoffs, the Shamrocks have made the state finals 16 times, including four of the last five seasons, and won 10 titles.
Muskegon won five titles in seven state-final appearances and no team from this state has won more games. Muskegon has won 785 games including 12 in each of the past two seasons.
C. Leo “Tiny” Redmond (1925-46) is the all-time leader in coaching victories (156) at Muskegon but other coaches such as Roger Chiaverini (’64-’70), Dave Taylor (’83-‘99) and Tony Annese (’00-‘08) have all added significantly to the lore.
At C.C. Tom Mach, stands above the rest. Inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame last year, Mach enters his 39th season as the school’s head coach. He’s fourth in all-time victories (344-88) in state history. Just twice has Mach coached a team with a losing record and 19 times his teams have won 10 or more games in a season.
Entering the season both teams share a common thread. Both lost in the state finals, C.C. in Division 1, Muskegon in Division 2, at Ford Field last season. PICK: Muskegon by 6.
All games at 7 p.m. unless noted.
Canton at Holland West Ottawa: West Ottawa finished 5-4 last season and missed the playoffs thanks in part to its 28-21 loss at Canton in the opener. This one is expected to be another close one. PICK: West Ottawa by 6.
Flint Carman-Ainsworth at Grand Blanc: Carman-Ainsworth is coming off of its best season as it reached the state (Division 1) semifinals for the first time. Much of its success depends on Nate Williams (RB/LB) who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in week three. Grand Blanc has dual threat quarterback in Tre’Von Avery back and an experienced offensive line. PICK: Grand Blanc by 11.
Lake Orion at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley: With rival Macomb Dakota on tap for next week, Chippewa Valley must first focus on a Lake Orion team that plays a similar style to that of Dakota; run-oriented and physical. PICK: Lake Orion by 3.
Macomb Dakota at Clarkston: One can’t accuse Clarkston of ducking anyone after winning its first state title. The state’s top-ranked team invites the perennial top team from neighboring Macomb County to open the season. Clarkston quarterback D.J. Zezula takes center stage once again. PICK: Clarkston by 4.
Utica Eisenhower at Rockford: This is another matchup of high-profile programs from opposite sides of the state. Both teams experienced disappointment last season as Eisenhower missed the playoffs and Rockford lost to Hudsonville in the second round. Eisenhower’s defense will find it difficult stopping Rockford’s run game led by Ethan LeCourt. PICK: Rockford by 8.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s vs. Southfield at Wayne State, 4: The redemption bowl. Southfield was upset by Birmingham Seaholm, 17-16, in the first round of the playoffs last season and St. Mary’s, at 5-4, didn’t even qualify. From a recruiting standpoint there will be a host of Division I-level talent on the turf in this one. PICK: Southfield by 2.
Muskegon Mona Shores at Saline: Two top 25 teams meet in yet another east/west showdown. The quarterbacks – Trent Tyson at Saline and Tyree Jackson at Mona Shores – take center stage but watch for Saline defensive back Tyrone Miller to make his presence known as well. PICK: Saline by 5.
Detroit Cass Tech vs. Oak Park at Wayne State: Two top 10 teams give the fans a taste of playoff football here. Cass Tech is expected to go with sophomore Rodney Hall at quarterback and Oak Park features multi-purpose back John Kelly. Look for Oak Park to go with eight or nine players in the box to contain running back Mike Weber, Jr. PICK: Oak Park by 4.
Chicago Brother Rice vs. Birmingham Brother Rice at Wayne State, Sat., 2: Coach Dave Sofran officially takes over for the legendary Al Fracassa and fortunately for Sofran quarterback Alex Malzone has one more year at Brother Rice. PICK: Birmingham Brother Rice by 8.