Playoff Chaos in the MAC Red
Shelby Township – The Wild West has nothing on the wacky MAC Red.
The top division in the Macomb Area Conference could have five, dare we forecast all six of its members qualify for the state playoffs, and two, possibly three or four, might get in with 5-4 record.
With two weeks left in the regular season four Red Division teams have 4-3 records. Sterling Heights Stevenson is 5-2 and on Friday it plays at Macomb Dakota (6-1), which has clinched the division title.
Utica Eisenhower (4-3, 2-2) plays at Warren Mott (4-3, 2-2), and Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (4-3, 1-3) is at Macomb L’Anse Creuse North (3-4, 1-3).
Dakota is in and Stevenson, even if it loses to Dakota, will automatically qualify with a victory over Uitca (2-5) in week nine.
The Eisenhower-Mott winner appears to be in good shape to make the playoffs. And the same can be said of the Chippewa Valley-L.C. North winner. If North wins it would need a victory over Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse (1-6) to finish at 5-4.
Last season nine 5-4 Class A teams made the playoffs as additional qualifiers. Only one (Romeo) from the MAC Red got in with a 5-4 record. Eisenhower finished 5-4 but did not get in.
The additional qualifiers make the playoffs based on their playoff-point percentage. The more difficult the schedule the better chance a 5-4 has of getting in.
Chippewa Valley and Stevenson are the only Red Division teams not to have lost a game outside of its division. That can be good or bad. For instance Stevenson defeated Troy in a nonleague game but Troy is 0-7 and that’s not good if you’re looking for playoff points. Chippewa Valley defeated Lake Orion and Lake Orion is 4-3, which gives Chippewa Valley more playoff points.
It can be confusing. After this week’s game the playoff picture will become clearer. We think.
Eisenhower’s 21-12 victory over Chippewa Valley last week could prove decisive for the Eagles. Eisenhower coach Chris Smith thinks his team will get in even if it splits its final two games. It won’t be easy. Eisenhower must play at Romeo (4-3) in week nine.
“I knew Dakota was the team to beat before the season,” Smith said. “And for the rest of us it would be a battle. Mott has experience at quarterback. Chippewa Valley has been up and down. They have two great receivers but don’t have a strong run game.”
Eisenhower has won two straight and are a plus-6 in turnover ratio in those game. The Eagles were a minus-8 in their first five games.
“Our defense has only given up seven touchdowns,” Smith said. “We’ve given up four interceptions four touchdowns. Against Rockford (a 28-10 loss) we were down 14-10 and in the red zone. We gave up a pick-6 and then they returned a fumble for a touchdown.”
For Eisenhower it’s a learning process. Smith installed the triple option this season and timing has been an issue. Eisenhower is averaging 370 yards a game in offense but mistakes have proved costly.
Seniors Jacob Bradsher and Nick Ribbing have shared time at quarterback and even freshman Max Whittwer has taken snaps.
“Our quarterbacks have been really good,” Smith said. “We’re moving the ball. They rep the same plays in practice. We use multiple formations but we’re basically running the same plays.’
It’s possible Livonia Churchill (6-1) and Livonia Stevenson (5-2) will play each other three consecutive weeks beginning this Friday at Stevenson. Churchill will host Stevenson in the regular-season finale and if Stevenson qualifies for the playoffs (Churchill is already in) the two could meet in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs.
Both are members of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association. Churchill is in the South Division; Stevenson the Central. This ridiculous scenario could have been avoided had KLAA administrators intervened. It’s simple. The KLAA has its crossovers this Friday. The first place finishers from the South and Central play each other as do the second place finishers and so on. Both Livonia schools are seeded second in their respective divisions. All that needed to be done is to have Churchill play Northville, seeded third in the Central, and Stevenson to play third-seeded Plymouth.
No football team should have to play another three consecutive weeks if the situation could be avoided. It isn’t fair to Churchill or Stevenson.