Predictions for the Top Games: DeWitt, Haslett play for CAC Red Division title
DeWitt – Opinions vary on just what constitutes a rivalry.
One criteria, many uphold, is that the series remain competitive. The Detroit Catholic Central-Birmingham Brother Rice rivalry comes to mind here. Catholic Central leads that series 31-30-1.
So what about the other so-called rivalries that are one-sided? Are they considered a rivalry or just a long-standing series that one team dominates?
The DeWitt-Haslett series is in the latter category. These schools are located in mid-Michigan approximately 14 miles apart. They will play in a Capital Area Conference Red Division game at Haslett on Friday at 7 p.m. Both teams are 5-1, 4-0 in the division, and the winner will claim the title.
Here’s the kicker. DeWitt owns a 37-9 advantage in the series. The last time Haslett defeated DeWitt was in 2005, 49-28. That was the last season DeWitt, at 5-4, didn’t qualify for the playoffs. That season Haslett reached a state final (Division 3) for the second time in school history, losing to Caledonia, 27-6. In 1998 Haslett lost to Menominee, 42-6, in the Class BB final.
“When I took over (1999), it was definitely DeWitt and Haslett,” DeWitt coach Rob Zimmerman said. “We always have to be ready to play because of their desire to beat us.
“St. Johns (another Red Division member) has become a bigger rival recently because of the division.”
Haslett defeated DeWitt Zimmerman’s first season. Haslett won again in 2001 and ’03.
That might be a stretch, too. DeWitt hasn’t lost a division game since 2008. St. Johns has kept things close, however, for the most part. St. Johns last defeated DeWitt in 2010, 49-35, when the teams were in separate divisions. In 2011 St. Johns lost to DeWitt, 42-35, and in a 2012 Division 3 region final DeWitt defeated St. Johns, 29-27. In 2014 DeWitt won at St. Johns, 16-10.
DeWitt has played well all season, the 38-30 loss to Grand Rapids Christian notwithstanding. The Panthers defeated Grand Ledge, a Division 1 program, 14-7, in the second week and have rolled past their other four opponents since.
What is remarkable about this run, and the credit goes to Zimmerman and his staff, the Panthers lost their starting senior quarterback, Anthony Joseph, the first day of preseason practice. In his place is junior Blake Gatfield. Gatfield has thrown for over 1,000 yards, 18 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Joseph suffered an injury to a meniscus tendon and is expected to return this week. Look for both quarterback to see playing time. Pick: DeWitt by 10.
Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (6-0) at Dearborn Divine Child (5-1): These teams face different questions about themselves and just what type of season they’ll have. Divine Child is the best team Richard will have faced to this point. For Divine Child, the Falcons are coming off of a lopsided loss (42-14) to Warren DeLaSalle and they must regroup quickly. Pick: Divine Child by 7.
Cedar Springs (4-2) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (2-4): Cedar Springs is coming off of one of the biggest victories in program history, at least in the last 15 years or so. The Red Hawks defeated Lowell, 28-14. That’s not a fluke. The week before Cedar Springs nearly upset Grand Rapids Christian. The Red Hawks, 3-0 in division play, have a chance to win the O-K Conference White Division. Pick: Cedar Springs by 8.
Clarkston (5-1) at Rochester Adams (5-1): Both teams are 4-1 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division so it’s plain what’s at stake here. These teams often met in an OAA crossover to start the season due mainly to the relationship between coach Tony Patritto of Adams and Clarkston’s Kurt Richardson. The two won’t be so buddy-buddy this week. Pick: Adams by 4.
Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (5-1) at Macomb Dakota (5-1): This is somewhat similar to the DeWitt-Haslett game in that there’s a rivalry atmosphere but until Chippewa Valley starts winning a few more games in this series the Big Reds will continue to play the little brother role. Pick: Chippewa Valley by 3.
Frankenmuth (6-0) at Millington (6-0): These Tri-Valley Conference East Division giants have played a highly-competitive brand of football recently. Frankenmuth has won four of the last five in a series it leads, 24-20. Frankenmuth has won the last two division titles outright and in 2014 it shared the title with Millington and Birch Run. Frankenmuth was champs in 2012 and ’13, and Millington won the title in 2011. This season senior quarterback Zach Jacobs has played well especially when he’s carried the ball. He’s averaging nearly seven yards per carry on 95 attempts. He’s thrown nine touchdown passes but he’s thrown four interceptions in just 45 attempts. Pick: Frankenmuth by 7.
Gladstone (6-0) at Escanaba (5-1): This is the 51st meeting between these two schools and Escanaba won the first one in 1955, 21-6, and has dominated the series (39-10-1) during this time. The Eskymos are coming off of a huge victory over Menominee, 42-21, and it’s possible there could be a letdown. Gladstone last won a game in this series in 2010 (26-22) and despite its fine record this season, it will take a tremendous effort to keep pace with Escanaba. Pick: Escanaba by 11.
Hudson (6-0) at Ida (5-1): Hudson leads Ida by one game in the Lenawee County Athletic Association. Hudson leads the series, 26-8, but the teams have split the last four games. Hudson won last year, 35-34. Pick: Hudson by 5.
Oak Park (5-1) at Farmington Hills Harrison (4-2): Harrison coach John Herrington is one victory shy of equaling the record held by legendary Birmingham Brother Rice coach Al Fracassa for most career coaching victories. Oak Park is not the ideal team with which to reach such a milestone. Pick: Oak Park by 7.
Rockford (4-2) at Holland West Ottawa (5-1): This is the biggest game in the O-K Conference this week and as well as West Ottawa has played this season the XXX might be a bit overmatched. Rockford has played well all season defensively but has struggled on the other side with an inexperienced line. That problem, if indeed it was a problem, seems to have been solved when one looks back to last week’s 27-0 victory over Grandville. Pick: Rockford by 9.
Last week’s record: 5-6
2017 record: 39-22