Predictions for the Top Games: Mona Shores plays Muskegon in a game matching two top 5 teams
Muskegon – The soft part of the schedule is over for Muskegon’s top two teams. On Friday the season gets serious as the state playoffs edges ever closer.
Top-ranked Muskegon (7-0), a state finalist in Division 3 last season, will ride its bus less than three miles to play No. 5 Muskegon Mona Shores (7-0) in an O-K Conference Black Division game.
The closest game Muskegon has played was a 28-7 victory over Lincolnshire (IL) Stevenson. Its last three games were shutouts.
Mona Shores has had a more challenging schedule as the Sailors handed Canton it’s only loss in the opener, then defeated Zeeland Est before having to go to overtime to defeat Rockford.
“Those first three games were a buzz saw,” Mona Shores coach Matt Koziak said. “We had broken arms, broken shoulders, dislocated elbows. But now we’re as healthy as we can be, finally.”
Since the first play of the Jenison game in week five Mona Shores has been without junior game-breaker Damari Roberson. A Division I prospect, Roberson suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season.
Two players stand out above the rest for Koziak. Quarterback Tristan Robbins has thrown for 998 yards, he’s rushed for 361 yards and has accounted for 15 touchdowns. Robbins cut his teeth last season as he started six games due to an injury. His record as a starter is 12-1. The only loss was to Muskegon in the eighth week.
DeAnthony Davis (RB/LB) isn’t impressive physically but Koziak said he’s the best player at this level he’s coached. Davis is 5-9, 175 pounds and plays with a high motor rarely coming off the field.
Mona Shores must be at its best to beat an imposing Muskegon team. The Big Reds are led by Mr. Football candidate, senior quarterback La’Darius Jefferson. Like Robbins, Jefferson is a dual-threat quarterback. Muskegon also boasts a massive offensive line including A.J. Reed (6-6, 330) and Anthony Bradford (6-5, 330).
Koziak said his team is unlike many that play Muskegon. They won’t be intimidated. He points out that Mona Shores has defeated Muskegon two of the last three times the teams have played. It is this fact that gives the Sailors confidence in what is sure to be a highly emotional game. Pick: Muskegon by 7.
All games are Friday at 7 p.m. unless noted.
Algonac (6-1) at Richmond (7-0): The winner takes the Blue Water Area Conference title. Richmond leads the series 29-26 and has won the last six. Richmond is a team that has the potential to go far in the Division 5 playoffs. These teams could play again in the playoffs. Richmond by 8.
Birmingham Brother Rice (4-3) at Traverse City Central (5-2): The numbers tell you all you need to know about Brother Rice. The Warriors need to win out to guarantee a spot in the playoffs and this won’t be a cakewalk. Central has good athletes and Brother Rice’s secondary will be tested. Brother Rice defeated Central, 20-17, last season. Pick: Brother Rice by 4.
Detroit Catholic Central (5-2) vs. Warren DeLaSalle (6-1) at Wayne State: The Pilots have won six straight and have become the favorite to win the Catholic League title. C.C. has been inconsistent particularly on offense. History is not on DeLaSalle’s side. The Pilots have defeated C.C. once since 2008. Pick: DeLaSalle by 4.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central (7-0) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (6-1): There is so much more than just the O-K Conference Blue Division title at stake here. These programs are not only two of the best, there’s also no love lost here. C.C. leads the series 27-19-2 but West Catholic won last season, 20-3, to make it three straight over the Cougars. Pick: C.C. by 4.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (7-0) at Cedar Springs (5-2): Perhaps we should have seen this coming. Central lost to Lowell, 22-19, in a Division 2 region final last season to finish 9-3. Now the Rangers can clinched the O-K Conference White Division title, its first division title since 2011 when it was in the Black. Cedar Springs defeated Lowell this season for the first time since 1981 and can also win a division title, its first since 2015 (co-champs) when the Red Hawks were in the Bronze. Pick: Central by 8.
Midland Dow (6-1) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (5-2): Dow needs to win to grab a share of the Saginaw Valley Red Division title. Carman-Ainsworth has Lapeer (5-2) next so the Cavaliers are going to have to earn an automatic bid to the state playoffs. Carman-Ainsworth defeated Dow, 34-27, last season in the only meeting between these two programs. Strange, huh? Pick: Dow by 2.
Vicksburg (6-1) at Edwardsburg (6-1): The loser is out of the Wolverine Conference race. Vicksburg can win it outright with a win here and another over Three Rivers next week. Pick: Edwardsburg by 2.
Watervliet (7-0) at Schoolcraft (5-2): Schoolcraft was a dominant team in the now-defunct Kalamazoo Valley Conference and won 12 consecutive Southwestern Athletic Conference games until the Eagles lost to Coloma last week, 32-7. Then there’s Watervliet. The Panthers are a scoring machine. They scored 576 points in 2015, 524 last season and have scored 406 to this point this season. But they’ve defeated Schoolcraft just once in five tries. Watervliet quarterback Zachary Pickens has thrown for 2,361 yards, 25 TDs and just two interceptions. Pick: Watervliet by 3.
Wyandotte Roosevelt (7-0) at Gibraltar Carlson (7-0): Wyandotte is, and has been, the big dog in the Downriver League since the league was formed in 2009. At one stretch the Bears won 24 consecutive league games and 39 of 40. Carlson has never own the Downriver League title and, frankly, has never been close. Pick: Wyandotte by 7.
Detroit Cass Tech (5-1) vs. Detroit King (6-1) at Detroit Northwestern, 2:15: Two of the top five ranked teams and defending state champions play for a spot in the Detroit Public School League A Division title game at Ford Field on Oct. 20. It seems strange they should meet in a league semifinal but the bottom line is they are playing. One would expect a low-scoring game. Pick: King by 3.
Last week’s record: 7-3
2017 record: 46-25