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Predictions for the Top Games: Rockford hosts Lowell in west Michigan showdown

By: Tom Markowski, August 30, 2017, 12:56 pm

Rockford – The top two teams in the Grand Rapids area will play Friday at Rockford at 7 p.m.

Top-ranked Lowell, which is coming off of an impressive 36-6 victory over Warren DeLaSalle, will take on the Rams, a 14-0 winner over Saline in their opener. Rockford is ranked No. 6.

Rockford, a member of the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red Division, is led by quarterback Jason Whittaker. At 6-5, Whittaker is agile enough to run the option and possesses a strong, accurate arm. The problem he faces this season is inexperience on his offensive line and at running back. Of these two areas just one starter returns. It is vital for the Rams to quickly develop consistency especially on the line.

For Lowell, a member of the O-K White Division, the Red Arrows are also led by their quarterback, David Kruse. Kruse is a three-year starter who sets the tone for the offense with his ability to run the ball. He resembles a strong halfback more than a quarterback when he does carry it. And last week it was often. He had 26 carries for 128 yards and three touchdowns.

Both teams have big-play threats on the outside. For Rockford its Eli Haddad, The 5-9 sophomore had a 59-yard touchdown reception last week.

For Lowell it’s the Douma (pronounced Duma) twins, Connor and Brady. Like Haddad they’re not tall but do possess breakaway speed. Brady’s 67-yard kickoff return set up Kruse’s first touchdown run last week. Pick: Lowell by 3.



Here are some of the other top games this week. All games are at 7 p.m. unless noted.


Gibraltar Carlson (1-0) at Trenton (1-0): Trenton defeated Allen Park last week for the first time since 1998. Carlson defeated Woodhaven for the first time in a decade. Role-reversal. Pick: Carlson by 4.

Grand Rapids Christian (1-0) at Caledonia (1-0): Neither team is ranked but perhaps they should be. Christian had a big win over DeWitt last week and Caledonia defeated Howell, 21-11. Pick: Caledonia by 3.

Livonia Churchill (1-0) at Northville (1-0): This marks the opening game of the KLAA Gold Division (KLAA merged four divisions into two). Both teams had impressive openers and this should tell where each team is at in the early going. Northville Pick: Northville by 6.

Romeo (1-0) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (1-0): While most conference teams continue to play out of conference the Macomb Area Conference swings into division play this week. The Red Division is loaded this season and these two teams are considered challenges to the favorite, Utica Eisenhower. Chippewa Valley got past Lake Orion, 20-17, and Romeo defeated Oxford, 30-17. Pick: Chippewa Valley by 3.



Detroit King (1-0) at Toledo Central Catholic (1-0): Devon Rivers ran for 143 yards and two TDs last week for Central Catholic and King must have Rivers on its radar to remain unbeaten. King defeated Indianapolis Cathedral, 38-35, last Saturday and mistakes nearly cost the Crusaders the victory. Pick: King by 6.


East Kentwood (1-0) at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (0-1), 6: St. Mary’s had trouble defensively against Macomb Dakota last week. East Kentwood sports one of the biggest offensive lines and the Falcons will likely use this size to get a push and give their backfield room to run. Pick: St. Mary’s by 2.

Macomb Dakota (1-0) vs. Utica Eisenhower (1-0): This is one of a number of important games within the Macomb Area Conference Red Division. Eisenhower was 5-0 in the division last season and is the team to beat again. Pick: Eisenhower by 6.

Muskegon Mona Shores (1-0) at Zeeland West (1-0): Mona Shores scrimmaged a tight T-formation team (Grandville) and that paid off last week against Canton. West is yet another team that runs this formation so the Sailors should be prepared. Pick: Mona Shores by 5.

Traverse City St. Francis (1-0) at Maple City Glen Lake (1-0): Here’s small-school ball at its best. Glen Lake lost in the Division 6 final last season and St. Francis lost in a Division 7 region final to eventual champion Pewamo-Westphalia by three points. St Francis has won the last four in this series. Pick: St. Francis by 3.

Last week’s record: 6-4