Schedule favors Allen Park to reach semifinals
Allen Park – Allen Park’s season got off to an inauspicious start when coach Tom Hoover suffered a heart attack a week before the opener. Hoover, we are pleased to report, said he is feeling better day by day, week by week and he was feeling especially chipper last Sunday when he saw the playoff pairings released by the Michigan High School Athletic Association via the selection show on Fox Sports Detroit.
That’s because Hoover’s Jaguars are headed to the Division 3 semifinals. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know Allen Park (8-1) must first play Dearborn Divine Child (6-3) this Friday in a pre-district. And Allen Park will then play the winner of the Detroit Mumford (6-3)-Redford Thurston (6-3) game in a district final. And when the Jaguars win that one they’ll face the Region 4 District 2 winner, likely New Boston Huron (8-1), a region final with that winner headed to the semifinals.
Allen Park, by virtue of its playoff point average, will host all three games. Allen Park is 5-0 at home with its only loss at Woodhaven, 42-35, in overtime.
Hoover and his team is fortunate because this division is perhaps the most competitive of any of the eight. Zeeland West (9-0) is the defending champion. DeWitt (9-0) lost to West in the final. Then there’s the 2011 champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (7-2), Lowell (8-1), a Division 2 finalist in ’10 and ’11, and the Division 2 finalist the last two years, Muskegon (8-1). All are contenders for the title and are seeded in the other three regions. Hoover deserves a break here and there. PICK: Allen Park by 14.
Fraser (6-3) at Dearborn Fordson (9-0), Fri., 7: Good thing Fordson played Monroe last week. That was a physical game. Fraser likes to play physical. The Ramblers will try to control the clock with a two-tight end offense led by quarterback Dylan Walker. Fordson has been a big-play team all season and will need a few this game to advance. PICK: Fordson by 4.
Grandville (5-4) at East Kentwood (8-1), Sat., 1: East Kentwood won the first meeting on Sept. 19, 39-38. This game might not get to the high 30s (temperature-wise either) but look for each team to score a few touchdowns. UPSET SPECIAL: Grandville by 3.
South Lyon (8-1) at Walled Lake Western (8-1), Fr., 7: Both teams won a division title within the Kensington Lakes Activities Association. Even so, this is just the fourth time these teams will have played. The last time was in 2011 and Western won, 3-0, in a district final. Western has a more diverse offense but the weather could be an equalizer. PICK: Western by 5.
Southfield (6-3) at Detroit King (8-1), Fri., 6: Southfield has played a more difficult schedule and the Blue Jays don’t have a bad loss. This could be a bad matchup for King. Athletically, Southfield can match King at almost every position. UPSET SPECIAL NO. 2: Southfield by 6.
Caledonia (7-2) at Muskegon Mona Shores (8-1), Sat., 1: Both teams are ranked in the top 15 and it’s a shame they have to meet in the first round. Mona Shores features a diverse offense with quarterback Tyree Jackson and running back DeOntay Moffett carrying the load. Caledonia is a much better team than the one Mona Shores beat 40-7 on Sept. 19. A factor to keep in mind is Mona Shores still thinking about last week’s 48-27 victory over Muskegon and will that game be the high point of its season? UPSET SPECIAL No. 3: Caledonia by 2.
Detroit East English Village Prep (6-3) at Port Huron (7-2), Sat., 1: These teams have no common opponent but Port Huron did host and lose to King (22-10) in its season opener. One can generalize and say East English can play at the same level as King (King defeated East English twice last season, 6-0 and 28-20). Port Huron by 2.
East Grand Rapids (6-3) at Lowell (8-1), Fri., 1: Lowell won at E. Grand Rapids on Sept. 12, 30-25. E. Grand Rapids had to win four of its last five just to make the playoffs. Time has run out on the Pioneers. PICK: Lowell by 8.
Grand Rapids Christian (5-4) at St. Johns (8-1), Fri., 7:30: Little question which team has played the more difficult schedule. Christian’s four losses were to state playoff teams. It defeated two other playoff teams including Hudsonville (35-34), which competes in Division 1. St. Johns had a difficult time getting past Goodrich (7-2), a Division 4 team in week eight (35-28). UPSET SPECIAL No. 4: Christian by 3.
Goodrich (7-2) at Saginaw Swan Valley (9-0), Fri., 7: This wouldn’t appear to be a tough game for Swan Valley. The teams have played once before and Swan Valley won 43-13 in a 2012 district final. But Swan Valley could be looking past the Martians to next week’s much-anticipated game against Lansing Sexton (9-0). PICK: Swan Valley by 11.
Utica Eisenhower (5-4) at Macomb Dakota (7-2), Fri., 7: Dakota has slipped a bit in recent weeks. An upset is possible. PICK: Dakota by 4.
Northville (6-3) at Canton (7-2), Fri., 7: In a close game like this go with the experienced quarterback (Greg Williams). PICK: Canton by 6.
Lansing Everett (6-3) at Flushing (7-2), Fri., 7: These teams have played once before, a 2004 district final won by Flushing, 28-21. Everett has been tested this season. All three losses have been to playoff teams. UPSET SPECIAL NO. 5: Everett by 4.
Hillsdale (7-2) at Hanover-Horton (8-1), Fri., 7: These are 20 miles apart and have never played. Strange. PICK: Hanover-Horton by 4.
Newaygo (7-2) at Reed City (7-2), Fri., 7: Newaygo won 14-6 on Sept. 12. These Central State Activities Association Gold Division members have split 12 meetings over the years. PICK: Reed City by 3.
Last week’s record: 5-5
Season record: 50-40