Similar styles clash as Almont takes on Marine City
Marine City – The similarities between Almont and Marine City outweigh the differences yet there is one comparison that remains unsettled.
Though the school are located 41 miles apart the football teams have never played.
That will be rectified on Friday when Marine City (10-0), the defending Division 4 champion, hosts Almont (10-0) in a Division 5 district final at East China Stadium 7 p.m.
The team colors for both teams are orange and black, and, offensively the coaching staffs have similar game plans.
“It’s a tall task,” Almont coach Jeremy Ferman said. “We run the wing-T with the jet. Playing Marine City, people say it’s like playing yourself. That’s a compliment.”
Marine City’s program, which hasn’t had a losing season since 1982, is perhaps best known for its wing-T offense that goes back a generation or more to when Bob Staskiewicz coached the team followed by Tony Scarcelli and now Ron Glodich.
Staskiewicz came to Marine City in 1987 and coached for 18 seasons before handing the position over to Scarcelli, who was his defensive coordinator. Glodoch, the offensive coordinator under Staskiewicz and Scarcelli, took over after Marine City reached the Division 4 final in 2011.
Scarcelli guided the Mariners to their first title in 2007 and Marine City won the Division 4 title last season under Glodich.
Marine City returned an experienced backfield from last year’s 13-1 team led by halfback Jarrett Mathison who rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns in last season’s title game. Alex Merchant is back at quarterback and Trevor Quandt started over half the season at halfback.
The offensive line returned just one starter, tackle Kent Rivard, and throughout the season this group has developed consistency thanks to Rivard’s leadership and the emergence of seniors Dylan Volkman at center and Griffen Lictawa at the other tackle.
“Kent has helped the other young bucks come around,” Glodich said. “We’re extremely happy with our overall play. They understand what needs to be done in practice.”
Almont hasn’t had that type of success but the Raiders have established themselves as one of the top teams in the Blue Water Area Conference. Gary Carson is credited with establishing a successful program at Almont. He coached there for 26 seasons and had a 145-87 career record.
Almont made the Class C playoffs in 1977, just the third season of its existence, then didn’t qualify again until ’96 when the Raiders had their first undefeated regular season before losing in a Class C region final.
Between ’99 and ’05 the Raiders experienced some lean seasons. Almont was 1-8 in 2003 and in ’04 Ferman took over and, again, Almont finished 1-8. A 4-5 season followed and the Raiders have made the playoffs every year since except ’09 when it finished 5-4.
Their best season came three years ago when Almont (11-2) reached the Division 5 semifinals before losing to Flint Powers, 27-10.
This season Almont is led by 21 seniors including Mike Couch and Nick Baker, both of whom have rushed for over 1,000 yards. Though Almont doesn’t throw the ball much, Nick Kirby is a sure-handed receiver should the Raiders choose or are forced to throw it.
“The balance we have is probably the best I’ve had,” Ferman said. “We’re not big up front. And they’re huge. When you’re Marine City, you play 13 or 14 games a year and you have that many more practices. They mix it up well. It’s a great challenge.” PICK: Marine City by 12.
Detroit Cass Tech (10-0) at Dearborn Fordson (10-0), Fri., 7: This game is all about Cass Tech running back Mike Weber, Jr. If Fordson can limit Weber to 125 yards rushing or so the Tractors have a shot at the upset. PICK: Cass Tech by 7.
Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (7-3) at Macomb Dakota (8-2), Fri., 7: Dakota has won 16 consecutive games in this series, a fact Chippewa Valley coach Scott Merchant is all too aware of. Dakota is the better team but it’s the mental edge that sets these teams apart. PICK: Dakota by 7.
Hudsonville (6-4) at Rockford (8-2), Fri., 7: Rockford, despite being outgained, defeated Hudsonville 28-27 on Sept. 19. To reach the semifinals Hudsonville might have to defeat three O-K Red Division teams. PICK: Hudsonville by 4.
Lapeer (10-0) at Clarkston (10-0), Fri., 7: Lapeer had to come from behind to defeat Romeo last week 23-15. Clarkston won’t let Lapeer stage any such comeback this week. PICK: Clarkston by 11.
Livonia Churchill (8-2) at Canton (8-2), Fri., 7: The over/under is 76. These teams can score and score often. Quarterbacks Brian Alsobrooks (Churchill) and Canton’s Greg Williams are experienced and will be ready for this big game. Canton won 40-35 earlier this season and in the last seven games in this series the winning team has not scored fewer than 27 points. PICK: Canton by 5.
Muskegon Mona Shores (9-1) at Midland Dow (10-0), Fri., 7: Dow has been most impressive winning its games by an average of 35.5 points. Mona Shores has played a more difficult schedule and Dow hasn’t faced a quarterback like Tyree Jackson. PICK: Mona Shores by 8.
Southfield (7-3) at Oak Park (8-2), Fri., 6: This will be a physical game and each team will be tested physically and mentally. Emotions are sure to play a part in this border rivalry. The teams have split their last eight games. PICK: Oak Park by 2.
Detroit East English Village Prep (7-3) vs. Warren De La Salle (7-3) at Wayne State, Fri., 7: If De La Salle is looking ahead to a rematch with Birmingham Brother Rice in a region final that would be a mistake. East English plays a physical style and the Pilots had better be ready. PICK: De La Salle by 7.
Farmington Hills Harrison (8-2) at Walled Lake Western (9-1), Fri., 7: Quarterback Jevon Shaw suffered a season-ending knee injury last Saturday and Harrison is expect to start junior David Vinsky in his place. Kyle Thomas has developed into one of the top junior quarterbacks in Oakland County for Western. The loss of Shaw is a serious setback but Harrison’s defense has played well all season. UPSET SPECIAL: Harrison by 1.
Grand Rapids Christian (6-4) at Lowell (9-1), Fri., 7: A rematch of a game played on Oct. 3 won by Lowell, 20-12. Lowell’s defense was outstanding in that game. Gabe Steed’s interception return for a touchdown proved pivotal for the Red Arrows. Look for Lowell’s defense to rise to the occasion again. PICK: Lowell by 4
Saginaw Swan Valley (10-0) at Lansing Sexton (10-0), Fri., 7: This is worthy of a state semifinal. Swan Valley boasts Mr. Football candidate Alex Grace, who has rushed for 2,211 this season and over 5,000 the last two. Sexton’s superior schedule should play a part here. PICK: Sexton by 10.
Millington (9-1) at Ithaca (10-0), Fri., 7: Millington competed in the Division 5 playoff last season and lost in a region final. Its loss this season was to Birch Run, which qualified for the D-5 playoffs. This will not be an easy game for Ithaca, which has won 66 consecutive games. PICK: Ithaca by 7.
Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (9-1) at Whittemore-Prescott (10-0), Fri., 7: These teams have never met. Lutheran Seminary is competing in Division 7 for the first time since 2003. It lost in the first round of the D-8 playoffs four times since. PICK: Whittemore-Prescott by 9.
Waterford Lakes (9-1) at Harbor Beach (10-0), Sat., 1: These teams have played once before. Harbor Beach defeated Lakes 17-10 in D-8 region final in 2012. Each team has recorded five shutouts this season. A low-scoring game is an almost certainty. PICK: Harbor Beach by 6.
Last week’s record: 9-6
Season record: 59-46