State playoff preview: State Champs! looks at Division 5 and Division 6
A revised projection for the Division 1 playoffs has No. 2-ranked Detroit Catholic Central in the west bracket with teams like Howell and those from the Grand Rapids area. Top-ranked Detroit Cass Tech remains in the east meaning that the two top-ranked teams would be on a collision course to meet in the state final.
Let’s move to Division 5 where defending champion Grand Rapids West Catholic could be tested in the Region 2 District 1 final by Portland. Portland is undefeated and would have home field advantage.
But the more serious hurdle would likely take place in a semifinal where Menominee would provide the challenge, especially if the game is played in the Yooper Dome in Marquette.
In the other bracket the contenders are less clear and not only is there more parity but there’s also a new entry.
Ithaca, the five-time Division 6 champions (including last season), has moved up a division and the Yellowjackets must be included in the list of contenders. Lansing Catholic could be a district final match-up with either Freeland or Frankenmuth waiting in the Region 3 final.
Region 4 is the weakest of the bunch and the Algonac/Richmond district winner is the likely entry in a semifinal.
Now that Ithaca has moved up, Division 6, at first glance, could be the most unpredictable of all eight divisions as far as picking a winner as well as the two finalists.
Take a closer look. Jackson Lumen Christi and Negaunee should be your two finalists.
Let’s start in Negaunee’s bracket. The Miners’ closest game was to Gwinn, 19-12. A district final could have Negaunee hosting Calumet. Calumet’s only loss was to Negaunee, 14-6.
Two other teams that must be pointed out and they are Clare and Millington. Clare’s only loss this season was to Ithaca, 31-28, and Millington has a history. It reached the semifinals in 2009 and ‘10.
Longshots in this bracket are Roscommon, which lost to Clare by 11 points, and Laingsburg, which lost to Ithaca in a 2015 region final.
In the other bracket Lumen Christi is the logical choice. One of its two losses was to Grand Rapids West Catholic, a team many will picked to win another state title. Lumen Christi has one of the state’s top coaches (Herb Brogan) and swims in consistency. The Titans haven’t had a losing season (4-5) since 1988.
The team that might be the other top contender likely won’t make the playoffs. Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central needs to beat Lansing Catholic to qualify as an additional qualifier. Lansing Catholic is one of the top teams in Division 5.
Other teams that are likely pretenders in this bracket are Montague, Schoolcraft and Grass Lake.
Montague started 5-0 but has slacked off since. Schoolcraft has three shutouts, and could make it to the semifinals, but last season it was upset in first round by Constantine. Those two might play in a first round this season. Grass Lake has defeated Napoleon and Manchester, two respectable teams in this bracket, but hasn’t shown it can play with the heavyweights.