State playoff preview: State Champs! looks at Division 7 and Division 8
The Division 7 playoffs could be the best in years.
Teams like Detroit Loyola, Elkton-Pigeon-BayPort-Laker, Hudson, New Lothrop, Pewamo-Westphalia, Saugatuck, Traverse City St. Francis, Ubly and Unionville-Sebewaing Area are all quality teams.
Let’s break this down and see which teams have the best chance to get to Ford Field.
St. Francis should make it to the Region 1 final and play the winner of the district final between Saugatuck and Pewamo-Westphalia, which could be a special game. Pewamo-Westphalia has six shutouts and are averaging 57 points.
The Region 2 winner is a tossup. Let’s say it’s Cassopolis but whichever team it is they will be no match to the Region 1 winner. St. Francis has the edge citing the fact that the Gladiators only have to play one tough game to reach Ford Field.
The Blake Dunn-led Saugatuck team against the Jared Smith-led Pewamo-Westphalia team might be the best game of the Division 7 playoffs. These two two-way players made big plays on both sides of the ball.
Region 3 District 2 will be filled with drama. USA will face Laker in a pre-district with the winner going against Ubly. USA defeated Laker 28-21 two weeks ago and it lost to Ubly, 28-18, in the season opener. USA is making its first playoff appearance since 2007 when it lost to Ubly, 40-14, in a pre-district.
New Lothrop awaits in the region final. The Hornets are 8-0 and have lost one game in each of the past six seasons but haven’t been to a state final since 2006.
Loyola shouldn’t have trouble getting out of Region 4 except maybe, just maybe, Clinton or Hudson can pull off a big upset.
Clinton is the wild card. Clinton reached the Division 6 final two of the last three seasons. Playing down a division could change the competitive level in Loyola’s region. But this Clinton team doesn’t appear to have the same swagger as their state final teams had.
There are times when the winner in Division 8 is a foregone conclusion even before the playoffs start.
This could be another one of those seasons.
Muskegon Catholic Central looks to be head and shoulders above any team here. There is virtually no competition for C.C. in Region 2. In the semifinals the representative from Region 1, whether it’s Frankfort, St. Ignace LaSalle or Lake Linden Hubbell will post moderate resistance.
In the other bracket look for Ottawa Lake Whiteford to make its first final appearance. Climax-Scotts will be a formidable opponent in the Region 3 final and the representative from Region 4, likely Saginaw Nouvel, won’t present too much of a problem.