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State Playoffs: Little drama took place in week one; action to pick up in district finals

By: Tom Markowski, October 30, 2016, 12:13 pm

What we learned from the pre-district round of the state playoffs is that we have much to learn about which teams, and conferences, are legitimate and which ones are not.

Waterford Mott’s 28-21 victory over Rochester Adams was the lone big surprise in Division 1 and allowed the Kensington Lakes Activities Association to save face. In three other KLAA match-ups with teams outside of the conference in this division KLAA teams lost. Over the years the only consistent KLAA team in Division 1 has been Canton (Plymouth did reach the state final (2010).

Canton (8-2), winners of eight straight after pounding Northville, 55-29, is Saline (10-0) at Saline. Last season Canton defeated Saline, 27-7, in a region final.

Canton rushed for 568 yards and eight touchdowns. Quarterback Jake O’Donnell had 247 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries. Saline will have its hands full trying to stop Canton’s full-house T-formation.

Some might say Rockford’s 24-7 victory at Hudsonville was a surprise. The game was considered a toss-up despite Hudsonville’s 14-7 victory at Rockford the week before. The teams were evenly matched and if they played six times each team would win three.

And the only surprise association with Novi’s 38-9 victory over Brighton was the margin of victory. Novi (6-4) was 5-4 when it upset West Bloomfield 31-28 in a pre-district last season. West Bloomfield was 9-0 when the Lakers came up short.

Ironically, West Bloomfield took a 5-4 record into its game against Bloomfield Hills on Friday and won 31-14. Bloomfield Hills was the 9-0 team this time but, again, this was not a surprise. West Bloomfield had played a more competitive schedule and was ready for this game.

The top games this week are Macomb Dakota at Utica Eisenhower, Rockford at Grandville, Clarkston at Davison and Detroit Cass Tech at Dearborn.

Division 2 was also void of major surprises but there were a number of interesting outcomes.

Walled Lake Western (9-1) avoided a major upset when South Lyon’s two-point conversion try came up short and Western held on 31-30.

As expected the Traverse City Central/Traverse City West was a close contest as Central came from behind to win, 13-12. U-D Jesuit was also expected to have a difficult time with Oak Park and it was Oak Park which prevailed, 26-17.

The top district finals are Oak Park (7-3) at defending champion Detroit King (8-2), Birmingham Brother Rice (7-3) at Birmingham Groves (9-1) and T.C. Central (9-1) at Lowell (10-0).

Two upsets to look for are Fenton (8-2) at Midland Dow (9-1) and Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (8-2) at Portage Central (9-1). Fenton whipped Flint Carman-Ainsworth, 49-19, on Friday. Dow’s only loss was to Carman-Ainsworth. F.H. Central gave Lowell one of its toughest games and the Rangers played a scheduled that prepares them well for challenges at this time.

Other than Grand Rapids Christian’s 35-32 victory over defending Division 4 champion Zeeland West, pre-district action in Division 3 was rather mundane. Darius Barfield’s touchdown reception with 38 seconds left gave Christian (9-1) this victory.

Don’t expect any surprises in Region 3 or 4 this week, either. Christian’s game at Byron Center (9-1) and the Coldwater (8-2)-Chelsea (10-0) game should provide some drama.

In Division 4 we are still waiting for the anticipated semifinal match-ups between Benton Harbor (10-0) against Grand Rapids Catholic Central (9-1), and Detroit Country Day (10-0) against River Rouge (9-1).

The only drama we had in Division 5 was when three-time defending champion Grand Rapids West Catholic went to Lansing to play Catholic Central and West Catholic made it look easy defeating the Cougars, 28-6.

West Catholic (8-2) is expected to be challenged this week when it returns to the Lansing area to play Portland (10-0).

Muskegon Oakridge (9-1) is expected to give defending Division 6 champion Ithaca (10-0) quite a game on Friday as well.

There were no major upsets in Division 6 but this week Jackson Lumen Christi (8-2) will travel to Schoolcraft (10-0) in what could be this division’s most important district final.

The Saugatuck (10-0)-Pewamo-Westphalia (10-0) district final is the top game in Division 7 this week and in Division 8 the only question is what team will play, and lose to, Muskegon Catholic Central in the final.