In Play with Tom Markowski


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Top games: Zeeland West continues to run the T-formation, and win

By: Tom Markowski, October 8, 2015, 4:46 pm



Zeeland – It’s more of the same for Zeeland West this season as the Dux continue to wear down teams with their tight T-formation offense and, often, a rested defense.

West is the only program to have lost just one game in the past two and half seasons. West is 6-0 and is 32-1 going back to the start of 2013.

The Dux will host Byron Center (5-1) on Friday for what will be, in all likelihood, the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green Division title. Both teams are 2-0 in the division with three game left.

As is most seasons there is no one standout player for coach John Shillito but one can’t overlook the leadership qualities and experience of quarterback Casey Brinks. He was the starter on the team that went 14-0 and won the Division 4 title in ’13. He also started last season when West lost to Muskegon in the Division 3 semifinals.

 For those curious on which division West will fall into this season, Shillito said he’s team in on the bubble and it’s possible he and his staff won’t know which division they’ll fall (Division 3 or 4) until the final weekend of the regular season.

Back to Brinks. He’s 6-foot and 175 pounds, and his main responsibility is to manage the offense. Another senior, running back Darius Perisee, leads the team in rushing with just over 1,000 yards and the best player is probably Zach VanValkenburg (6-4, 235), a three-year starter who starts at defensive end and offensive tackle.

But is all starts with Brinks. It’s his execution that gets the offense started.

”A lot of it is good leadership,” Shillito said. “And it’s also about taking care of the football. Also, when asked to do that one big play, and do it, that’s tough. He’s even keel.”

Brinks’ twice brother, Riley (6-0, 205), starts at guard and linebacker, and is a returning starter. But another key to West’s success is the play of two first-year starters, offensive tackle Colton Overway and center Brad Dykstra. Overway weighs 285 pounds, Dykstra is listed at 300.

“Their development has meant a lot,” Shillito said.

“Playing a team like Byron Center does get you ready for the playoffs. They’re physical. They’re one of the few tough games we have. Our last two opponents, Holland Christian and (Hudsonville) Unity Christian, are also good. These last three games will help us prepare.” Pick: West by 9.


All games are Friday at 7 p.m.  


Almont (6-0) at Algonac (6-0): Almont is looking to clinch second consecutive BWAC title. Algonac has never won a BWAC title. Got to go with experience here. Pick: Almont by 8.


Berkley (5-1) at Birmingham Groves (6-0): The OAA Blue Division title is on the line. Groves has been most impressive and the Bears have won five straight since losing to Holly. Too much speed to go against Groves here. Pick: Groves by 8. 


Fenton (5-1) at Holly (4-2): Big game for both teams in the Flint Metro. Fenton can clinch a share of the title with a victory. Holly’s two losses were by one point and a victory here and it has an excellent shot at making the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Pick: Fenton by 5.


Grand Rapids West Catholic (4-2) at Comstock Park (5-1): The winner takes sole possession of first place in the O-K Blue Division. Comstock Park’s lone loss was to Zeeland West by 10 and that’s no disgrace. But the Panthers have shown signs of weakness defensively (twice giving up 38 points). Pick: Comstock Park by 3.  


Howell (5-1) at Brighton (5-1): The KLAA West Division title and the Little Brown Jug are on the line here. Brighton leads the series 21-19. Howell won last year, 34-10. Brighton could be without starting quarterback Grant Dunatchik who suffered an injury in last week’s 14-7 loss at Hartland. Pick: Howell by 6.


Lapeer (6-0) at Midland (6-0): The top two teams in the Saginaw Valley will determine which team is best here. Midland’s defense is outstanding and Lapeer’s isn’t too shabby, either. Lapeer’s offense, as it did last season, is rolling up the points (Lapeer is averaging 43 points per game). Pick: Lapeer by 7.


Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (5-1) at Detroit Catholic Central (5-1): Both defenses are among the best in the Detroit area. St. Mary’s has a little more experience on both sides of the ball and that could come into play. Pick: St. Mary’s by 3.


St. Johns (5-1) at DeWitt (6-0): Both teams are 4-0 in the CAC Red Division, and both have played exceptionally well on offensive. St. Johns is averaging 47 points in its last four games, DeWitt is averaging 36.6 for the season. Pick: DeWitt by 8. 


Trenton (5-1) at Wyandotte Roosevelt (5-1): The loser is all but out of the race in the Downriver League. Allen Park (5-1) split its games with these teams so it should finish no worse than a tie for first. Trenton has never won a Downriver League title. Wyandotte has won four of the last five and hasn’t lost to Trenton since 2006. Pick: Wyandotte by 7.


Last week’s record: 8-2.

Season record: 43-17.