In Play with Tom Markowski


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Top HS Football games: Rockford and Hudsonville to play for the sixth time in the last three seasons

By: Tom Markowski, November 5, 2015, 12:05 pm

Ask coach Ralph Munger at Rockford and Hudsonville coach Dave Lidgard about the current playoff format and they would suggest a change is in order.

And so would many other coaches.

The solution is simple. Seed the playoffs according to regions, not districts.

For one, such a change would reward teams with a higher playoff percentage. And it would help eliminate teams, like Rockford and Hudsonville, both members of the O-K Conference Red Division, from playing each other twice in a season. In some cases this is unavoidable. For instance, if Rockford and Hudsonville were seeded No. 2 and No. 7 or No. 4 and No. 5 they would play in the first round.

When Rockford hosts Hudsonville on Friday it will be the third consecutive season the teams will have met in the playoffs. That’s six games in three years.

Some argue by saying so what? Basketball teams play each other two or three times in a season. Why should football be any different?

That’s because football is different. On so many levels it’s different.

Here’s the problem as it exists now. Two other O-K Red members, East Kentwood and Grandville, were seeded in the district with Rockford and Hudsonville. As long as the Michigan High School Athletic Association continues to seed by districts this type of scenario will exists.

And it’s not good. No coach wants his team to play the same teams in the playoffs. Again, there are times where this is unavoidable. By switching to seeding by region would create contests of teams that hadn’t played each other during the season. Fans would enjoy it more.

This type of situation takes place in Macomb County with teams from the Macomb Area Conference and also with teams in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association. Often KLAA South Division members Canton and Plymouth meet in the districts.

Coaches, like Tim Baechler at Canton, say their players look forward to playing teams outside of their league, not just the same old Jimmys and Joes.


After a so-so pre-district week, there are numerous district finals this weekend that could well be an intriguing state semifinal matchup. Here’s a look at 10. All games are Friday at 7 p.m. unless noted.


Almont (8-2) at Algonac (9-1): These Blue Water Area Conference rivals met in midseason and Algonac won, 21-7. This has been special season for Algonac. Shane Asselin and Joe McKee have powered the Muskrats much of the season. Pick: Algonac by 4.

Birmingham Groves (10-0) at Walled Lake Western (10-0): Groves has been under the radar most of the season. Part of the reason is they play in the bottom (Blue) division of the Oakland Activities Association. Also, Groves has won two playoff games in a season just once. Since Western’s upset of Lowell the Warriors have been on everyone’s radar. Pick: Western by 8. 


Canton (8-2) at Northville (10-0): Canton began the season ranked near or in the top 10. Then the Chiefs lost two straight and have since righted the ship. Northville has shown more consistency and its defense has proven it can make adjustments quickly. They’ll need to against Canton’s T-formation power running game. Pick: Northville by 5.


Hudsonville (7-3) at Rockford (7-3): Rockford won 28-27 a few weeks back after trailing 14-0. Don’t be surprised if one play in the fourth quarter helps determine the winner again. Pick: Hudsonville by 3.

Lansing Catholic Central (9-1) at Portland (10-0): Portland handed C.C. its only loss, 28-6. Quarterback Tony Poljan made too many mistakes for C.C. in that game. Look for Poljan to play at a higher level and keep the Cougars in the game throughout. The winner of this game will be favored to make it to Ford Field and the Division 5 final. Pick: Portland by 3.

Montague (10-0) at Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian (10-0): Division 6 is wide open and these teams have their sites on reaching the final. Montague has been in some tight games this season and that could benefit the Wildcats here. Pick: Montague by 2.  

Romeo (9-1) at Lapeer (10-0): Romeo knocked off the two-time defending Division 1 champion (Clarkston) last week and now take on a team many pick to reach the state final. Both teams have shown good balance on both sides of the ball. Home field might prove to be the difference. Pick: Lapeer by 1.

Utica Eisenhower (7-3) at Macomb Dakota (8-2): The MAC Red Division rivals go at it once again. Dakota whipped Eisenhower earlier this season, 48-21. In the last five games Eisenhower has allowed just 54 points. The Eagles have been the most consistent team from the MAC Red over this time. But Dakota is the division champs and until some team proves otherwise, the Cougars are at the top. Pick: Dakota by 6.

Saturday’s game           

Petoskey (8-2) at Mount Pleasant (8-2), 1: These teams met in last season’s Division 3 district final and Petoskey won, 20-14, at Petoskey. Home field likely played a part in that game and likely will play at part this season. Pick: Mount Pleasant by 6. 


Muskegon (8-2) at Muskegon Mona Shores (10-0), 5: Mona Shores won the first meeting this season, 21-18. The Sailors led 21-3 before Muskegon made a game of it. Muskegon will come in as the underdog and the Big Reds could use that to their advantage. Mona Shores has played well all season defensively and this unit will once again be the difference. Pick: Mona Shores by 4.


Last week’s record: 7-3.

Season record: 69-31.