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Top games around Michigan for Week 6 of the high school football campaign

By: Matthew B. Mowery, September 26, 2018, 3:15 pm

Highlights from these seven games will be featured on Sunday’s show:

WL Western (4-1, 4-0 Lakes Valley Conference) at Lakeland (3-2, 3-2 LVC)

We were all off by two weeks. I think we all had Week 6 circled as the title showdown in the LVC, since Western and Mott were scheduled to meet in Week 4, and Lakeland and Mott met in Week 2. But nobody really expected an unbeaten South Lyon team to be sitting there, waiting for its crack at Mott and Western over the next two weeks.

If Lakeland were to beat Western, and Mott to beat South Lyon next week, you could have three teams with one loss headed into Week 7, two more with two — and chaos.

Lakeland did what it had to last week, in order to keep its slim hopes alive, handing South Lyon East its first LVC loss, and now needs to win out, and get help. Western controls its own destiny at this point.

Western’s CJ Brown and Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen have been on a roll lately, and Warriors have averaged 42 ppg. over last four weeks.

Western has won eight straight in the rivalry (last year by two points), and 10 of 13 all-time.


Monroe (4-1, 2-0 SEC Red) at Temperance-Bedford (2-3, 1-1 SEC Red)

Trojans already matched last season’s win total (only loss is a crossover vs. Jackson), and are on pace for making the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. They need two wins in remaining four games — against Bedford, Pioneer, Saline, Lake Orion.

Monroe has lost eight of last nine vs. Bedford since joining the SEC Red in 2009, coming over from Mega Red. The three Michigan teams they’ve beaten (Carleton Airport, Ann Arbor Skyline, Ann Arbor Huron are 4-11 combined), while Elkhart (Ind.) Central is 3-3.

The Trojans’ two-headed rushing monster in Jalen Johnson and Jared Banks both went over 100 in win over Huron.

Bedford has losses to Saline (4-1), Sterling Heights Stevenson (2-3), Toledo St. Francis De Sales (3-2), and was 1-3 a week ago, needing to start a winning streak to avoid elimination from the playoffs, but rolled up 365 yards on the ground in a 43-7 homecoming win over Pioneer (3-2). Christian Brown had 143 of those yards and 3 TDs.

The Mules also beat Pinckney (1-4).

Bedford had only missed the playoffs twice in the last nine years


Dearborn Fordson (5-0, 4-0 KLAA East) at Belleville (5-0, 4-0 KLAA East)

While the LVC predictions didn’t turn out like planned, I think this is where we all figured we’d be at the end of September, factoring all the new teams into the KLAA East race.

The Tractors hold a 25-11 advantage in all-time series, but since 2001, Fordson’s advantage is just 9-8, and Belleville has won two of last three.

The difference might merely be in strength of schedule to date (not really anything you can do about that).

The Tractors are averaging 45.2 ppg. (allowing 19), but their opponents are a combined 8-17.

The Tigers are averaging 43.8 ppg. (allowing 20), while their opponents are 12-13.

From here on out, both have to play Franklin, Fordson has Dearborn (3-2), Belleville has Stevenson (0-5).

This game could be a shootout of the quarterbacks, between sophomore Christian Dhue-Reid and Hussein Ajami. The X-Factor may be if Belleville corners Andre Seldon and Julian Barnett (now healed up, it appears) can lock down guys, freeing up defenders to stack up against the run in Abe Jaafar and the rest of the Fordson backfield.


Detroit Western (4-1, 3-0 PSL Gold) at Detroit Osborn (4-1, 2-0 PSL Gold)

Western has a game in hand, and has already played the other contender, Southeastern (won 26-8 two weeks ago).

Osborn went 1-8 last year, 1-4 in league. This is just the second time with four-plus wins in nine seasons. The Knights have lost the last seven vs. Western.

For the Knights, the passing combination of Isiah Watts to Josiah Lewis is particularly deadly.

Watts threw for 225 yards and three scores vs. Detroit CMA, and 346 yards and three TDs (with 69 more rushing and a score) against East English Village.

Lewis ran for two TDs, threw two and caught another one in a blowout of Southfield Christian in Week 1, then had 156 total yards in a 14-12 win over Old Redford. He threw two TDs (and for 158 yards) and caught three passes for 182 yards and a score against CMA. He had 156 yards receiving and two TDs vs. EEV.

For Western, it’s the first time the Cowboys are 4-1 since 2009. They were coming off their first-ever playoff berth last season (they lost just six players from that squad), and just third winning season in last 42. Last time won more than five games was 1956 (7-1).


River Rouge (4-1, 2-0 Michigan Metro Athletic Conf. Blue) at Harper Woods (4-1, 1-0 MMAC Blue) — MAIN EVENT

Like with Belleville/Fordson, I think this is where we all thought we’d be this week — with the exception of the one blemish on the Harper Woods record, courtesy of Warren Michigan Collegiate.

Coming off a trip to the D4 semifinals, in the program’s eighth straight playoff appearance and fifth season of double-digit wins in six years, there’s no question River Rouge is one of the most talented teams in the state. There’s Air Force commit Emanuel Ferguson, Chrystenn Cochren (North Dakota) at wideout, Clemson commit Ruke Ohororo at defensive end, Northern Illinois gem Daruan McKinney doing a little bit of everything, and Central Michigan commit Kamal Hadden in the secondary.

Their only loss was to No. 1-ranked Cass Tech in the opener.

Harper Woods hasn’t had more than five wins since 2009 — its last playoff season — or more than six since 2007’s trip to the D6 regional finals.

They’ve got a ton of talent, too, with Corey Graham, who split time with Dwan Mathis at Oak Park last year, as well as running back Jordan Anderson (Bowling Green) and wideout Elija Grifin (Toledo).


Tawas (3-1, 2-1 North Star League) vs. Oscoda (4-1, 3-0 NSL)

This is the battle of greater metropolitan Iosco County, with two schools just 25 miles apart, if you go along US-23 on the lake shore.

These are old Huron Shores/Northeast Michigan Conference rivals (and Northern B rivals from way back) which have played every year (except 1960) since 1953, when Oscoda started up football. Both joined the remodeled North Star League — Tawas this season, Oscoda in 2016.

Oscoda holds a 32-31 advantage in all-time rivalry, but Tawas has won nine of the last 12.

The Owls have been 6-4 two of the last four seasons, but before that, hadn’t won more than four games since 2000 — including back-to-back 0-9 seasons (2006 ended after four scoreless games). This is their third 4-1 start in four years,

Tawas made the playoffs eight times since 2002 (when they were part of highest-scoring overtime game in state history 70-69 in 4OT vs. Shepherd), but missed last year. They beat Whittemore-Prescott for the first time in 10 tries (41-34).

Tawas coach Tim Webb (57 wins in 13 seasons, the second-most in program history) stepped down in November, took job at alma mater Whittemore-Prescott. Tawas program hired his replacement in Frankenmuth assistant Kraig Houthoofd, who then resigned June 1. Three weeks later, Webb was back.

Tawas ran for 371 yards in last week’s win over Burton Bentley. Dillon Mochty doesn’t have to pass a lot, but has a weapon in Camden Groff.

Oscoda has two dual-threat QBs in Brayden Mallak and Owen Franklin.


Hillman (4-1, 3-1 Midwest Central Michigan 8-Man Conference East) vs. Posen (5-0, 4-0 MCM East) — Eight player

Two schools separated by 12 miles of road along M-32 and M-65, to the west and northwest of Alpena.

Hillman ended its run as an 11-player program with a dozen straight trips to the postseason, a span in which the Tigers went 74-47. The lean years in the program were from 1998-2005 (the first year under now-departed Bill Koenig) when the Tigers went 15-57 (snapped a 15-game losing skid on Oct. 6, 2000 — a game I covered — against Atlanta, which was itself on an eight-game skid, and had only beaten Hillman in 1999 in its last 15.)

Now Hillman gets to renew its old North Star League rivalries with teams like Posen, Atlanta, Hale, Au Gres-Sims.

Nash and Gage Steinke are weapons for quarterback Kory Henigan.

Hillman’s only loss was a 50-12 setback last week vs. Au Gres, payback for a 15-6 upset win in last year’s first round of the Division 8 playoffs.

These two teams aven’t played Posen since 2008, when both still in 11-man, and Hillman won the last three meetings, but Posen won the prior eight.

Posen (down to 78 students) had been a D8 stalwart in the early 2000s, going to the playoffs six straight years (1999 to 2004 went 50-14), but Vikings went just 8-27 over last four years of 11-man, losing 18 of last 19 games, three of them by forfeit in 2009. Their 2007 loss to Hillman in Week 8 setting off a 15-game losing streak.

Posen’s Mark Wisniewski had 245 yards and three TDs last week.

And, yes, Hillman does play St. Helen Charlton Heston twice this season.




These games won’t be on the show, but are just as important. 


FARMINGTON (5-0, 5-0 Oakland Activities Association Blue) at MADISON HEIGHTS MADISON (5-0, 3-0 MAC Silver)

The Falcons are 5-0 for the first time since 2010, and just the third time since joining the OAA in 2002. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2015, and haven’t been an automatic qualifier since 2014.

Farmington was 3-6 last year, starting 10 sophomores.

Not an easy road for Falcons from here on, though:

The teams they’ve already played — Berkley (2-3), RO (2-3), Ferndale (3-2), HP (2-3), Avondale (3-2) — are a combined 12-13, while the teams they’ve yet to play — Madison (5-0), North Farmington (3-2), vs. Seaholm (4-1), vs. Harrison (4-1) — are currently 16-4.

Kendall Williams is the bell-cow in the backfield, coming off a 1,200-yard season.

Farmington is 2-0 all-time vs. Madison (won 41-6 back in 2003, and 51-6 in 2002), but this is a different Madison program than that one, which won just three combined games those two seasons. The Eagles have made the playoffs every year since 2005 (a streak just one year shorter than their tenure in the Macomb Area Conference), and have made it to the semis or further three times in that span, including last year in D7.

It all starts with Austin Brown (40 touchdowns, 3,100 total yards as a junior), who is running behind a line that returned four of five starters.


YPSILANTI LINCOLN (4-1, 4-0 Southeastern Conference White) at JACKSON (5-0, 4-0 SEC White)

Exziar Edwards, Micah Cretsinger and Dakota Robertson all had at least 75 yards, as Jackson rolled up 320 rushing yards in a 29-20 road win over Chelsea, going to 5-0 for the first time in school history. The Vikings haven’t won even a share of a title since World War II (1942).

Lincoln’s coming off its best season in program history (9-3, first district title), and had to replace three-year starter at QB in Cam Thompson, who was the Ann Arbor area Player of the Year.

Keon Jordan missed all of last year (ACL), but is healthy this year. He and Trevor Davis run behind a line anchored by 6-foot-8, 315-pound Tate McKenzie.

Lincoln’s only loss is to Saline (38-7).

When Chris Westfall took over the program in 2007, it was coming off an 0-9 season in which the Splitters had scored 33 total points. It was also in the midst of a 21-game losing skid that would stretch to 30 games before they snapped it in Week 1 of the 2008 season. In 1997, they went 7-2, followed by a 5-4 season in 1998. Over the next dozen seasons, Lincoln won 10 total games (of 108 chances), and went winless on five different occasions.


GRAND BLANC (4-1, 2-1 Saginaw Valley League Blue) at LAPEER (5-0, 3-0 SVL Blue)

It’s the third time in the program’s five-year history (since the merger of East and West) that the Lightning have started 5-0. In the history of the program, they’ve lost nine games — four to Clarkston, three to Davison and one each to Midland and Romeo — and four of those in the playoffs.

Led by Brady Apple, they’ve just sorta flown under the radar since the start of the season, beating Lake Orion, then Midland Dow, then taking care of business against winless Arthur Hill and one-win Southwestern (that win is over Arthur Hill), then running over Flint Powers.

This will be the first time they’ve faced Grand Blanc since the merger, but the Bobcats had a winning record against both East (4-2) and West (5-3).

The Lightning have FCA, Lakeland and then the Davison showdown in Week 9.

If there’s a motivational edge, it’s probably Grand Blanc’s, after getting housed by Davison, 41-9, last week. This is the chance for the Bobcats to get back in the race, if they can win, and get some help from Lapeer at the end. That’s really the only remaining in-conference test for Davison, which has Southwestern and Arthur Hill flanked around a non-conference game against Warren DeLaSalle.


SWAN VALLEY (5-0, 3-0 TVC Central) at ALMA (5-0, 3-0 TVC Central)

The Vikings are ranked No. 1 in the AP poll in D5, while Alma is No. 4 in D4.

Obviously its for the Tri-Valley Conference Central Division lead.

It could be a shootout between two very talented quarterbacks in Swan Valley’s Alex Fries and Alma’s Drew Humm.

Since Alma left the Mid-Michigan B for the Tri-Valley Conference in 2006, they’ve gone 75-50 with seven playoff appearances. In the Central, they’ve gone 50-39, but 4-8 against Swan Valley. In the 12 years in the TVC, they’ve only been outside the top four teams three times, and finished second three times — including the last two seasons — but haven’t won a league title since 2007, when they went 11-1.

Swan Valley is coming off a trip to the D5 title game last season, and has won 17 of its last 18 games.

Alma has Freeland (4-1, 2-1) next week to wrap up divisional play, while Swan Valley has Standish-Sterling (1-4, 0-3).


MT. PLEASANT (5-0, 3-0 SVL Red) at MIDLAND (3-2, 3-0 SVL Red)

Yes, the Oilers have only faced one team so far — Petoskey (3-2) — with a winning record so far, and yes, their opponents are a combined 6-19, but still … 22 points allowed is impressive.

That probably won’t last against a Midland team that has won its last three, and scored 33 points per game since entering divisional play.

Mt. Pleasant — which is 5-0 for the first time since the runner-up finish in 2011 — has already matched the win total of each of the last two seasons, when the Oilers missed the playoffs for just the second and third times since 2006, the year after they joined the Saginaw Valley League. They’ve posted double-digit wins in four of those seasons.

Midland has won the last three after Mt. Pleasant was 7-3 in the M-20 rivalry the first 10 seasons in the SVL.

From here, Mt. Pleasant has Saginaw (2-3, 2-2 SVL Red), Midland Dow (3-2, 3-0) and Saginaw Heritage (2-3, 1-2), while Midland has Bay City Central (1-4, 1-2), Bay City John Glenn (1-4, 0-4), then cross-town rival Dow in Week 9. The Chargers face Saginaw and winless Bay City Western this week and next.


FOWLER (4-1, 4-0 Central Michigan Athletic Conference) at DANSVILLE (4-1, 4-0 CMAC)

Neither of these teams gets the attention of Pewamo-Westphalia — and for good reason — but all three are still unbeaten in CMAC play. Both lost in Week 1, with Dansville losing 32-27 to Leslie, and fowler falling 36-21 to Sterling Heights Parkway Christian.

Whichever team wins on Friday, they still have to face P-W (at winless Potterville this Friday). P-W takes on Dansville on Oct. 5, then Fowler on Oct. 12 to end the conference schedule.

Dansville joined the CMAC in 2007, and beat Fowler, 14-6, as part of a 3-1 finish to a 3-6 season, then promptly lost their next seven against Fowler before winning two of the last three, including last year’s 19-7 win. The Aggies missed the playoffs last year, but made it four of the previous five years, doubling the number of all-time playoff appearances.

The two teams were pegged for third (Fowler) and fifth (Dansville) in the preseason coaches poll, with the Aggies coming off a 3-6 season, and the Eagles off a sixth-place finish (4-5 overall).

Dansville has a first-year coach in Jeff Graf, who has 17 seniors and returned 19 starters, including lineman Preston Graf.

It’s not the same Fowler program as it used to be, either, but that’s a high bar to live up to

Neal Hoffman (1996-2008) went 101-34 and won a pair of state titles. Steve Spicer in the 1980s and early 1990s, went 132-31, and won a pair of state titles. Both are in the MIFCA Hall of Fame.

Saranac was expected to be right behind P-W in the standings, but Danville beat the Redskins 34-27 in Week 3, a week after blanking last year’s second-place team, Laingsburg, 33-0.


MONROE ST. MARY CC (4-1, 3-1 Huron League) at GROSSE ILE (5-0, 4-0 Huron League)

Riverview was the favorite in the Huron League, after going to the D3 semis a year ago, but Monroe St. Mary CC knocked the Pirates off in Week 3, 20-6, a week after losing to Milan by five, leaving it a muddled mess at the top of the standings.

The Red Devils (4-0) are the only unbeaten in league play still, having beaten Airport, winless Monroe Jefferson and one-win teams in New Boston Huron and Flat Rock. Riverview, Milan and SMCC are all 3-1.

Grosse Ile is coming off a 2-7 season, but made the playoffs four of the previous six seasons, including a run to the D4 semis in 2011.

Grosse Ile is 15-41-2 against SMCC all-time, but has won three of the last seven.

The Red Devils have SMCC, then Milan, then Riverview.

If SMCC wins, the Falcons — who have made the playoffs in 15 of 18 seasons since 2000 — have Airport and Jefferson in the last two weeks of league play, making them a pretty good bet to at least take a share of the title.


GOODRICH (4-1) at FLINT HAMADY (5-0, 2-0 Genesee Area Conference Blue)

Coming off an 8-2 season in which they finished second in the GAC Red, Goodrich beat both to the two teams — Lake Fenton and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep — that knocked them off last year, and both by three scores. The lone loss so far was to Ortonville-Brandon in Week 2.

Goodrich returned 30 players, six starters on each side of the ball

Hamady is 5-0 for just the second time since 1980 (last was 2015), and has made the playoffs in three straight seasons, the longest streak in program history. They returned 20 players, including a lot of speed in WR-DBs Tre Davis, Ali Brewster and Koriante Moore.

The series is 18-16 in favor of Goodrich.