Football Frenzy preview: State semifinals

Football Frenzy
2019 Muskegon football team

The 2019 Muskegon football team. (File)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A trip to Ford Field in Detroit over Thanksgiving weekend awaits the winners of Saturday’s MHSAA state semifinals.

Here’s a closer look at the games involving area teams: 


Okemos — Saturday 1 p.m.

The Sailors reached double-digit wins for the fourth time in the past six years with a 28-23 come-from-behind road victory over Portage Northern to win a regional title. Mona Shores will try to reach the state finals for the second straight season against a talented Warriors’ squad that has won eight in a row since a 38-35 loss to Orchard Lake St. Marys in Week 4. Walled Lake Western’s last semifinal appearance came in 2016.

“I’m very happy with where we’re at,” Mona Shores coach Matt Koziak said. “We haven’t played our best at times, but our kids have found a way to grit it out and get a win. I’ll take that over anything else because the most important stat is the win and we get another week together. We don’t want those memories to end and we’ll see what happens.

“Walled Lake Western is a team that is used to winning and they’ve made it to Ford Field and made some good runs. The more you win the better the teams get, but we have to play better than we did last week if we want to come out with a win.”


East Kentwood — Saturday 1 p.m.

The Big Reds continued their impressive jaunt through the postseason with a 49-10 win over East Grand Rapids to win their fourth straight regional title. Muskegon is looking to advance to the state finals for the fourth straight year and boasts a 39-1 record in the past three seasons.

DeWitt is playing in its second straight state semifinal after falling to Detroit Martin Luther King a year ago. The Panthers and Big Reds last met in the regional finals in 2017 with Muskegon earning a 49-0 win.

“With all the great teams out there to be in the final four is a complement and we should enjoy it, but it’s the norm around here,” Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield said. “It is our expectation and we want to win every game that we possibly can and play in the last game of the 2019 season. We’re excited that we continue to build and continue to grow, but we’re not playing perfect football. We’re trying to fine-tune things and we’re playing as good as we can going into week 13.”


Jenison — Saturday 1 p.m.

At least one area team is guaranteed a spot in next weekend’s state championship game as two familiar foes clash in the state semifinals. The Cougars hope for a return to the state finals after a heartbreaking 46-44 loss to Edwardsburg in last year’s semifinals. Catholic Central has allowed only 14 points in its three postseason wins and has won 11 games or more in four straight seasons.

Unity Christian, the defending Division 5 state champions, has won eight consecutive postseason games and claimed their third regional title with a 38-17 win over Paw Paw.

The Crusaders and Cougars have met four times in the postseason the past five years with each team winning twice.

“There’s nothing better than practicing at this time of the year, especially for our seniors,” Catholic Central coach Todd Kolster said.”They’ve worked so hard and it’s great to see them still out there battling and having the opportunity to play high school football.

“We’ve played Unity. We know them very well and they know us. We have nothing but respect for their kids, and the community and coach Tibbe. They’re phenomenal, and I’m not surprised  that they are still playing.” 

“We’re happy with where we’re at and we’re having fun and the kids seem to be excited,” Unity coach Craig Tibbe said. “It’s exciting to be at this point, and to be a part of the final four is huge for us. We’re going to enjoy it and whatever happens, happens.

“Catholic Central has guys all over the place, it isn’t about just one guy. They are good up front and they fly around the field on defense.”


Brookwood Athletic Complex in Clare — Saturday 1 p.m.

The Wildcats are one win away from their second straight trip to the state finals after a 48-14 win over Sanford Meridian to capture a regional title. Montague lost to Jackson Lumen Christi in last year’s final. After back-to-back midseason losses to rivals Muskegon Oakridge and Ravenna, the Wildcats have won six straight.

Maple City Glen Lake slipped past Calumet 15-14 last week to win its first regional title since 2016. The Lakers’ only loss this season came against Kingsley in Week 7.  


NMU’s Superior Dome — Friday 7 p.m.

The Pirates are looking for their fourth trip to the state finals in the last five years after a wild 36-35 win over previously unbeaten New Lothrop in last week’s regional final. P-W gained redemption after losing to New Lothrop in last year’s regional final. The Pirates won back-to-back state titles in 2016 and 2017 and finished state runner-up in 2015. The 35 points was the most points allowed by P-W this season, but its has given up just 56 the entire season.

Iron Mountain is having its best season since 2000, when it won a state title with a 25-23 win over Gobles. The Mountaineers went 1-8 two years ago.


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