GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Summer is still in the air, but another high school football season is here and ready to kick off this week.
Several games will be played on Thursday and Friday. Here is a closer look at the spotlight games for both nights:
Unity Christian at Whitehall
The Crusaders are hoping for a turnaround after losing five games last season for the first time since 2014.
Unity Christian went 6-5 a year ago after back-to-back one-loss seasons but still made the playoffs for the ninth straight season.
The Crusaders fell to South Christian, 55-20, in a Division 4 district final.
Unity’s opener won’t be easy as it squares off against the Vikings, who posted a school-record 11 wins last season before losing their first game against South Christian, 28-20, in a Division 4 regional final.
Whitehall is 26-6 over the past three seasons and has appeared in the postseason eight of the past nine years.
Cedar Springs at East Grand Rapids
The Red Hawks lost their first four games of the season a year ago before rattling off five straight wins to earn a trip to the postseason for the sixth straight year.
Cedar Springs was shut out by Coopersville in a pre-district game to end its season at 5-5.
Meanwhile, East Grand Rapids finished with a losing record (4-6) for the second straight year, something that hadn’t happened since the late 1960s.
The Pioneers did make the playoffs, though, losing to St. Joseph in the first round.
EGR has won four of the five meetings against Cedar Springs, but the Red Hawks won the most recent game in 2017, a 41-40 thriller.
Grand Blanc at Grandville
The Bulldogs won seven games a year ago for the fourth straight year under coach Eric Stiegel and hopes to contend for the O-K Red championship this season.
Grandville won its final three regular-season games before losing to Caledonia in a Division 1 pre-district game.
Grand Blanc, which lost to the Bulldogs in last year’s season opener, struggled to a 4-6 overall record, which included three straight losses to end the year.
The Bobcats went 12-1 in 2021 and advanced to the state semifinals.
West Catholic at Edwardsburg
The defending Division 6 state champions will open the season against another perennial powerhouse.
West Catholic, which went 13-1 last year and culminated the year with a 59-14 stomping of Negaunee in the title game, will hit the road to face the Eddies.
Edwardsburg finished 11-2 last season and lost to eventual Division 4 state champion South Christian in the state semifinals.
The Eddies have suffered only five losses combined in the last five seasons.
The Falcons knocked off Edwardsburg 28-20 in last year’s season opener.
South Christian at Grand Rapids Christian
The Sailors open the season as the defending Division 4 state champions after going unbeaten for the first time in school history.
South Christian finished a perfect 14-0 and capped it off with a 28-0 win over Goodrich in the state title game.
The Eagles went a disappointing 3-7, but made the postseason and lost to the Sailors 42-7 in a pre-district game.
Rockford at Muskegon
The Rams, who won the O-K Red title last season, will have a stern test to open the season as they travel to Muskegon.
Rockford enjoyed an unbeaten regular season a year ago before being upset by Caledonia 14-13 in a Division 1 district final.
The Rams own an impressive 29-3 record the last three seasons.
The Big Reds reached the Division 3 Finals last year and lost to Detroit Martin Luther King, 56-27.
Muskegon finished 11-3 overall.
The two programs have split their 10 all-time meetings,
Caledonia vs. Romeo (At the Big House in Ann Arbor)
The Fighting Scots made a remarkable run to the Finals last year for the first time since 2005, but lost to Belleville, 35-17, in the Division 1 state championship game.
Caledonia knocked off O-K Red rivals Grandville and Rockford en route to the Finals and tied a school record with 12 wins.
Romeo went 8-3 last year before losing in the district finals.
The Bulldogs have not had a losing record since 2003.