GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The road to Ford Field begins tomorrow.
The postseason kicks off for local football teams as they vie for the opportunity to play for a state championship on Thanksgiving weekend.
There are several intriguing first-round matchups among the eight divisions, and here is a closer look at a few.
COMSTOCK PARK PANTHERS (5-4) AT WEST CATHOLIC FALCONS (9-0)
The Falcons enter the state tournament as the defending champions in Division 6 and are riding a 16-game winning streak.
West Catholic ended last season with seven straight wins, culminated by a 59-14 win over Negaunee in the title game.
It was the Falcons’ first state championship since 2017.
This year, they will compete for a state title in Division 5 as they finished the regular season with a perfect record and defeated eight of their nine opponents by 26 points or more.
Their smallest margin of victory was against Coopersville, 17-14, in Week 3.
West Catholic has scored 457 points, while allowing only 114 points.
Comstock Park lost two of its final three games, but defeated Newago in its regular season finale, 25-18.
The Panthers missed the playoffs last year after going 9-1 in 2021. Their season ended with a 42-0 loss to West Catholic.
Comstock Park is 1-13 all-time against the Falcons.
BYRON CENTER BULLDOGS (8-1) AT PORTAGE CENTRAL MUSTANGS (8-1)
It’s a first-round Division 2 matchup between two conference champions.
Byron Center shared the O-K White conference title with Forest Hills Central, while Portage Central claimed the outright title in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic conference with an unbeaten record.
The Mustangs’ lone loss was to Forest Hills Central in Week 2, the same team that the Bulldogs defeated in Week 5 in the closing seconds of the game.
Byron Center suffered a 38-28 setback to Lowell the following week.
The Bulldogs will try to avoid another early exit after last year’s 44-22 loss to Portage Northern, while the Mustangs failed to make the postseason after finishing 4-5.
Both teams possess the ability for big plays, while also being stingy on defense.
Byron Center shut out its last two opponents, defeating East Grand Rapids (9-0) and Northview (49-0).
WAYLAND WILDCATS (6-3) AT SOUTH CHRISTIAN SAILORS (6-3) (AT EAST KENTWOOD)
South Christian, the defending Division 4 state champions, will get the chance to avenge last week’s loss to Wayland.
The Wildcats upset the Sailors last week 49-40 in the final regular season game.
It was Wayland’s first win over South Christian since 2018.
The Wildcats’ six wins are the most for the program since 2013, when they finished 6-5. They went 4-5 last year, but only won one game from 2019-21.
The Sailors went a perfect 14-0 last year, but they lost three games this season with each coming by 10 points or loss.
South Christian enters Friday’s game on a two-game losing streak after also losing to OK Gold conference champion Catholic Central in Week 8.
The Sailors’ defense has allowed 235 points this season, the most since 2019, while Wayland has scored its most points (288) since 2002.