GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The high school football season kicks off Thursday as several area teams begin their journey to finish the season at Ford Field in Detroit.
There will be plenty of games on both Thursday and Friday. Here are a few spotlight games the Football Frenzy crew will focus on in Week 1:
CEDAR SPRINGS AT SWAN VALLEY; THURSDAY 7 P.M.
The Cedar Springs Red Hawks hit the road to open a season against a perennial powerhouse. Swan Valley has won 36 games in the last four seasons and advanced to the Division 5 state finals in 2017. They lost in the semifinals in 2018. Cedar Springs, which returns six starters on offense and seven on defense, went 5-3 last season and lost to Muskegon in district play.
“We have a lot of experience and we have a lot of excitement,” Red Hawks coach Gus Kapolka said. “We have some determination to get back on top. It’s been a while since we haven’t won a conference championship, so last year left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. I think we’ve dedicated ourselves to coming closer as a team.”
CATHOLIC CENTRAL VS. LAPEER AT THE BIG HOUSE IN ANN ARBOR; THURSDAY AT NOON
The Catholic Central Cougars begin defense of their Division 5 state championship with a trip to Ann Arbor against the Lapeer Lightning, which won only three games, but won 20 games combined in 2018 and 2019.
Catholic Central, which has won four state titles in the last five years under coach Todd Kolster, is spearheaded by the return of senior quarterback Joey Silveri. The Cougars have lost only three games in the past four years and had two unbeaten seasons in that span.
STERLING HEIGHTS STEVENSON AT ROCKFORD; THURSDAY 7 P.M.
The Rockford Rams start the new season at home as they are renaming the football stadium in honor of longtime coach Ralph Munger.
Rockford advanced to the Division 1 state semifinals under first-year coach Brent Cummings before losing to Davison. The Rams have won seven or more games every year since 2002.
HUDSONVILLE AT SALINE; FRIDAY 3:30 P.M.
The youthful Hudsonville Eagles come back with only three returning starters on offense and four on defense as they open the season on the road against the grandson of former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, sophomore quarterback CJ Carr. Hudsonville is led by three-year starter Dylan Ham.
“Our first two nonconference games are as tough as anyone, so we will see where we are at right away in Week 1,” Eagles coach Brent Sandee said. “We will be as good as we are up front, and we will just see. We have a lot of tough kids who have been working hard and some skill kids. We will battle.”
MUSKEGON AT EAST KENTWOOD; FRIDAY 7 P.M.
The Muskegon Big Reds are hoping for another successful run as they open against the East Kentwood Falcons, who struggled to win only two games in last year’s shortened season.
Muskegon failed to reach the state finals a year ago for the first time in five seasons after being shut out by DeWitt High School in a Division 3 semifinal. The Big Reds, led on defense by senior linebacker Meshaune Crowley, are 49-3 in the last five years.
SOUTH CHRISTIAN AT GRAND RAPIDS CHRISTIAN; FRIDAY 7 P.M.
A longstanding rivalry will take place in the season opener as the Grand Rapids Christian Eagles and South Christian Sailors square off for the 51st time.
South Christian holds the 27-23 edge in all-time meetings and has knocked Grand Rapids Christian out of the postseason the past two years.
The Sailors went 8-2 last year and won a district title, while the Eagles didn’t have a winning record (4-4) for the first time since 2015.