GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It might be starting a little later than usual, but high school football is back in West Michigan.
The pandemic forced the cancellation of the first three games; however, the season will continue with an abbreviated six-game schedule.
The Football Frenzy crew will be covering up to 27 games on opening night with a pair of spotlight games: Hudsonville at East Kentwood and Jenison at Rockford.
Hudsonville has qualified for the postseason six of the past eight seasons, including the past two under coach Brent Sandee.
The Hudsonville Eagles went 8-4 last season and advanced to the Division 1 regional finals after winning a district title with a 35-7 win over Grand Haven.
“Hudsonville has great tradition here and we are just fortunate to be a part of it,” Sandee said. “We expect that year in and year out and we have a lot of key players back. We’re hoping to take that next step.”
Hudsonville returns a talented cast, led by three-year starting quarterback Brennan Hayes. He started seven games as a sophomore but missed four games last year due to injury.
“It helps having that experience back with a three-year starter at quarterback for us,” Sandee said. “And to have nine guys on defense back and a great senior class really helps a lot.”
East Kentwood, guided by coach Tony Kimbrough, clinched a playoff spot last season and upset Rockford in pre-districts before bowing out against Brighton in the district finals.
In O-K Red play, Jenison returns to the conference for the first time since 2011 after spending the last eight years in the O-K White and O-K Black.
The Jenison Wildcats will travel to play O-K Red powerhouse Rockford. It will be the coaching debut of Brent Cummings, who takes over for former longtime coach Ralph Munger.
Jenison, led by Rob Zeitman, went 4-5 a year ago after advancing to the state playoffs in 2018 for the first time since 2005.
Rockford hopes to continue its long-standing success under Cummings, a former Belding High School standout.
The Rams have qualified for the postseason a staggering 25 straight years and went 8-2 last season while winning the conference championship. They lost to East Kentwood 38-12 in pre-districts.
Jenison is led on defense by junior Caleb Dean, who had 31 tackles and five interceptions last season.
Rockford junior linebacker Kade Kostus has been receiving interest from several Division I programs.