Editor’s note: With the high school football season set to kick off Thursday, our Frenzy team is looking at how the competition is shaping up.
This article examines the teams in the O-K Silver: Kelloggsville, Hopkins, Belding and Godwin Heights.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The O-K Silver conference has been reduced to four teams this season after the departure of Calvin Christian, Wyoming Lee and NorthPointe Christian. The three teams will field varsity teams but will play out-of-conference schedules.
The remaining teams will play each other twice in addition to three nonconference games.
Longtime Kelloggsville coach Don Galster isn’t thrilled about the new structure.
“It’s disappointing and we’re really the only conference that has this problem,” Galster said. “To play the other teams twice is a whole different way that we have to approach things.
“In the playoffs we’ve played the same team twice, but not during the regular season. It’s something that is going to be interesting trying to figure out.”
After reaching the postseason and winning a combined 18 games the prior two seasons, Kelloggsville struggled last season to a 4-5 campaign and lost three of its final four games.
The Rockets will attempt a turnaround this season under Galster, who enters his 30th season at the helm.
Kelloggsville will be young and inexperienced but will be bolstered by the return of improved senior quarterback Jay Johnson.
Other returning contributors for the Rockets include senior O.J. Simpson and junior Salama Furaha, as well as seniors Cyrie Thomas, Willie Meadows, Haven Zuniga and Mychal Green and sophomore Corey Pattan-Ivy.
“We have a small senior class,” Galster said. “A lot of them have played a lot of football, but we have a lot of question marks so we’ll see what happens. We’re going to play the way we always do at Kelloggsville, and we are going to run and hit and use our speed.”
Hopkins, guided by head coach Cody Francis, is the defending O-K Silver champion after going a perfect 6-0 in conference play.
The Vikings finished 9-2 overall, their first winning season since 2014, and reached the district finals before falling to Kalamazoo Hackett in a shootout, 46-36.
Hopkins enters this season with high expectations due to the return of several experienced starters, including three-year starters Drew Weber, Ethan Gilder and Chase Groenhout.
The senior trio are staples on the offensive and defensive lines.
Junior running back Colin Weber also returns in the backfield to help bolster an offense that averaged more than 40 points a game last season.
BELDING BLACK KNIGHTS
Belding returned to the postseason for the third consecutive season after going 7-3. The Black Knights fell to Muskegon Oakridge 59-29 in a Division 5 district opener.
First-year head coach Monty Price, who’s spent the past 20 years at Reed City, has a senior-laden roster.
Seniors John Ross and Riley Hart have been on varsity since they were freshmen and will help lead the Black Knights. Other key seniors include Dylan Strauble, Drew Riches and Mattson Putney.
GODWIN HEIGHTS WOLVERINES
Godwin Heights last year qualified for the postseason for the fourth consecutive season. The Wolverines rebounded from a 1-3 start and closed the regular season with five straight wins before bowing out in their playoff opener against South Christian.
Bradon Kimble is back for his second year at the helm with a young but talented group. He will look to Division I prospect Ru’Quan Buckley, a 6-foot-6. 250-pound defensive linemen.
Terrance Moore is a two-way standout at linebacker and running back, while Jamontae Burrell will play a key role on offense and defense.