It’s tough to pick Week 1 winners, but LSJ is ready to make some educated guesses

LocalSportsJournal.com

Could some different teams emerge as powers in the Muskegon-area high school football scene this season?

Several teams that were very good last year – including Mona Shores, Montague, Oakridge and Whitehall – saw a lot of star players walk off the high school stage last spring in caps and gowns.

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All four of those squads will rely on a lot of new faces this fall. They may still have what it takes – it’s hard to tell before a down has been played – but inexperience can be a real challenge.

Sport Clips is a proud sponsor of the LSJ's 2016 football coverage.

Sport Clips is the sponsor of LSJ’s 2016 football coverage.

Meanwhile, several area teams that have endured hard luck in recent seasons may be ready to roll with veteran rosters this year, including Reeths-Puffer, North Muskegon and Holton.

Nothing much is expected to change for Muskegon and Muskegon Catholic. Both traditional powers appear to be stacked again. The Big Reds are hungry to get back to Ford Field for the fourth time in five years, while the Crusaders seem intent on winning a fourth straight Division 8 state title.

Muskegon will open with a big test, against Ann Arbor Pioneer, on Saturday at the University of Michigan’s “Big House.” LocalSportsJournal.com will be there to cover the exciting matchup, and we can’t wait.

It will be fun to see how the Hart Pirates do after a year away from varsity football. Regardless of the results on the field, the fans in Hart are bound to be excited just to see Friday night lights again.

In any case, the new season starts with games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Enjoy!

MUSKEGON vs. Ann Arbor Pioneer – The word is that Muskegon may move senior QB Kalil Pimpleton around to different positions to maximize his big play potential. That will spell trouble for any opponent – even powerful Pioneer. We’ll take the Big Reds in a classic Battle of the Big House.

FRUITPORT vs. Coopersville – This game, part of Saturday’s Kickoff Classic at Grand Valley State University, is a total coin flip, simply because we know very little about Coopersville. But we do know Fruitport has a very good runner in Levi Six, so we’ll roll with the Trojans.

MONTAGUE vs. Orchard View – This is another game in the GVSU Kickoff Classic, and it should be a really good one. Montague had a monster season last year, but lost a ton of talent to graduation. Orchard View has some skilled kids back and could be much better than last year. We’ll still give Montague the edge, but anything could happen.

Holland West Ottawa at MONA SHORES – No more Trovinger, Broersma, Burse, etc. But the Sailors give the appearance of having a real program in place, and we think they’ll win some games this year, starting against the Panthers.   

WHITEHALL at Kelloggsville – Gosh these opening games can be tough to pick, especially when one team is from another region and unknown in these parts. Whitehall, like neighboring Montague, lost a lot of talent to graduation, but has running back Joe Dowdell, who could have been a star last year, except Whitehall had a crowded backfield. We say he’ll have a big game and score the winning TD for the Vikings.

RAVENNA at Kent City – Ravenna still has David Thompson. He’s been a receiver, kick returner, running back, and now he’s the starting quarterback. Doesn’t matter where he plays, because he makes things happen. That will be bad news for Kent City.

Grand Haven at REETHS-PUFFER – The Rockets think they’re ready to win, especially with their talented offensive backfield intact from last season. We have a hunch they’ll claim victory No. 1, but it should be a good game.

Oakridge at MUSKEGON CATHOLIC – The Eagles are rebuilding a bit, with a lot of new faces, except for standout QB Brady Luttrull. MCC, on the other hand, has a bunch of great players back from last season’s state title team, and the Crusaders are hungry for revenge after losing badly to Oakridge last season. MCC will win, and it may not be that close.

HART at Ludington – This may seem like a ludicrous pick, since Hart did not even have varsity football last season. But the Pirates’ talented JV squad went 9-0, and those kids will be sky high to play their first game at the varsity level. Hart starts its new football era with a victory.

NORTHPOINTE CHRISTIAN at Spring Lake – NorthPointe was 12-1 last year and rolled all the way to the state semifinals. This is a tough challenge for the Lakers and new coach Dan Start. Perhaps they’ll get off to a good “start,” but NorthPointe gets the pick.

Lake Michigan Catholic at HOLTON – The Red Devils watched with envy while rival Hesperia turned into a big winner last year. The Red Devils have talent and are determined to do the same thing this year.

SHELBY at Grant – Shelby won’t take Grant for granted – especially after losing to that team for two straight years. But the Tigers (Shelby that is, because both teams are Tigers) are really eager to forget about last year’s 0-9 season, and the best way to do that is to start with a win.

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS at Baldwin– We wouldn’t be surprised to see Muskegon Heights open with an upset victory, like it did last season against Newaygo. In fact we’ll even predict it.

NORTH MUSKEGON at Reed City – North Muskegon is primed to win a lot of games this season. The Norse will start by dispatching the Coyotes in non-league action.

Sparta at FREMONT – Talk about a tough pick. Sparta went 1-8 last year while Fremont was winless. But the Packers have the added incentive of playing for new coach Rick Tank, so that gives them the edge.

Montabella at HESPERIA – The Panthers may be breaking in a new coach following last year’s monster 9-1 season, but they return a bunch of really great running backs. Hesperia opens the season with a convincing victory.

 

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