LSJ gridiron picks: Big games, familiar rivalries should keep Week 8 lively

LocalSportsJournal.com

If you’re going to make it out for one more high school football game before the weather turns icy and wet, this would be the week to do it.LSJ Logo incert

There are a few great games on the schedule.Sport Clips 2016 football ad

Muskegon will host Mona Shores with revenge on its mind. The Big Reds have been big winners for the past two years, but they don’t have an O-K Black Conference trophy to show for it. That’s because the Sailors have beaten them twice in a row during the regular season and taken the title.

The Big Reds have been killing everyone this year. The Sailors, after faltering early in the season, have a three-game winning streak, a sense of momentum, and a need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Can Shores put up a fight? Grab a cheap ticket and go find out.

Meanwhile, Oakridge will host Montague in a sequel of last year’s West Michigan Conference championship game. Montague won in overtime last season, and Oakridge would love to return the favor. The Eagles are undefeated in the league and can win the title outright with a victory. Montague has a conference loss, but wants to keep at least a piece of its championship.

This matchup is packed full of drama. Get to Oakridge early if you want a seat.

At Reeths-Puffer, the Rockets are smarting from two last-second losses that have threatened to derail their playoff plans. They need to win their last two games to get in the postseason. They will travel to old rival – Fruitport – which joined the O-K Black Conference this season.

R-P has won four games and Fruitport has won two, but you can throw out the records in this one. Both teams want it badly, so you can count on an entertaining battle.

At Muskegon Catholic, the mighty Crusaders will try to keep their victory train rolling against Hesperia. But the Panthers have some talent and a bit of an attitude after losing their conference showdown with Kent City last week. Could the Panthers put up a fight? The Crusaders probably wouldn’t mind, after so many easy victories this season.

It might be worth keeping an eye on that one. Maybe.

Last week’s LSJ picks record – 12-4, by far our best week of the year!

Mona Shores (4-3) at MUSKEGON (6-1) – This was the game of the century the last two years and Mona Shores had Muskegon’s ticket. The young Sailors have been on a roll, with three straight wins and dreams of rallying to make the playoffs. But they will wake up with a loss – probably a big one – on Saturday morning.

Reeths-Puffer (4-3) at FRUITPORT (2-5) – The Trojans don´t care about records anymore. Respect is all they are playing for, and they will be pumped in the renewal of this great old rivalry. On the other hand, the Rockets are desperate to win both of their final games to sneak into the playoffs. But Reeths-Puffer has struggled with struggling teams all season. We have a funny feeling that will happen again this week.

HUDSONVILLE (6-1) at Grand Haven (2-5) – The Bucs have nothing to lose and might catch the Eagles resting on their laurels after making the playoffs for the fourth straight year. Both teams had similar point margins in their games against Holland West Ottawa and Grandville. But still, we have to take Hudsonville.

Montague (6-1) at OAKRIDGE (6-1) – Really?! We have to choose a winner in this huge WMC championship matchup?! No crystal ball, fire dance, or medicine man could reveal who will take this one. So we will just close our eyes and throw a dart … and it landed closer to Oakridge. This should be a great game, just like it was last year.

RAVENNA (5-2) at Mason County Central (3-4) – The Bulldogs better be prepared for this one. They had a huge win over Whitehall last week, and sometimes those highs can be followed by lows. You can´t look past anyone in the best small school football conference in the state. Ravenna will pull through and break back into the playoffs

Hart (1-6) at NORTH MUSKEGON (3-4) – North Muskegon coach Larry Witham coached the Hart JV to a perfect record last year, and those Pirates now play varsity. They would love nothing better than to show their old teacher how much they’ve learned. But it won’t happen this year.

Shelby (0-7) at WHITEHALL (4-3) – The Vikings have lost three in a row and suddenly need to win their last two to make the playoffs. Next week they have a very tough Battle Creek Harper Creek. So they will be sure to win this one, probably with a vengeance.

FREMONT (0-7) at Tri-County (2-5) – The Packers haven´t won a game since Oct. 24, 2014. If they want to break that 16-game losing streak, they better do it Friday because next week they have Montague, and they aren’t going to beat the Wildcats. Mark our words: The Packers will pull it off this week with a punch on the last play of the game.

Hesperia (4-3) at MUSKEGON CATHOLIC (7-0) – Hesperia is a good team that’s had its ups and downs this season. Muskegon Catholic is a great team. When it’s all said and done the Crusaders will have a new taxidermy piece for their growing collection – a slain panther.

ORCHARD VIEW (1-6) at Manton (2-5) – The stars aligned for this game to happen. OV´s Week 8 matchup with an east side team fell through, and we aren´t sure why Manton had an opening to play OV. The Cardinals showed they can flock together last week against Muskegon Heights (their first win of the season) and will do it for the second week in a row.

Vermontville Maple Valley (2-5) at KENT CITY (5-2) – The Eagles showed what they were made of with a big win over Hesperia last week. They will finish their drive for a playoff spot with a win on Friday.

Evart (4-3) at HOLTON (2-5) – Last week Holton showed it can put up points despite a 48-26 loss to a pesky Lakeview team. Whether the Red Devil defense will step up this week is the big question. Evart averages just over 20 points a game. But Holton’s defense has been giving up just over 31 points a game. We say the D will subtract from its average and the Devils will get a W.

Lakeview (4-3) at LUDINGTON (6-1) – The Orioles are in the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Any regular season win from this point on is icing on the cake. And the Orioles like icing.

Muskegon Heights (1-6) at COLON (5-2) – The Magi scored 74 points last week, and that is not a good sign for a struggling Muskegon Heights defense. There´s still some bite left in this athletic Tiger team, with the likes of QB JaJuante Trotter, who turned a botched punt snap into a 65-yard gain last week against Orchard View. But the Tigers also had way too many penalties, and that won’t work against Colon.

Allendale (5-2) at SPRING LAKE (1-6) – The Laker offense showed it can put up numbers in its 53-40 loss to Holland Christian last week. And Allendale’s defense has been giving up 32 points a game this season, which means Spring Lake could make a run for a win. Think positive Laker fans!

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