Playoff capsules: Eight area teams preparing for gridiron openers

Local Sports Journal

Here are capsules on the area’s high school football playoff games for this week.

Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills (5-4) at Muskegon (8-1), 7 p.m. Friday.

These teams met in Week 8 at Kenowa Hills with the Big Reds running away with a 45-7 victory. Kenowa Hills won three of its last four games with victories over Reeths-Puffer (27-26), Mona Shores (35-26) and Grand Rapids Union (57-22).

The winner of this game likely will face Lowell, which faces Grand Rapids Northview in the other first-round predistrict game.

Fruitport (8-1) at Grand Rapids Christian (8-1), 7 p.m. Friday

GR Christian’s lone loss came in Week 2 when a trip to Ohio resulted in a 42-34 loss to powerhouse Cincinnati Moeller. GR Christian heads into the playoffs after a 21-7 victory over Division 2 playoff qualifier Lowell. The winner of this game will face the Zeeland West vs. Zeeland East winner.

Grant (6-3) at Newaygo (7-2), 7 p.m. Friday

Instead of meeting during the regular season, these teams had to wait until the playoffs to face off against one another. Until this season, both teams were members of the Lakes 8 Conference.

Grant slid into the playoffs on Week 9 with a 21-12 at Whitehall. The Tigers needed three straight victories to automatically qualify for the playoffs. The Tigers’ last setback was a 21-14 loss at Fruitport in Week 8.

Newaygo lost 35-7 to unbeaten Reed City in Week 4 and lost a tight 34-27 decision to Big Rapids in Week 8.

The winner will likely get a shot at Reed City in the second round.

Buchanan (7-2) at Oakridge (9-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday

The outright champions in the West Michigan Conference is the only area team to finish with an unblemished record.

Buchanan’s two losses came at the hands of Division 8 power Mendon (33-28) and playoff qualifier Allendale (28-0) in Week 2. Buchanan has proven it can score points by topping the 50-point plateau three times and scored 49 in another game. Buchanan is coming off a 51-14 victory over Parma Western in Week 9

The winner will take on the survivor of the Grand Rapids West Catholic vs. Hopkins matchup.

Montague (8-1) at Hemlock (8-1)

The Wildcats, the runners-up in the West Michigan Conference, didn’t get any breaks as far at their playoff draw.

Hemlock (8-1) lost its season opener to undefeated Frankenmuth in Week 1 and has reeled off eight straight victories.

Montague lost to Oakridge (38-7) in Week 3 and has won six games in a row.

The winner draws the chance to play powerful Ithaca (9-0) in the second round.

Kalkaska (7-2) at Shelby (7-2), 7 p.m. Friday

Shelby heads into district action as the No. 1 seed in the district. Kalkaska, which is No. 4, comes in with two losses on its ledger. They dropped a 26-21 decision to Boyne City, which lost one game this season, and lost 33-6 to undefeated Grayling.

Shelby came in third in the West Michigan Conference after dropping league matchups to Montague and Oakridge, both playoff qualifiers.

The winner of this game will face the winner of the Maple City Glen Lake-Boyne City game.

Vestaburg (6-3) at Muskegon Catholic (6-3), 7 p.m. Friday

The Crusaders lost their first two games then won six of their last seven. MCC dropped an overtime decision to Division 3 playoff qualifier Fruitport. The Crusaders then gained an automatic playoff berth by traveling to Traverse City and defeating St. Francis 21-13.

Vestaburg is coming off a Week 9 loss to Merrill by the score of 28-8. Vestaburg has faced some tight games along the way. It defeated Baldwin in overtime in Week 3 and Blanchard Montabella in overtime in Week 8.

Baldwin plays at Fowler in the game on the opposite  side of the district bracket.

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