By Jason Goorman
Local Sports Journal

Wow. It’s already the last week of the regular season.

And what an odd high school football season it’s been.JG gridiron picks logo

First we had week after week of really ugly blowouts, even in a lot of games that were supposed to be barnburners.

And now it looks like the Muskegon area could have fewer playoff teams than usual.

Last year we had nine teams make the first round – Muskegon, Muskegon Catholic, Mona Shores, Reeths-Puffer, Fremont, Montague, Spring Lake, Oakridge and Shelby.

Reeths-Puffer, Fremont, Montague and Shelby have had disappointing seasons and won’t be going back to the playoffs next week.

This year only six teams have wrapped up playoff spots so far – Muskegon, Muskegon Catholic, Mona Shores, Oakridge, Whitehall and Ravenna.Shoreline football instory art

Four teams are still holding out hope to sneak into the dance. But only one, Spring Lake, can get to the magic six-win number to clinch a spot this week.

The others – Orchard View, Fruitport and North Muskegon – will have to win Friday to get to five victories, which is sometimes enough to snag one of the last spots.

We won’t know for sure who made it until Sunday night when the Michigan High School Athletic Association announces first-round matchups. Local Sports Journal will publish a full report Sunday night.

But it seems like our area may have a few less state contenders this year.

On the bright side, we should have some pretty good games to wrap up the regular season Friday.

Of course the main attraction is the much anticipated Muskegon-Mona Shores game, with the O-K Black title at stake. Some might say this one loses a little luster, since both teams will be in the playoffs and could very well meet again within the next two weeks.

Baloney. The conference trophy goes to the winner, and that’s something nobody can take away. These two powerhouses will go at it hard. Those lucky enough to squeeze into Hackley Stadium could witness a classic contest.

I also think Muskegon Catholic-Ravenna may be a very good game. Of course I’ve said that every time MCC has played a tough opponent, and I always eat my words when the Crusaders win by very big margins.

If nothing else, this game will be an excellent playoff warm-up for Ravenna. Nobody they will see in the postseason is as good as Muskegon Catholic.

I also think you can throw out the records in the Oakridge-Orchard View matchup. The Cardinals have the best team they’ve fielded in several years and are desperate to keep their playoff hopes alive.

One nice side note is that the weather is supposed to be pleasant Friday, which is a bonus this time of year.

Is should quickly note that I stunk up the joint with an 8-5 record. It was easily my worst mark of the season.

Mona Shores (7-1) at MUSKEGON (8-0) – This should be a classic shootout between the two best big school teams in Muskegon County (and probably several neighboring counties). Shores came close last season and will make it a great game again. But until the Sailors prove they can beat the Big Reds, I have to predict another O-K Black title for Muskegon.

MUSKEGON CATHOLIC (8-0) at Ravenna (7-1) – This renewal of a great old rivalry is perfectly timed, because Ravenna is once again a big winner after several years of rebuilding. The Bulldogs are explosive, and could give MCC trouble, but after the way the Crusaders handled Country Day last week, I just can’t picture them losing.

Orchard View (5-3) at OAKRIDGE (7-1) – OV needs a win to get its first playoff berth in many years. But Oakridge is playing for playoff home field advantage and bragging rights in this neighborhood rivalry. I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s a good game, but I would be if Orchard View won.

EAST KENTWOOD (7-1) at Grand Haven (3-5) – The Bucs have played tough against some very good teams this season. They are better than their record indicates. But I can’t see them taking out East Kentwood. I hope I’m wrong.

REETHS-PUFFER (3-5) at Kenowa Hills (4-4) – The young Rockets have had their share of hard losses this season, despite having a number of very skilled players. I think they will go out on a winning note against a pretty good Kenowa Hills team.

Fremont (3-5) at MONTAGUE (2-6) – Montague has been playing better every week since losing its first six games. The Wildcats will also want to get even with Fremont for bouncing them from the playoffs last season.

Fruitport (4-4) at DEWITT (8-0) – Fruitport’s only hope for a playoff berth is to beat DeWitt. But the gritty Trojans took a pounding from St. Johns last week, and DeWitt is even better. My heart says Fruitport, but my head won’t go there.

Shelby (2-6) at SPRING LAKE (5-3) – The Lakers looked great beating a previously undefeated Climax-Scotts last week. They can nail down a playoff spot with a win, and I think we can bank on that happening.

Hart (1-7) at BALDWIN (7-1) – This is a tough assignment for Hart, which has had another tough season.

Hesperia (1-7) at NORTH MUSKEGON (4-4) – The Norse will get a fifth win and be glued to Local Sports Journal Sunday night to see if they made the playoffs.

Grant (3-5) at WHITEHALL (6-2) – The Vikings are still smarting from whippings they took in the last two weeks from Oakridge and Ravenna, They will take it out on the overmatched Tigers and tune up for the playoffs.

Wyoming Lee (0-8) at HOLTON (3-5) – Hayden Cregg and the boys will wrap up their season in style. I’ll bet they put at least 40 points on the board in this one.

Melvindale Academy (3-5) at MUSKEGON HEIGHTS (3-5) – I don’t think the kids from Melvindale will have anything to match the Tigers’ dangerous aerial attack. Heights wins its fourth game.