By Jason Goorman
Local Sports Journal
Sometimes life just isn’t fair.
We have a handful of area high school football teams fighting for their playoff lives, and few can afford another loss.
And as luck (or bad luck) would have it, almost all of them face extremely tough opponents Friday night.
Take Reeths-Puffer, for example. The Rockets can manage five wins at best, but five wins can sometimes equal a playoff berth. But they have to play Muskegon Friday. A Reeths-Puffer win would be one heck of an upset.
Then there’s Fruitport, which may be the scrappiest team in the area. The Trojans have been facing likely playoff elimination for two weeks, and have responded with convincing wins over good teams from Orchard View and Spring Lake.
But to keep it going Fruitport will have to beat 6-1 St. Johns this Friday, then DeWitt (the only team to beat St. Johns) next week. I hope the Trojans have been eating their Wheaties.
Speaking of Orchard View, the Cardinals can reach the magic six-victory mark by winning their final two games. But Friday they have Muskegon Heights, with its explosive air attack, and next week they have powerful Oakridge. If they pull off a sweep, the Cardinals will deserve a gift-wrapped invitation to the playoffs.
Then we have Mason County Central, a decent team that has given lots of opponents trouble this season. The Spartans also need to win their last two games, but they have to host unbeaten Oakridge on Friday. Oakridge thumped Ravenna and Whitehall, two teams that beat the Spartans. What does the law of probability say?
Need another example? How about Spring Lake, which a week ago stood at 4-2 and seemed headed for postseason play. But a loss to Fruitport put everything in jeopardy, and the Lakers face undefeated Climax-Scotts Friday night.
I even feel sorry for Detroit Country Day, a traditional power that’s struggling a bit, and also needs two wins to lock up a postseason berth. These guys have to drive three hours to play Muskegon Catholic. This might be a good game, but Country Day fans should wait a few days to order their playoff tickets.
If there were playoffs for football prognosticators, I would already qualify, by the way. I had another great record last week, posting a rather remarkable 12-1 record.
MUSKEGON (7-0) at Reeths-Puffer (3-4) – This could still turn into a ballgame, but the Rockets didn’t muster much of an attack against Mona Shores, so I have to believe Muskegon will exit with its perfect record intact, heading into next week’s showdown with Shores.
Detroit Country Day (4-3) at MUSKEGON CATHOLIC (7-0) – The Crusaders are desperately in need of a challenge before the playoffs. Under normal circumstances this would be the game, because Country Day is a traditional power. I still say it will be a good contest. Country Day may have a so-so record but plays a tough schedule. Catholic will win, though.
St. John’s (6-1) at FRUITPORT (4-3) – The Trojans are on a mission to make the playoffs, winning four of their past five after losing the first two. This is going to be a tough one, but I think the pumped-up Trojans will keep rolling in front of the home fans.
Whitehall (6-1) at RAVENNA (6-1) – This could be the barnburner of the night. Both are great teams, both were abused by Oakridge, and now they’re likely playing for second place in the tough West Michigan Conference. Flip a coin. I’ll say Ravenna by a whisker, just because the Bulldogs are home.
SHELBY (2-5) at North Muskegon (3-4) – This has the makings of another exciting game. Both teams have some very good players and both have had disappointing seasons. Another coin flip. My quarter landed with President Washington’s head facing up, so I’ll pick Shelby.
GRAND HAVEN (3-4) at Grandville (3-4) – The Bucs may be one of the best three-win teams in the state. Overtime losses the last two weeks have severely hurt their playoff hopes, and Grand Haven will take it out on Grandville this week.
MUSKEGON HEIGHTS (3-4) at Orchard View (4-3) – Muskegon Heights has been putting up a lot of points, and giving up a lot of points. OV is reeling a bit after consecutive losses to Fruitport and Muskegon Catholic. I think Muskegon Heights just might pull this one off.
OAKRIDGE (6-1) at Mason County Central (4-3) – The Spartans are not bad, and are playing to remain alive in the playoff hunt, but Oakridge has been crushing everyone in its path.
MONA SHORES (6-1) at GR Union (0-7) – This one will not be close, even if the Sailors are more focused on their showdown with Muskegon next week.
Hesperia (1-6) at FREMONT (2-5) – Fremont over Ludington was one of my smartest picks last week. The Packers will come through for me again.
MONTAGUE (1-7) at Hart (1-7) – The Wildcats finally got their first win last week, and will double that total against the overwhelmed Pirates.
SPRING LAKE (4-3) at Climax Scotts (7-0) – Spring Lake needs to beat an undefeated opponent to keep its playoff dream alive. The Lakers have a tough assignment, but they are hopping mad following the beating they took from archrival Fruitport last week. Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t bet against them this week.
HOLTON (3-4) at Onekama (3-4) – The Red Devils looked great against White Cloud and will keep the momentum going, although this one could go down to the wire.
Oakridge lost there first game of the season. You have them as undefeated at 7-0.