By Steve Gunn
It’s getting to that point of the season when conference championships are on the line.
Perennial power Muskegon Catholic will visit suddenly-hot Muskegon Heights in a Lakes 8 Conference showdown, with the two teams tied for the league lead with 2-0 records.
Kent City will host Morley-Stanwood in a battle of unbeaten teams, with the winner clinching at least a tie for the CSAA Silver Division championship.
Meanwhile, Reeths-Puffer will visit Jenison in a battle of 3-2 teams who are both fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive.
LocalSportsJournal.com will have live coverage of those three games, as well as reports from the other 13 games involving areas squads, including Ravenna at Whitehall, Ludington at Orchard View, Grand Rapids Union at Muskegon. Mona Shores at Kenowa Hills and Hart at Montague.
Muskegon Catholic (4-0) at Muskegon Heights (3-2), Friday 7 p.m.
A few weeks ago, few would have expected this to be much of a game.
But now it’s shaping up as a potential showdown for the Lakes 8 Conference title.
The Tigers started out 0-2, falling to Harbor Springs (22-21) and powerful Grand Rapids West Catholic (40-0). But since then they have won three straight games and displayed the ability to score a lot of points.
Muskegon Heights has beaten Detroit Community (39-20), Manistee (30-20) and Ludington (36-27) in the past three weeks.
The Tigers displayed their offensive prowess against Ludington last Friday.
Montay Townsend threw two touchdown passes, including a 52-yard connection with Arlester Sims. Sims caught four passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Jerry Anderson gained 112 yards and had a pick-six on defense.
But Muskegon Heights will certainly have its hands full with the undefeated Crusaders, who come into the game ranked No. 1 in the state in Division 8.
Muskegon Catholic has yet to be challenged this season, beating Frankfort (31-6), Orchard View (43-7), Ludington (55-7) and Lake Michigan Catholic (55-13).
Cameron Martinez, Ryder Smith and Dawson Steigman each had two rushing touchdowns for the Crusaders against Lake Michigan Catholic, while Martinez found Smith on a 27-yard pass for a TD.
Martinez finished with 119 yards on 5-of-10 passing, while also rushing for 75 yards on seven carries.
Martinez, an explosive sophomore quarterback, has already rushed for 538 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s averaging 134 yards per game and 14.3 yards per carry.
Both teams come into the game with 2-0 records in the Lakes 8 Conference, which only has five teams competing in football. Every other team has at least one loss, so the winner will emerge in the driver’s seat for the championship trophy.
Muskegon Catholic leads the all-time series 27-11 and easily won last year, 55-6. But the Tigers have had some success over the Crusaders, winning in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010.
Reeths-Puffer (3-2) at Jenison (3-2), Friday 7 p.m.
The Rockets are at a crucial crossroads as they head to Jenison for an important game on Friday.
They opened this season with three straight wins over Grand Haven (28-10), Orchard View (49-21) and Grand Rapids Union (55-0).
Then came the tough part of their schedule, when they lost to a pair of top-ranked teams – Mona Shores (44-6) and Muskegon (61-0) in the past two weeks.
To make the playoffs for the first time since 2013, Reeths-Puffer will have to win three of its last four games. After Jenison, the Rockets face Middleville, Fruitport and Kenowa Hills.
The Rockets were in a similar position last season, going into the Jenison game with a 3-2 record. But they lost to the Wildcats 11-8, then dropped two of their final three games and missed the playoffs.
Jenison also comes into the game 3-2. The Wildcats lost their opener to Forest Hills Central (41-0), beat Northview (24-14), Kenowa Hills (40-29) and Grand Rapids Union (51-6), then fell to Mona Shores last week (42-7).
The two teams have only played four times since 2000, with each winning twice.
Morley-Stanwood (5-0) at Kent City (5-0), Friday 7 p.m.
The Kent City Eagles have been the area’s Cinderella story for the past two seasons.
Prior to last season, the Eagles had only posted a winning record once since 2000, and that was way back in 2001.
But they came to life in 2016, finishing 8-3 and advancing to the second round of the Division 6 state playoffs.
The Eagles have picked up where they left off this fall, winning their first five games with relative ease. They have beaten Ravenna (41-20), Comstock (49-29). Holton (34-6), White Cloud (63-12) and Lakeview (44-23).
Against Lakeview last Friday, Kent City quarterback John Meek rushed for 88 yards on eight carries and completed eight of nine passes for 57 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Gio Weeks had 101 yards on 13 carries.
This game will probably determine the CSAA Silver Division championship. Both Kent City and Morley-Stanwood are 3-0 in league play, while the other four teams in the division all have at least two losses.
The two teams shared the title last year.
Kent City has a 23-21-1 edge in this old series. The two teams took a break from their long rivalry between 2000 and 2010, but Morley-Stanwood has won four of the last five meetings, in 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015. Kent City came out on top last year, 22-17.
Other Week 6 games:
Fruitport (2-3) at Zeeland East (5-0)
Caledonia (2-3) at Grand Haven (0-5)
Hart (1-4) at Montague (5-0)
Hesperia (0-5) at Lakeview (2-3)
Holton (2-3) at White Cloud (1-4)
Ludington (2-3) at Orchard View (1-4)
Mason County Central (1-4) at Oakridge (4-1)
Mona Shores (5-0) at Kenowa Hills (2-3)
Grand Rapids Union (0-5) at Muskegon (5-0)
North Muskegon (3-2) at Shelby (0-5)
Ravenna (2-3) at Whitehall (3-2)
Spring Lake (0-5) at Coopersville (3-2)
Fremont (0-5) at Newaygo (3-2)