By Mitchell Boatman
Another week, another slate of pivotal football games in the Great Muskegon area. As we close out the middle part of the season, state title contenders start to separate from the pack, conference title races narrow down, and fringe playoff teams fight for their lives.
This week’s edition of Local Sports Journal’s “Spotlight Games” features a WMC game with huge playoff implications between Whitehall and Ravenna, a battle of state-ranked O-K Black contenders when Jenison visits Muskegon and a CSAA Silver showdown between Lakeview and the upstart Holton Red Devils.
LSJ will have full coverage of these games as well as reports the other 12 area games on Friday night at LocalSportsJournal.com
Whitehall (3-2) at Ravenna (3-2), Friday 7 p.m.
Just a couple of weeks ago it seemed like the Vikings and Bulldogs were both destined for playoff appearances after 3-0 and 3-1 starts, respectively. Now both teams sit a 3-2 and the loser of Friday’s game may have to win out to save its season.
Whitehall has lost back-to-back games to Oakridge (42-14) and Montague (48-7) after winning its first three games. After Ravenna, the Vikings will finish the year with Shelby (0-5), North Muskegon (2-3) and Dexter (3-2).
A loss Friday to Ravenna could turn Whitehall’s Week 8 meeting with North Musekgon into win-or-go-home game.
The Vikings are led offensively by Kayleb Venema, who has 450 rushing yards and seven scores on the year. Gavin Schaeffer has thrown for six scores as well.
Ravenna opened the season with a 42-30 loss to Hopkins, but bounced back with three straight wins to open conference play. The Bulldogs fell back to reality a bit last week with a 48-12 loss to Oakridge.
Ravenna will finish the season with games against Mason County Central (0-5), Montague (4-1) and Muskegon Heights (0-5). With Montague once again looking like a major contender in the state, Ravenna can hardly afford a loss Friday night.
The Bulldogs are led by quarterback Connor Kilbourne, who has 1,054 passing yards and 12 touchdowns on the year.
Both teams will still have a path to the postseason regardless of the outcome on Friday, but winning in each of the final three weeks won’t be easy for either team.
Jenison (4-1) at Muskegon (5-0), Friday 7 p.m.
Muskegon, ranked No. 1 in Division 3, already boasts wins over the No. 1- and No. 4-ranked teams in Division 2 in Detroit King and Warren De La Salle. The Big Reds will have a chance to add another big win to their resume against No. 6 Jenison on Friday night.
The top-ranked Big Reds have had little trouble in their first two conference games, coming away with a 72-14 win over Kenowa Hills and a 63-6 win over Fruitport in the last two weeks.
Junior quarterback Cameron Martinez leads the offense with 777 rushing yards, 287 passing yards and 18 total touchdowns. Jeremiah Lockhart and Demario Robinson are also explosive in the backfield, as both ran for over 100 yards and two scores in last week’s win.
The Wildcats have won four straight games after a two-point loss in Week 1. Jenison is tied atop the O-K Black with Muskegon and Mona Shores and will look to prove that they belong there.
Kyle Nott captains the Wildcats’ offense as he’s rushed for 943 yards, passed for 332 yards and totaled 17 touchdowns. The senior ran for 133 yards and a pair of scores in Jenison’s 20-12 comeback win over previously unbeaten Hudsonville.
Lakeview (2-3) at Holton (4-1), Friday 7 p.m.
The Holton football team has four wins for the first time since 2015 – but the Red Devils aren’t stopping there. The team is two wins shy of qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Holton bounced back from its first loss of the season by throttling White Cloud 65-8 in Week 5. Aaron Herron ran for 113 yards and three touchdowns to lead the charge, while Drew Trygstad totaled two TDs and Derek Pouch and Austin Hawkins each scored once.
Herron now has 652 yards and nine scores this year, while Trygstad has 403 yards passing and seven total touchdowns.
Holton’s improvement defensively has been key as well. The Red Devils are allowing just 12 points per game, compared to over 30 last season. The unit is led by Draven Wyant and Kaleb Kitchka, who have combined for 105 tackles this season.
The Red Devils have dropped each of their last six games against Lakeview and are just 1-9 against the Wildcats all-time.
Lakeview is coming off a 33-0 blowout of Hesperia, which snapped a three-game losing streak. Senior Addison Mitchell led the way with 257 yards and four scores.
The Wildcats have made the playoffs in back-to-back years and four of the last five seasons.
Other area games
Fremont (1-4) at Grant (3-2)
Fruitport (1-4) at Kenowa Hills (1-4)
Grand Haven (2-3) at East Kentwood (4-1)
Hart (2-3) at Montague (4-1)
Kent City (5-0) at Hesperia (1-4)
Orchard View (1-4) at Ludington (3-2)
Oakridge (5-0) at Mason County Central (0-5)
GR Union (0-5) at Mona Shores (5-0)
Muskegon Heights (0-5) at Muskegon Catholic Central (2-3)
Shelby (0-5) at North Muskegon (2-3)
Reeths-Puffer (2-3) at Greenville (2-3)
Spring Lake (5-0) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (2-3)