By Mitchell Boatman
Just two weeks into the 2019 high school football season, there have already been some surprising performances from area teams.
There’s also Reeths-Puffer, which some fans wrote off after a 24-0 loss to Grand Haven in Week 1. The Rockets rebounded with a big 35-21 win over perennial playoff team Grand Rapids South Christian last week and could be eying a playoff berth themselves.
Then you have two teams that everyone knew would be good, but are playing on another level.
The Muskegon Big Reds have been in the top tier of football teams in Michigan for years, but appear to be upping the ante this season. The Big Reds have walloped defending state title winners Warren De La Salle and Detroit King in back-to-back games, both on the road.
The Sailors of Mona Shores are coming off a Division 2 state runner-up finish, but lost a large graduating class and started the season without injured All-State quarterback Caden Broersma. However, the Sailors have put up two convincing wins over East Kentwood and Bay City Central and appear to have not missed a beat.
LocalSportsJournal.com will be on hand to cover each of these teams and more this Friday night. Our Week 3 Spotlight Games include four that will be covered live by LocalSportsJournal.com: East Grand Rapids at Muskegon, Reeths-Puffer at Mona Shores, Hesperia at Holton and Orchard View at Muskegon Catholic Central.
A key West Michigan Conference showdown between Oakridge and Whitehall is also on the schedule.
Check LocalSportsJournal.com on Friday night for full reports on these games and all others involving area teams.
East Grand Rapids (1-1) at Muskegon (2-0) Friday, 7 p.m.
You’d be hard pressed to find a team off to a better start than the Big Reds. Not only has Muskegon beaten two defending state champions in as many weeks, it has done so on the road and in dominating fashion.
Muskegon thumped Warren De La Salle 41-7 before getting revenge on Detroit Martin Luther King with a 41-18 win in a Division 3 title game rematch last Friday. The Big Reds defeated both teams in the regular season last year by a combined score of 60-42. This year, that margin was 82-25.
Now the Big Reds will open their home schedule at Hackley Stadium with a game against another perennial power, East Grand Rapids. Muskegon topped EGR twice last season, 49-21 in Week 3 and 42-35 in the playoffs.
Cameron Martinez will once again lead the Big Red attack. So far this year, he’s rushed for a gaudy 363 yards and accounted for seven touchdowns.
The Pioneers enter at 1-1, having lost their opener to Zeeland West 28-21 before bouncing back to beat Forest Hills Northern 49-13.
Muskegon leads the all-time series 5-0.
Reeths-Puffer (1-1) at Mona Shores (2-0) Friday, 7 p.m.
The Sailors and Rockets are both coming off big wins, albeit in different ways.
Mona Shores’ victory was big in terms of the final score, a 43-6 pounding of Bay City Central. For Reeths-Puffer, it was big picture big. The 35-21 win over Grand Rapids South Christian kept the Rockets from an 0-2 start, which would have put their playoff hopes in serious jeopardy early on.
Mona Shores has won its first two games with ease, compiling a 71-13 scoring margin. The Sailors have done it behind senior running back Tre’Shawn Hatcher, who has put up video game numbers in his first two career starts. Hatcher has carried the ball 39 times for 452 yards and seven touchdowns. Brady Rose has filled in nicely for Broersma at quarterback, totaling over 100 yards and accounting for a touchdown in each game.
After being shut out in Week 1, the Rocket offense woke up against South Christian last week. Quarterback Evan Moskwa led the offense, passing for 154 yards, rushing for 66 more and totaling three touchdowns. Daven Fox also had a big day, rushing for 131 yards and a touchdown and hauling in a 32-yard TD pass.
This game marks the O-K Black opener for both teams. Mona Shores finished second in the conference last year at 5-1, while Reeths-Puffer was fourth at 3-3. The Sailors lead the all-time series 22-21-1.
Hesperia (0-2) at Holton (0-2) Friday, 7 p.m.
These two bitter rivals will face off for the 41st consecutive season on Friday night. Since Holton started playing in 1954, the Red Devils haven’t faced any team more than they have the Panthers. Hesperia holds the all-time advantage 38-24, but the Red Devils have won the last two.
Both teams limp into the rivalry this year, having suffered lopsided losses in Week 2. This always intense battle might have a little extra heat, since that first victory of the season is up for grabs for both teams.
Holton, fresh off a Cinderella run to the Division 8 state semifinals last season, is 0-2 for the first time since 2013. The Red Devils played in an instant classic Week 1, but fell 48-40 to Hart. Holton was blanked by Carson City Crystal, 38-0, last week.
The Panthers also come in at 0-2, after a 56-12 loss to North Muskegon and a 55-24 defeat against Ludington. Hesperia’s offense has been powered by two Logans – quarterback Logan Balkema has three touchdowns this year and Logan Pearson has two.
Orchard View (2-0) at Muskegon Catholic (1-1) Friday, 7 p.m.
The Cardinals have already matched their win total from a year ago by starting 2-0 under new head coach Fred Rademacher. Now, they’ll look to upend Muskegon Catholic Central for the second straight year, while the Crusaders will begin the effort to take back their Lakes 8 crown after losing it to Manistee last season.
Orchard View has knocked off two playoff teams from a year ago to start the season. The Cardinals beat Spring Lake 22-17 and topped Kent City 28-6.
A powerful, balanced rushing attack has boosted OV thus far. Junior Brendan Hyatt tops the club with 184 yards rushing while Edmari Mitchell has 125 yards and a pair of touchdowns so far. Quarterback Owen Swanson is also active in the ground game, scoring two TDs in Week 1.
Last year, MCC started the season by beating Algonac and losing to Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. This year the Crusaders have started the same way. They’ll look to break the pattern this week by avoiding a second straight loss to OV.
The Crusaders had a strong rushing attack in Week 1, led by Carson St. Amour with 68 yards and Tommy Kartes with 49. Last week it was quarterback Max Price driving the offense with 159 passing yards, 54 rushing yards and two touchdown throws. St. Amour has scored touchdowns three different ways this year: rushing, receiving and on an interception return.
MCC is 20-3 all-time against Orchard View. The Crusaders have only lost two in a row to OV once before – the first two games between the teams in 1965 and 1966.
Oakridge (2-0) at Whitehall (1-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
This game will have a big impact on the West Michigan Conference race. The Eagles and Vikings are tied atop conference with Montague and Ravenna after one week of league play.
Oakridge last won the WMC in 2016, while Whitehall hasn’t hoisted the conference trophy since 1999. The Eagles come in 2-0 after a 29-17 win over Belding and a 77-0 blowout against Shelby.
A two-headed rushing attack of Leroy Quinn and Corey Vanderputte has powered Oakridge. Quinn has 143 yards and three touchdowns, while Vanderputte has 226 yards and five scores.
Whitehall dropped a heartbreaker to Parma Western in Week 1, falling 28-26, but bounced back with a resounding 60-0 win over Hart last week.
Viking quarterback Andrew Durbin has been impressive in his first two games as a starter, doing most of his damage on the ground. He’s ran for 354 yards and five touchdowns, while throwing for a sixth. Kayleb Venema has also been effective out of the backfield, rushing for 201 yards and four scores through two games.
Other area games
Big Rapids (0-2) at Fremont (0-2)
Jenison (0-2) at Fruitport (1-1)
Grand Haven (1-1) at Hudsonville (1-1)
Hart (1-1) at Mason County Central (0-2)
Ludington (2-0) at Manistee (2-0)
Montague (2-0) at North Muskegon (1-1)
Muskegon Heights (1-1) at Northpointe Christian (2-0)
Shelby (0-2) at Ravenna (1-1)
Spring Lake (1-1) at Sparta (2-0)