By Mitchell Boatman
Believe it or not, we are already one-third of the way through the high school football regular season
As area teams start to get into the meat of their schedules, we will see which strong starters are legitimate playoff contenders, which slow starters can right the ship, and which teams will challenge for conference crowns.
LocalSportsJournal.com will have live coverage of area teams in each of those categories on Friday night.
Our featured Week 4 games are Rockford at Mona Shores in a battle of unbeatens, Ravenna visiting Whitehall in a major West Michigan Conference clash, and Reeths-Puffer traveling to Jenison looking to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Check LocalSp0rtsJournal.com on Friday night to keep up-to-date on these games and all others in the area.
Rockford (3-0) at Mona Shores (3-0), Friday 7 p.m.
This heavyweight battle is one of the premier games across the state this week. The Sailors come in ranked No. 1 in Division 2. The Rams are currently No. 3 in Division 1. Both are among the favorites to contend for state titles in their divisions, which means this is a “can’t miss” game.
The Sailors are coming off a 33-13 win over Reeths-Puffer, in which they were boosted by the return of Caden Broersma. The senior quarterback rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns, while also tossing a TD pass. Tre Hatcher continued his electric performance in the backfield, rushing for 125 yards. He currently 575 yards and nine scores on just 54 attempts this season.
Cam Sobish leads the Mona Shores defense with 16 tackles, while Brady Rose has 14 stops and two interceptions.
Jaiden Friesen leads the Rockford offense with 356 rushing yards and four touchdowns this year. Ethan Nash has 164 yards and three touchdowns over the last two games and quarterback Chris Corey is 22-for-37 for 186 yards, three touchdowns and an interception this year.
The teams come in sporting similar numbers in terms of point differential. Mona Shores has outscored opponents 104-26, while Rockford has won its three games by a combined score of 96-27.
The former O-K Red rivals have played each other 23 times over the years. Rockford leads the series 16-7, but Mona Shores has won the last two matchups. The Sailors are 3-2 since the teams started playing again in 2014.
Ravenna (2-1) at Whitehall (1-2), Friday 7 p.m.
This one has huge implications for the West Michigan Conference title race. Ravenna is off to a 2-0 start in the conference, while Whitehall is already behind the eight-ball with a 1-1 league record. Neither team can afford a loss if it wants to keep up with Oakridge and Montague for a chance at the WMC crown.
The game is also key for each squad’s playoff hopes, even if it may seem early in the season for such talk. With a loss, the Vikings would be 1-3 and would need to win out to automatically qualify for the playoffs.
For the Bulldogs, a loss would put them at 2-2, but with both Montague and Oakridge still on the schedule – currently ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in Division 5, respectively – that’s not a great spot to be in.
Ravenna comes in following a 63-6 win over Shelby and is outscoring opponents 97-41 through three games. Connor Kilbourne leads the offense from the quarterback position. He’s thrown for 387 yards and four scores and is second on the team in rushing with 144 yards and three touchdowns.
Dalton Hogan is Ravenna’s leading rusher with 190 yards and two TDs. Josh Cox leads the receivers with 141 yards, despite missing a game.
Through three games, the Vikings have a plus-50 scoring differential, despite the 1-2 record. They’ve scored 95 points and allowed just 45.
Whitehall is led by the two-headed rushing attack of quarterback Andrew Durbin and running back Kayleb Venema. Durbin has rushed for 393 yards and five scores, while Venema has 328 yards and five touchdowns. Whitehall leads the all-time series 22-18, and has won in each of the past two seasons. Ravenna is currently ranked No. 11 in the state in Division 6.
Reeths-Puffer (1-2) at Jenison (1-2), Friday 7 p.m.
To say the Reeths-Puffer Rockets’ season is on the line on Friday night might be an overstatement. But it isn’t necessarily inaccurate.
The Rockets are 1-2 to start the season for the second straight campaign, and can’t afford another early season loss.
While the Rockets could theoretically still reach six wins after a 1-3 start, a Week 9 matchup with Muskegon, arguably the best team in the entire state, would make the road to the playoffs more difficult for Reeths-Puffer.
The Rockets have been up and down offensively to start 2019. They were shut out by Grand Haven, then scored 35 points in a victory against a good Grand Rapids South Christian team. Last week they managed only 13 points against Mona Shores.
Evan Moskwa will look to get the Rockets back on track this week. The senior QB has thrown for 517 yards and accounted for five touchdowns through three games. The Rockets have been outscored 78-48 overall.
Jenison comes in at a similar spot in regard to season outlook. The Wildcats are also 1-2 and have dates with Muskegon and Mona Shores left on their schedule, in Weeks 6 and 7.
These schools have played each other just six times, including each of the last three seasons. Jenison won the first matchup in 2003 before R-P won in both 2012 and 2013. The Wildcats have taken each of the last three meetings for a 4-2 all-time lead.
Other area games
Kenowa Hills (2-1) at Muskegon (3-0)
Fremont (0-3) at Central Montcalm (3-0)
Fruitport (1-2) at Grand Rapids Union (0-3)
Grandville (3-0) at Grand Haven (1-2)
Hart (1-2) at Montague (3-0)
Lakeview (0-3) at Kent City (2-1)
Muskegon Catholic Central (1-2) at Ludington (3-0)
Mason County Central (1-2) at Oakridge (3-0)
Muskegon Heights (1-2) at Manistee (2-1)
North Muskegon (1-2) at Shelby (0-3)
Orchard View (3-0) at Belding (1-2)
Spring Lake (1-2) at Coopersville (0-3)