By Mitchell Boatman

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your champion speaking. No, I’m not talking about being the Week 6 LSJ Gridiron Picks winner. I was, but that’s not the point.

Following a season full of sparkling records week in and week out, I have been crowned the regular season champion in the LSJ Gridiron Picks competition.

My Week 6 picks earned me an 11-1 record, with the lone miss being Orchard View’s upset of Kent City, a game that we all picked incorrectly. I picked up my third win of the season in just six weeks, and I tied for first place two other times. 

I finished the regular season 72-12, four games better than second place finisher Nate Thompson at 68-16. Steve Gunn and Jason Goorman finished tied for third at 65-19, while Dave Hart and Aaron Poling tied for fifth with 64-20 records.

Then there’s Andrew Johnson, a distant seventh place at 62-22. 

Despite the woeful regular season, there are still championship hopes for Andrew. That’s because for the first time ever, we’re continuing our picks into the playoffs.

Six weeks of earning bragging rights and poking fun at each other just wasn’t enough for us, so we decided it’s time to try out a playoff format of our own. Much like the MHSAA this year, we’re letting everyone in, even Andrew.

Each week, we’ll pick the playoff games involving our local teams, and whichever of us has the worst record will be eliminated from the competition, until we have a last man standing after the state finals.

With the nature of the playoffs, there will be fewer games each week as we advance, so we may rope in some out-of-area college and professional games to keep things interesting.

We’ll still have our tiebreaker of total points each week, but it will be used to not only break ties for first place, but also to eliminate someone. If there’s a tie for last place, the guy who is farthest from guessing the total points in the tie-breaker game will be done for the season.

As a reward for my crystal ball-esque skills in the regular season, I have been given immunity for the first round of our playoffs. That means if I somehow finish in last place this week, I’ll get a pass and the second worst picker of the week will get the axe in my place. 

Before I get to my picks, I’d like to commend all of our area players and coaches for rising to the challenge of this unusual season. No matter how many games they won or lost, each answered the call of adapting to new health mandates and made sure they were able to take the field.

There were cancelations every week around the state due to COVID-19 protocols, many of which affected our local teams, but none of which originated from our area schools. 

In the first week of the playoffs, I expect perennial powers Mona Shores, Muskegon, Muskegon Catholic and Montague to roll to easy wins. I’ll also take Whitehall and Spring Lake to win in battles of area teams. 

I think Ravenna will have its hands full with Morley Stanwood, but give me the Bulldogs to advance, and I’ll look to Kent City to pull an upset at Clare.

Check out our first ever week of playoff picks below – click twice on the grid to see it full size – then come back to Friday night and Saturday to see results for our area teams.

LAST WEEK’S RESULTS – Mitch Boatman 11-1, Andrew Johnson 10-2, Aaron Poling 10-2, Nate Thompson 9-3, Dave Hart 9-3, Steve Gunn 8-4, Jason Goorman 8-4.

FINAL REGULAR SEASON STANDINGS – Boatman 72-12, Thompson 68-16,  Gunn 65-19, Goorman 65-19, Hart 64-20, Poling 64-20, Johnson 62-22.