By Ron Rop

MUSKEGON–The summer is winding down and that can mean just one thing – high school football is on the horizon.

Area teams have been through conditioning, two-a-days, hitting and practicing their offensive and defensive schemes they hope will lead them into a successful season in 2022.

Optimism is high throughout the area as teams hope to equal or improve on their 2021 results.

Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield echoed the thoughts of nearly every coach in the area.

We like the energy, the competitive spirit and the passion,” Fairfield said in a preseason interview.

That energy will be unleashed beginning on Thursday night with eight games involving local teams.

Highlighting opening night will be Grand Haven at Reeths-Puffer and Montague at Spring Lake. Reeths-Puffer comes in with new coach Cody Kater and Spring Lake welcomes in new coach Cody Mallory.

On Friday, the remaining local teams take the field with a handful of interesting games on the slate.

The first eye catcher will be played at Muskegon’s Hackley Stadium with North Muskegon taking on Muskegon Catholic at 4 p.m. The Big Reds will tangle with East Kentwood in the 7 p.m. nightcap.

We are kind of showcasing Hackley Stadium and the history of what is going on here,” Fairfield said.

Friday also features the “Battle of the Badger” with visiting Manitowoc Lincoln (Wisc.) traveling to Mona Shores to christen the new field turf at Sailor Stadium. The game will include a celebration of the 60th season of Sailor football.

We’ve invited the surviving members of that first Shores’ team to be our guests of honor,” Sailor coach Matt Koziak said. 

Another marquee game features Division 8 state finalist Beal City traveling to Ravenna to take on the Bulldogs.

Thursday (All games at 7 p.m.)

Grant at Comstock Park   

Fruitport at Kenowa Hills 

Grand Haven at Reeths-Puffer 

Kent City at Newaygo 

Ludington at Petoskey 

Montague at  Spring Lake 

Sparta at Oakridge 

Orchard View at Reed City 

Whitehall at Hudsonville Unity Christian           

Friday (All games at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted)

Fremont at Hart 

Manton at Hesperia 

Holton at Manistee 

Frankfort at Mason County Central 

East Kentwood at Muskegon 

Muskegon Catholic Central at North Muskegon, (Game being played at Hackley Stadium) 4 p.m.

Wyoming Godwin Heights at Muskegon Heights Academy 

Manitowoc Lincoln (WI) at Mona Shores 

Beal City at Ravenna 

White Cloud at Shelby