Buczek: Conference Titles, Playoff Bids up for Grabs in Week 8

With its postseason ticket punched in Week 6, Frankfort looks to improve to 8-0 for the first time since 2004 this week, when it travels to conference foe Charlevoix on Friday.

Our “Overtime on the Road” matchup, the Panthers (7-0, 3-0), ranked fifth in Division 8, can clinch at least a share of their second straight Northern Michigan Football League Leaders division title with a win over the Rayders (5-2, 2-1).

Set to meet for just the third time, Frankfort won last year’s contest, 20-0, en route to winning its first district championship since 2009. The Panthers rallied to beat Glen Lake, 26-21 in Week 6, and appear primed for a lengthy postseason run.

Charlevoix has responded nicely since its 49-7 loss in Week 5 to current Division 7 No. 8 Glen Lake, grinding out wins over East Jordan (21-0) and Onekama (16-9), to clinch its third consecutive winning season and second playoff berth in three years.

Conference title watch

In addition to Frankfort, Clare has the opportunity to secure a share of its ninth Jack Pine Conference title since 2007 with a win over Beaverton on Friday. Clare and Frankfort would join Morley Stanwood, St. Ignace, Engadine and Pine River, who have all clinched at least shares of league championships.

Pack your bags

Nine more local teams joined in and packed their bags for the MHSAA playoffs.

Chippewa Hills, Gaylord St. Mary, Clare, Pine River, Ludington, Newbery, Charlevoix, St. Ignace and Kalkaska all qualified for the postseason with wins last week.

Postseason bids up for grabs

Ten area teams can secure playoff berths with wins this week (last appearance): Cadillac (2014), Traverse City West (2014), Grant (2012), Morley Stanwood (2015), Beal City (2015), Beaverton (2000), Vestaburg (2015), Onekama (2015), Glen Lake (2015) and Boyne City (2015).

What to watch in Week 8

Forest Area (6-1, 5-0) at Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (7-0, 5-0) – The winner of this one claim’s the inaugural Midwest Central Michigan 8 Player Football Conference championship outright. Tri-unity Christian won last year’s 11-man meeting, 54-40.

D8 No. 2 St. Ignace (6-1) at Ishpeming (3-3) – Don’t let Ishpeming’s record fool you. Although the Hematites have lost more games this season than the previous four seasons combined, there’s a reason Ishpeming has made the Division 7 state title game each of the last four years. The Hematites won last year’s meeting, 20-14.

D 2 No. 6 Traverse City Central (7-0) at Birmingham Brother Rice (4-3) – This could be a signature win for Central’s program. Brother Rice has nine state titles to its credit and rebounded nicely from its first losing campaign since 1985. This marks the first meeting between the schools.

Winding down on the pitch

With districts beginning next week, the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association rankings were released earlier this week, with eight local programs making the cut.

Traverse City West moved up to 15th in Division 1, while Ludington rounds out the Division 2 poll in 20th. Gladwin (11th), Charlevoix (12th), Elk Rapids (19th) and Big Rapids (20th) find themselves ranked in Division 3, while Leland (ninth) and Harbor Springs (15th) are placed in Division 4.

MIVCA rankings

Ten northern Michigan volleyball programs are ranked in the latest Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association polls.

Cadillac and Grant remain ranked at fifth and 10th, respectively, in Class B, while Traverse City St. Francis checks in at fourth and McBain 10th in Class C.

Class D remains the most populated by local teams, with Leland (third), Onaway (sixth), DeTour (seventh), Suttons Bay (ninth), Engadine (honorable mention) and Forest Area (honorable mention).

Categories: Boys Soccer, Football, Volleyball