Buczek: Shepherd Completing Turnaround Season

Behind a veteran senior class, the Shepherd football program is putting together one of the best turnaround efforts in northern Michigan this fall.

The team that once dominated the old Central State Activities Association from the 1980s until the early 2000s, had fallen on hard times over the last decade, going a combined 7-47 from 2010-2015.

The Bluejays currently sit at 5-3, assuring themselves of their first winning season since recording consecutive winning marks in 2008 and 2009, and now prepares to face rival and perennial power Ithaca (8-0). Shepherd has dropped seven straight in the series, with its last win coming in 2008 (27-16).

A five-win season for the first time since 2009 is a far cry from registering 23 winning seasons and 16 playoff berths from 1982-2005, but it’s a positive sign for a tradition-rich program.

Chasing perfection

As the regular season concludes this week, four local programs can complete undefeated seasons.

With wins over Boyne City (6-2) and McBain (4-4), respectively, Traverse City St. Francis and Reed City can each record their second consecutive undefeated regular seasons. Frankfort can also secure an undefeated mark with a victory over Onekama (6-2), while a win over Posen (4-4) will give Engadine its first-ever undefeated season.

One final shot

Eleven northern Michigan football programs can secure automatic postseason berths with a sixth win this week.

(Last playoff appearance)

Morley Stanwood (2015), Lakeview (2014), Evart (2013), Harrison (2015), Houghton Lake (2009), Beaverton (2000), Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart (2015), Vestaburg (2015), Whittemore-Prescott (2015), Grayling (2015) and Shepherd (2005).

Bragging rights

Battle For Butch: Gladwin (1-7, 1-5) at Beaverton (5-3, 3-3) – This rivalry has been dominated by the Flying G’s, with Gladwin winning 29 straight.

M88 Trophy: Mancelona (1-7) at Central Lake (2-6) – Mancelona has won five of the last six meetings, with Central Lake ending its losing streak via a 34-0 win last year.

What to watch in Week 9

8P No. 4 Crystal Falls Forest Park (7-1) vs. Cedarville (6-2) at Engadine: This marks the first meeting between the two schools. Forest Park has been on a roll since losing to defending state champion Powers North Central (60-42) in Week 2, while Cedarville has dropped two straight and needs a win to enter the postseason with some momentum.

D8 No. 8 Newberry (7-1) at D8 No. 2 St. Ignace (7-1): This game serves as a postseason primer, as both programs are likely to meet in district play. The Saints have won the last two meetings, including a 50-20 contest last year.

D8 No. 6 Frankfort (8-0, 4-0) at Onekama (6-2, 2-2): The Panthers can secure their first undefeated regular season since 2004 with a win. These teams split a pair of meetings a year ago, with Frankfort pulling off a 28-21 win in a Division 8 district final.

Volleyball rankings

With one week remaining prior to the start of district play, 10 area schools are ranked in the latest Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association polls.

Cadillac and Grant remain steady in Class B at seventh and 10th, respectively, while Traverse City St. Francis (fourth) and McBain (ninth) round out the Class C poll.

Six teams are ranked in Class D, with Leland (third), Onaway (fifth), DeTour (sixth), Forest Area (10th), Engadine (honorable mention) and Suttons Bay (honorable mention).

Categories: Football, Volleyball