Buczek: TC Central, West Set for Historic Playoff Meeting

TRAVERSE CITY – One of the most anticipated first-round matchups in the 2016 MHSAA high school football postseason is the first-ever playoff meeting between rivals Traverse City Central and Traverse City West.

A rematch of Week 3’s Patriot Game, which ninth-ranked Central (8-1) won, 10-8, West (6-3) is looking to snap its losing skid to the Trojans, having lost three straight in the series by a touchdown or less.

With a dominating 49-6 win over Cadillac last Friday, the Trojans wrapped up their second straight undefeated Big North Conference season and narrowly missed out on completing a second consecutive unbeaten season, falling 20-17 in three overtimes to No. 10 Birmingham Brother Rice the week prior.

Both programs challenged themselves this season with strong non-conference schedules. In addition to facing Brother Rice, Central recorded wins over No. 4 Portage Central (38-22), Bay City Western (41-0) and Marquette (45-20), while West beat Midland (42-14) and Grand Haven (38-17) and dropped contests to Division 4 No. 3 Benton Harbor (21-16) and Coldwater (31-14).

A win by West on Friday would be just the second playoff win in program history, while Central is seeking its first postseason victory since 2012.

The winner will face either Greenville (5-4) or No. 1 Lowell (9-0) in next week’s district final.

Unblemished records

Traverse City St. Francis and Reed City recorded their second straight undefeated regular seasons. For the Coyotes, they also won their sixth consecutive Central State Activities Association championship, while St. Francis captured its second Northern Michigan Football League Legends title in as many years.

Also joining in on the unbeaten party are Frankfort, which wrapped up its first unbeaten regular season since 2004, and Engadine, which finished 9-0 for the first time in program history.

In on points

Thirty-eight 5-4 teams made the postseason, including eight locally.

Hillman (Division 8), Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart (Division 8), Vestaburg (Division 8), Harbor Springs (Division 7), Hesperia (Division 7), Whittemore-Prescott (Division 7), Houghton Lake (Division 6) and Harrison (Division 6) all heard their names called Sunday.

Trekking across the “Mighty Mac”

Seven local Lower Peninsula programs will make the trip across the Mackinac Bridge this week.

Forest Area (Pickford), Hillman (St. Ignace), Gaylord St. Mary (Newberry), Charlevoix (Negaunee), Boyne City (Calumet), Kalkaska (Menominee) and Grayling (Kingsford) will all open postseason play in the Upper Peninsula.

Welcome back

Four area high school programs are making returns to the postseason after lengthy layoffs.

Fresh off beating Gladwin for the first time in its last 30 meetings, Beaverton is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2000. Forest Area made the move down to 8-man this season was rewarded with its first playoff bid since 2008. Gaylord St. Mary (2008) and Houghton Lake (2009) also make returns to the playoffs.  

What to watch in Week 10

D5 No. 10 Clare (8-1) at Chippewa Hills (8-1) – This Division 5 pre-district marks the first meeting between the old North Central “B” Conference foes since 1978. Chippewa Hills won the last meeting, 20-0, and leads the all-time series at 6-4.

Cedarville (6-3) at 8P No. 3 Engadine (9-0) – A rematch from Engadine’s 52-42 win in Week 7, Cedarville has dropped three in a row, while Engadine completed its first unbeaten regular season en route to claiming a conference championship outright. These two last met in the postseason in 2013, with Engadine winning, 28-26.

Houghton Lake (5-4) at D 6 No. 8 Roscommon (8-1) – This rivalry is renewed again in a Division 6 pre-district. Roscommon rallied and held off a late rally by Houghton Lake for a 36-34 win in Week 5.

Categories: Football