Buczek: Rivalries, Milestones Highlight Week 1
The 2017 high school football season kicks off this week, with the first games for many teams taking place Thursday and Friday.
From the Backyard Brawl between Beal City and Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart to Traverse City St. Francis potentially earning its 500th win in program history, the opening week in northern Michigan is full of intriguing matchups.
Below is a breakdown of some of the top area games this week.
Thursday, Aug. 24
Roscommon (9-2 in 2016) at Grayling (7-4) – Roscommon won last year’s meeting, 20-14, for its first victory in the series since 2002. The Bucks are coming off their best season 2006, when they went 10-2, while the Vikings have made 11 postseason appearances since 2003, with only one losing record in that stretch.
Big Rapids (3-6) in 2016) at Cadillac (6-4) – This marks the fourth meeting between the two since 2014, with Cadillac winning two of the previous three meetings, including a 40-6 triumph in 2016. The Vikings made the playoffs for the seventh time since 2009 last year, while Big Rapids dropped its final three games last fall to finish 3-6. Cadillac is 30-22 against Big Rapids since 1950.
Clare (8-2 in 2016) at Ithaca (11-1) – The Pioneers almost pulled off the upset last year, falling late, 31-28. This is the fourth straight season the two teams have met, with Ithaca winning the previous three matchups. Clare returned to the playoffs last fall after a one-year absence, but will need to replace all-state quarterback Travis Vida.
Friday, Aug. 25
Beal City (7-4 in 2016) at Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart (5-5) – The Backyard Brawl, these two teams have opened their seasons against one another every year since 2008. The Aggies have made the postseason in 17 consecutive seasons and have not lost to the Irish since a Division 8 district final in 2010. Sacred Heart hasn’t had a losing season since 2004, but the rivalry is in jeopardy, as all signs point towards the Irish moving to 8-player in 2018.
Pine River (9-4 in 2016) at Kalkaska (6-4) – Both teams are coming off historic seasons, with Pine River winning the Highland Conference and advancing to the state semifinals for the first time in program history, while Kalkaska started 2016 at 5-0 and made the playoffs for the fourth time. The Blazers won last year’s meeting, 21-18.
Marquette (1-8 in 2016) at Traverse City St. Francis (11-1) – This marks the third and final season that Traverse City St. Francis will open its year against Class A Marquette. The Gladiators have won decisively each of the last two years, winning 42-0 and 40-14, respectively. A win Friday will be No. 500 in varsity program history for St. Francis, which has gone 23-2 in the last two seasons.