Buczek: Let the Games Begin
The 2018 high school football season kicks off this week, with the first games for many teams taking place Thursday and Friday.
From postseason rematches to the annual clash between Clare and Beal City, 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. 23
New Lothrop (10-1 in 2017) at Glen Lake (7-3) – The Lakers are coming off their third straight playoff appearance and sixth since 2010. New Lothrop last missed the postseason in 1999 and hasn’t had a losing season since 1998. The Hornets won the 2006 Division 8 state title. This marks the first meeting between the two.
Midland (8-2 in 2017) at Traverse City West (9-2) – This marks the sixth straight season these two teams have opened against one another. The Titans have won the last two meetings in dominant fashion (42-20 in 2017, 42-14 in 2016) and lead the all-time series at 3-2. The two have combined for seven playoff appearances since first meeting in 2013.
Engadine (8-3 in 2017) at Powers North Central (7-3) – The Jets won the last meeting between the two in 2015, 68-16. Engadine reached a regional final for the second straight season a year ago, falling 62-20 to eventual state champion Crystal Falls Forest Park. This is a crossover meeting in the new Great Lakes 8 Conference. Powers North Central leads the all-time series at 12-2.
Friday, Aug. 24
Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart (6-4 in 2017) at Hillman (6-5) – Both schools make the move to 8-player and will meet for the first time this season. Hillman has reached the postseason each of the last 12 seasons while Sacred Heart has made 10 consecutive playoff appearances and 13 in the last 14 years.
Montague (11-1 in 2017) at Reed City (11-2) – Reed City is coming off its best season in program history, having made its first state semifinal appearance. The Coyotes have made the playoffs eight straight years while Montague has 16 appearances in the last 17 years. Montague won last year’s meeting 48-14 and leads the all-time series at 9-0.
Clare (9-2 in 2017) at Beal City (4-5) – Clare has won the last two meetings in the series, 41-0 in 2017 and 42-20 in 2016. The Aggies lead the all-time series at 7-6 and last won in 2015, 43-36. This marks the first time Beal City has not opened the season against longtime rival Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart, which moved to 8-player, since 2007.
Stephenson (9-3 in 2017) at Cedarville (8-3) – A rematch of last year’s regional final that saw Stephenson come out with a 30-24 victory. The Trojans have made 14 consecutive playoff appearances and are 0-3 all-time against the Eagles. Both schools joined the newly-formed Great Lakes Eight Conference this fall.
Mt. Pleasant (5-4 in 2017) at Petoskey (3-6) – These two teams last met in a Division 3 district final in 2015, with the Oilers coming out on top 16-13. Neither team has made the postseason since as Mt. Pleasant has recorded back-to-back 5-4 seasons. The Oilers lead the all-time series at 2-1.