Top 12 Northern Michigan High School Football Games of 2019

As another high school football season kicks off across the state on Thursday, MISportsNow is taking a look at the top 12 area games entering the 2019 season.

Week 1
Thursday, Aug. 29
DeWitt at Traverse City Central – 7 p.m.

Traverse City Central looks to open its 2019 campaign with a statement win. DeWitt has long been a state powerhouse, reaching the state finals five times and the semifinals on 12 occasions, including last year’s Division 3 semifinals. Central’s four-game non-conference schedule features three 2018 playoff teams. This marks the first meeting between the two schools.

Thursday, Aug. 29
New Lothrop at Lake City – 7 p.m.

A rematch of last year’s Division 7 state semifinals, Lake City puts its two-year regular-season unbeaten streak on the line against one of the state’s premier programs. The Trojans have recorded consecutive 12-win campaigns, but face a defending state champion that hasn’t suffered a losing season since 1998. New Lothrop won last year’s inaugural meeting 51-22.

Thursday, Aug. 29
Breckenridge at Beaverton – 7 p.m.

Both teams enter this Week 1 matchup coming off historic seasons. Beaverton won a share of its first Jack Pine Conference championship since 1989 and recorded its first playoff victory in school history while Breckenridge continued its strong three-year run by going undefeated in the regular season and reaching the Division 8 state finals for the first time. These two have split the previous four meetings, with Breckenridge squeaking out a 20-19 win a year ago.
Friday, Aug. 30
Crystal Falls Forest Park at Pickford – 7 p.m.
A good early-season test for the defending Division 1 8-player state runners-up as Pickford looks to push its regular-season game win streak to 25. The Panthers secured a 38-20 win over the Trojans in Week 3 last fall in what proved to be their closest game in the regular season. These two have split their only two previous meetings, with Forest Park coming away with a 36-34 win in the Division 2 8-player state semifinals in 2017.

Friday, Aug. 30
Reed City at Montague – 7 p.m.

These two are opening their respective seasons against each other for a third straight year. Reed City has reached the regional round the last three years and will take on a Montague squad that fell to Jackson Lumen Christi in last year’s Division 6 state championship game. The Coyotes won last year’s meeting, 34-13, but must replace the most successful class in program history and will do so under first-year head coach Scott Shankel.

Week 2
Friday, Sept. 6
Escanaba at Petoskey – 7 p.m.

This marks the fifth straight year these two will square off in Week 2. Escanaba leads the all-time series at 3-1, but three of those four meetings have been settled by nine points or less, including a 15-14 victory for the Eskymos last fall. Escanaba has won three consecutive Division 4 district championships and serves as the second playoff opponent Petoskey will meet in the opening weeks, with the Northmen facing Mt. Pleasant in Week 1.
Saturday, Sept. 7
Glen Lake at Traverse City St. Francis – 1 p.m.
Traverse City St. Francis has dominated the all-time series, leading 13-4, but this is always a highly-anticipated non-conference matchup in northern Michigan. The Gladiators graduate a large and successful senior class while the Lakers return a young but experienced roster. These two programs have combined to post state semifinals appearances every year since 2016. St. Francis won last year’s meeting 50-12.

Week 3
Friday, Sept. 13
Ludington at Manistee – 7 p.m.

Both teams had outstanding seasons in 2018, with Manistee going undefeated in the regular season en route to a Lakes 8 Conference championship. This marks the 142nd meeting in a series that dates back to 1895. The Orioles hold a 68-62-11 record all-time against the Chippewas as the series is tied with the Negaunee-Marquette series for the second most games played in a regular-season series. Manistee has won the last two meetings for the Dad’s Trophy.

Week 4
Friday, Sept. 20
Traverse City Central at Traverse City West (at Thirlby Field) – 7 p.m.
One of the biggest rivalries in northern Michigan meets again in the annual TC Patriot Game. The last meeting between these two that was settled by more than a touchdown was Central’s 42-28 win back in 2012. West leads the all-time series at 14-10 and has won the last two regular-season meetings with Central picking up playoff wins in 2016 and 2017.

Friday, Sept. 20
Roscommon at Houghton Lake – 7 p.m.
While this game no longer pits brother against brother in coaches Steve Clements, who departed Roscommon, and Houghton Lake’s Joe Holloway, this series has long been a great rivalry. Both teams left the Jack Pine Conference for the Highland Conference this season and both will figure into the Highland title race. Roscommon is coming off its first 10-win season since 2006 and holds a slim 36-35-1 edge in the series since 1950. The Bucks won last year’s meeting 36-6.

Week 7
Friday, Oct. 11
Harbor Springs at Johannesburg-Lewiston – 7 p.m.
Johannesburg-Lewiston claimed a share of the Northern Michigan Football League Legacy title and later an outright title thanks to a win in this series last fall. With Gaylord St. Mary and Newberry dropping down to the 8-player level, these two appear to be the favorites in the now-five team league. This marks the final conference game for Harbor Springs, which is coming off its first seven-win season since 1999, while Johannesburg-Lewiston closes out its conference schedule with Inland Lakes on Oct. 25.
Week 8
Friday, Oct. 18
Onekama at Suttons Bay – 7 p.m.
The final league contest for both teams, this will likely decide the Midwest Central Michigan 8 Player Football Conference West championship. Suttons Bay is coming off its first nine-win season since 2014 while Onekama reached the state finals for the first time a year ago. The Norsemen pulled off a 13-8 victory last fall. The Portagers lead the all-time series at 19-12.

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