4 Lansing-Area Storylines To Watch Ahead of the MHSAA Football Regional Final Round
Week 12 of the MHSAA season is just around the corner and for seven Lansing-area 11-man football programs it's the regional final round and that means a trophy and a berth to the state semifinals is on the line.
For one 8-man school in the area (Portland St. Patrick's) this weekend is the state semifinals which means a trip to the Superior Dome is on the line for them.
Ahead of all the excitement for all of our local teams, here are the storylines we will be keeping our eye on as the action unfolds Friday and Saturday.
Whether you believe in home-field advantage being a significant factor in sports or not, it doesn't change the fact that six area schools are travelling all across the state to try and advance their football seasons one more week. For any road teams that advance out of this round they should see this weekend's games as good practice for another potentially long trip based on where their neutral site semifinal games could be held.
Every area team not based out of Portland still alive in the playoffs will have to travel this weekend, and between those six schools over 900 miles will be logged just to get to the games, be it on Friday or Saturday.
To put that another way, the mileage Lansing-Area teams will be travelling roundtrip this weekend is the same distance from Lansing to Calgary. Yes that Calgary in Canada.
Williamston has the most travelling to do, with a nearly 400 mile trek to the U.P to play the Escanaba Eskymos, and on Friday night. Coach Kersten plans on making the trip an all-day, and literally all-night, event with a trip home right after the game. Meaning it's possible Williamston arrives home as the sun comes up on Saturday morning.
The area teams left have seen a lot of success in recent years. In fact only one team left among the eight from the Lansing-Area has not been to the semifinals in the 2010's. That would be East Lansing who's last semifinal appearance was in 2007.
For some schools like Pewamo-Westphalia (Division 7 champions last year) or Ithaca (Ford Field runs every year from 2010-2015) trips to the semifinals are borderline expected. Still, advancing this far into the tournament and beyond is worth some recognition.
The seven 11-man teams that are left and their last semifinal run.
DeWitt, seeking first semifinal appearance since 2013 (lost in the division 3 final that year).
East Lansing, seeking first semifinal appearance since 2007 (lost in the semifinal round that year)
Ithaca, seeking first semifinal appearance since 2015 (won the division 6 state championship that year)
Pewamo-Westphalia, seeking their fourth straight semifinal appearance (current state title holders in division 7)
Portland, seeking first semifinal appearance since 2012 (won the state title in division 5)
Sexton, seeking first semifinal appearance since 2014 (lost in the division 4 final that year)
Williamston, seeking first semifinal appearance since 2010 (lost in the division 4 final that year)
Four area teams will be facing opponents they have never faced before in their respective program histories.
All stats accurate up to 1950 per michigan-football.com
Williamston will play Escanaba for the first time ever this Friday.
DeWitt will play Muskegon for the first time ever on Saturday, which is our game of the week on WVFN.
East Lansing will play Battle Creek Harper Creek for the first time ever on Friday.
Pewamo-Westphalia will play Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker for the first time ever on Saturday.
On the other side of the coin, a rivalry gets a new chapter as Portland plays Grand Rapids West Catholic for the fourth time in the last six years.
All eight Lansing-area teams are playing non-area opponents, meaning it is possible the Lansing-area gets eliminated from all regions. While that would take an 0-8 mark for our team across the board and is unlikely, it is still possible.
Conversely, if DeWitt and East Lansing advance with road wins, they would meet in the semifinal round and a trip to Ford Field would be on the line between 2 CAAC foes.
And as if it gets any better than that, in division 4 Williamston and Sexton are both still alive and should they win out, would meet at Ford Field for a state championship.
There's still a lot to be decided on the football field before either of those scenarios possibly present themselves. But it goes to show the greatness that Lansing-area teams are showing off this postseason.
As previously mentioned, it could all be over for the Lansing-area after this weekend in the football playoffs, or the Lansing-area could have the most representatives in the state semifinals and finals its had in a long time. Either way you'll want to stay tuned with us all weekend to see who goes on, and who goes home.