5 Storylines About Lansing-Area High School Football Teams Heading Into the Playoffs
It's the most wonderful time of the year!
Yes, the high school football playoffs are finally upon us. And as always there are some very intriguing storylines waiting to develop.
We've been spoiled in recent years as multiple Lansing-area high school football teams have made deep postseason runs. Will we have another this year? Perhaps more than one?
Will Lansing Catholic avenge its narrow (and controversial) loss in the 2014 Division 5 state championship game? Will Portland have to make room for another piece of hardware next to its 2012 state title trophy? Will Grand Ledge scale the mountain for the first time since 2000?
These are just a few of the questions we're about to get answers to. In the meantime, here are five things I can see right away as we head into the 2015 MHSAA playoffs.
Portland scored the most impressive win of the season when the Red Raiders blew out Lansing Catholic on the road 28-6 in Week 4. The Cougars responded by winning their last five games by a combined score of 201-22.
Portland opens up the postseason with high-powered but defensively deficient Stockbridge at home, while Catholic welcomes fellow Red Raiders victim Ovid-Elsie (28-7 loss in Week 1) to town.
These two CAAC White Division rivals appear headed on a collision course for a district-deciding rematch. This time it'll be at Portland. And I doubt it'll be lopsided in either team's favor.
And that brings us to the next point...
Whether it's Portland, Lansing Catholic, Stockbridge or Ovid-Elsie, whoever emerges from Division 5 Region 2 District 1 will be facing some of the stiffest competition in this year's state playoffs.
Grand Rapids West Catholic is the defending Division 5 state champion. The Falcons edged Lansing Catholic a year ago for the title and are looking to win their third straight. They're also gunning to appear in their fifth state championship game in six seasons.
There's also perennial state power Menominee. The Maroons have made deep playoff runs each of the past six seasons.
Portland may be best equipped to weather the storm that is the Division 5 field as the Red Raiders' playoff points average is the highest in the bracket, meaning they would not have to play away from their home field until semifinal round when the MHSAA moves games to neutral sites.
It's an all CAAC Red affair in Division 3 Region 2 District 1. And that's bad news for everyone but DeWitt.
The Panthers have dominated their league since its inception in 2011, having never lost a conference game. And this year, they outscored Haslett, Mason and St. Johns by a combined score of 107-45.
DeWitt has beaten Haslett 13 consecutive times and St. Johns six straight. Mason, however, upset the Panthers in last year's district championship game.
Can the Vikings, Redwings or Bulldogs keep DeWitt from its fifth district title in seven seasons?
If DeWitt does march through its league-laden district, the Panthers are likely to face a big test in the regional round.
Orchard Lake St. Mary's is once again a force. The Eaglets are widely considered one of the most talented teams in the state. A season ago, they lost the Division 3 state title game to Muskegon by a 7-0 score.
DeWitt and Orchard Lake St. Mary's have faced off three times before--twice in late-round postseason situations. The Panthers are 0-3 vs. the Eaglets, with those two critical playoff losses coming recently in 2009 and 2010.
Congratulations on a perfect season, Grand Ledge! As a reward, you're placed in a region with four Ottawa-Kent Red Division teams! That's right, the same league that has ended your last eight postseasons!
It doesn't seem fair, but that's the way it goes in the MHSAA playoffs--especially in Division 1.
If the Comets get through the district like it appears they should, they'll face either Grandville, Rockford, East Kentwood or Hudsonville in the regionals. East Kentwood put Grand Ledge out last season in the pre-district round. And the Comets are 2-4 all-time versus Rockford, with all six meetings coming in the postseason. Plus, Rockford has ended Grand Ledge's seasons in 2011, 2008 and 2005.
The good news, though, is that the Comets will host any game they play until the semifinal round, when the MHSAA implements neutral sites.