Local Teams Playing For Finals Berth; Lansing Catholic Game Moved
Lansing Sexton V Detroit Country Day (1:00PM) and Lansing Catholic V Almont (4:30PM) can both be heard live on The Game 730-AM WVFN
Two Lansing schools and two other Mid-Michigan schools are still alive in the MHSAA Football Playoffs. The teams will vie for a Semifinal win and Finals berth at Ford Field over Thanksgiving weekend.
There was breaking news today regarding Lansing Catholic's (12-0) Division 5 Semifinal match-up with Almont (12-0). The game, originally scheduled for a 1:00PM kickoff at Ortonville-Brandon High School, has been moved to Brighton High School with a 4:30PM kickoff. The Cougars are looking to make their second trip to the Finals in four years, led by junior quarterback Tony Poljan. Poljan is Catholic's leading rusher, passer, and second leading tackler on defense. (65% completion rate for 2,406 yards 31 TD; 871 rushing yards and 20 TD, 81 total tackles) While he grabs most of the attention, there is certainly plenty of skill all around him, starting up front with a stout offensive line. Flanker/wingback Tony Palmer is Poljan's favorite target on offense and the team's second leading rusher. (40 catches, 753 yards, 7 TD; 814 yards rushing, 14 TD) Wide receiver/defensive back Zac Baker gives another weapon to both the Cougar offense and defense, where he leads the team with 12 interceptions on the season. Linebacker Moses Kone is the team's leading tackler on defense with 88 on the year. Their opponent, the Almont Raiders, are just as hungry for a Finals berth. Also 12-0 on the season, Almont has lost a total of 8 games in four years, but haven't gotten any farther than the Semifinal round in the playoffs.. They were defeated that year in the semis by the same team that beat Catholic in their last Finals appearance, Flint Powers, in 2011.
Lansing Sexton (12-0) is making their second consecutive Semifinals appearance in Division 4, facing Detroit Country Day Saturday at 1:00PM at Fenton High School. This year they look to senior running back Ja'Von Wray to help lead them to Ford Field. Wray, the team's leading rusher (1,430 yards, 18 TD) will be welcomed back after missing the last week's Regional Final with an ankle injury. His backfield mate, Avonte Bell (Western Michigan commit) not only helps power a very tough Big Reds defense, but has compiled more than 1,000 yards in his own rights, offensively. (1,138 yards, 14 TD) Quarterback/defensive back Malik Mack is the team's pacemaker, if you will. Adual-threat to run and throw, Mack has completed 54 percent of his passes on the season, and has tossed 18 touchdown passes. His favorite target is senior wide receiver Rayshawn Wilborn (Central Michigan commit) who has 33 receptions for 747 yards and 11 touchdowns. While these numbers are impressive, they wouldn't be possible without an outstanding offensive line lead by Shain Shannon, Isaiah Brown, Marshaun Blake, and others. The same gang is also responsible for anchoring the defensive line. The Big Reds have nine players that play both ways on a defense that has yielded only 11 points per game to their opponents. Country Day (8-4) may be the most battle tested team in the state. The Yellowjackets' four regular season losses are all to playoff teams, three of which are undefeated and still alive this weekend: Zeeland West (defending Division 3 champs), Muskegon Catholic Central (defending Division 8 champs), and Detroit Loyola, who plays Pewamo-Westphalia (10-2) in a Division 7 Semifinal Saturday afternoon at Jackson High School with an 11:00AM kickoff.
In Division 7, the P-W Pirates are led by the area's leading rusher in Jared Smith. Just a sophomore, Smith has racked up over 2,000 yards rushing on the season (2,033 yards) and has tallied up 27 touchdowns on the season. The Pirates will likely need another great scoring day from Smith as Detroit Loyola comes into the weekend fresh off of a 60-26 throttling of perennial power New Lothrop in the Regional Final. The Loyola Bulldogs, looking for their third straight Finals appearance, are 38-2 in the past three seasons, with both losses coming in the Championship Game to Ishpeming.
The Ithaca Yellowjackets (12-0) also remain alive, playing in a Division 6 Semifinal against Boyne City (12-0) in Midland Saturday, with a 2:00PM kickoff. The Yellowjackets are in the midst of the nation's longest winning streak in high school football. They have won 68 straight games, including the last four Division 6 Championships. This team has been talked about quite a bit the last few seasons, and not only has its sights set on a fifth straight MHSAA title, but the all-time state record for consecutive wins of 72 set by Hudson High School in the 1970's. That streak was in serious jeopardy a week ago in the Regional Finals. Ithaca had to rally late in the fourth quarter against Madison Heights Madison. The Yellowjackets found themselves down 27-19 at the end of the third quarter, but rallied for a 41-27 victory.
Best of luck to all of our area teams still alive for a championship. Don't forget, The Game 730-AM WVFN will have play-by-play coverage of the Sexton/Country Day game at 1:00PM, and Catholic/Almont at 4:30PM. Listen live on-air; or stream it online at thegame730am.com and on the free RadioPup app available for iPhone, iPad, or Android devices.