The high school sports year for the 2017-18 calendar has concluded and it's now summer break.  And while the students aren't looking forward to the summer fun ending anytime soon, I decided it was time to take a look at the upcoming football season.  Obviously it's way too early to get a solid grip on what may happen (fall practices don't begin until August 6th).  But that wasn't going to stop me from making some interesting predictions.

Probably the biggest story line heading into the 2018 season is the re-alignment of the Capital Area Activities Conference.  Several schools have been shuffled around in the CAAC, going from one division to the other.  DeWitt and Waverly leave the Red and jump up to the Blue.  Eastern, Williamston and Fowlerville join the Red, after departing the Blue & White respectively.  Meanwhile, Sexton becomes the newest member of the White.  It's a lot of shuffling, and we lose some interesting rivalries in the process.  But the moves also allow for some old rivalries to be renewed and brand new rivalries to be started.

Here's my VERY EARLY predictions for the CAAC Blue:

  1. DeWitt Panthers
  2. Grand Ledge Comets
  3. Okemos Chiefs
  4. East Lansing Trojans
  5. Holt Rams
  6. Everett Vikings
  7. Waverly Warriors

After dominating the CAAC Red for years, the Panthers look for new challenges in the Blue.  DeWitt has several key players returning, and defeated Grand Ledge last season.  That gives them the extra advantage in their new surroundings.  And it's foolish to pick against coach Rob Zimmerman's teams.  The Comets are second in the division, mostly because they lose 3-year starting quarterback and coach's son Nolan Bird.  They'll need a new signal-caller to step up early and lead Grand Ledge to another conference title.  Okemos started 2017 hot, and were the talk of area gridiron fans.  But injuries and missteps (they had GL down on the road and couldn't finish them) caused the Chiefs to lose 4 of their last 5 games, and miss the playoffs again.  Head coach Jack Wallace has since retired, but I think Okemos might rebound from last year's disappointments.  East Lansing won their District in 2017 and nearly the Regional crown.  They finished 2nd in the Blue behind Grand Ledge and had a dominating defense.  But the offense, which was widely inconsistent, loses their QB and star wide receiver.  Still, the Trojans could be a sleeper in the Blue.  The Holt Rams have been flirting with playoff appearances for the past several years, coming up short each time.  2017 saw them fall back a bit further from that goal and 2018 may be more of the same.  Everett is the lone Lansing city school remaining in the CAAC Blue after the realignment.  It's been four seasons since the Vikings made a trip to the MHSAA football post season.  After finishing 1-8 last year, they'll need some major improvements to contend this year.  Possibly the most surprising school to change divisions is Waverly.  The Warriors haven't had a winning season since 2012 (also the last time they made the playoffs).  While their hoops squad has been very competitive in recent seasons, it's tough to see them making much noise on the gridiron this fall.

Some key players returning: Blake Gatfield, QB, DeWitt; David Locher, RB/LB, DeWitt; Kobe Hayward, RB/DB, East Lansing; Dominique Davidson, DL, Everett; Kavion Autry, RB/DB, Grand Ledge; Sean Curry, LB/DL, Holt; Mason Kaczmarek, QB/LB, Okemos; Brock Jordan, OL/DL, Okemos; Keshaun Harris, RB/DB, Waverly

 

Stay tuned for my CAAC Red way too early predictions.