4 Storylines to Watch During the First Week of MHSAA Football Playoffs
It's finally time for the football playoffs across the State of Michigan and in the pre-district round (or week 10) we have a lot of intriguing storylines to look at for our 20 Lansing-area teams, so let's just jump right in.
Of the 20 teams in the playoffs this year, 11 are hosting first round playoff games. This is a combination of a strong showing from teams at the top with strong records (DeWitt, GL, P-W for example) and the location of some teams that were able to secure at large bids (Like East Lansing hosting 5-4 Tecumseh).
When you take out the three area team vs area team games the ratio is actually a little more impressive. Of 14 teams not playing in those games, 8 are hosting playoff games against out of town opponents.
Regardless a majority of area teams hosting one would think bodes well for the Lansing area and possibly having a few teams go deep in their respective brackets.
The teams hosting in the first round, sorted by division are:
Lakewood (hosting Sexton)
Portland (hosting Ovid-Elsie)
Olivet (hosting Lansing Catholic)
Portland St. Patrick's
Going back as far as last year's playoffs the first round of games features some interesting rematches for area teams that will be sure to produce great games. After all, familiarity breeds contempt right?
Seven games featuring Lansing-area teams will be rematches of some nature from the last 365 days.
GR Christian at DeWitt (Week 1 2017 matchup, GR Christian won 38-30)
Williamston at Lake Fenton (Week 9 2017 matchup, Lake Fenton won 35-28)
Sexton at Lakewood (Week 11/District Round 2016 matchup, Lakewood won 36-28)
Ovid-Elsie at Portland (Week 1 2017 matchup, Portland won 26-17)
Laingsburg at Montrose (Week 10/Pre-District Round 2016 matchup, Montrose won 52-21)
Webberville at Bellevue (Week 1 2017 matchup, Bellevue won 40-6)
Kingston at Morrice (Week 7 2017 matchup, Kingston won 30-26)
While it is always fun to talk about the perennial powers of the area and how long their playoff streaks are, what is more notable this year is how many programs are returning to the postseason after some sort of absence.
Six teams are back in the postseason in 2017 after missing them for some extended period of time before.
Haslett, first playoff berth since 2015, seeking first playoff win since 2006.
Ovid-Elsie, first playoff berth since 2015, seeking first playoff win since 2009.
Saranac, first playoff berth and seeking first playoff win since 2011.
Maple Valley, first playoff berth since 2005, seeking first playoff win since 2004.
Fulton, first playoff berth since 2014, seeking first playoff win since 2010.
Morrice, first playoff berth and seeking first playoff win since 2015.
Additionally, Webberville is in the playoffs for the second straight year but is seeking its first ever playoff win.
If you look at the playoff points of each team and treat them as a sort of metric on strength or who the favorite might be in any given game we can project some tasty area matchups in the second round.
In Division 3 East Lansing and Haslett could play each other for a district title if they each win their home games this week.
In Division 5 a whole district includes area teams. With that in mind, consider that the district title game could be a rematch of CAAC-White foes like Lansing Catholic and Portland, or even a battle of division winners between Portland and the GLAC winners Olivet. We're going to be tuned to that one intently.
Lastly in division 6, if Laingsburg can exorcise the demons of last year and beat Montrose on the road they have a date with Ithaca likely coming in the district title. That's assuming the YellowJackets get by Byron, which is likely considering they are 34-3 in playoff games since 2009.