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Pigskin Pick'Em: Week 5

Tribune Staff • Sep 21, 2017 at 5:00 AM

Week 4 was another tough stretch for the Buccaneers and Lakers, as they both ran into opponents that were able to take advantage of their weaknesses.

For Grand Haven, the West Ottawa Panthers’ vertical passing game was too much to handle, as quarterback Isaac Van Dyke threw for five touchdowns on the Buccaneers’ secondary. On defense, the Panthers held Grand Haven to just 84 yards of total offense and six first downs on 44 plays from scrimmage. The end result was a 41-6 home loss for the Buccaneers.

Spring Lake had a difficult time getting their defense off the field against the high-powered attack of the four-time defending Division 5 state champion Grand Rapids West Catholic Falcons. The visitors used fourth-down conversions to spark a 27-0 halftime lead. The Lakers were never able to build any positive momentum until the end of the game, when the clock expired before they were able to finish a promising look at the endzone in a 41-0 shutout loss.

Second-half woes caught up with Fruitport against Kenowa Hills, as the Trojans built a 14-12 halftime lead, but weren’t able to hold on. The visiting Knights scored midway through the fourth quarter and held off a late rally by the Trojans for a 20-14 road win.

Muskegon Catholic Central used a balanced rushing attack from a variety of different performers to help them to a 55-7 win over Ludington on the road.

Here’s a look at this week’s matchups:

Grand Haven @ Rockford

Buccaneers’ Record: 0-4 (0-2 O-K Red) Last Week: Lost to West Ottawa, 41-7

Rams’ Record: 2-2 (1-0 O-K Red) Last Week: Defeated Caledonia, 51-13

Last Meeting: Rockford defeated Grand Haven, 31-14, on Sept. 23, 2016

Time: Friday, 7 p.m. Location: Rockford High School

Scouting the Rams

Despite their 2-2 record, the Rockford Rams are once again a formidable opponent in the O-K Red Conference. After narrow non-conference losses to Lowell (14-0) and Mona Shores (30-24 in overtime), the Rams took care of Caledonia to the tune of a 51-13 rout to open league play.

The offense is lead by Northwestern commit Jason Whittaker (6’5, 205 pounds), who distributes the ball to a bevy of talented wideouts in Jake McLean (5’10, 172 pounds), Chase Novak (6’0, 170 pounds), Marcus Remtema (6’1, 180 pounds), Eli Haddad, as well as tight end Logan Lee (6’4, 215 pounds). The Rams also use a stable of talented junior tailbacks to move the ball on the ground with Malik Thompson, Austin Klein, Alex Miller and Ian Rodriguez headlining the playing rotation. The offensive line is anchored by senior tackle Cody Carone (6’4, 296). Veterans Alex Anthony, Matthew Mateo-Kurzeja, Brodie Prangley and Nolan Brooks, join Carone to form powerful run blocking unit for Rockford.

On defense, Rockford is replacing some core pieces of the defensive front, but senior Alex Tramontin (5’11, 324 pounds) takes up more than enough space to cause plenty of problems for opposing offensive lines. Once teams get past the frontline, the Rams linebacking corps will be a challenge of their own. Returning three-year starter Paul Reinke and Khale Showers will be flowing to the ball and looking to shut down any rushing attempts that come their way. Remtema leads a Rams’ secondary that has been up to the task for the most part this season. The Rams also have a special teams weapon in senior Eric Zeboor, who is capable of taking any kick or punt return to the house.

Key to the Game

Passing Yards. If Grand Haven is going to stick with the Rams, they will need to hold up better in the defensive secondary. Last week against West Ottawa, the Bucs allowed far too many open receivers, which turned short passes into big gains. Grand Haven will also need to be more successful in the passing game themselves, and utilize players like Kellum Bridgeforth in open space.

Predictions

Josh: “Grand Haven hasn’t been able to put together a complete game yet this season, but I think they will start to string together some strong performances soon. A road game at Rockford is a less-than-ideal starting point for the Bucs, but I think they stick with Rockford in the first half. After that, I think the Rams’ advantage in athletes and roster size will wear down the Bucs and help Rockford pull away in the second half.” Rockford 42, Grand Haven 14

Duncan: “The Rams are coming off a booming victory over Caledonia, who is closer to the Bucs’ skill set. Grand Haven will need an offensive miracle to stay close in this one, while the defense has a chance to save pride.” Rockford 41, Grand Haven 10

Spring Lake vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central

Lakers’ Record: 0-4 (0-2 O-K Blue) Last Week: Lost to GR West Catholic, 41-0

Cougars’ Record: 4-0 (1-0 O-K Blue) Last Week: Defeated Forest Hills Eastern, 62-0

Last Meeting: GR Catholic Central defeated Spring Lake, 35-7, on Sept. 23, 2016

Time: Friday, 7 p.m. Location: Grabinski Field

Scouting the Cougars

The Cougars might have graduated 16 starters from last year’s Division 4 state championship team, but you wouldn’t know it by the performances the team has put together so far this season. Grand Rapids Catholic Central started the season off with a 20-7 win over last year’s Division 4 runner-up Detroit Country Day and a 22-8 win over powerhouse Detroit Loyola. The Cougars put together routs of Allendale (56-18) and Forest Hills Eastern (62-0) in the last two weeks and seem poised to make another deep run into the playoffs.

Senior All-State lineman and University of Michigan commit Jalen Mayfield (6’5, 270 pounds) anchors both the offensive and defensive lines for the Cougars. Senior quarterback Jack Bowen, senior tailback Nolan Fugate (6’0, 205 pounds), and junior tailback Eric Grabow (5’7, 155 pounds) are key playmakers for Catholic Central on offense.

On defense, the Cougars’ Aidan Burns (6’1, 220 pounds) forms a dynamic duo with Mayfield at defensive tackle, while Grabow spearheads the team’s linebacking corps.

Key to the Game

Third-down conversions. The Lakers couldn’t get West Catholic’s offense off the field last week, and their offense couldn’t convert on third down. If Spring Lake is going to have any chance of sticking with an overpowering team like Catholic Central, they will need to force the Cougars into third-and-long situations and get them off the field on fourth down.

Prediction

Josh: “Grand Rapids Catholic Central lost a lot of players from a 13-win team last season, and it appears they might have just reloaded in 2017. Spring Lake doesn’t have the firepower to keep up with Cougars, so they’ll need to have their best defensive performance of the season to keep this one close.” Grand Rapids Catholic Central 56, Spring Lake 0

Duncan: “The Lakers take on a defending state champion for the second week in a row. The Cougars have increased their point total in every outing so far, defeating Forest Hills Eastern 62-0 in Week 4. I hope the Lakers can find the endzone with their new two-pronged quarterback attack.” Grand Rapids Catholic Central 58, Spring Lake 7

Fruitport @ Grand Rapids Union

Trojans’ Record: 1-3 (0-2 O-K Black) Last Week: Lost to Kenowa Hills, 20-14

Red Hawks’ Record: 0-4 (0-2 O-K Black) Last Week: Lost to Jenison, 51-6

Last Meeting: Fruitport defeated G.R. Union, 63-46, on Sept. 23, 2016

Time: Saturday, 1 p.m. Location: Union High School

Scouting the Red Hawks

The Red Hawks continue their recent history of struggles, as the program hasn’t seen a multi-win season since 2008. In fact, Union hasn’t won a football game in 754 days. The Red Hawks will once again be a young and inexperienced team, as participation numbers are a struggle most seasons.

Junior quarterback Yona Calderon (5’6, 150 pounds) will lead the offense, while tailback Datyn Lee (5’10, 170 pounds) will be a key playmaker, as well. Offensive guard Keyon Gary (5’9, 252 pounds), center Cody Garrison (5’11, 233 pounds) and tight end Carlos Hardiman (6’0, 210 pounds) will try and establish some running lanes for Union.

On defense, Raphael Austin (5’11, 160 pounds) locks things down from his cornerback position with Lee across the field at the other defensive back spot. Gary and Hardiman lead the linebacking unit for the Red Hawks, while Garrison will be the anchor along the defensive front.

Key to the Game

Rushing Yards. Fruitport will be looking to establish an early lead and use its ball-control run game in order to do so. If Dominick Colegrove can break some big runs early, that could crush the spirits of the Union faithful and allow the Trojans to play with a big lead from start to finish.

Prediction

Josh: “Fruitport struggled to finish against Kenowa Hills last week, and it cost them a game they very well could have won. I think the Trojans will be looking to make a statement this week against a Grand Rapids Union team that doesn’t have much depth or experience at a lot of key positions.” Fruitport 48, Grand Rapids Union 6

Duncan: “The Trojans are our best bet for a local victory this week, as the Red Hawks are off to an 0-4 start. Look for Dominick Colegrove to run through a Union defense that has given up three 50-plus point games already.” Fruitport 28, Union 10

Muskegon Catholic Central at St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic

Crusaders’ Record: 3-0 (2-0 Lakes Eight) Last Week: Defeated Ludington, 55-7

Lakers’ Record: 3-1 (2-0 BCS-Blue) Last Week: Lost to Parchment, 30-0

Last Meeting: This will be the first meeting between the two programs

Time: Friday, 7 p.m. Location: Lake Michigan Catholic HS

Scouting the Lakers

The Lakers return some key pieces to a team that went 8-2 last year and won the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference Blue Division. Lake Michigan Catholic jumped out to a 3-0 start to the season with wins over Holton (22-0), Bridgman (40-6) and Three Oaks River Valley (47-0), before dropping their Week 4 contest to Parchment, 30-0.

Senior quarterback Kyle Juza (5’7, 140 pounds) engineers the Lakers offense, with wideouts Zach Rogers (6’0, 195 pounds) and Christian Monoconduit (5’9, 150 pounds) being his primary targets.

On defense, senior end B.J. Jones (6’2, 209 pounds) is the team’s biggest threat off the edge, while middle linebacker Will McCoy (6’2, 190 pounds) will look to cause havoc against the Crusaders’ rushing attack.

Key to the Game

Turnovers. Aside from a few fumbles on offense, the Muskegon Catholic Central defense has been overpowering this season. If the Crusaders can avoid any miscues of their own, while forcing turnovers on defense, Muskegon Catholic Central should have no problem picking up their fourth win of the season.

Prediction

Josh: “Lake Michigan Catholic has breezed through some winnable games to start the season, but lost to their first quality opponent last week in Parchment. Muskegon Catholic Central is already outscoring its opponents 129-20 through three games, and I don’t think the Lakers will be able to keep up.” Muskegon Catholic Central 57, Lake Michigan Catholic 6

Duncan: “The Lake Michigan Catholic Lakers have demonstrated an explosive offense with two 40-point games so far this season. The Crusader defense will have to dial in to keep them off the board. No shutout this week, but count on another MCC victory. Muskegon Catholic Central 35, Lake Michigan Catholic 14

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