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Pigskin Pick’Em Week 6

Josh VanDyke • Sep 28, 2017 at 5:00 AM

The Grand Haven and Spring Lake football teams were officially eliminated from playoff contention with their Week 4 losses, but both teams took optimistic approaches to the rest of their season.

For Grand Haven, the 39-10 loss to Rockford served as a reminder that they can hang with powerhouses in their conference, but still have room for improvement on both sides of the ball. The Buccaneers offense found some life between senior quarterback Adam Nelson and junior wideout Kellum Bridgeforth. The two connected on a 50-yard touchdown reception to keep Grand Haven in the game in the second half.

For Spring Lake, it was the second week in a row that the squad hosted a defending state champion and the top-ranked team in their respective division. Grand Rapids Catholic Central hit on some big plays early on in the game, forcing four Spring Lake interceptions and turning those mistakes into quick points the other way. The Lakers will look to take the hard-earned lessons of the past two weeks into action as they attempt to break into the win column.

Fruitport kept its playoff hopes alive with a 46-6 drubbing of Grand Rapids Union last Saturday. Blade Williams ran for three touchdowns to fuel the Trojan offense, while the defense stood tall after allowing a score on the opening drive of the game. Due to heat concerns, the game was called at halftime, but the Trojans had already proven to be in total control of the game.

Muskegon Catholic Central made short work of their business trip to St. Joseph on Friday, beating up on Lake Michigan Catholic 55-13 and advancing to 4-0 on the season. Cam Martinez, Tommy Watt and Dawson Steigman continue to be the top playmakers for the Crusaders, while the first-string defense pitched another shutout, helping the team to a 41-0 halftime lead before the Crusaders deployed their younger players in the second half.

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



Grand Haven vs. Caledonia


Buccaneers’ Record: 0-5 (0-3 O-K Red) Last Week: Lost to Rockford, 39-10


Fighting Scots’ Record: 2-3 (0-2 O-K Red) Last Week: Defeated Kenowa Hills, 35-8


Last Meeting: Caledonia defeated Grand Haven, 22-14, on Sept. 30, 2016


Time: Friday, 7 p.m. Location: Gene Rothi Field



Scouting the Fighting Scots

After finishing 4-5 last season, Caledonia has had a tough time keeping pace with the upper-echelon programs in the area this fall. The Fighting Scots are being outscored 110-147 on the season, with losses to Grand Rapids Christian (42-34), West Ottawa (35-7) and Rockford (51-13). The Scots did defeat Howell (21-11) in their season opener and rolled Kenowa Hills (35-8) last week, so they will be coming into this Friday’s game with plenty of confidence.

Caledonia’s offense revolves around their offensive line’s push. Senior center Caleb Waldmiller (6’1, 280 pounds) anchors the line, while D.J. Simmons (6’1, 225 pounds) and Malachi Brinks (6’3, 230 pounds) will also be road graters for the Scots. Junior quarterback Caleb Bronkema (5’10, 190) compares to Grand Haven’s Adam Nelson — an undersized, hard-nosed signal caller on offense and a high-volume tackler on defense.

Senior fullback Mario Mazzarelli (5’9, 180 pounds) returns at fullback, while Brock Schrader (5’9, 185) and Austin Fedewa (5’10, 180) will be the playmakers out of the backfield.

On defense, the Scots will have some quick athletes along the defensive line with defensive tackle Daniel Barnett (6’2, 210 pounds) and Simmons at the other tackle position. Matt Dixon (6-1, 245) returns at nose guard to clog up the middle of the line.

Bronkema will be an active middle linebacker for the Scots, and is the team’s leading tackler so far this season. If Grand Haven can exploit any area of the Caledonia defense, it will likely be the secondary. The Scots don’t return a single starter from that unit, with Fedewa and Chris Delaney (6’1, 185 pounds) being the only experienced players on the depth chart.

Key to the Game

Passing yards. Grand Haven’s only offensive success this season has been through the air. The Buccaneers have been outscored 47-190 on the season, and need to find an identity on offense. So far, it appears that their best bet is with Adam Nelson chucking the ball around to Kellum Bridgeforth and company. If Grand Haven can take advantage of an inexperienced Caledonia secondary, they might be able to pull off their first win of the season.



Predictions


Josh: “Between turnovers and a limited rushing attack, the Grand Haven offense has put their own defense in some tough spots. Other than a few sporadic drives, there has been little signs of life for the Buccaneers when they have the ball. The Caledonia defense is tough against the run, and they will force Grand Haven to beat them in the passing game. I’m not sure if Grand Haven will be able to take advantage. Caledonia 28, Grand Haven 20

Duncan: “After hanging with the Rams for a full half last week, the Bucs’ confidence should be at a season-high. If their passing game works as well as last week against a questionable Caledonia secondary, I might be eating my words in Week 6 picks. Caledonia 35, Grand Haven 17




Spring Lake at Coopersville


Lakers’ Record: 0-5 (0-3 O-K Blue) Last Week: Lost to GR Catholic Central, 47-0


Broncos’ Record: 3-2 (1-2 O-K Blue) Last Week: Lost to GR West Catholic, 41-0


Last Meeting: Spring Lake defeated Coopersville, 20-0, on Sept. 30, 2016


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



Scouting the Broncos

After a 1-8 season in 2016, the Coopersville Broncos appear to have turned a corner in 2017 under first-year head coach Ed Kaman. The team opened the season with wins over Fruitport (35-12) and Hamilton (35-31), but dropped a game to Comstock Park (42-27) before beating Sparta (28-21). Last week, the Broncos struggled against Grand Rapids West Catholic to the tune of a 41-0 shutout loss.

On the season, Coopersville is being outscored 125-147, while Spring Lake is being outscored 21-196. Junior quarterback Riley Johnson (6’3, 180 pounds) leads the Coopersville offense, with his top targets in the passing game being senior slot receiver Roman Armock (5’7, 160 pounds) and senior wideout Tony Nikodemski (6’0, 180 pounds). Cayden Schneider (5’10, 160 pounds) and Devin Smith (5’11, 175 pounds) will be also be playmakers from their tailback positions, while senior center Noah Steffes (5’10, 185 pounds) will look to open up some running lanes for the dynamic duo.

On defense, the Broncos will rely on Kenny Bates (5’9, 160 pounds) to be a force from his linebacker position, while Rylee Mayse (6’1, 215 pounds) will be a playmaker along the defensive line. In the secondary, Armock, Connor Hilton (6’1, 170 pounds) and Brendan Wright (5’9, 160 pounds) will be looking to force turnovers if the Lakers attempt to pass the ball. 



Key to the Game


First downs. The Spring Lake offense needs to stay on the field. Against Grand Rapids Catholic Central, the Lakers went three-and-out on almost every drive and only picked up three first downs the entire game. If Spring Lake is going to get into the win column this week, they need more production from their offense and that starts with moving the chains.




Predictions


Josh: “After playing the top-ranked team in Division 4 and 5 in consecutive weeks, anything after that probably seems like a piece of cake for the Lakers. Unfortunately, Coopersville is no longer a pushover in the conference and will be difficult to beat at home. After an impressive offensive performance Week 1 against NorthPointe Christian, the Lakers haven’t shown much promise on offense. I’m not expecting that to change this week on the road. Coopersville 42, Spring Lake 7

Duncan: “I saw Coopersville pick apart a Fruitport defense in week one with tremendous QB play and athletic wide receivers. While the Spring Lake defense is their strong suit this season, they are prone to homerun plays, which Coopersville is more than capable of hitting. Coopersville 45, Spring Lake 6




Fruitport @ Zeeland East


Trojans’ Record: 2-3 (1-2 O-K Black) Last Week: Defeated GR Union, 46-6


Chix’ Record: 5-0 (3-0 O-K Green) Last Week: Defeated Holland Christian, 50-12

Last Meeting: Zeeland East defeated Fruitport, 38-14, on Sept. 30, 2016


Time: Friday, 7 p.m. Location: Zeeland East High School



Scouting the Chix

Zeeland East has come roaring out of the gates so far this season, compiling a 5-0 record and a No. 6 ranking in the latest Division 3 polls. The Chix are outscoring their opponents 227-45 on the season, while Fruitport is being outscored 93-129.

Zeeland East has recorded wins over Saginaw Swan Valley (44-14), Jackson (43-7), Hamilton (49-0), Holland (41-12) and Holland Christian (50-12) so far this season. With matchups against Hudsonville Unity Christian, Byron Center and Zeeland West still looming on their schedule, the Chix will be hungry to clinch a playoff berth this week at home.

On offense, the Chix use a two-quarterback system between Keegan Ensing (6’0, 185 pounds) and Gaby Taylor (5’11, 175 pounds). Junior running back Josh Fusco (5’11, 175 pounds) and senior powerback Donovan Dy (5’11, 195 pounds) will lead the team in carries out of the backfield and provide the run game with a solid one-two punch. Senior lineman Brendan Knoll (6’2, 245 pounds) will be the team’s leading blocker, while Cobe Huizenga (5’7, 165 pounds) is the team’s top playmaker from his wideout position.

On defense, Boone Bonnema (6’3, 210 pounds) is entering his fourth year at his linebacker position and will be menace against the run. Joining Boonema will be outside linebackers Adam Burghorst (6’6, 225 pounds) and Dan Cramer (6’3, 200 pounds).

Key to the Game


Rushing Yards. The Trojans will need to establish the run if they want to keep the game close and have any chance of knocking off the Chix on the road. The team used Blade Williams as a playmaker out of the backfield against Grand Rapids Union last week and it paid off in spades. If the offense can use both Williams and Dominick Colegrove effectively, the Trojans should be able to keep pace with Zeeland East. 



Predictions


Josh: “Zeeland East is one of the more surprising success stories in the area this fall. They have feasted on some inferior opponents so far this season, and Fruitport doesn’t appear to have the firepower to record a road upset over the Chix this season. I think the Trojans keep the game close with a steady rushing attack, but the Chix will make enough plays to win at home and clinch a playoff berth. Zeeland East 35, Fruitport 23

Duncan: “Zeeland East has put together a surprisingly competitive season thus far, putting up at least 40 points in all five games so far. They have a tough final three games of the season following the Trojans, making Friday’s matchup a must-win for the Chix. Zeeland East 41, Fruitport 14



Muskegon Catholic Central at Muskegon Heights Academy


Crusaders’ Record: 4-0 (2-0 Lakes Eight) Last Week: Defeated Lake Mich. Catholic 55-13


Tigers’ Record: 3-2 (2-0 Lakes Eight) Last Week: Defeated Ludington, 36-27


Last Meeting: Muskegon Catholic Central defeated Muskegon Heights, 55-6, on Sept. 30, 2016


Time: Friday, 7 p.m. Location: Muskegon Heights High School



Scouting the Tigers

Muskegon Heights Academy has already surpassed their win total from last season and first-year head coach Cory Chandler has the Tigers playing hard so far in 2017.

After dropping their first two contests of the season, Muskegon Heights has beaten Detroit Community, Manistee and Ludington in the past three weeks and come into Friday night’s crosstown rivalry game with a lot of positive momentum.

On the season, Muskegon Catholic Central is outscoring their opponents 184-33, while the Tigers are being outscored, 127-136. The all-time series record between the two programs is 27-11 in favor of the Crusaders.

The Tigers only have 23 athletes on their roster, with 13 seniors leading the way for the otherwise shorthanded squad. Muskegon Heights runs a spread-to-run attack on offense, which showcases the elite speed of quarterbacks Romeo Blackshire and Lamonte Townsend. Offensive lineman Ahmad Briggs is a Division 1 talent at tackle and will help create space for the playmakers in the backfield to get downfield in a hurry.

On defense, Briggs and Jaylyn Lay will be difficult to move along the defensive front, while the Tigers boast a talented and experienced corps in the defensive backfield with Arleaster Sims Jr., Anthony Glover, Sylvester Kirk and Jari Blackshire.

Key to the Game


Tackling. For the first time this season, the Crusaders won’t be able to rely on their speed to win a game. The Tigers have plenty of athletes of their own and they will be quick to the ball on defense. When the Crusaders are on defense, they will need to swarm to the ball and gang tackle the ball carrier, because a missed tackle in open space against Muskegon Heights could turn into an 80-yard touchdown the other way. 




Predictions


Josh: “This game always seems to bring out the best in Muskegon Heights, and that could mean a competitive game Friday night. I think the Tigers will stick with the Crusaders for the first half with Muskegon Heights utilizing their speed to keep Muskegon Catholic honest. However, with a short bench, it’s only a matter of time before the Tigers wear down. I think the Crusaders pull away in the fourth quarter for a win that will be closer than the final score indicates. Muskegon Catholic Central 43, Muskegon Heights 20

Duncan: “The Tigers played Ludington to a competitive, 36-27 win last week, showing their winning prowess in close games. Unfortunately, MCC defeated Ludington 55-7 earlier this season. This game will not be close enough for Heights to sneak by. Muskegon Catholic Central 52, Muskegon Heights 3.

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