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Pigskin Pick'Em Week 7

Tribune Staff • Oct 5, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Grand Haven played an inspired game against Caledonia during the Buccaneers’ Homecoming festivities at Gene Rothi Field last Friday. Unfortunately for the Bucs, an early 7-0 lead wouldn’t hold, as the Fighting Scots evened the score at 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.

That score would hold until the fourth quarter, when Caledonia broke off two scoring drives to take a 21-7 lead. Grand Haven answered on a 27-yard touchdown reception from senior quarterback Adam Nelson to senior tailback Malic Love to bring the Bucs within one possession of the Scots. The ensuing onside kick attempt would fall into the arms of a Caledonia player, however, and the comeback attempt would be thwarted by the visitors.

Spring Lake battled at Coopersville last Friday, but turnovers and miscues stymied what appeared to be a tight contest late into the third quarter. After falling behind 18-0 early, the Laker offense found some life with tight end Noah Verlinde in the passing game, resulting in a 56-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Caleb Montgomery.

The Lakers were poised to add another score, but an interception at the Coopersville goal line killed Spring Lake’s momentum and the Broncos responded by outscoring the Lakers 28-3 the rest of the game, thanks in part to eight Spring Lake turnovers.

Fruitport fell behind early to No. 6-ranked Zeeland East last Friday and never recovered. The Chix jumped out to a 27-0 lead in the first quarter, and held a 48-7 lead at the halftime intermission. The lone bright spot for the Trojans was the play of quarterback Jakob Carlisle, who finished 5-for-11 passing for 104 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also added 21 rushing yards on five carries.

Muskegon Catholic Central found some early success against Muskegon Heights on the road, but the Tigers stood tall for most of the contest. The Crusaders held a 20-0 advantage late in the second quarter and used a blocked punt return for a score and added an interception return for a touchdown on the next drive to extend their lead to 32-0 at halftime. Neither team would score in the second half, as both defenses played hard-nosed, physical football to slow down the opposing offense.

Grand Haven @ East Kentwood

Buccaneers’ Record: 0-6 (0-4 O-K Red) Last Week: Lost to Caledonia, 21-14

Falcons’ Record: 4-2 (1-2 O-K Red) Last Week: Lost to West Ottawa, 34-7

Last Meeting: East Kentwood defeated Grand Haven, 24-9, on Oct. 7, 2016

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

SCOUTING THE FALCONS

After jumping out to an impressive 4-0 start to the season with wins over Macomb L’Anse Creuse North (45-6), Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (21-0), Hudsonville (24-17) and Forest Hills Northern (46-32), the Falcons have dropped back-to-back contests with losses to Grandville (28-14) and West Ottawa (34-7).

The Falcons have a pair of imposing linemen in juniors Mazi Smith (6’4, 310 pounds) and Logan Brown (6’7, 290). Smith already has offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Alabama, Louisville and Wisconsin as a defensive lineman, while Brown has offers from Michigan, Wisconsin, Alabama, Michigan State, Louisville and Penn State as an offensive tackle.

Senior wideout and safety Jacobie Welch (6’1, 180 pounds) is a game-changing player on offense and defense, along with senior wideout Jimmie Kilgore (6’1, 190 pounds).

Kyle Dent is the team’s starting quarterback, while Kionte Blakely, Stephan Bracey, and Jayden Jones each present plenty of breakaway speed out of the backfield.

Senior linebacker Jon Mayhue (6’2, 220 pounds) is an emotional leader for the Falcons on the defensive side of the ball, while fellow senior linebacker and fullback Anthony Richardson (5’10, 230 pounds) will be a physical bruiser for the Falcons, looking to create running lanes on offense and fill those lanes on defense.

KEY TO THE GAME

Turnovers. Grand Haven hasn’t been able to play a clean game yet this season in the turnover department. They will need to win the turnover battle by a wide margin in order to knock off the Falcons in this road test.

PREDICTIONS

Josh: “This game doesn’t set itself up well for Grand Haven. The Falcons are coming off two consecutive losses and will be hungry for that ever-important fifth win of the season, while Grand Haven is coming off an emotional home loss last week. I think East Kentwood takes this one at home. East Kentwood 42, Grand Haven 14

Duncan: “The Bucs found some success on offense last week in addition to their typically clutch defensive stops against Caledonia. While East Kentwood is a far more formidable squad, I think the offensive step forward will serve the Bucs well in their week 6 matchup. East Kentwood 48 Grand Haven 14

Spring Lake vs. Holland Christian

Lakers’ Record: 0-6 (0-4 O-K Blue) Last Week: Lost to Coopersville, 46-10

Maroons’ Record: 2-4 (1-3 O-K Green) Last Week: Lost to Unity Christian, 44-42

Last Meeting: Holland Christian defeated Spring Lake, 53-40, Oct. 7, 2016

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

SCOUTING THE MAROONS

Holland Christian enters a new era with head coach Chris Kuipers. The former Grand Rapids South Christian and Grand Rapids Christian assistant coach hasn’t been able to turn the program around overnight, but the team does possess plenty of firepower on offense.

Junior Wilson Wirebaugh (6’0, 210 pounds) runs the Maroons’ offense. The athletic signal caller went 29-for-41 for 379 yards with five touchdowns and one interception last Friday against Hudsonville Unity Christian.

At running back, seniors Jacob Schaub (5’9, 170 pounds) and Noah Hoekstra (5’11, 185 pounds) share the load in the running game, while junior wideouts Brady Howe (6’1, 165 pounds) and Will VanWieren (6’0, 210 pounds) are the key weapons in the passing game.

Seniors Josh DeVries (6’1, 210 pounds) and Jarod Osborne (5’11, 195 pounds) anchor the offensive line for the Maroons.

Holland Christian’s defense is loaded with senior experience. Levi VanDam (6’4, 225 pounds) is an athletic defensive end that will be difficult to slow down off the edge. Senior Evan Howe (6’0, 190 pounds) starts at linebacker and controls the playcalling from his position, while senior Ethan Brink (6’0, 160 pounds) is the leader of the defensive backfield.

KEY TO THE GAME

Defensive pass rush. The Lakers will need to create pressure on defense if they are going to slow down this high-octane passing attack. Wirebaugh will likely throw the ball 35-40 times, so it’ll be crucial for the Spring Lake defensive front seven to put pressure on him and make him uncomfortable.

PREDICTIONS

Josh: “Spring Lake’s defense is up for another challenge this week, and I’m not sure if they have enough gas left in the tank to slow down the Maroons. The Lakers will fight hard for the Homecoming crowd, but I haven’t seen enough offense from Spring Lake to suggest that they can hang around in a shootout. Holland Christian 45, Spring Lake 7

Duncan: “The Lakers gave up eight turnovers last weekend, costing them what could have been a close game. If quarterback Caleb Montgomery can’t dial in his accuracy, this could be another long night for the Lakers. Holland Christian 42, Spring Lake 6

Fruitport vs. Jenison

Trojans’ Record: 2-4 (1-2 O-K Black) Last Week: Lost to Zeeland East, 56-14

Wildcats’ Record: 4-2 (3-1 O-K Black) Last Week: Defeated Reeths-Puffer, 20-10

Last Meeting: Jenison defeated Fruitport, 20-0, Oct. 7, 2016

Time: Friday, 7 p.m. Location: Doc Pierce Field

SCOUTING THE WILDCATS

After finishing 5-4 last season, the Wildcats appear to be on a similar trajectory this fall. Jenison lost its season opener to Forest Hills Central (41-0), but bounced back with wins over Grand Rapids Northview (24-14), Kenowa Hills (40-29) and Grand Rapids Union (51-6), before dropping a 42-7 decision to Mona Shores. However, the Wildcats did respond with a 20-10 upset over Reeths-Puffer last week; giving the squad plenty of confidence heading into this week’s matchup.

Junior quarterback Kyle Nott (5’10, 175 pounds) leads the Jenison offense. He has the ability to be a big-play threat as both a passer and a rusher as a dual-threat athlete. Junior tailback Jarel Jackson (5’11, 175 pounds) has game-breaking speed out of the backfield, while senior running back Taylor Witteveen (5’11, 185 pounds) is the more physical back between the two. He’ll be seeking contact between the tackles, and usually picking up those extra yards.

Junior wideout Mitch Doxey (6’0, 180 pounds) is the team’s leading receiving threat, while senior tackle Dan VanOpstall (6’6, 250 pounds) is the linchpin of the Wildcat offensive line, along with senior guard Robby Bell (6’1, 205 pounds).

On defense, Bell, Witteveen and Jackson lead the linebacking corps for the Wildcats, while Doxey leads the secondary and VanOpstall anchors the defensive line.

KEY TO THE GAME

Time of Possession. The Trojans need to sustain drives, keep their defense off the field and take an early lead in order to pull off the home upset. Against Zeeland East, the Trojans went three-and-out too many times, and allowed the Chix to play on half a field for the majority of the game. The Wildcats don’t have the same firepower, but they will take advantage of a tired Fruitport defense if the offense doesn’t do its part.

PREDICTIONS

Josh: “The Trojans are in for another tough test this week. The Wildcats are riding high after beating Reeths-Puffer and keeping their playoff hopes alive. If Fruitport can establish a consistent run game, they’ll have a shot, but I think Jenison makes more plays down the stretch. Jenison 38, Fruitport 21

Duncan: “The Trojans have an intriguing matchup against the Wildcats, facing a near carbon copy of their backfield with a dual-threat QB ahead of a split power, speed backfield. If the Fruitport defense can snuff out their gameplan and prevent a shootout, I think the Trojans take this one. Fruitport 21, Jenison 17

Muskegon Catholic Central vs. Manistee

Crusaders’ Record: 5-0 (3-0 Lakes Eight) Last Week: Defeated Musk. Heights, 32-0

Chippewas’ Record: 2-4 (1-2 Lakes Eight) Last Week: Defeated Ogemaw Hts., 41-28

Last Meeting: MCC defeated Manistee, 48-0, on Oct. 7, 2016

Time: Friday, 7 p.m. Location: Kehren Stadium

SCOUTING THE CHIPPEWAS

Manistee finished 5-4 last year, but is replacing a large senior class that helped push the Chippewas to a winning season in 2016.

So far this season, things have not gone Manistee’s way. The team lost to McBain (36-32) and Hopkins (36-26) to open the season, before beating Ludington (42-28). The Chips then dropped contests to Muskegon Heights (30-20) and Orchard View (50-28), before beating Ogemaw Heights (41-28) last week.

Junior quarterback Trevor Johns (5’7, 150 pounds) is the Manistee signal caller, while junior running backs Bryson Jensen (5’6, 170 pounds), Jack Sandstedt (5’9, 160 pounds) and Logan Buren (5’9, 160 pounds) are the team’s top rushing threats out of the backfield.

Senior wideout Jacob Gustad (6’2, 163 pounds) and junior Caden Schmutzler (6’0, 177 pounds) are the team’s top pass catching threats. Junior tackle Brady Reid and junior guard Ty Phillips anchor the offensive line for Manistee.

Key to the Game

Rushing Yards. The Crusaders will look to establish the run game early and often in order to pull away from the Chippewas. The Crusaders have continually rushed for more than 200 yards, and look poised to reach that mark again this Friday.

Predication

Josh: “A week after being challenged in a physical battle, the Crusaders will be looking to reestablish themselves at the point of attack. I expect lots of big plays in the run game, a dominating defensive performance and another Lakes Eight Conference blowout for MCC.” Muskegon Catholic Central 63, Manistee 6

Duncan: “After putting together a less than earthshattering result last week, the Crusaders will be fired up for their matchup with the Chippewas. Look for some serious point scoring and crushing defense this week. Muskegon Catholic Central 58, Manistee 0

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