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Five things to watch this week

Tribune Staff • Sep 4, 2018 at 12:34 AM

The first week of September marks the return of college football, the final week of the NFL offseason and the last few non-conference prep competitions.

Local soccer and volleyball teams are set to take on tough competition before beginning their O-K Conference schedules next week, while the football teams will see their first true test as the O-K Red and Blue Conference slates kick off at home.

Don’t miss these five impact matchups this week.

Grand Haven volleyball varsity quad

Where: Grand Haven High School

When: Wednesday, 5 p.m.

The Grand Haven volleyball team had a jam-packed August, getting 22 contests under their belts while hosting four home tournaments.

At 18-4 overall, the Bucs are feeling confident as the brutal O-K Red season approaches. Two tournaments separate Grand Haven from their conference opener against West Ottawa next week, the first is yet another at the Grand Haven Fieldhouse.

East Grand Rapids, Grandville and Northview are scheduled to fill out the Bucs’ upcoming home quad on Wednesday, providing an O-K Red preview matchup and tough tests from the top of the O-K White and Gold.

Play is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. at Grand Haven High School

Grand Haven soccer at East Kentwood

Where: East Kentwood High School

When: Thursday, 7:15 p.m.

The Grand Haven boys soccer team is off to a strong start under first-year head coach Nick Tejchma, jumping out to a 4-1-1 record. Thursday, the Bucs will look to continue their success against a familiar foe in what could be a bitter rematch.

Grand Haven is scheduled to travel to East Kentwood on Thursday to take on the defending O-K Red champions. The Falcons didn’t just beat out Grand Haven for the league title last season, they also ended a prolific playoff run for the Bucs in the regional finals on a rainy evening in Portage.

So far this season, East Kentwood hasn’t skipped a beat with a 3-1-1 record, boasting wins over Rockford, Forest Hills Central and Holland.

Grand Haven football vs. Hudsonville

Where: Gene Rothi Stadium

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

The Grand Haven football team is rolling, winning both of their non-conference games to start the season 2-0. After waiting until the final game of the season last year to pick up their first win, the Bucs are on top of the world.

Wins over Reeths-Puffer and Traverse City West hopefully will have prepared Grand Haven for the impending O-K Red season, which kicks off Friday against Hudsonville.

The Eagles have their own streak to protect after wins over Grand Ledge (27-7) and Holt (30-14) in their first two games. In their last meeting, Hudsonville ran all over the Bucs, taking home a 50-10 victory. If Grand Haven wants to keep their season rolling, Friday’s matchup will have to be much closer.

Spring Lake football vs. Sparta

Where: Grabinski Field

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Spring Lake football has turned a corner so far in 2018, starting the season 2-0 with wins over Orchard View and rival Fruitport.

A high-scoring romp with the Trojans last week saw the Laker offense firing on all cylinders as quarterback Caleb Montgomery continued to be unstoppable in Week 2. Increased workload and success for the Spring Lake running game bodes well as they approach the O-K Blue season, but tough challenges are quick to arise.

The Lakers will face Sparta on Friday at home in their first game of the conference season. Last year, the Spartans blew by Spring Lake by a score of 49-7 to remain unbeaten in Week 3 but went on to win just one more game.

Sparta returns a few key playmakers on offense, while the Lakers are vastly improved over last year. A true conference test will shed some light on what to expect from Spring Lake in the O-K Blue gauntlet.

Fruitport volleyball invite

Where: Fruitport High School

When: Saturday, 8:30 a.m.

The Fruitport volleyball team has been working hard in their young season, putting a team of veterans to the test of recapturing last year’s playoff magic. Saturday, they will continue their quest, hosting a high-powered invitational.

Familiar and new opponents ranging from the O-K Red to crosstown rivals will be in attendance as Coopersville, Forest Hills Northern, Grant, Gull Lake, Kingsley, Mona Shores, Montague, North Muskegon, Traverse City West, West Ottawa and Whitehall will all descend on Fruitport High School looking for valuable experience against an eclectic field of teams.

Play begins at 8:30 a.m. and will run throughout the day with bracket play following pool play.

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