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5 Things to Watch this Week

Josh VanDyke • Aug 28, 2018 at 12:30 AM

The school year officially begins this week, but the prep sports season is already well underway with high-profile, non-conference matchups slated for the next few days. With Labor Day weekend rapidly approaching, most of the action will be condensed into a three-day stretch, which means the sports schedule is filled with non-stop action.

Here's a look at a few games that should be worth the price of admission before you head out for the holiday weekend.

Fruitport soccer at Western Michigan Christian

When: today, 6:45 p.m.

Where: Muskegon Christian School 

The Fruitport and Western Michigan Christian boys soccer teams are both reloading their rosters after capturing conference championships last fall. The Trojans (1-1-1) are coming off a 2-2 tie with their rivals from Spring Lake last Thursday, while Western Michigan Christian (2-0-2) played to a scoreless tie with NorthPointe Christian.

Last year, Western Michigan Christian rolled to a 6-2 win over Fruitport, which propelled the Warriors to a 20-win season and a Lakes Eight Conference crown. The Trojans did bounce back to win the O-K Black Conference later that season.

The winner of this non-conference clash will carry a lot of positive momentum into its conference slate. With a lot of new faces in both lineups, this game could be a turning point in the season for both young squads.

End of Summer Volleyball Bash

When: Wednesday

Where: Grand Haven High School

Teams: Grand Haven, North Muskegon, Zeeland East, Livonia Churchill, Hamilton, Grand Rapids Northview, Mount Morris, Battle Creek Lakeview

The Grand Haven volleyball team will host its fifth tournament in 12 days with an End of Summer Bash event on Wednesday. The Buccaneers are coming off their sixth straight Battle of the Boardwalk championship last week and will be looking to close out a very busy August with a home win before they open up their O-K Red Conference gauntlet in September.

The Buccaneers should be tested by teams like Battle Creek Lakeview (ranked No. 7 in Division 1) and Hamilton (honorable mention in Division 2) at the event, as well as budding programs like North Muskegon and Zeeland East.

Grand Haven swim hosts East Grand Rapids

When: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Grand Haven Aquatic Center

The Grand Haven girls swim program will open its season Wednesday against East Grand Rapids. The Pioneers are coming off back-to-back state championships and should prove to be a high-quality test right out of the gate for the Buccaneers.

Junior standout Kathryn Ackerman will headline the event for the Bucs. The nationally ranked swimmer will compete in the 200-yard individual medley, 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly and 500 freestyle.

Sophomore Georgia Basil will be a swimmer to watch in the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle, while sophomore Ocean Veldhouse will also be a key performer in all of the team's relay events.

The Buccaneers will also return a large group of state qualifiers from last year's team, including seniors Annah Taylor, Annah Ackerman, Kirbey Colella and Brooke Zellman; juniors Alonna Clark and Jessica Boyer and sophomores Maryviolet Springer and Ellyn Skodack.

Grand Haven football hosts Traverse City West

When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

Where: Gene Rothi Field

The Grand Haven football team is coming off an impressive performance at Reeths-Puffer in Week 1, in which the Buccaneers scored a 27-0 shutout over the Rockets.

The Grand Haven offense exploded for 351 total yards, including 240 yards rushing, in the dominant road win. The Buccaneer defense also stood tall, forcing four turnovers and limiting the Rockets to less than 200 yards of total offense.

Traverse City West is coming off a 9-2 season in 2017 and opened its season last week with a dramatic 17-15 win over Midland. The Titans have outscored the Buccaneers 79-24 in their last two meetings, but a new-look Grand Haven squad, which features plenty of speed and power in the run game, should have what it takes to turn the tide on this non-conference series.

For Grand Haven, look for fullback Connor Worthington and junior running back Owen Krizan to be the primary playmakers out of the backfield, while junior linebacker Will McWatters will be a key player on defense, after recording two interceptions against the Rockets.

Spring Lake football at Fruitport

When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

Where: Fruitport High School

The Battle on the Bayou returns to Fruitport on Thursday, as the Lakers and Trojans meet on the gridiron in Week 2 of the prep football season.

Last year, the Trojans recorded a 21-0 shutout win at Spring Lake, extending their win streak over the Lakers to four years. The Lakers are coming off a 42-19 win over Orchard View last week, snapping their nine-game losing streak in 2017.

A rejuvenated locker room will have Spring Lake ready to snap another streak, but it won't be easy, as the Trojans will be playing their first home game under new head coach Nate Smith. Emotions will be running hot for both squads, and whoever can find a way to capitalize on that energy may come out on top.

For Spring Lake, quarterback Caleb Montgomery will be the player to watch after scoring five touchdowns in Week 1, while junior running backs Crue Cooper and Dominic Colegrove will be the primary ball carriers for the Trojans.

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