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On the Mark: Bar set high as we move into Week 6 of Muskegon-area football picks

Scott DeCamp saves face in Week 5, but it’s still not enough as “ZZ” threatens to run away with the predictions race.

(Graphic by Zach Zweigle)

All seemed to be right with the world.

After four weeks of mediocre-at-best Muskegon-area high school football picks, yours truly posted a 14-2 record in Week 5. Finally, I could puff out my chest a bit. Back on top!

But in an instant, the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend!” echoed in my mind when tabulating the results of CatchMark colleague Zach Zweigle.

Can you believe “ZZ” followed up his 13-2 debut week with a 15-1 showing? What nerve!

I mean, he’s the guy who builds our weekly picks graphic and he has the luxury of submitting his predictions last. That’s got to be some sort of advantage, right?

I don’t know, maybe that’s just a lame excuse on my part. OK, OK … there’s no “maybe” about it.

All I can say entering our Week 6 picks is, “Bring it on, Zach!”

This week’s guest picker is Eric Greiner, aka “Just-A-Gue-Fan” on social media. He is a knowledgeable sports fan and you won’t find a bigger supporter of Montague athletics. Just when I thought it was hard enough topping Zweigle, we bring in a ringer.

Here are the CatchMark picks for Week 6 games, followed by more detailed breakdowns of some intriguing matchups across the Muskegon area:

Note: All games kick off at 7 p.m. Friday with one exception: Mason County Central at Manistee is 7 p.m. Thursday.

(Graphic by Zach Zweigle)

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

Hudsonville Unity Christian (5-0, 3-0 OK Blue) at Spring Lake (5-0, 3-0), 7 p.m. Friday: This is one of two battle of unbeatens in the OK Blue Conference Friday night. The other one has Grand Rapids West Catholic traveling to Coopersville.

This one has been selected the CatchMark SportsNet Game of the Week. It’s the beginning of a tough closing stretch for Spring Lake, which hosts Coopersville next week, visits West Catholic in Week 8 and welcomes Allendale in Week 9. It’s also homecoming night at Grabinski Field. And, oh, by the way, this is the biggest game the Lakers have played in several years.

Many pundits are picking Unity Christian in this one and for good reason. The Crusaders have been a machine since capturing their first title in 2018. In the first five games this season, they’ve outscored opponents by a combined 276-59 margin.

This just feels like it’s Spring Lake’s year, however. That doesn’t guarantee the Lakers will block and tackle better than the Crusaders on Friday night – those are the things that win football games – but something tells me that Dan Start’s crew will pull this one out.

Prediction: Spring Lake 28, Unity Christian 27

Muskegon Catholic Central (4-1, 1-0 Lakes 8) at Muskegon Heights (4-1, 2-1), 7 p.m. Friday: A week ago, this matchup seemed to have more hype building and it very well could have been picked the CatchMark Game of the Week. But when Muskegon Heights was soundly defeated by Ludington, that changed things.

Regardless of any outcomes last week or in weeks prior, Muskegon Catholic Central was going to be a handful for Muskegon Heights. That’s not to say the Tigers are incapable of rising up, playing well and giving the Crusaders fits, but MCC is MCC: A model of consistently good football.

It could be a special night for the Crusaders, who are vying for their program’s 500th win all-time. Since the inaugural season in 1953, MCC is 499-209-7 in its history with 13 state championships.

The task for Muskegon Heights coach Van Parker Jr. is getting his Tigers back on the same page coming off the disappointing 41-12 loss at Ludington. MCC is not what you’d call a “get-well” opponent, so it’s a very tall order, but Heights still has a lot to play for.

Prediction: Muskegon Catholic Central 38, Muskegon Heights 6

Hart (2-3, 0-3 West Michigan Conference) at Ravenna (3-2, 1-2), 7 p.m. Friday: While the records for these teams are not what you’d call glittering, there are a lot of intriguing storylines in this one.

Hart head coach Joe Tanis returns to Ravenna, where in 2019 he served as the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach. More notably, he was a finalist for the head-coaching position there before current ’Dogs lead man Justin Ego was ultimately hired.

There’s a lot going on at Citizens’ Field on Friday: It’s homecoming night, and the Bulldogs’ 1996 team will be celebrated on the 25-year anniversary of its Class C state championship season.

Both Hart and Ravenna put forth encouraging efforts last week in losses. The Bulldogs gave conference-leading and defending state champ Montague all it wanted in a 14-7 thriller, while the Pirates put up 32 points after being shut out each of the previous two weeks.

Prediction: Ravenna 35, Hart 20

Kent City (2-2, 1-1 CSAA Silver) at Holton (3-2, 2-1), 7 p.m. Friday: Before the season started, few people may have thought much about this matchup. But here we are in Week 6, and this feels like it’s anybody’s ball game.

It’s been an unusual season for Kent City. The Eagles, defending champs in the Central State Activities Association Silver Division, returned a lot and had high hopes of defending their title. Then, they struggled with Newaygo in the season opener and debut game on their sparkling new field. And then COVID-19 impacted Kent City to where the Eagles were forced to forfeit the game against Morley Stanwood and last week’s matchup with Hesperia was deemed a no-contest.

On the other sideline, Holton is riding high after posting two straight convincing wins on the road in which senior quarterback Austin Fowler has lit it up through the air. The Red Devils lost a 30-28 heartbreaker at Morley Stanwood, otherwise they’d be riding a four-game winning streak.

Kent City might be a little rusty out of the gate, but I still like the Eagles to pull this one out.

Prediction: Kent City 34, Holton 28

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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