No trophies are on the line this week for Muskegon’s and North Muskegon’s football teams, but an even bigger prize awaits: A trip to Ford Field for the state finals.
Muskegon and North Muskegon, whose schools are pretty much separated only by the body of water known as Muskegon Lake, continue to carry the torch for the Muskegon area and they’re hoping to run it all the way to Detroit Thanksgiving weekend.
As stated previously, the Muskegon Big Reds have been in this position oh, so many times. North Muskegon may not have that pedigree (who does?), but the Norsemen have caught the attention of observors across the state with thrilling wins against big boys of small-school football the last two weeks.
Can the Big Reds and Norsemen keep it going? I don’t see why not.
Can I hold my narrow lead in the “On the Mark” race? Again, I don’t see why not.
Last week’s guest picker was Amy Yonkman, project manager for CatchMark. She went 2-0. Nice job, Amy!
This week’s guest picker is a man who was mentioned in this space last week. It’s Paul Young, father of talented North Muskegon QB James Young and volunteer reporter in our CatchMark SportsNut program.
Here are Week 13 “On the Mark” picks for the last two teams standing from the Muskegon area:
DIVISION 2: Muskegon (10-2) vs. East Lansing (10-2), 1 p.m. Saturday at Greenville: This is the first time these proud programs have squared off since Week 2 of the 2002 season, when Muskegon defeated East Lansing, 28-21. Much more is at stake this time: A trip to Ford Field for the state finals.
Both teams are riding 10-game winning streaks after starting their seasons 0-2. Muskegon’s schedule has certainly been more challenging, especially when you look at the perennial powers the Big Reds faced the first two weeks: Rockford and Warren De La Salle, the latter of which is still alive in the Division 2 playoffs. East Lansing’s opponents in Weeks 1 and 2 were Portage Central and Hudsonville, respectively.
Throw in the likes of Mona Shores (twice), Reeths-Puffer, and Zeeland West (also still playing), and Muskegon’s strength of schedule is quite strong.
With a big and strong offensive line and the big three in the backfield of M’Khi Guy, Destin Piggee, and Jakob Price, the Big Reds are on a roll and they’re on a mission. They’re looking to return to Ford Field and complete some unfinished business.
Muskegon is familiar with Greenville’s Legacy Field. Last November, the Big Reds were plowing through the snow and ice en route to a 49-21 semifinals win over DeWitt, which just so happens to be a rival of East Lansing. Remember Piggee sliding through the snow on his stomach across the end zone?
The forecast looks favorable this Saturday and so do the Big Reds’ chances.
Prediction: Muskegon 42, East Lansing 21
Photo by Courtney Jimison | CatchMark
DIVISION 7: North Muskegon (12-0) vs. Menominee (10-2), 3 p.m. Saturday at Gaylord: Ford Field feels so close, yet so far for North Muskegon. It’s within the Norsemen’s grasp, but a formidable foe stands in their way.
The last time the Norse were in the state semifinals, in 1986, they lost to Fowler, 6-0. The last time they won a semifinal was in 1981, when they beat the UP’s Iron Mountain, 9-7. For this group, it’s their time.
Like in ’81, North Muskegon faces another UP power in the state semis as high-scoring Menominee stands in the Norse’s way this Saturday. The Maroons are powered by All-UP quarterback Trevor Theuerkauf, who is said to remind some of former Ravenna QB Hunter Hogan, and All-UP running back Landan Bardowski.
Menominee lost back-to-back games to Negaunee (47-20) and Kingsford (41-32) in Weeks 7 and 8. To this point, the Maroons have played all three of their playoff games at home and they’ve outscored opponents a combined 140-28. They’ll be making their first road trip of the postseason and it’s a significant one in terms of distance and stakes involved.
After winning tense, hard-fought trophy games against perennial powers Lawton and Pewamo-Westphalia in each of the past two weeks, North Muskegon is plenty battle-tested. Union City in the playoff opened was no pushover.
The mental toughness, physicality, and resiliency that the Norsemen put on display the last two weeks could come in handy against the Maroons. Both teams will be flying around, making plays — the Norse need to make a few more.
Prediction: North Muskegon 34, Menominee 28
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