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On the Mark: Plenty of blood, sweat, and tears went into these Week 3 football picks

The “Blood, Sweat & Tears” jug is on the line this Friday when Hart visits neighboring rival Shelby in a West Michigan Conference Rivers Division football opener for both teams.

The Pirates are swashbuckling in the early going this season with a 2-0 record. Meanwhile, the Tigers have been tamed in their first two weeks with an 0-2 start.

But, hey, this is a grudge match so who knows what might happen.

Speaking of Shelby: Remember when Mike Taylor coached there? Remember those flowing locks of hair?

I bring up Taylor because he was our guest picker in Week 2. And, well, let’s just say he may not be invited back again soon. Why? He showed us all up with a 14-3 record. Guess the “old coach” still knows a thing or two. (We may invite you back some time, Mike, but only after a probationary period.)

This week, we’ve invited Brent Raeth as our guest picker. Raeth is managing partner for CatchMark Technologies, founder of CatchMark SportsNet, and one of the biggest Montague homers you’ll meet.

Can Raeth one-up Taylor along with the rest of us on the weekly picks panel? We’ll find out soon enough.

Here are Week 3 picks for games involving West Michigan Conference and Greater Muskegon teams:


Hastings (1-1) at Whitehall (2-0), 7 p.m. Friday: It’s “Community Night” at Whitehall, which means there will be face painting, a dunk tank featuring a school prinicipal or two, a T-shirt cannon, mini-football give-away, and $1 entry for all Whitehall students.

Oh, there will be a football game, too. The way Whitehall looked in last week’s 55-0 throttling of Tecumseh on the road, it’s tough to see Hastings slowing down the Vikings.

The Saxons are coming off a 56-12 rout at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. How will they respond? It’s a tough task, but they did give the Vikings some fits last season.

Prediction: Whitehall 50, Hastings 14

Montague (1-1) at Orchard View (2-0), 7 p.m. Friday: Orchard View is off to its first 2-0 start since the Cardinals assembled a perfect regular season in 2019 in Fred Rademacher’s first year at the helm.

Montague’s strength of schedule is better than Orchard View’s to this point.

The Wildcats could use a win here to give them a little momentum entering next week’s “Battle for the Bell” showdown with neighboring Whitehall. The Cardinals could use a victory to keep those good feelings going. The last few years have been tough for OV.

Prediction: Montague 36, Orchard View 28

Montague defeated Ravenna, 39-34, in a West Michigan Conference nondivisional football game Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, at Towsend Athletic Complex in Montague, Mich. (Photo by Letisha Mikkelsen for CatchMark)

Hart (2-0) at Shelby (0-2), 7 p.m. Friday: Hart is feeling really good about itself and it has every intention of keeping the “Blood, Sweat & Tears” jug, which the Pirates have won six of the last seven years since reinstituing a varsity football team in 2016.

Can Shelby rally after a heartbreaking Week 1 loss and lopsided defeat in Week 2? If so, then seems as though this would be the week to do it.

Prediction: Hart 40, Shelby 14

In this file photo, Hart’s team is shown with the “Blood, Sweat & Tears” jug after defeating Shelby 38-6 on Sept. 9, 2022, in Hart Mich. (Bethany McCullough | CatchMark)

Reeths-Puffer (2-0) at Mona Shores (1-1), 7 p.m. Friday: This is one of those measuring-stick games for Reeths-Puffer, which is in Year 2 of Cody Kater’s culture-changing takeover of the Rockets program.

Last season, R-P hung with Mona Shores but couldn’t score in a 15-0 defeat.

Mona Shores is one of those benchmark programs, having been a state finals regular in recent years with a pair of Division 2 championships. The Sailors are coming off a 31-8 home loss to Rockford, but don’t read too much into that.

Time for Kater & Co. to notch that signature win.

Prediction: Reeths-Puffer 22, Mona Shores 21

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

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