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On the Mark: Tough times with West Michigan Conference cancellations, better days ahead

Two WMC football games canceled in Week 8, making it three in two weeks. Playoffs are around the corner.

This is not the way that proponents of West Michigan Conference expansion envisioned the first football season going. Three games have been canceled in the last two weeks.

Last week, Orchard View canceled its home football game against Oakridge, citing a lack of healthy players. The thought was that the Cardinals might be able to return to full strength this week, or at least have enough healthy bodies to field a team for their road game against Ludington, but that is not the case. Orchard View canceled this week’s game, too.

If we’re being honest, the likelihood of Orchard View playing its game against powerhouse Whitehall next week does not look promising. The status of that game has not yet been updated.

OV-Ludington was the second WMC game canceled this week. Earlier in the week, Holton canceled its home game against North Muskegon, also citing a lack of healthy players. The Red Devils hope to return to the field next week for their rivalry game against Hesperia.

With Ludington and North Muskegon being idle this week, the natural question becomes: Why don’t the Orioles and Norsemen play each other?

That’s a great question, but the answer is not so simple. Does that matchup make sense for both parties? With Ludington being a Division 4 school and North Muskegon Division 7, maybe not when it comes to ramifications for playoff points for the Orioles.

Ludington and North Muskegon both announced that they’ll be sitting this week out. The Orioles and Norsemen will collect forfeit victories and get some rest, hoping to get healthier for Week 9 and the upcoming playoffs.

Speaking of playoffs: Exciting days ahead for several West Michigan Conference teams.

Here are predictions for the five games on the conference docket for Week 8:


Ravenna (5-2) at Oakridge (6-1), 7 p.m. Friday, North Grove Brewers WMC Game of the Week: Oakridge leads the all-time series against Ravenna, 42-12-1. Those might not look like numbers that define a rivalry but attend a game between the Eagles and Bulldogs and hear the pads pop – then you’ll know.

This series will surprise you sometimes, too. Last season, Oakridge was a heavy favorite and looked the part in building a 36-7 halftime advantage. Then a crazy second half happened, as Hunter Hogan helped carry Ravenna into a 36-all tie with 5:17 left in the game. The Eagles pulled it out, but that was one crazy night.

Ravenna is coming off a hard-hitting, big-game loss against North Muskegon, while Oakridge should be rested after receiving a forfeit win. On the surface, this kind of feels like Oakridge’s Week 4 game against Ludington, when the Orioles hung around throughout before the Eagles put it away late for a 30-18 victory.

Make sure you check out CatchMark SportsNet’s free livestream of this game as part of our comprehensive coverage. The YouTube widget is below the score prediction for this game and it will be shared again prior to Friday night’s game.

Prediction: Oakridge 32, Ravenna 20

Whitehall (7-0, 4-0 WMC Lakes) at Fremont (4-3, 1-3 WMC Lakes), 7 p.m. Friday: Can anybody in the West Michigan Conference slow down Whitehall, even a little bit? The answer is no.

The Vikings have a special team and the sky is the limit as long as they stay completely focused and relatively healthy. Might this be their final regular-season game? That’s a very distinct possibility, pending Orchard View’s Week 9 decision.

On the other side, the progress Fremont has made this season is evident. The Packers are seeking their first winning season since 2013. This Friday’s task is a tall order, however.

Prediction: Whitehall 50, Fremont 8

Whitehall players huddle and pray prior to a 54-26 victory over Hudsonville Unity Christian on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022, at McKenzie Stadium in Jenison, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Montague (3-4, 2-2 WMC Lakes) at Manistee (4-3, 1-3 WMC Lakes), 7 p.m. Friday: Despite being outgained 211-132, Montague found a way to earn a 20-0 homecoming victory over Fremont last week and snap a three-game skid.

The Wildcats are looking to build upon that at Manistee and carry some momentum into next Friday’s North Grove Brewers WMC Game of the Week home showdown against rival Oakridge.

For Manistee, a win over a program like Montague would be big for the Chippewas’ confidence. This is what a playoff matchup might look like for Manistee.

Prediction: Montague 30, Manistee 22

Montague players take the field prior to a 20-0 victory over Fremont Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, at Townsend Athletic Complex in Montague, Mich. (Photo by Kiara Mikkelsen for CatchMark)

Hesperia (1-6, 0-4 WMC Rivers) at Hart (5-2, 3-1 WMC Rivers), 7 p.m. Friday: This is a homecoming matchup featuring teams moving in different directions.

Injuries and inexperience have hampered Hesperia, which is on a five-game slide.

Meanwhile, Hart has locked up its first winning season in 25 years and best seven-game start in 38 years. The Pirates are not satisfied with those milestones, however.

Prediction: Hart 48, Hesperia 6

Hart is looking to earn a homecoming victory over Hesperia on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Mason County Central (2-5, 2-3 WMC Rivers) at Shelby (2-5, 2-2 WMC Rivers), 7 p.m. Friday: Mason County Central seeks a ninth-straight victory in the series against Shelby.

The Spartans have been playing good football in the last month, even if the results haven’t always reflected that. They lost 19-14 and 22-16 games to Ravenna and Hart, respectively, on Sept. 23 and Sept. 30.

Prior to last week’s 54-7 road loss against Manistee, Shelby was riding its first two-game winning streak since 2014.

Prediction: Mason County Central 30, Shelby 20

Mason County Central takes on Ravenna in a West Michigan Conference Rivers Division football game Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Scottville, Mich. Ravenna won the game, 19-14. (Photo by Scott Robar for CatchMark)

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

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Scott Broton

    October 13, 2022 at 8:23 am

    Again I will reiterate it was foolish to not extend an offer to bring Muskegon Catholic Central into the W.M.C. Conference. Instead bringing in some of the schools they did. A fear of competition in football? It seems to be blatant. An alternative set of rules should also apply by those that govern scheduling.If two schools end up with an open date due to the other opponent canceling they should then be required to play another team in the W.M.C. Once again fear of competition.

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