The district finals proved treacherous for Muskegon-area high school football teams last weekend.
Only three area squads survived and advanced to this week’s regional finals: Oakridge in Division 5, Montague in Division 6 and Muskegon Catholic Central in Division 7.
Mona Shores is out after winning back-to-back Division 2 state titles in 2019 and 2020. Division 3 Muskegon is sidelined, eliminated in the second round for the first time since 2011.
Below are details of this week’s regional finals for area teams, as well as scores from last weekend’s district finals, followed by the CatchMark SportsNet Game of the Week announcement:
CATCHMARK SPORTSNET GAME OF THE WEEK
Lawton (11-0) at Muskegon Catholic Central (10-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Hackley Stadium: This big game will be played on a little bit bigger stage. The Division 7 regional final is being moved from MCC’s Kehren Stadium to Muskegon’s Hackley Stadium, which features an AstroTurf playing surface installed last year at the iconic venue.
When the playoff brackets were revealed a couple weeks ago, this is a matchup many had circled for the regional finals. In The Associated Press’ final Division 7 poll of the season, Lawton was ranked No. 4 and MCC No. 6.
Lawton has set a school record this season with 11 wins. The Blue Devils are scoring at a prolific pace, too, with 584 points – good for 53.1 per game. The score that caught many people’s attention was Lawton’s 69-40 victory over Montrose in Week 6. Montrose has been a strong program for several years, and Lawton scored at will.
That’s where this matchup gets really interesting: Traditionally, MCC plays defense as well as anybody. The Crusaders’ first job will be slowing down Lawton all-state candidate Jake Rueff, who has rushed for 2,029 yards and a whopping 45 touchdowns this season.
MCC has faced great running backs this season, including Grand Rapids West Catholic’s Tim Kloska, who enjoyed a breakout season but was held to one of his lower outputs with 139 yards vs. the Crusaders in the Falcons’ 28-6 win.
This is new territory for Lawton. Prior to last week’s 35-6 victory over Union City, the Blue Devils had never won a district title.
Meanwhile, deep playoff runs are MCC’s M.O. The Crusaders have 13 state championships on their resume, 12 of them during the Michigan High School Athletic Association playoff era that began in 1975.
Is Lawton truly ready for the big stage? Can MCC contain Rueff and keep the playoff run going?
We’ll find out in four days.
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