SPORTS GALORE: Road to Ford Field

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 5:47 pm on Monday, October 03, 2011

Four schools still have a chance to earn a guaranteed spot among the 256 football teams in the Michigan High School Athletics Association (MHSAA) playoffs, that begin Oct. 28. Two more have to win out to finish the year 5-4, which would give them a very slim chance of making the postseason.
The best area record belongs to the Montabella Mustangs at 4-1. After winning their final four games a year ago, finishing 5-4 overall, the Mustangs have lost only to state-ranked Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart this year.

Following tonight’s game at Vestaburg (3-2), the Mustangs’ next three opponents are a combined 4-11. Even if the Mustangs lose to their rival Wolverines, chances are good Montabella makes the postseason for the the third time in four years.

The Wolverines are one of three area teams with a record of 3-2. With four games remaining they must win three out of four to guarantee a playoff spot.

Along with four-win Montabella on the schedule is state-ranked Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (3-2). The other two teams (Manistee Catholic Central and Merrill) are 5-5. Merrill has twice scored 70 points this year, against Bridgeport and Saginaw Valley Lutheren.

The Wolverines will have their work cut out for them as the try to reach the postseason for the first time since 2007.

Greenville and Central Montcalm are also 3-2. Both teams have difficult schedules remaining and I think the Hornets have the better shot at making the playoffs.

The Hornets should win their next two games against White Cloud (0-5) and Holton (2-3). The schedule tightens up with games at home against Chippewa Hills (3-2) and at Morley Stanwood (4-1). They will have to win one of those two to make the playoffs.

The Yellow Jackets have already played two state-ranked teams (lost to Holland and lost to East Grand Rapids) and will play two more in the next three weeks (at GR Christian and home against Lowell). At 3-2, it doesn’t look good for Greenville a year after finishing 9-2 overall.

Greenville also has to play 4-1 Northview on the road in week nine. With a young lineup it was expected to be a rebuilding season.

Of the three teams currently 3-2, Central Montcalm has the easiest road and Greenville the toughest to make the playoffs.

At 1-4 overall, Belding and Lakeview will have to win out to finish 5-4. The Redskins made the postseason with a 5-4 mark back in 2003. Typically, eight to 12 teams make the playoffs in all eight divisions with a 5-4 record.

With Reed city (5-0) on the schedule for Lakeview and defending champion West Catholic on Belding’s, making the playoffs will probably have to wait until next year.

Tri County and Carson City-Crystal are both 0-5 and already eliminated from playoff contention.

In the end, I think Central Montcalm and Montabella will reach the postseason. The others, unfortunately, will not.

Obviously, some of you may not like my predictions, but I’m being truthful. Some teams make the playoffs and others don’t. That’s the truth.

Then again, anything can happen. Upsets can happen.

For those not making the playoffs the end of the season is a very important time to get better for next year.

Montabella, for example, started the year 0-5 a year ago. They finished with four straight wins and are now 4-1 this year and have a great chance to make the playoffs.

Also, in 2009, the Yellow Jackets went 5-4. That same team went 8-1 in the regular season and went 1-1 in the playoffs the following year.

Finishing strong, regardless of final record, can set the tone for the future. Keep working hard.

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