GREENVILLE - The Greenville Yellow Jackets routinely play one of the toughest football schedules in the state each year.
A good indicator is the amount of playoff success the O-K White displays each year.
Since Greenville transitioned to the O-K Conference in 2003 the Lowell Red Arrows have won two state titles (Division 3 in 2004, Division 2 in 2009) and lost in another (2010 to Farmington Hills Harrison 38-28). The Red Arrows also won the Division 2 state title in 2002 and was on the Yellow Jackets schedule that year.
The East Grand Rapids Pioneers have won six Division 3 state titles since Greenville entered the league including the past five. The Pioneers also won in 2002.
The only other two teams to win a Division 3 state title since East Grand Rapids in 2002 have been Lowell and Caledonia (2005). Caledonia even made a brief appearance in the O-K White in 2007.
This season the Yellow Jackets schedule features four state-ranked opponents. That makes things tough considering a four-loss season knocks you out of the postseason.
“It really does seem like it’s every year. We are always up against East Grand Rapids and Lowell,” Greenville coach Dave Moore said. “Now with (Grand Rapids) Christian, who we play this week, and Holland, who we already played, it does seem extra difficult this year.”
Greenville lost to upstart Holland in week three 56-35. They lost to the Pioneers in week five 56-21. The Yellow Jackets (4-2, 1-1) face Christian (No. 2 in Division 3) on the road Friday and at home Oct. 14 against Lowell (No. 4 in Division 2).
The Eagles have not lost this year. The Red Arrows have lost once to the Eagles two weeks ago.
Christian was expected to be good this year after a 6-3 season last year. The Eagles nearly ended the state title run of East Grand Rapids in the district finals last year, but lost 49-48.
“As good as the seem to be I don’t know if anyone thought they were going to be that good,” Moore said of the Eagles. “They had some great talent coming back and they have some great kids.”
Being a younger team this year makes things that much more difficult for the Yellow Jackets.
“We are a younger team and there is no question about that,” Moore said. “We don’t like to use the term rebuilding. We feel like we can be competitive each week and that’s what we strive for.”
Moore thinks playing teams like this can only make his team better as they move along.
“Playing games like this is a great opportunity,” he said. “We can see how good we are, to see where we stand and to find out how well you can compete. These games are fun.”
Moore doesn’t think the disparity in scores shows the type of game his team plays.
“Even during the East game when we were down our thing is to play with great effort always,” Moore said. “Our kids kept doing that and kept competing despite the score. We came out of the East game with some real positive things.”
Moore, in his ninth season as Greenville coach, just won his school best 50th game with a 44-0 win over Grand Rapids Creston last week.
This week’s game will feature a tough Eagles defense and talented offense.
“They are tremendous defensively. They have 11 guys that just fly to the ball,” Moore said. “On top of that they have two proven quarterbacks, a very good running back and a receiver who everyone touts as a Division 1 player. It will be a tough game.”
The freshman and junior varsity teams will play their final game at Black Field tonight. They will play week nine at Yellow Jacket Stadium on Oct. 20. The final varsity game at Black Field will be Oct. 14 against Lowell.