BELDING — Football rematches don’t happen very often.
Well, the Belding Redskins and Comstock Park Panthers get to do just that, a rematch. Same teams, same location, different meaning.
Comstock Park defeated the Redskins 30-7 in week five (Sept. 27). That win helped the Panthers to a perfect regular season and an O-K Blue Conference title.
A win tonight means another game. A loss for either Belding (7-3) or Comstock Park (10-0) and its season is over.
“We are focused. They have a great opportunity,” Belding coach Joe Schwander said. “Any time you lose to a team in the regular season and get another chance, it doesn’t happen very often.”
Belding defeated Spring Lake last week 21-20 on the road. The win required a late fourth quarter drive and two-point conversion.
“At times we played very well. Again, the theme was we turned the ball over a little bit,” Schwander said. “They were a very good team and talented offensively. Our kids did a nice job of hanging in there and getting the win.”
All season long, Schwander has talked about opportunities and making plays. The Redskins made the play of the season to advance.
“They did make a play. It was a senior quarterback (Kole Hart) to a senior tight end (Japheth Willmore),” Schwander said. “It just felt like with eight minutes to go, the way the game was playing, if we got something going we just needed to keep going.”
The weather had something to do with the decision. as well. Rain fell most of the game, the field was muddy and an extra point attempt was botched earlier in the game when the Redskins kicker slipped.
“It was almost a no-brainer in a way,” Schwander said.
Comstock Park defeated Fremont 43-13 to open up the playoffs a week ago. The past two seasons, the Panthers have reached the Division 4 semifinals, only to have their season come to an end.
“We have to play physical with them. They have very talented skill players,” Schwander said. “They are very senior laden. Like any game, we have to limit turnovers, sustain drives and keep their offense off the field.”
In the first meeting between the two teams, Belding trailed just 16-7 until late in the third quarter. Two big plays, one on the final play of the third quarter and one in the fourth, gave the Panthers the win.
“They didn’t really drive the ball,” Schwander said. “Jake Bush is a phenomenal athlete. He took a screen pass and a run for touchdowns. His start and stop is great. We have to be very disciplined because they can take any play to the house.”
The winner of tonight’’s game will face the winner of Ogemaw Heights/ Cadillac in next week’s regional final. Tonight’s kickoff is at 7 p.m.