2011 Football playoffs: Let the fun begin

The MHSAA football playoffs begin today across the state. Just 256 teams get the opportunity to play and only eight will end their seasons with a win. The next five weeks will be a fun, emotional, intense and physical challenge for everyone involved.

Bruce Bentley

Just one of our area teams gets the chance to compete for a state title. The Montabella Mustangs (8-1) will travel to Burton Bendle (8-1) tomorrow.
I’m not going to predict the winners in each division. Lack of knowledge about every team would make that difficult, although, there are a few teams in each division that usually make it to the end. State final predictions will take place the week of the finals, so look for those later.
After looking over the pairings here are some thoughts on the MHSAA playoffs.

Toughest district

Hands down the toughest district is in Division 1. Canton (7-2) is at Plymouth (8-1) and Northville (8-1) is at Detroit Catholic Central (8-1). The lowest state ranked team is Northville at No. 7. Canton is sixth, Plymouth fifth and Catholic Central is second behind Rockford.
With the way pairings are decided by regions, sometimes this happens and there is nothing that can be done about it. Both games will be rematches from last year’s district finals.
Plymouth defeated Canton and Northville this year by a combined five points. Canton’s other loss was to Livonia Churchill (my alma mater) while Catholic Central’s lone loss was to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (4th in Division 3) by a point.
A state semifinal matchup is in the future for any of these four teams with Rockford. Plymouth defeated Rockford in the state semifinals last year, but lost to Lake Orion 21-13 in the finals.

Most deceiving district

There were 21 teams with 5-4 records to make the playoffs this year and region 2, district 2 in Division 8 has three of them.
Fulton, Merrill and Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart are all 5-4. Do not be deceived by these records.
Sacred Heart hosts Merril and is the defending Division 8 state champion. An extremely tough schedule is the reason for the 5-4 mark.
Fulton is at Fowler (7-2). A year ago at 5-4, Fulton made a run to the Division 8 semifinals before losing to Saugatuck 20-14 in overtime.


Potential matchups


There are some good first round games, but it is always fun to look ahead at possible second round games. Many times these are rematches from the year prior or the regular season.
In Division 2, we could see a rematch of the regional finals between Lowell and Muskegon. Lowell won last year 33-28. Lowell would host is they beat Forest Hills Central (they did 35-6 in the regular season) and Muskegon gets by Mattawan (8-1).
And in Division 3, all eyes are on a Grand Rapids Christian rematch with East Grand Rapids. EGR defeated Christian 49-48 in the district final last year and Christian defeated EGR 50-49 in 2OT a week ago in week nine. This could be one of the best games of the playoffs.
There are many more interesting matchups out there. That is what makes the next five weeks so fun.

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