We are nearly at the halfway point in the high school football season already. Teams have found their identity and they know if some of their stated goals are attainable, or if it’s already time to look to next year. It was a key week in the city in Week 4 as important games were played in the Interstate 8 Conference and the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East Division.
So now we ask, what happened last week, what happens next?
And what does it mean?
Each week, the Enquirer’s Bill Broderick will break that down on Mondays, handing out some analysis on what all the results mean from the weekend of prep football and what to look for next.
In the city
Harper Creek: Harper Creek keeps on winning and it is nearly time to ask the question, are these guys for real? At 4-0 after a 55-25 win over Hastings, Harper Creek was given some attention in the state rankings by the Detroit Free Press late Sunday night and could get the same in the Associated Poll, which is released Tuesday morning. A very strong running game, with a stable of backs, Harper Creek has already surpassed its win total from a year ago and is in first place in the Interstate 8 Conference.
Next: Harper Creek remains the lone undefeated team in the Interstate 8 Conference. The Beavers will put that undefeated record on the line against Pennfield on Friday in a city rivalry game that has grown over the years now that both teams are in the same league. Pennfield has shown signs of improvement this year and is at 2-2. The Beavers still have preseason league favorites Coldwater and Marshall on the schedule later in the year, so Harper Creek has to guard against looking ahead.
Lakeview: The Lakeview defense is hitting it stride, allowing a total of eight points in the last two weeks. When the Spartans were dominating their schedule and their league, it was with a stifling defense and that could be the case again now after a 35-0 win over Mattawan. Of course, Lakeview’s run game still is the key to the offense and the Spartans again controlled this SMAC East win over the Wildcats with its veer-option attack.
Next: The game of the year on the regular schedule is next for Lakeview as the Spartans travel to Portage Central, a team that has been their nemesis in recent years. Portage Central did suffer its first loss last week as the Mustangs played out of conference against Traverse City Central, falling 38-22. Portage Central is still in first place in the SMAC West, so it will be a battle of the top teams in each division in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference.
St. Philip: On their way to dominating opponents in their league, the Tigers were given a battle on Saturday during Homecoming as Burr Oak pushed St. Philip. However, St. Philip was up to the challenge and remained undefeated with a 28-18 win and should remained ranked in the state in 8-man football this week.
Next: On paper, this looks to be the toughest game of the year so far for St. Philip. The Tigers will face an undefeated Camden-Frontier squad on the road. Camden-Frontier has been winless the last two seasons and is playing an independent schedule this year and is beating up on non-MHSAA affiliated schools so far. But the Redskins are winning their games and it will be a battle of two undefeated teams in Week 5.
Pennfield: Pennfield suffered a heart-breaking loss to Interstate 8 rival Marshall on Friday, falling in the final minute, 24-21. The Panthers looked to have had the game won with a dramatic touchdown of their own with just over two minutes left, but could not hold on in the end. The loss drops Pennfield to 2-2 on the year as the Panthers are looking for their first winning season since 2013.
Next: The schedule remains tough for Pennfield, as it will be playing the three favorites for the league title all in a row. After losing to Coldwater and Marshall, Pennfield now hosts undefeated Harper Creek. How the Panthers bounce back from a dramatic loss to Marshall will determine how this city rivalry game turns out.
Battle Creek Central: An emotionally-draining early part of the season seems to have caught up with Battle Creek Central. The Bearcats had the toughest schedule in the area the first three games, which included a game against city rival Lakeview. BCC then faced another big rival in Kalamazoo Central, losing to the Maroon Giants, 31-22, in Week 4 to go 0-4 on the year.
Next: It doesn’t get any easier for Battle Creek Central, as the Bearcats will play 3-1 Niles on the road. If BCC wants to turn its season around, it could start there with Gull Lake (2-2) and Mattawan (0-4) the following two weeks.
Around the Area
Marshall: Marshall saved its season and salvaged its hopes to make a run at the Interstate 8 Conference title with a come-from-behind win over Pennfield. The Redhawks are now 2-2 overall, with its playoffs hopes still intact. More importantly, the Redhawks are 2-1 in the league with first place Harper Creek still ahead of them, so they have their own destiny in their hands.
Climax-Scotts: The Panthers won their 14th straight regular season game, with a 63-0 win over Adrian Lenawee Christian as Climax-Scotts has only giving up a total of nine points in the last three weeks. Climax-Scotts will play out of conference this week as the Panthers look to challenge themselves with a game against Bark River-Harris (2-2), a team that has been in the playoffs the last two years.
Contact Bill Broderick (269) 966-0678 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow him on Twitter @billbroderick