Teams across the state were watching Sunday as the MHSAA had its Selection Show, unveiling the matchups for the high school football playoffs.
For almost the last decade, Lakeview wasn’t a part of that process as the Spartans haven’t made the playoffs since 2003. So knowing their name would be called this weekend, Lakeview met as team to find out where it would start the postseason with the Fox Sports Detroit broadcast being shown on a big screen at the high school.
“It’s a lot of fun. Lot more interesting than watching this at home when the season is already over and you’ve already picked up the pads,” Lakeview coach Matt Miller said.
Lakeview was one of 10 local teams seeing its name on the screen during the Selection Show as the 258-team field was announced by the MHSAA.
“Definitely a lot better watching the show with the whole team, knowing we still have games to play,” Lakeview senior Nick Ayres said.
Also qualifying for the playoffs locally were Harper Creek, Pennfield and St. Philip in the city as well as area teams Marshall, Olivet, Union City, Bronson, Climax-Scotts and Colon.
In Division 2, Lakeview (6-3) will travel to Mattawan (8-1) in the first round, as the two teams have already agreed to play 7 p.m. Friday. The MHSAA will post official game times for all games on Monday.
If Lakeview were to win, it would play the winner of Portage Central (6-3) at Portage Northern (7-2).
Mattawan was a former member of Lakeview’s league, the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference.
“We are familiar with them, played them a few years ago in our league,” Miller said. “They are awfully good. We are going to have our work cut out for us. They are obviously in the playoffs for a reason.”
In Division 3, Harper Creek goes to the playoffs for the eighth time in the last nine seasons and will host Charlotte (6-3) in the first round. Harper Creek, at 7-2, is the top seed in the district and would host the winner of Plainwell (6-3) or Hastings (6-3) in the second round.
The Beavers, who will play 7 p.m. Friday, earned homefield advantage by having the top computer points in the district, based on strength of schedule.
“Homefield advantage is huge for everybody. With a 7-2 record we weren’t expecting to have homefield advantage in the first two rounds,” Harper Creek coach Ed Greenman said. “We are going to get a home playoff game and if we are good enough to beat Charlotte, we will get another home game. We are fired up about it.”
In Division 4, Pennfield will also get a home game as the top seed in the district as the Panthers have made the playoffs every season since 1998. The Panthers (8-1) will host Three Rivers (6-3) in the first round. Game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.
In the other half of the district is area team Marshall (6-3), which will host Williamston (6-3) in the Division 4 district.
State-ranked Pennfield improved to 8-1 and earned the first-round home playoff game by getting a big win over state-ranked Constantine in the final week of the regular season.
“It is nice to be No. 1 in our district and get the home game. We could have possibly slipped to fourth in the district if we don’t win our last game. We gained a lot of points from beating Constantine,” Pennfield coach Nick Koenigsknecht said.
In Division 5, Olivet (6-3) will play on the road against Lansing Catholic Central (8-1) in the first round. The winner of that game will play the winner of Leslie (8-1) at Portland (8-1).
In Division 6, Bronson gets into the playoffs going 5-3 with an 8-game schedule. The Vikings will travel to Hillsdale (9-0) in the first round. The winner will face Blissfield (5-4) vs. Jonesville (7-2).
In Division 7, Union City (6-3) will play at Pewamo-Westphalia (6-3) in the first round. The winner will face the winner of Springport (6-3) at Gobles (7-2).
Climax-Scotts (9-0) advances to the playoffs for the 10th straight season and will host a Division 8 game against St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic (7-1). Colon (5-4) is in the other half of that district and will travel to Mendon (9-0) in the first round.
For the second year, there will be an 8-man football postseason. St. Philip (6-3) will host Waldron (6-3) at 7 p.m.. Friday at C.W. Post Field. The winner will face the winner of Marine City Cardinal Mooney (5-4) at Portland St. Patrick (9-0).
With a limited number of 8-player teams, St. Philip has already faced Waldron twice already this season, splitting the two games.
“Playing them twice is an advantage because we know exactly what they are going to do. But it’s a disadvantage too, because they know exactly what we are going to do,” St. Philip coach David Downey said.