The Son of Swami usually doesn’t like surprises, but he was pleasantly surprised last week when he covered the Wyandotte at Woodhaven game.
No, SOS wasn’t surprised at the tremendous facilities at Woodhaven, he’s seen them before, nor was surprised when he was actually admitted and welcomed to a press box, that usually happens … sometimes.
The surprise came on the field when he saw one of the best officiated games he’d seen this fall.
SOS admits there is no bigger critic of officials than SOS, but that may be because he knows a well-officiated game when he sees one and this was one of those games.
It all begins with the referee — the guy in the white hat behind the offense — who sets the tone for the game with the way he gets teams into play with his ready-for-play whistle.
This guy had both teams hustling from one play to another so well SOS could have sworn he was watching a game refereed by Mike (No Show) Dempsey or Joe Kavulich, who wrote the book on game tempo.
It was a stark contrast from the week before at the Canton-Livonia Churchill game, when several times the teams had broken the huddle and were approaching the line of scrimmage and the referee hadn’t given the ready-for-play signal.
And now SOS is hoping to understand the importance of making deadlines, which often depend on the referee’s understanding of tempo.
Here are SOS’s picks for this week’s top games.
Lapeer (7-0) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (6-1), 7, Friday. Carman-Ainsworth quarterback Tyler Minor is coming off two sensational games that combined saw him run for 670 yards and score nine TDs. That is a career for most guys. He only completed one pass in those two wins, but he didn’t need to complete any. To win the Saginaw Valley Blue title, Lapeer linebacker Hunter Andrews and defensive lineman Jon Currie must contain Minor’s running and try to force him to pass. Carman is averaging 37 points a game while Lapeer’s defense has permitted a grand total of only 20 points in seven games. Perrier 34, Carman Miranda 21.
Rockford (6-1) at East Kentwood (6-1), 7, Friday. When was the last time Kentwood had the same record as Rockford this late into the season? The troubling aspect for Kentwood is its defense has yielded 28 points in each of the last two games. The shocker for Rockford was its 42-0 thumping by Caledonia. That doesn’t happen to the Rams, who needed overtime to win last week. Kentwood will have to be tough against the run so Brendan McKellar and Hunter Novak can’t nickel and dime the ball down the field. The Falcons wouldn’t mind seeing Michael Ivy follow John Keenoy into the end zone a few times. Rockford Files 24, East Keenoy 21.
Oak Park (6-1) at Southfield (4-2), 5, Friday. Southfield can force a three-way tie for the OAA White title with a win, but it needs to win to clinch a state playoff spot. Adrian Carter is a solid running back for Southfield, which can also score from the air with receiver Ray Buford finding ways to get open. With four BCS recruits in the secondary, Southfield has its own version of the “No Fly Zone.” That means it will be up to Oak Park’s John Kelly to have a big game on the ground to get those defensive back to crowd the box to open things for Oak Park’s passing game. Oak Bark 24, Southfield Freeway 22.
Detroit Cass Tech (7-0) vs. Detroit East English Village (5-2) at Detroit Collegiate Prep-Northwestern, 5, Friday. These teams met two weeks ago and East English rallied from a 21-0 deficit to make a game of it. If Cass’ Mike Weber is healthy, it will be difficult for East English to pull off the upset and earn a spot in next week’s PSL championship game. East English still needs a win to qualify for the state playoffs. The Cass defense should be tough for all four quarters as it moves on to defend its PSL title in Ford Field. Cash Tech 31, It Takes a Village 19.
Birmingham Detroit Country Day (4-3) at Muskegon Catholic Central (7-0), 7, Friday. Muskegon CC is only a Division 8 team, but it doesn’t play like a D-8 team. Tommy Scott leads a bevy of talented running backs, but don’t sleep on quarterback Nick Holt, who can complete passes when called on and is an even more effective runner. This is a crucial game for Country Day, which has lost to three excellent teams — Birmingham Brother Rice, Zeeland West and Detroit Loyola — but hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record and could have difficulty qualifying for the playoffs as a 5-4 team. MCC-ABE 34, Country Dog 28.