Teams that were formerly in traditional Battle Creek-area conferences, are now spread out all over lower Michigan – moving to new leagues in recent seasons.
However, since they are still in the Battle Creek Enquirer readership area, we will still take a look at them here.
Olivet and Maple Valley, who spent time in the Kalamazoo Valley and played Kalamazoo/Battle Creek teams for years, are now back in a Lansing-area league in the Greater Lansing Athletic Conference – enjoying their third season there.
Galesburg-Augusta and Delton Kellogg, also formerly in the KVA, are both now in the Southwestern Athletic Conference – but in different divisions. G-A is in the SAC-Central Division and D-K is in the SAC-Lakeshore Division.
As conferences break up and join together, Bronson is also in a revamped league with a lot of hyphens – now in its third year in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference Red Division.
•Head coach: Dan Burzynski (4th season)
•Top returners: Ethan Cossairt (jr., QB/DB), Dilan Rissman (sr., RB/LB), Bryce Withington (sr., RB/DB), Zach Zummey (sr., DL), Cole Houtz (jr., RB/LB), Alex Arias (jr., OL/DL), Thadd Herman (sr., OL/DE), Randy Thyng (OL/DE), Dakota Schlautmann (jr., OL/DL)
•Outlook: With the wins trending in the right direction and the points continuing to go up, Bronson is excited about what could happen in 2016. After a winless season two years ago, the Vikings improved to 3-6 and in doing so scored the second-most points in school history, averaging over 30 per game.
To go along with that offense, Bronson returns nine starters on defense as it hopes to contend in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference Red Division, with senior leadership on the defensive line in Thadd Herman and Zach Summey as well as upperclassmen in the back seven in Ethan Cossairt, Dilan Rissman, Bryce Withington, Cole Houtz.
“We have a good mix of experienced players and talented new comers. Last year we fought our way to three wins and want to continue to build on that moderate success,” Burzynski said.
•Head coach: Ryan Bates
•Top returners: Trent Aukerman (sr., LB), Eddy Jones (sr., RB), Wyatt Mast (sr., RB/K), Matt Yonkers (sr., OL), Josh Lyons (jr. QB), Tyden Ferris (jr., DE), Broc Pape (jr. OL), Oshea Hall (jr. OL).
•Outlook: Delton Kellogg made the playoffs last year for the first time in 14 years, getting in at 5-4. The Panthers also finished second in its new conference – the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Delton Kellogg will be looking to continue that momentum from a solid group of returners, many of which were sophomore starters last year.
Leading the way for D-K will be senior running backs Eddy Jones and Wyatt Mast with junior Josh Lyons coming back as a starter at quarterback. The Panthers also bring back three starting offensive lineman to make that group a strength, including senior Matt Yonkers and juniors Broc Pape and Oshea Hall. Tyden Ferris might be the best player on the field most nights as the junior standout has already committed to play at Central Michigan University.
•Head coach: Tony Smith (5th season)
•Top returners: Tristan Terry (sr., RB/LB); Bryan Beard (sr., QB/SS); Devon Pickett (sr., G/DE); Elijah Wilson (jr., FB/S), Jacob Walker (jr., OT/DT); Max Landers (jr., QB/DB).
•Outlook: Featuring young teams the last two years, which ended up in back-to-back 3-6 campaigns, Galesburg-Augusta may finally have some experience to work with as it hopes to get over the .500 mark in 2016. The Rams have eight linemen who have varsity experience on this year’s roster and a two-year starting running back in Tristan Terry, who has run for over 600 yards in each of the last two years.
Galesburg-Augusta also hopes to take advantage of some athletic ability with three receivers over 6-foot-1 in Anthony Brewer, Austyn Dunn and Abner Snyder.
“We hope to be a little more balanced this year between the run and the pass. Our defense should be better to stop the big plays that have been hurting us the last couple of years. If we stay healthy, we should be competitive with our schedule,” Smith said.
•Head coach: Marty Martin (2nd season)
•Top returners: Alex Musser (sr., QB), Evan Adrianson (sr., FB/DB), Kadin McIntyre (sr., OL/DL), Holden Creller (sr., OL/DL), Jace Hienze (sr., RB/DB), Franklin Ulrich (jr. ,RB/DB), Tony Martin (sr., OL/DL), Gage Merica (sr., TE/LB), Jason Bassett (sr., RB/LB)
•Outlook: A tough schedule does not do Maple Valley any favors this year after the Lions were winless last season. Maple Valley does not have a home game until Week 4 and are on the road for six of the nine contests in 2016. Beyond that, Maple Valley plays five teams that made the playoffs last year in its first six games.
As the smallest team in the Greater Lansing Athletic Conference, Maple Valley still hopes to finish in the top half of the league.
“We will have to stay healthy and have every player on the roster contribute throughout every game. We are embracing the David versus Goliath role. We are really looking forward to taking on this challenge,” Martin said.
•Head coach: Gabe Priddy (4th season)
•Top returners: Nolan Coolidge (sr., TE/DE), Wyatt DeGroot (sr., OL/DL), Jaykob Dilsaver (sr., OL/DL), Zane Fleming (sr., WR/DB), Freddy Fuentes (sr., RB/DB), Hunter Hayes (sr., WR/DB), Jacob Holzeih (sr. WR/DB), Nate Meeker (sr., OL/LB), Kenton Moon (sr., WR/DB), Joe Platek (sr., OL/DL), Delbert Redfield (sr., OL/DL), Brennon Shook (sr., OL/DL), Gabe Moore (jr., OL/DL), Nick Jungel (jr., OL/DL), Austin Carrigan (jr., RB/LB)
•Outlook: Olivet has made the playoffs every season since 2008 and lost in the first round last year, going 6-4 in 2015 in the Greater Lansing Athletic Conference. The Eagles have a large group of seniors to lean on including returning linemen on the offensive and defensive lines Wyan DeGroot, Jaykob Dilsaver, Nate Meeker, Joey Platek and Brennon Shook. Olivet will also look to have a solid defense with a good returning linebacker group in Meeker and junior Austin Carrigan.
“We have a good group of seniors returning from a season ago. I am excited for our leadership from this senior group we are looking forward to competing for a league championship in a conference where all the teams will be improving from a season ago,” Priddy said.
•Head coach: Dave Grohs (3rd season)
•Top returners: Conner Jenkins (sr., FB/LB), Dwight Devenney (sr., HB/DB), Andy Galliers (sr., TE/LB), Jake Hanks (sr., SE/DB)
•Outlook: Tekonsha is entering its eighth season of 8-man football and is looking to build off a 5-4 season from a year ago. Last season’s winning mark was the first year above .500 since 2011, the last time the Indians made the playoffs. With some experience back, including all-league performer Connor Jenkins, Tekonsha hopes to compete in the Southern Michigan 8-man Football League and put together back-to-back winning seasons.
“Tekonsha schools, with our co-op partner Marshall Academy, have very high expectations for the upcoming football season. Our experience and leadership will, hopefully, lead us to a playoff berth this year,” Grohs said.
Contact Bill Broderick (269) 966-0678 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow him on Twitter @billbroderick