Greater Kalamazoo Area Football Quick Preview

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With football season fast approaching, it is time to take a quick look at how high school football teams in the greater Kalamazoo area did last season, along with some changes in store for the 2017 campaign. We’ll be looking at the teams of the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference (SMAC), Southwestern Athletic Conference (SAC), Southwest 10 Conference, Wolverine Conference, Interstate 8 Athletic Conference, Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph (BCS) Conference and the Southern Central Athletic Association.

2016 SMAC WEST
TEAM DIVISION OVERALL PLAYOFFS
Portage Central 4-0 9-2 Lost in District Final
Stevensville Lakeshore 2-2 7-4 Lost in District Final
St. Joseph 2-2 6-4 Lost in Pre-District
Portage Northern 2-2 5-5 Lost in Pre-District
Niles 0-4 3-6
2016 SMAC EAST
TEAM DIVISION OVERALL PLAYOFFS
Kalamazoo Central 5-0 5-4
BC Lakeview 4-1 6-3 Lost in Pre-District
BC Central 2-3 3-6
Mattawan 2-3 2-7
Gull Lake 2-3 2-7
Loy Norrix 0-5 0-9

Although four of the five SMAC West teams were playoff qualifiers, they quickly dropped to two after facing one-another in the Division 2 Pre-District round. Portage Central downed Portage Northern 21-14 and Lakeshore defeated St. Joseph 30-7. Both the Mustangs and Lancers fell in the District Final, with the Mustangs losing to Forest Hills Central 27-13 and Lakeshore losing to Edwardsburg 50-20. Although Kalamazoo Central won the SMAC East, Lakeview was the division’s lone playoff team, going one-and-done to Forest Hills Central 52-7.

2016- SAC VALLEY
TEAM DIVISION OVERALL PLAYOFFS
Saugatuck 5-0 10-1 Lost in District Final
Decatur 4-1 4-5
Martin 3-2 4-5
Marcellus 2-3 4-5
Bloomingdale 1-4 2-7
Eau Claire 0-5 0-9
2016 SAC CENTRAL
TEAM DIVISION OVERALL PLAYOFFS
Schoolcraft 5-0 10-1 Lost in District Final
Lawton 4-1 8-2 Lost in Pre-District
Gobles 3-2 8-3 Lost in District Final
Galesburg-Augusta 2-3 5-4
Hartford 1-4 2-7
Bangor 0-5 0-9
2016 SAC LAKESHORE
TEAM DIVISION OVERALL PLAYOFFS
Watervliet 4-1 7-3 Lost in Pre-District
Constantine 4-1 6-4 Lost in Pre-District
Delton Kellogg 3-2 4-5
Kalamazoo United 2-3 4-5
Coloma 2-3 3-6
Fennville 0-5 3-6

Six SAC teams were playoff qualifiers in 2016, although none of them had significant postseason runs. Lawton and Constantine were bounced in the Pre-District by SAC rivals Gobles and Schoolcraft, respectively. However, the Tigers were stopped in the District final by Cassopolis 42-21, and Schoolcraft fell in a tight one to eventual Division 6 state champion Lumen Christi 37-34. Saugatuck made it to the District final as well, but were knocked out 25-19 by Pewamo-Westphalia. The SAC drops from 18 to 12 football teams for 2017 (more on that later in the post), but of note, all six playoff qualifiers remain in the SAC.

2016 WOLVERINE CONFERENCE
TEAM CONF OVERALL PLAYOFFS
Edwardsburg 9-0 12-1 Lost in State Semifinal
Three Rivers 7-2 7-3 Lost in Pre-District
Vicksburg 7-2 7-3 Lost in Pre-District
Dowagiac 6-3 7-4 Lost in District Final
Paw Paw 4-5 4-5
Plainwell 4-5 4-5
South Haven 3-6 3-6
Sturgis 3-6 3-6
Allegan 1-8 1-8
Otsego 1-8 1-8

Edwardsburg got to the final four for the second time in the last three seasons, but couldn’t defeat Muskegon in the Division 3 semifinal, final score 19-8. Dowagiac earned a playoff win over Buchanan 28-25, but were stopped in the District Final 14-7 to Berrien Springs. Both Vicksburg and Three Rivers were one-and-done, falling to Chelsea and Unity Christian.

2016 BCS WHITE
TEAM DIVISION OVERALL PLAYOFFS
Berrien Springs 3-0 8-3 Lost in Regional Final
Buchanan 2-1 5-4 Lost in Pre-District
Parchment 1-2 5-4
Comstock 0-3 2-7
2016 BCS BLUE
TEAM DIVISION OVERALL PLAYOFFS
Lake Michigan Catholic 4-0 8-2 Lost in Pre-District
Bridgman 3-1 6-4 Lost in Pre-District
Niles Brandywine 2-2 3-6
New Buffalo 1-3 3-6
River Valley 0-4 0-8
2016 BCS RED
TEAM DIVISION OVERALL PLAYOFFS
Cassopolis 4-0 11-2 Lost in State Semifinal
Mendon 3-1 8-3 Lost in District Final
White Pigeon 2-2 4-5
Bronson 1-3 1-8
Centreville 0-4 1-8

Cassopolis had their best season in school history, getting stopped in the Division 7 semifinal by Detroit Loyola 54-22. Berrien Springs got to the Regional round, falling to eventual Division 5 state champ Grand Rapids West Catholic 40-7. Mendon was the other squad to get a playoff win, knocking out LMC, then losing to Climax-Scotts.

2016 INTERSTATE 8
TEAM DIVISION OVERALL PLAYOFFS
Harper Creek 6-1 7-3 Lost in Pre-District
Lumen Christi 6-1 12-2 State Champion
Coldwater 5-2 8-3 Lost in District Final
Marshall 4-3 4-5
Pennfield 3-4 5-5 Lost in Pre-District
Hastings 2-5 2-7
Parma Western 2-5 3-6
Jackson Northwest 0-7 0-9

Although Harper Creek edged out Lumen Christi for the conference title, the Titans claimed the Division 6 state championship. Lumen Christi earned its ninth football title and its 11th championship game berth. Harper Creek’s lone conference loss came to Coldwater, who eliminated them in the Pre-District round. The Cardinals fell the next week 27-20 against Chelsea.

2016 SOUTHERN CENTRAL
TEAM DIVISION OVERALL PLAYOFFS
Climax-Scotts 5-0 11-1 Lost in Regional Final
Pittsford 4-1 6-4 Lost in Pre-District
Colon 3-2 5-5 Lost in Pre-District
Bellevue 2-3 3-5
Lenawee Christian 1-4 4-5
North Adams-Jerome 0-5 1-8

Climax-Scotts extended their postseason appearance streak to 14 seasons, losing in the Regional final to Division 8 runner-up Ottawa Lake Whiteford 38-18. Colon had the misfortune of a first-round meeting with the Panthers, while Pittsford fell to Morenci 27-24 in their Pre-District contest.

CONFERENCE SHAKEUPS
Many teams in the area will see significant schedule differences in 2017, thanks to the formation of the Southwest 10 Conference. Six former SAC squads and four former BCS squads have joined up, with their entire football regular season schedule made up of conference games.

SOUTHWEST 10
TEAM 2016 REC 2016 LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
Cassopolis 11-2 BCS Red Lost in State Semifinal
Mendon 8-3 BCS Red Lost in District Final
White Pigeon 4-5 BCS Red
Marcellus 4-5 SAC Valley
Decatur 4-5 SAC Valley
Hartford 2-7 SAC Central
Bloomingdale 2-7 SAC Valley
Centreville 1-8 BCS Red
Bangor 0-9 SAC Central
Eau Claire 0-9 SAC Valley

The SAC dropped from 18 to 12 football teams as a result of the change, changing from three six-team divisions to two six-team divisions. Five of the six teams in last season’s Lakeshore division are now in the Valley, along with Schoolcraft from the now defunct Central. The remaining six make up the new Lakeshore division, made up of three former Central teams, two former Valley, and one remaining Lakeshore team.

2017 SAC LAKESHORE
TEAM 2016 REC 2016 DIVISION PLAYOFFS
Saugatuck 10-1 SAC Valley Lost in District Final
Lawton 8-2 SAC Central Lost in Pre-District
Gobles 8-3 SAC Central Lost in District Final
Galesburg-Augusta 5-4 SAC Central
Martin 4-5 SAC Valley
Fennville 3-6 SAC Lakeshore
2017 SAC VALLEY
TEAM 2016 REC 2016 DIVISION PLAYOFFS
Schoolcraft 10-1 SAC Central Lost in District Final
Watervliet 7-3 SAC Lakeshore Lost in Pre-District
Constantine 6-4 SAC Lakeshore Lost in Pre-District
Delton Kellogg 4-5 SAC Lakeshore
Kalamazoo United 4-5 SAC Lakeshore
Coloma 3-6 SAC Lakeshore

The BCS didn’t need to shuffle nearly as much, with all four departed teams from the now defunct Red Division. The lone team left from the Red, Bronson, left the league as well and joined the Big 8 Conference, replacing Athens. The BCS White and Blue divisions remain unchanged.

The Southern Central Athletic Association will also have a new look for football. Bellevue and North Adams-Jerome both dropped down to the 8-man ranks and the Southern Michigan 8-Man league, helping push that league from five to eight teams (Camden-Frontier also joined the league). The SCAA will have five teams for football, with the remaining four joined by Athens, who left the Big 8.

The SMAC, Wolverine Conference, and Interstate 8 are unchanged for the 2017 campaign.

Stay tuned to the Slocum Sports Network for football, volleyball, and soccer coverage and live broadcasts throughout the 2017 fall season.

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