Defending Division 6 football state champion Jackson Lumen Christi will return to the semifinal thanks to a 44-22 road win over the Watervliet Panthers in Saturday’s Regional final. The Titans were dominant from the start, scoring the game’s first 36 points and earning the running clock by the third quarter. They held the Panthers, who averaged more than 50 points per game in the season, to only six against their starting defense.
Watervliet got two first downs on their initial drive, but were stopped for a turnover on downs 33 yards from the end zone. Lumen Christi had a three-and-out for their opening drive, but would score on the ensuing six drives. The second Panther drive ended after one play as safety Kamal Harris recovered a fumble from quarterback Zack Pickens at the Panther 29. Three plays later, running back Sebastian Toland scored on a five-yard rush, giving the Titans a 6-0 lead after a missed extra point with 6:32 in the first quarter.
The Titans would get the ball twice more before Watervliet, recovering two onside kicks that bounced off of waiting Panthers. Lumen Christi quarterback Troy Kutcha added 10 and one yard touchdown runs, along with a Nick Thomas two-point run and two-point pass to Dayton Keller, to give Lumen Christi a 22-0 lead after one quarter.
Watervliet finally got the ball back, but moved backward, leading to a rare Panther punt. The Titans put together a 55-yard scoring drive and scored on a 13-yard Thomas run, putting the score at 28-0 following a failed two-point try with 8:01 in the second.
Watervliet’s fourth drive ended in a turnover on downs and the Titans responded with a nine-play, 53-yard scoring drive capped off with a 22-yard pass from Kutcha to Kyle Minder. The two-point run by Thomas gave Lumen Christi a 36-0 lead with 1:20 before halftime.
Facing the prospect of the running clock to start the third quarter, Watervliet finally found the end zone on the final play of the second with a nine-yard pass from Pickens to Bryant Kieft. The two-point try failed, putting the score at 36-6 into halftime. Unfortunately for Watervliet, Lumen Christi started with the ball in the third quarter and passed the running clock threshold with a 51-yard scoring drive. The QB sneak by Kutcha and two-point run by Thomas put the score to 44-6.
The following two Panther drives ended with a turnover on downs, with a lot of time ticking in between. The Titans brought in reserves in the fourth quarter and saw a punt get blocked, putting Watervliet seven yards from the end zone.
The Panthers scored on their first pass, a seven-yard fade toss to Kieft, finally stopping the running clock. They got the two on the exact same play to put the score at 44-14, but the running clock damage was already done with the touchdown coming with 4:55 left in the game. Watervliet forced another punt and scored once more against the backups with a one-yard Dylan Lynch run and two-point pass for Garrett Matthews.
Unofficially, Kutcha was 7-8 passing for 114 yards and one touchdown, along with three rushing scores on 20 yards. Minder was the leading Titan rusher with 74 on 18 carries, followed by 57 on 9 from Toland. For Watervliet, Pickens was 15-25 for 167 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 75 yards, although more than half of that came in the fourth quarter. Kieft led the Panther receivers with six catches, 81 yards, and two scores.
Watervliet finishes at 11-1 on the season, only their second season ever getting to 11 wins. Lumen Christi improves to 10-1 and will face Warren Michigan Collegiate (12-0) next Saturday at 1 p.m. from Chelsea High School.
Listen back to the Regional final below:
The Saugatuck Indians claimed their second ever Regional football championship Friday night with a 7-6 upset at Cassopolis. Saugatuck trailed nearly the entire contest, finally scoring with 2:42 remaining on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Jackson Shriver to Cooper Myers.
After both teams punted for their opening drive, Cassopolis scored what would be their only touchdown. Starting 46 yards from the end zone, a 32-yard Hunter Parsons run put them into the red zone, followed shortly by a 9-yard Brandon Anderson touchdown run with 5:40 remaining in the first quarter. Anderson’s extra point kick was blocked by Keegan Carper, which ended up being decisive by the final gun.
Saugatuck’s second drive made it to the red zone, but ended with Shriver intercepted in the end zone by Tyrese Hunt-Thompson. The remainder of the second half saw two punts and a turnover on downs for both teams, keeping the Rangers up 7-0 at halftime.
Saugatuck started with the ball in the third, but had a three-and-out. Cassopolis made it within 22 yards of scoring, but fell victim to a turnover on downs. From there, Saugatuck started a nearly eight minute drive, culminating in a fourth and two from the five-yard line to start the fourth quarter. Cassopolis made the stop and seemingly had all of the momentum, getting out of their own territory quickly on a 60-yard Anderson run.
The Rangers made it within five yards of scoring their second touchdown. On fourth down, Cassopolis elected for a 22-yard field goal try and once again, Saugatuck came up with a block and took over from their 20 with 6:26 remaining.
Two first downs put them past midfield, but Saugatuck then faced a third and 12 from the 41. Shriver found Myers at open at the 30 and the junior tight end used his blockers for only his second touchdown of the season. Evan Czarnecki made the extra point kick, giving Saugatuck the 7-6 advantage with 2:42 remaining.
Cassopolis couldn’t muster a first down on their ensuing drive and Saugatuck was able to run the clock all the way down to one second. An attempt to drain the final seven seconds on a fourth down play was unsuccessful for Saugatuck, giving Cassopolis one last hope from midfield. Despite numerous laterals, the Rangers couldn’t pull off the miracle.
Unofficially, Shriver was 6-8 for 87 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also had 40 rushing yards, leading his team. He and five other rushers combined for 135 yards. For Cassopolis, quarterback Dylan Green was 2-9 for 20 yards. Anderson rushed for 126 on 12 attempts and a touchdown. They finished with 211 yards on the ground.
Cassopolis finishes the year at 10-2, ending their bid for back-to-back semifinal appearances. Saugatuck moves to 9-3 and is into the semifinal for the second time ever, joining their state runner-up 2010 season. They’ll meet 12-0 Madison at a neutral site to be determined on Saturday, November 18.
Listen back to the Regional final below:
Listen live online Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on the Slocum Sports Network to a MHSAA Division 6 Regional football final between the Watervliet Panthers and Lumen Christi Titans. These schools met for the first time in last year’s Pre-District round, a game Lumen Christi won 55-28 en route to their ninth state championship.
Watervliet enters the game at 11-0, one of four unbeaten teams in the Division 6 elite eight. It’s only the second time reaching 11 wins in program history, joining the 1979 Class C state runner-up campaign, their only ever trip beyond the Regional round. This is their third Regional appearance in their current seven season playoff streak. Watervliet is averaging 52 points per game while allowing 23.2 per game.
The Panthers have scored 36 or more in each of their games and have reached 50+ in eight of their games. After shutting out Schoolcraft (36-0) to start the playoffs, Watervliet had their tightest game of the season in their 58-50 victory over Delton Kellogg. Apart from their two games against Delton Kellogg, Watervliet has won every game by three or more possessions.
Lumen Christi enters at 9-1 and are the defending Division 6 state champion. Last year’s title was their first trip to the final four since 2009’s championship. The program has been one of the most decorated in the state, winning nine championships and making the final twice more. The Titans have an all-time winning percentage just under 80 percent. This season, they’re scoring 37.1 points per game and allowing 11.9 per contest.
Lumen Christi started the season with tough tests, edging Division 5 champion Grand Rapids West Catholic 27-24 in their opener. The lone Titan loss came to unbeaten Interstate 8 champion Harper Creek 22-21 in week three. Since that game, they’ve won seven consecutive contests by three possessions or more and have allowed no more than 15 points. Lumen Christi downed Quincy 48-15 and Michigan Center 51-14 in their playoff games.
Listen live to Saturday’s Regional final online on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m. ET from Watervliet. The winner faces either Warren Michigan Collegiate (11-0) or Blissfield (7-4) in the semifinal next weekend.
Listen live online Friday night on the Slocum Sports Network to a Division 7 Regional football final with the Cassopolis Rangers hosting the Saugatuck Indians. It is the first ever football meeting between the two schools with the winner advancing to the final four against either unbeaten Madison or Monroe St. Mary Catholic.
Cassopolis enters at 10-1 overall, averaging 44.3 points per game while allowing 8.4 per contest. The Rangers made it to the state semifinal for the first time ever last season, falling to runner-up Detroit Loyola. Cassopolis is in the Regional final for the third consecutive year and been in the playoffs for 11 of the last 12 seasons.
In the regular season, Cassopolis shutout five opponents and rolled through most of the Southwest 10 Conference. Their lone loss came to unbeaten Mendon 34-24 in week eight’s de facto conference championship. In the playoffs, the Rangers defeated Homer (50-14) and Reading (31-16).
Saugatuck enters at 8-3 and are in the Regional final for the second time in school history, joining their state runner-up 2010 season. They’re averaging 30 points per game while allowing 16.9 per contest. They’re in the postseason for the eighth time in 10 seasons.
After a 2-2 start against the powerful SAC Lakeshore, Saugatuck rolled their first four SAC Valley Division opponents 166-18 to secure a playoff spot. The Indians ended the regular season with a thud in a 40-7 loss to Fennville, but bounced back with playoff wins over Springport (47-21) and Maple Valley (14-8).
The Watervliet Panthers claimed their third district football title in nine years Friday, winning a wild one at home over Delton Kellogg, 58-50. The game saw similarities to their 58-44 week six battle, which was 30-30 at halftime compared to this game’s 30-29 halftime score.
After forcing Delton Kellogg to punt on their opening drive, Watervliet quarterback Zack Pickens found a 52-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Kieft and a two-point pass to Garrett Matthews for an 8-0 lead. DK got a big pass of their own only a few plays later as Josh Lyons found a wide open Max Swift for a 55-yard score. The extra-point kick made it 8-7 midway through the first quarter.
Watervliet’s second drive led to a second touchdown, a 59-yard passing score from Pickens to Trent Boone. A failed two-point try put the score at 14-7, where it stayed until early in the second. Delton Kellogg put together an 11-play, 69-yard drive and scored on a fourth and goal with a one-yard Swift rush, tying the game at 14-14.
Watervliet scored again quickly, using a screen pass to Kieft for a 73-yard score. A two-point pass to Matthews pushed it to 22-14 with 8:33 in the second. DK responded with a 41-yard Swift rushing touchdown and used a trick pass to the long snapper Ethan Reed for the two and a 22-22 tied game.
The next Watervliet drive had a rarity, a Watervliet turnover. Pickens fumbled with Lyons recovering the ball at the DK 20. Four plays later, a 65-yard Swift run gave Delton Kellogg their first lead with 1:43 before halftime, 29-22. The big-play Watervliet offense struck back 49 seconds later on a 26-yard pass from Pickens to Matthews. They hooked up again for the two for a 30-29 Watervliet lead.
A great kick return by Lyons put DK 35 yards from the end zone with 45 seconds to work with. They made it as close as the eight and had one last shot at the end zone before halftime, but Lyons was intercepted at the goal line by Pickens, keeping the halftime score 30-29.
Watervliet started with the ball in the third but quickly lost it on a fumbled exchange, recovered by Tyden Ferris. Watervliet then evened the takeaway battle with the biggest one of the night, as linebacker Anthony Wade ripped the ball out of the hands of Alex Diggs and took it 80 yards to the end zone.
“Just to rip the ball out of the dude’s hands, it took a lot out of me, but I had to do it for the team, I had to fight it out,” said Wade after the game. The score, plus the two-point conversion, put Watervliet ahead 38-29.
Delton Kellogg responded with an 11-play, 76-yard scoring drive capped off with a one-yard Swift rush. Their two-point try failed, putting the score at 38-35 with 2:05 remaining in the third. Before the end of the frame, Watervliet was back up by two scores with an eight-yard pass from Pickens to Matthews. The two-point toss to Kieft gave Watervliet a 46-35 lead entering the fourth quarter.
DK was stopped on a turnover on downs and Watervliet took a three-possession lead with an 18-yard pass from Pickens to Jakob Aldrich. A failed two-point try put the score at 52-35 with 7:15 remaining. Delton Kellogg wouldn’t go down without a fight, scoring less than two minutes later on a 35-yard Lyons rush. He added another two on the ground and got the score to 52-43.
Watervliet kept the game out of reach with an 11-yard Pickens rushing touchdown with 2:15 remaining for a 58-43 score after a failed two-point try. Delton Kellogg had one last gasp, scoring with 11 seconds remaining on a 31-yard pass by Lyons to Anton Blomgren. DK couldn’t get the ball back on the kickoff, putting the final tally at 58-50.
Unofficially, Pickens was 16-17 passing for 390 yards and six touchdowns, his first career game with six passing TDs. He added 109 rushing on 22 attempts and a touchdown. Kieft had nine grabs for 232 yards and two scores.
“We have a wealth of talent at the skill positions right now,” said Watervliet coach Jeremy Andrews. “Anybody who has seen Zack throw the football knows that he can throw. He throws an absolutely beautiful ball, highly catchable. And our receivers made some big plays tonight.”
For Delton Kellogg, Swift finished with 187 rush yards on 17 attempts with three rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown, plus easily double-digit tackles defensively. Lyons was 3-5 passing for 93 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He rushed for 89 yards.
Delton Kellogg finishes the season at 6-5. Watervliet improves to 11-0 and will play in the Regional final for the third time in nine years. They meet defending Division 6 state champion Jackson Lumen Christi, who ended their 2016 campaign in the Pre-District round 55-28.
“We’ve got to play the 11 guys on the field, not the name on the jersey and the mystique. We don’t have to beat their history and their pedigree,” said Andrews. “I said at the beginning of season, I think that we’re good as anybody and if we play well, we can win every game. I believe that, absolutely 100 percent going into next week.”
Watervliet and Lumen Christi’s Regional final will be played at Watervliet with the date and time to be announced. Watervliet has only made it past the Regional final once before, making it to the 1979 state championship. You can listen to the Regional final next week live online on the Slocum Sports Network.
Listen back to the District final below:
Listen live Friday online at MichiganSportsRadio.com to a Division 5 District football final as the West Catholic Falcons host the Kalamazoo United Titans in Grand Rapids. It will be the first ever football meeting between West Catholic and the United co-op or either of its schools.
Both teams enter the contest at 8-2 on the season. Kalamazoo United has had a flair for the dramatic recently as their last five games have been decided by a combined 12 points. The Titans got the first playoff win in the Hackett Catholic/Kalamazoo Christian co-op’s four-year history last week, defeating Dowagiac 21-18. United is averaging 34 points per game and allowing 27.2 per game and have been highlighted by an electric passing offense. Junior quarterback Eric Wenzel has tossed 35 touchdowns on the season.
The Titans will meet a juggernaut in West Catholic, winners of the last four Division 5 state championships and five of the last seven. Although beaten twice this season, their losses came 27-24 to Lumen Christi (defending Division 6 champion) and 35-33 to Grand Rapids Catholic Central (defending Division 4 champion). Averaging 40.8 points per game and 16 allowed per contest, the Falcons ran through Berrien Springs 43-13 in their playoff opener.
Listen live to Friday’s contest at MichiganSportsRadio.com with kickoff set for 7 p.m. and pregame at 6:40 p.m. from West Catholic.
Listen live online Friday night on the Slocum Sports Network to a MHSAA Division 6 District football final between Watervliet and Delton Kellogg. Both teams are the Panthers, both wear maroon, both are in the SAC Lakeshore division, and both have been hot since their week six meeting.
Back on September 29, Watervliet won at Delton Kellogg 58-44 to lock Watervliet into the playoffs at 6-0 and putting DK in danger at 2-4. The 14-point margin remains the closest anyone has come this season to beating Watervliet, who is now 10-0. Since allowing 44 in that game, their worst defensive effort of the year, Watervliet has allowed 52 combined points over their last four games, including their first shutout last week in their playoff opener against Schoolcraft. On the year, Watervliet is averaging 51.4 points per game while allowing 20.5.
Following the Watervliet loss, Delton Kellogg’s only hope at the postseason required a 3-0 finish against Kalamazoo United, Coloma, and Constantine. DK did just that, winning 35-32, 23-20, and 40-7, giving them enough playoff points to enter the field at 5-4. Delton Kellogg then had their most dominant performance yet in last week’s Pre-District win at Parchment, destroying those Panthers 57-0 to move to 6-4 on the year. DK is averaging 34.1 points per game while allowing 26.9.
Watervliet and Delton Kellogg were tied 30-30 at halftime in their week six encounter, but Watervliet was able to pull away in the second half. Watervliet quarterback Zack Pickens threw for 398 yards and five touchdowns, while also rushing for three scores and 103 yards.
Watervliet is in the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years, although only twice in that stretch have they won their District final and both times, they were then stopped in the Regional. Delton Kellogg is in the postseason for the second time in the last three seasons, although they had a 13-year playoff drought prior to 2015. DK has made it to the Regional round only once ever, back in 1987 and their Parchment win last week was their first playoff victory since 2000 and only third ever playoff victory.
Prior to Watervliet joining the SAC in 2015, these schools had never played in football. Watervliet has won all three previous meetings. If Watervliet is victorious, they would host either defending state champion Lumen Christi (8-1) or Michigan Center (9-1) in the Regional final. If Delton Kellogg wins, they would be on the road.
The third-ranked Mendon Hornets opened the Division 8 MHSAA football postseason with a Pre-District win over Lake Michigan Catholic 28-12 Saturday, setting up a District final between the Hornets and defending state champion Muskegon Catholic Central next week. Mendon’s dominant defense had another strong showing, forcing two interceptions and holding the Lakers to seven rushing yards.
After forcing a punt to start the game, the Hornets quickly scored with a four-yard run from Cole Decker. Mendon forced another punt and drove to the one-yard line, but were denied by LMC for a turnover on downs. The Lakers then had a scoring drive that traveled 99 yards, finished with a 37-yard pass from Zach Rogers to Christian Monconduit. The score came right at the start of the second quarter and put the Lakers down 7-6 after a missed extra point.
Both teams would have a giveaway and multiple punts in the second quarter. Mendon was able to score once more and take a 14-6 lead into halftime on an 11-yard passing touchdown from Decker to Hunter Lovell.
Mendon started with the ball in the third quarter and kept the ball for more than 10 minutes, traveling 70 yards on a drive with 19 rushes. A two-yard Wyatt Cool rush punched into the end zone for a 21-6 lead with 1:23 left in the third quarter. The Hornets would force a turnover on downs and interception on the following LMC drives and score one more midway through the fourth on a 32-yard Lovell rush. The Lakers added a 17-yard pass touchdown from Rogers to Conner Christensen late in the fourth for the 28-12 final, following a failed two-point try.
Mendon unofficially tallied 390 rushing yards, 178 of which came from sophomore Austin Rensi on 20 carries. Wyatt Cool had 99 on 21 runs. For the Lakers, Zach Rogers was 11-33 for 187 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Lake Michigan Catholic finishes the year at 7-3. For Mendon, they move to 10-0 and host top-ranked Muskegon Catholic Central (8-1) in a state championship-level District final next Saturday.
The broadcast from Saturday’s game will be uploaded later Saturday evening, as there is currently an issue with WordPress preventing the upload.
Listen live online Saturday at 1 p.m. on the Slocum Sports Network to a MHSAA Division 8 Pre-District football game between the Mendon Hornets and Lake Michigan Catholic Lakers. It’s a rematch of last year’s Pre-District, a game Mendon won 39-12.
Mendon enters the playoffs at 9-0 with only 45 points allowed this season, the lowest in the entire state. They’re also averaging an impressive 45.1 per game offensively. Apart from their 34-24 week eight win over Cassopolis, the Hornets dominated the competition in the first year of the Southwest 10 Conference, including six shutouts.
Ranked third in the final Associated Press Division 8 poll, Mendon is in the postseason for the 11th consecutive season. In that stretch, they’ve made it to the Regional round in all but the last two seasons, falling in last year’s district final to Climax-Scotts. In 2011, the Hornets claimed their most recent state championship.
Lake Michigan Catholic (who co-ops with Countryside Academy) enters at 7-2 and won all four of their games within the BCS Blue Division. The Laker defense is allowing a solid 17.1 points per game while scoring 32.4 per contest. Their two losses came in week four and five to a much larger Parchment (30-0) and defending Division 8 champion and top-ranked Muskegon Catholic Central (55-13). The last Pre-District victory for LMC came in 2002.
Briefly conference rivals, Mendon and Lake Michigan Catholic have met 12 times before, seven times in the playoffs. In all 12, the Hornets were the winner. The winner advances to the District final against either defending champion Muskegon Catholic Central or Decatur.
Listen live online Friday night on the Slocum Sports Network as the Watervliet Panthers host the Schoolcraft Eagles in the first round of the MHSAA Division 6 high school football postseason. These teams met two weeks ago in Southwestern Athletic Conference (SAC) Lakeshore division play with Watervliet getting a 36-14 road win.
At 9-0, Watervliet is one of six unbeaten teams in the 32-team Division 6 field and the only one within their region. The Panthers are averaging 53.1 points per game, third-best in all of Michigan, while allowing 22.7 per game. Their final two regular season games against Schoolcraft and Coloma, both 36-14 finals, were their lowest scoring games of the season while also their second-fewest points allowed.
Schoolcraft enters at 5-4, averaging 27.4 points per game and allowing 18.7 per game. After a 5-1 start, injuries and a tough schedule put the Eagles on a three-game losing streak, falling to Watervliet, Coloma (32-7), and to Kalamazoo United (31-28) in last week’s regular season finale.
In the first meeting, Watervliet jumped out to an early 14-0 advantage. Schoolcraft scored the next two touchdowns to tie the game, but a 62-yard touchdown pass from Zack Pickens to Trent Boone seconds before halftime put the Panthers ahead. Watervliet clamped down defensively in the second half, holding Schoolcraft to a turnover on downs thrice and tallying one interception.
The Eagle defense did shut down Pickens on the ground, holding him to easily his worst rushing effort at 19 yards on 24 attempts. However, Watervliet’s big-play pass attack was potent, scoring touchdowns of 72, 62, 41 and 19 yards and getting 349 pass yards in total. The Panthers contained Schoolcraft to smaller gains, allowing only one gain of more than 20 yards.
Watervliet is in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year and for the second time in that stretch, enters unbeaten. Coincidentally, the other time they did in 2013, Schoolcraft eliminated them in the District final. Twice in that stretch, the Panthers made it as far the Regional final. The only time they’ve gotten deeper was in their runner-up 1979 season. Last season, they fell in the Pre-District game to eventual state champion Jackson Lumen Christi 55-28, who could be waiting in this year’s regional final.
Schoolcraft is in the postseason for the ninth consecutive season, although their 5-4 record is the weakest within that stretch. Like Watervliet, the Eagles saw their season ended in 2016 by Lumen Christi, losing in the District final 37-34. This is the fourth postseason meeting between Schoolcraft and Watervliet, with Eagle wins in 2013 and 1999 and a Panther win in 2014. They’ve met six times total with four Schoolcraft wins and two Watervliet wins.
Listen live to Friday’s game online on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff at 7 p.m. from Watervliet High School. The winner moves to the District final against the winner of the Panther Bowl between Parchment and Delton Kellogg.