High school sports reporter Brian Calloway weighs in at the mid-point of the high school football season with five things to watch in mid-Michigan, chief among them whether any of Lansing’s public high schools will make the state playoffs.
Will a Lansing public high school make the state playoffs?
History was made last fall when coach Dan Boggan and Sexton blazed a trail for Lansing and became the first city public high school to play in a state championship football game.
There’s a possibility that none of the three public high schools in Lansing will even make the state football playoffs this fall when the field is unveiled later this month. That hasn’t happened since 2006 when Eastern, Everett and Sexton high schools went a combined 8-19.
Everett and Sexton are still in playoff contention and will need to follow the motto of the late Al Davis and “Just win, baby” over the final four weeks of the regular season.
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Everett (2-3) can guarantee itself a spot in the playoffs by winning its final four games. That will be no easy task with unbeaten Grand Ledge, Battle Creek Harper Creek and city rival Sexton among the remaining teams left on the schedule.
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Sexton, which knocked off Okemos for its first win last week, will need to win out and then hope there’s a shortage of teams with at least six wins to qualify for the playoffs. CAAC Blue leader Holt is the only team with a winning record remaining on the schedule for Sexton, which has lost games to Grand Ledge and Jackson by a combined three points.
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The Big Reds also have rivalry games with Everett and Eastern on the horizon.
Here are four other things to watch in the Lansing area in the final four weeks of the regular season.
Holt, Grand Ledge lead tight race for CAAC Blue title
Speaking of Sexton and Everett, they have a chance to make an impact on a CAAC Blue race that might not be decided until the final week of the regular season.
Rivals Grand Ledge and Holt each passed tests last week and are the only two remaining teams perfect in CAAC Blue play. The Comets (5-0, 3-0) and Rams (3-2, 3-0) could meet in Week 9 with the championship on the line, but East Lansing and Jackson could join Sexton and Everett in impacting this race.
East Lansing and Jackson, which each won just one game a year ago, are improved teams this fall. And there’s the urgency factor for East Lansing, Sexton and Everett because they’re each in need of wins in the final four weeks to reach the postseason.
DeWitt faces big stretch
It’s been business as usual in DeWitt, which is maintaining its winning ways with many new faces. The 5-0 Panthers have won 36 consecutive league games, 24 straight regular-season contests and are in position for another CAAC Red title.
But the next three weeks present challenges for DeWitt, which faces rival Haslett on the road Friday. St. Johns follows next week in a game that will have league championship implications and then there’s a trip to face Menominee, which is 5-0 and has reached the Division 5 state semifinals each of the last three seasons.
Lansing Catholic faces tough tests
Lansing Catholic didn’t look sharp in its disappointing loss to Portland in a battle of Division 5 state ranked teams last month. The No. 7-ranked Cougars will have a chance to prove that game was a minor bump in the road down the stretch. Lansing Catholic (4-1) concludes the regular season against Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard and Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, who are a combined 9-1.
Gabriel Richard is 4-1 with its lone loss to reigning Division 7 state champion Detroit Loyola. Monroe SMCC, which ended Ithaca’s streak of state titles last fall, is 5-0 and ranked No. 2 in Division 6.
These contests should present valuable tests to Tony Poljan, Tony Palmer and company, who haven’t played much in the second half of games with the Cougars having cruised past most of their competition.
Lakewood chasing history
Lakewood (5-0) is one of six area teams still unbeaten and has been one of the big surprises in mid-Michigan so far. The Vikings had won a combined six games from 2011-2014 prior to their success this fall.
A win over Leslie on Friday will put the Division 4 No. 3-ranked Vikings in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. A playoff berth this fall would be just the third for the school in the last three decades. Lakewood is also in pursuit of the school’s first perfect regular season since 1974.
Contact Brian Calloway at [email protected] . Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.