No one who wears a Marine City football jersey forgot how their seasons ended last year.
After a 10-0 start, the Mariners ran into one of the best defenses and most explosive run offenses in the state when Almont came to town. Just ask Max Kretzschmar how it went.
“I think about it all the time – it haunts me,” the senior offensive weapon said. “Especially since I had a terrible game that ended the seniors’ season.”
To his defense, no one really had a great game against Almont, who won 35-7 at East China Stadium. Actually, not a lot of players had memorable games against the Raiders on their way to the state semifinals.
However, this year the Mariners have a shot at redemption. They’ll be heading to Almont on Friday at 7 p.m. to start Marine City’s 18th straight playoff appearance.
“This year we are ready to make it right,” senior defensive end Dennis Fitzsimmons said. “We’ve had a few good practices and have been preparing for them, so we are ready to make things right.”
Marine City lost plenty of players from last year’s team, but so have the Raiders. Despite how successful the programs have been, this year’s playoff season has a different, newish feeling to it.
“We got a bunch of younger kids this year, so it’s their first time in the playoffs,” senior linebacker Jacob Headlee said. “So it’s just getting them back in the swing of things … and they’re coming along well.”
Marysville (7-2) at Notre Dame Prep (7-2), Division 4
One of the top 10 Division 4 teams in the state will be knocked out on Friday as No. 6 Marysville travels to No. 8 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep.
When the Vikings are on offense, their strong run game with Ryan Ellul and Dante Chrcek will be put to the test against Notre Dame Prep’s strong front seven. If the Marysville run game is sputtering, it will be tough to get the road win.
When the Fighting Irish are on offense, they give the defense an array of looks and will comfortably balance their run and pass game.
Croswell-Lexington (6-3) at Richmond (8-1), Division 4
Since we all had so much fun watching the BWAC this year, we get to open up playoffs with another conference showdown.
Richmond won this matchup earlier in the season, scoring 28 points in the second quarter to pull out a 35-12 win. The Blue Devils ran for 329 yards that game, including three rushing scores from the speedy D’Sean Hamilton and 152 rushing yards from bulldozer Andrew Hamel.
The Pioneers offense is also a threat with versatile senior Joe Duff at running back and junior quarterback Justin Johnston manning the offense.
Clintondale (5-4) at Algonac (8-1), Division 5
Clintondale has plenty of speed, and that is how they grabbed big wins against Clawson and Warren Lincoln to make the playoffs as a 5-4 team. The Dragons also had a one-point loss against Madison (8-1), who are one of the top teams in the state.
However, Algonac has proven itself as one of the state’s best teams as well. The Muskrats are fast and physical on defense, but what’s more impressive is how mentally tough this team has been. This team has been mentally tested all season, so their first playoff game in a decade shouldn’t change their mindset too much.
Unionville-Sebewaing (5-4) at Sandusky (9-0), Division 7
The Redskins are simply the area’s hottest team, using their lights-out stable of running backs to make a perfect season. On the other hand, the Patriots have taken a skid with three straight losses against Vassar (8-1), Cass City (7-2) and Harbor Beach (4-5).
These teams met up in week one, and it took a Sandusky defensive stop inside the five yard line to generate a 28-22 Redskins win. Fans heading to the game should expect plenty of running as each team dashed for more than 220 yards in their first matchup.