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FOOTBALL: Stick’s Picks Week 14: Select few honored to play on season’s final weekend

   | Dan Stickradt

State Champs! Sports Network

The final weekend of the 2012 prep football season is finally here and only 16 schools have earned the right to play on this special weekend, one of the best of the entire high school sports calendar.

This year’s eight matchups feature a wide variety of teams from all over both peninsulas with a host of state powerhouse programs set to tango for one of the coveted state crowns.

If you are not doing anything on Friday and Saturday, or just want to get away from the family, head down to Ford Field to catch one or any assortment of games. You will not be disappointed.

Who will be crowned state champions this year, with all of the hard work in the offseason and in those heated double-session days of August and for nearly four months of the season truly paying off? There’s only one way to find out:

Friday’s Games

DIVISION 8: BEAL CITY (13-0) vs. HARBOR BEACH (12-1), 10 a.m.: It’s hard to pick against an unbeaten team, especially when it’s a powerhouse like Beal City. The Aggies get it done.

PICK: Beal City by 8.

DIVISION 2: MUSKEGON (12-1) VS. BIRMINGHAM BROTHER RICE (11-2), 1 p.m.: Brother Rice coach Al Fracassa turned 80 earlier this season and is one of the all-time greatest coaches in state history. His defending state champion Warriors are one win away from repeating for the first time in school history. That’s something to ponder about. The only roadblock will be heavyweight Muskegon, which has also been to the big show in recent years.

PICK: Brother Rice by 6.

DIVISION 6: ITHACA (13-0) VS. CONSTANTINE (11-2), 4:30 p.m.: There’s something magical regarding Ithaca football. This team hasn’t lost a game in a few years and is one win away from a third straight state title. Another perfect season is only a step away.

PICK: Ithaca by 10.

DIVISION 4: GRAND RAPIDS SOUTH CHRISTIAN (10-3) VS. BIRMINGHAM DETROIT COUNTRY DAY (11-2), 7:30 p.m.: Both teams have played a very tough schedule this season, which means they have more than earned the right to be here on the big stage. Only one gets to walk away with a championship trophy.

PICK: Detroit Country Day by 6.

Saturday’s Games

DIVISION 7: ISHPEMING (12-1) VS. DETROIT LOYOLA (13-0), 10 a.m.: Ishpeming has had quite a ride this season and its long haul from the Upper Peninsula was earned. The only problem is that its opponent, Detroit Loyola, is something special and a team full of college prospects. Team speed will be the difference maker in this one.

PICK: Detroit Loyola by 14.

DIVISION 1: NOVI DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL (9-4) VS. DETROIT CASS TECH (11-2), 1 p.m.: There are so many story lines here it’s incredible. For one, this is a rematch of last season’s D-1 title game, which Cass Tech won 49-13. Two, Catholic Central has played the toughest schedule of any team in the state, if not Midwest, and was the last team in the Field of 32, barely, on playoff points despite the 5-4 regular season record. Third, Cass Tech has a chance to become the first Detroit PSL team to ever repeat as a state champion, and four, Catholic Central has a chance to gain some revenge on the season’s final day. That’s just for starters.

PICK: Detroit Cass Tech by 7.

DIVISION 5: GRAND RAPIDS WEST CATHOLIC (10-3) VS. PORTLAND (12-1), 4:30 p.m.: Could there be a first-time state champion on a weekend full of state powerhouses? Why not?

PICK: Portland by 6 in overtime.

DIVISION 3: GRAND RAPIDS CHRISTIAN (12-1) VS. ORCHARD LAKE ST. MARY’S (11-2), 7:30 p.m.: St. Mary’s is 4-4 all-time in state titles games and is playing in its fifth state championship game in six seasons. The Eaglets are 1-3 in title games matches in the past five years, winning last season with a 45-7 rout over Mt. Pleasant. Grand Rapids Christian is playing in its first state championship game.

PICK: St. Mary’s by 14.

(Dan Stickradt is Senior Editor for Digital Daily www.northoaklandsports.com and The Real Deal sports