In Play with Tom Markowski

Top 10 Games: Saugatuck looks to corral Jared Smith, win district title

Football   | Tom Markowski

Top 10 Games: Saugatuck looks to corral Jared Smith, win district title

Saugatuck – Two teams which have dominated their opponents this season will meet again in a district final.

Pewamo-Westphalia (10-0), a Division 7 finalist last season, will host Saugatuck (10-0) on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Last season Pewamo-Westphalia defeated Saugatuck 38-28 in a district final. Saugatuck led 28-22 with six minutes to play before succumbing to record-setting running back Jared Smith and his teammates.

“Defensively, we struggled against Jared,” Saugatuck coach Bill Dunn said. “They took a 30-28 lead and then we threw a pick.

“Hopefully our guys are physically better, and we have played better defense this season. Jared loves to cut back. That’s what we need to do, defend his cutback moves.

“We’re hoping to turn the tables. We’re going physically match what they do. We have smart kids. Our kids are stronger this season.”

Dunn has much of the same players he started last season including his son, quarterback/defensive back Blake Dunn. An addition to the defensive and offensive line is sophomore Dylan Abalos. Abalos is 6-foot and weighs 260 pounds, and Bill Dunn said he has added the size and strength to both sides of the line.

This season Smith has rushed for 2,108 yards and 32 touchdowns on 166 carries. He’s a 6-foot, 205-pound power back who often run over potential tacklers rather than run around them. Last season he set state records for touchdowns (53) in a season and yards rushing (3,250) in a season.

This season Blake Dunn is right behind with 1,916 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns on 119 carries.

Last season the district final was played on a Friday night. Bill Dunn requested that the game be played on a Saturday just to change things up. Pick: Pewamo-Westphalia by 5.       

 

All games are Friday at 7 p.m. unless noted.

 

Division 1

 

Canton (8-2) at Saline (10-0): Saline defeated Canton 42-35 in a region final in 2014 and Canton evened score last year, 27-7, in a district final. Canton has won eight straight and has scored 253 points in its last five games. Last week the Chiefs rushed for 568 yards in a 55-29 victory over Northville. Canton also gave up 413 yards so this promises to be a high-scoring game. Pick: Canton by 4.

Clarkston (8-2) at Davison (10-0): These teams have one common opponent, Lapeer. Davison defeated Lapeer 28-7 and Clarkston defeated Lapeer twice, 28-7 and 45-21. Clarkston has played a better schedule and the Wolves are playing their best in the last month. If running back Tariq Reid gets loose three or four times Davison can win. Pick: Clarkston by 7.

Detroit Cass Tech (10-0) at Dearborn (9-1): These have met just once, in 2012, and Cass Tech won, 42-23. The Technicians had a relatively easy time with Dearborn Fordson last week, 35-7. More of the same. Pick: Cass Tech 13.

Macomb Dakota (7-3) vs. Utica Eisenhower (10-0) at Utica: Eisenhower hasn’t played a close game since defeating Romeo, 16-14, on Sept. 23. Dakota lost to Eisenhower 26-13 way back on Sept. 1 and Dakota was without two of its top offensive starters including running back Kaiser Carleton. Dakota has gone through adversity and the Cougars will be ready for this game. Pick: Dakota by 4.

Rockford (7-3) at Grandville (9-1): Here we go again. Rockford defeated Grandville, at Rockford, in week six, 7-6. It’s Rockford’s 14 consecutive victory over the Bulldogs. No one has to remind Grandville coach Eric Stiegel of that. Rockford has won three state titles before but Grandville also won one, just not recently (Class A, 1996). It’s going against the grain here but every streak has to end. Just look at the Cubs. Pick: Grandville by 4.

 

Division 2

 

Birmingham Brother Rice (7-3) at Birmingham Groves (9-1): Brother Rice leads the series 8-2 and the last time Groves won was in 1963 (14-6). The Warriors did not win a game that season. Groves lost to Brother Rice 42-0 in a 2013 pre-district game. The next season the teams met in a district final and the Warriors won handily again, 49-7. The past two season the Falcons have had their best back-to-back seasons. They beat Farmington Hills Harrison 10-0 in a pre-district last season and finished 10-1. Groves won the OAA Blue Division title in 2015 and moved up to the White Division this season and won another division title. Pick: Brother Rice by 2.

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (8-2) at Portage Central (9-1): Forest Hills Central’s two losses have been by a total of five points. It led Lowell in the fourth quarter before dropping a 41-37 decision. Portage Central’s league (Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference) isn’t as competitive as that of F.H. Central (O-K Conference White Division) but the Mustangs did schedule a competitive non-league game with Traverse City Central (9-1). Portage Central lost that game, 38-22. Pick: F.H. Central by 3.

Oak Park (7-3) at Detroit King (8-2), Sat., 3: This should be a physical game. Oak Park’s strength has been its offensive and defensive lines, and King is known for its physical play throughout the years. Running back Kevin Willis could be the key for King. If he can gain four, five yards on first down that’ll take the pressure off of sophomore quarterback DeQuan Finn. Pick: Oak Park by 2.

 

Division 5

 

Grand Rapids West Catholic (8-2) at Portland (10-0): West Catholic bounced Lansing Catholic Central (28-6) out of the playoffs last week. Portland was the only team to defeat Lansing C.C. during the regular season, 36-35. It’s another road challenge for the three-time defending champions but West Catholic has been in many of these games before. Pick: W. Catholic by 8.

 

Last week’s record: 7-3.

Season record: 68-32.