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I didn't know Addix made Vodka? I've heard it will be filled internally. No decent coach is filling those shoes with 1 month to prepare before two-a-days.BoogerEater2 wrote: Anyone word on who the new Lowell coach will be as Dean announced he's stepping down today to pursue his vodka business. My friend is on boosters at Lowell and he said the main qualification they'll be looking for in the next coach is someone that will always talk about their home-grown talent to indirectly dis private schools.
Thank you for sharing this. Coach Fairfield is right, you're going to know what type of Big Red team we're going to have this year by week 3. I can't wait to be sitting at Historic Hackley Stadium on August 24th. The season can't begin soon enough for me. I recently met the young man who is replacing AJ Reed. He's not quite as big. However, I think that Martinez will have holes just about the same size Jefferson had to run through. Personally, I think the bigger shoes to fill are those of Eli Jackson. That young man hardly left the field in the Championship game. But, he was not really talked about during the season, and I don't know why. This kid was 6'1" and 300+ pounds, and I watched him run down quarterbacks and running backs from behind. A kid that size should NOT be able to move that fast! When I saw all of these other guys getting big school offers, and nothing really big for Eli, I was shaking my head. I'm hoping that everything goes well for him at Alabama A&M. I've talked to his mother and grandmother, there is not a more proud pair of women in Muskegon. He was a monster on defense, but also a Hell of a blocking tight-end. All I can say isjustaguefan wrote:MLIVE.COM
Muskegon area boasts some nonleague football doozies in 2018; we rank them
By Scott DeCamp | firstname.lastname@example.org | Posted July 10, 2018 at 07:02 AM | Updated July 10, 2018 at 02:03 PM
Muskegon's Eli Jackson, right, kisses the trophy while teammate Ali'Vonta Wallace celebrates after the Big Reds won the Division 3 state championship last fall at Ford Field in Detroit. (Mike Mulholland | MLive file photo)
Tough schedule helps lead to sweet payoff
MUSKEGON -- Fans at Hackley Stadium have been treated to some dandy high school football matchups over the years.
The Muskegon Big Reds have the scheduling philosophy of anybody, anywhere, anytime.
The Big Reds have attracted a pair of fellow heavyweight programs to Muskegon for the first two weeks of the 2018 season. Defending Division 2 state champ Warren De La Salle is coming for the opener, while Detroit King, the D-2 champion in 2015 and 2016, is headed for Muskegon in Week 2.
Win or lose, Big Reds coach Shane Fairfield wants to know right away where his team stands.
"Well, one, it helps you in the offseason because if you're playing somebody that you're familiar with or somebody who might not be as successful as other programs, you can have a little bit of a letdown, I feel, because you're not always working for it," he said. "To have teams like that right away, playing defending state champions and they've got D-I guys, and then you're playing King, who's got like 13 Division I guys, it makes you have to understand, 'We have to work. We have no time for growing up, we have no time for, 'Well, we can get it (right) next week.'
"Worst-case scenario is, you end up with a couple of losses, but I think at the end of the day you have the other six games, seven games, to find where you're weak at, how did you get exposed. You lick your wounds, if that's the case, and then you have time to correct those things and get ready for the playoffs. I'd like to go undefeated, but not knowing who you are going undefeated versus going 7-2, 8-1, knowing that you've been battle-tested and that your weakest point now has become your strongest point because you have a loss from it, I think it benefits you in the long run."
Montague coach Pat Collins in also on board with a tough nonconference schedule. He has not been afraid to challenge his Wildcats, who with Reed City in the opener and Portland in Week 9 have no room for letdowns.
"Through experience, it just seems like our best seasons are when our nonconference schedule is as tough as our conference (schedule). Our conference is tough, we play some tough teams," Collins said. "To soften the other two games in the nine-game schedule, it just hasn't worked as well.
"We feel like kids have an opportunity to play so many football games in their careers, and that's probably the biggest factor: Why wouldn't we play the best teams we can, and they're willing to play us, and challenge the kids to be the best that they can be? And the experience is a memory -- you remember those tight games. For us, it's building memories and building the best team we can, and a tough schedule is what does that."
Several attractive nonleague games have been set for the 2018 schedule. We rank them below.
Football practice officially starts in about four weeks. Here's something to chew on in the meantime.
Fruitport and Spring Lake players fight for the possession of the ball during last year's game in Spring Lake. (Youngrae Kim | MLive file photo)
10. Spring Lake at Fruitport
When: Aug. 30 (Week 2)
Why it's one to watch: Spring Lake and Fruitport are coming off subpar seasons, as the Lakers were 0-9 in 2017 and the Trojans were 2-7. Spring Lake has had three straight losing seasons, while Fruitport has not finished over .500 since 2013.
Throw out the records (good or bad) when it comes to the Battle of the Bayou, however. Both the Lakers and the Trojans have had their moments in this longtime series between neighboring rivals.
Fruitport has won the last four in the series, including 21-0 last season.
Oakridge quarterback Koleman Wall looks to pass under pressure during a game last season at Saginaw Swan Valley. (Jake May | MLive file photo)
9. Berrien Springs at Oakridge
When: Oct. 19 (Week 9)
Why it's one to watch: Both squads are playoff regulars, with Oakridge being a perennial power. The Eagles have 13 straight playoff appearances. They've made the postseason 22 of the last 23 years, and 26 of the last 29. The Shamrocks, meanwhile, have made the playoffs four straight years and in nine of the last 14 seasons.
In the first-ever meeting between them, Oakridge blasted Berrien Springs on the road last year, 34-7, as the Shamrocks closed the season on a three-game skid. Their final loss in that stretch was a 43-13 defeat to eventual state champ Grand Rapids West Catholic.
In 2017, Oakridge won a district title and finished with a 9-3 record.
Can Berrien Springs get revenge? It'll be tough on the road against an Oakridge team that returns a lot.
Montague quarterback Sebastian Archer (23) avoids a defender as he runs upfield during a game against Muskegon Catholic Central last season. (Nic Antaya | MLive file photo)
8. Montague at Reed City
When: Aug. 24 (Week 1)
Why it's one to watch: Montague leads the all-time series 9-0, including a 48-14 thrashing of Reed City in the opener last year at Montague. But don't let those numbers mislead you about Reed City: The Coyotes have a quality program, one that has produced double-digit wins in six of the last seven seasons.
In fact, after the loss to eventual West Michigan Conference champ Montague, Reed City rolled through its next 11 opponents before the Coyotes fell to Saginaw Swan Valley, 29-14, in the Division 5 state semifinals.
Montague won the West Michigan Conference title last year and was 11-0 before the Wildcats fell to powerhouse Ithaca, 33-23, in the Division 6 regional finals.
Reed City most certainly will be seeking to avenge last year's loss to Montague, but will it matter? The Wildcats return a talented and experienced group.
Muskegon Catholic Central coach Steve Czerwon talks with his players during a 2016 playoff game at Kehren Stadium. (Joel Bissell | MLive file photo)
7. Benton Harbor at Muskegon Catholic Central
When: Oct. 12 (Week 8)
Why it's one to watch: It'll be a new-look MCC squad this fall, as dynamite quarterback Cameron Martinez has transferred to Muskegon and the Crusaders have signed a co-operative agreement with Western Michigan Christian.
Benton Harbor was one of the turnaround stories in recent Michigan high school football history, putting together three straight playoff seasons. But that was under the tutelage of legendary Elliot Uzelac, who resigned last month and has been critical of the school district.
Will the new Benton Harbor coach be able to keep the Tigers program on track?
It'll be Week 8 when these former, longtime conference foes meet, so there's a chance this game could have playoff ramifications.
Mona Shores celebrates after running back Sincer'e Dent (44) rushed for the game-winning touchdown in overtime in last year's thriller against Rockford at Mona Shores. (Joel Bissell | MLive file photo)
6. Mona Shores at Rockford
When: Sept. 14 (Week 4)
Why it's one to watch: Rockford has long been a marquee game on the schedules of teams across the state, and Mona Shores has become that in recent seasons.
These two teams have gone back-and-forth the last four seasons, alternating victories. The Rams lead the all-time series, 16-6, but the Sailors have held their own recently, including putting a 31-10 whipping on Rockford in 2015.
Mona Shores edged Rockford in a thriller last season, 30-24 in overtime at home. Can the teams repeat that show? Who knows, but it should be fun to watch regardless.
Montague coach Pat Collins is also the school's athletic director, so he has a little more of a say over who the Wildcats schedule. (Youngrae Kim | MLive file photo)
5. Montague at Portland
When: Oct. 19 (Week 9)
Why it's one to watch: This is one of the more intriguing nonleague matchups, even on a statewide level, because of the tradition of both programs. Montague played Muskegon Catholic Central in Week 9 last year, and that was mighty intriguing, but the programs went separate ways this season.
When Montague went searching for a Week 9 game, it ultimately decided to challenge itself against a Portland program that has had more than its share of success in recent seasons. The Raiders won the Division 5 state title in 2012 and lost playoff heartbreakers to Grand Rapids West Catholic twice and Lansing Catholic the last three years.
" ... We just searched, and I was really taking my time to find (the right opponent)," said Montague coach Pat Collins, who is also the school's athletic director.
"Portland was one of the teams I was talking to, but I didn't want to dive into anything right away without knowing what was really going to be available. We thought that was a good game, but we didn't like that it was away because we had four home games last year and we wanted our fifth (home game) this year because it's supposed to alternate. But they were in more of a predicament and I said, 'That's interesting to us, but to go there is not ideal for us, but we'll see.' ... It ended up being Portland on what we went with."
The Montague-Portland series is a two-year deal, with Portland scheduled to make the trip to Montague in Week 9 in 2019.
Montague and Portland squared off one other time, with the Wildcats winning 20-7 in 1958.
Muskegon's Ali'Vonta Wallace, right, pressures East Grand Rapids quarterback Michael Malewitz during the 2016 matchup at Hackley Stadium. (Emily Brouwer | MLive file photo)
4. Muskegon at East Grand Rapids
When: Sept. 7 (Week 3)
Why it's one to watch: Although EGR is in a seven-year state-title drought, the Pioneers are still considered one of the more storied programs in the state. Their teams are fundamentally sound, they typically don't beat themselves and their 11 overall state championships rank behind only Farmington Hills Harrison (13), Muskegon Catholic Central (12) and now-defunct Detroit St. Martin dePorres (12).
This will be the third game in a three-week gauntlet to open the season for the Big Reds, who host powerhouse programs Warren De La Salle and Detroit King in the first two weeks.
Add in the fact that the Muskegon-EGR game is being played on the road, at picturesque Memorial Field overlooking Reeds Lake, and that makes the challenge a little bit tougher for the Big Reds.
Muskegon is 3-0 all-time against EGR. They last squared off two years ago at Hackley Stadium, with the Big Reds winning 28-10.
Mona Shores' Jacob Wahlberg, left, attempts to make an interception against Canton during the Battle at the Big House at Michigan Stadium on Saturday, August 26, 2017. (Matt Weigand | MLive file photo)
3. Mona Shores vs. East Kentwood (at Grand Valley State University)
When: Aug. 25 (Week 1), 4 p.m. kickoff
Why it's one to watch: If you want to see several college football prospects on the same field, then get to GVSU's Lubbers Stadium for the Mona Shores-East Kentwood tilt in the GRidiron Classic. The Sailors-Falcons clash will be followed by a matchup between East Grand Rapids and Zeeland East.
Mona Shores has been pumping out the collegiate prospects in recent seasons. They have two players from this year's team already committed to Western Michigan University in receiver Damari Roberson and linebacker Jacob Wahlberg. although Roberson will miss the season with another ACL injury to the knee he hurt during the 2017 campaign.
On the other side, East Kentwood has become a bit of a football factory when it comes to producing talent. Two of the Falcons' studs are already committed to big names in the Big Ten, as Mazi Smith is bound for Michigan and Logan Brown is headed for Wisconsin. The Falcons have other Power Five-type of talents, too.
Mona Shores is 4-14 all-time against East Kentwood, although the teams haven't played since 2002.
Muskegon and Warren De La Salle last met in the Division 2 state finals in 2008. (Ken Stevens | MLive file photo)
2. Warren De La Salle at Muskegon
When: Aug. 24 (Week 1)
Why it's one to watch: De La Salle is the defending state champion in Division 2, and the Pilots have claimed two of the last four state titles in their division. Muskegon, meanwhile, is the reigning state champ in Division 3 and the Big Reds are the winningest program in Michigan high school football history.
These teams have met just twice before, and both came in Division 2 state championship games. In 2008, the Big Reds throttled the Pilots, 34-14. Two years before that, the Big Reds held on for dear life as Ronald Johnson, "RoJo," forced a De La Salle fumble as the Pilots were going in to score the go-ahead touchdown late in the Muskegon's 32-30 victory.
Muskegon and De La Salle are both programs that just seem to reload every year, although the Big Reds have been a lot more consistent over the years. The Pilots had a losing season two years ago and barelfy reached .500 in three of the last six years.
On the other hand, the Big Reds have not experienced a losing season since 1999, when they went 4-5. Muskegon's worst record in the last 18 years was 7-4 in 2009 and 2001.
Fans pack historic Hackley Stadium for the Muskegon-Ann Arbor Pioneer game last season. (Joel Bissell | MLive file photo)
1. Detroit King at Muskegon
When: Aug. 31 (Week 2)
Why it's one to watch: If you're talking pure, college-level talent, this game will exceed the Mona Shores-East Kentwood matchup.
Muskegon has its share, again, but not as much as Detroit King does on paper. Per 247Sports, in the 2019 class, the Crusaders boast the state of Michigan's No. 8-rated prospect (safety Marvin Grant) and a handful of others. For 2020, King has prospects ranked Nos. 3 (receiver Rashawn Williams) and 5 (running back Peny Boone) in the state.
And then, of course, on the Muskegon side is LSU commit Anthony Bradford, who is ranked No. 5 for 2019 prospects in the state, and promising 2020 prospects Cameron Martinez (quarterback) and Billie Roberts (defensive end).
Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield said that King could have as many as 13 Division I prospects.
"It definitely makes you work harder," Fairfield said about playing tough opponents in the early part of the season. "It makes every day in the summer valuable, and it's exciting. I mean, this place is going to hopping. This place is going to be crazy, to be in the buzz, to be in the mix; people are excited about it (statewide).
"That (King) game is going to be huge -- not looking past De La Salle by any means; they're the ones holding the state championship trophy in Division 2 -- but when you look at a team like King, I think non-Muskegon fans and non-King fans are going to want to see that game."
Muskegon is 4-0 all-time against King. The teams last played in the 2009 opener, with the Big Reds winning 40-21. Muskegon also beat King in the 1989 Class A state finals, 16-13.
Others nonleague games to watch
These nonleague games involving Muskegon-area teams could be worth your while, too:
Week 1: Grand Haven at Reeths-Puffer; Whitehall at Wyoming Kelloggsville; Newaygo at Kent City; Muskegon Catholic Central at Algonac; Remus Chippewa Hills at Oakridge; Ravenna at Hopkins
Week 2: Bay City Central at Mona Shores; Reeths-Puffer at Orchard View; Kent City at Beal City
Week 5: Muskegon Catholic Central at Cassopolis
Week 9: Muskegon Catholic Central at Newaygo; Muskegon Heights Academy at Ravenna; Orchard View at North Muskegon