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Game Preview: Grand Blanc (1-0) @ Forest Hills Central (1-0)
Grand Blanc (1-0) @ Forest Hills Central (1-0)
Friday, September 3rd @ 7 pm
Series History: First ever meeting.
Forest Hills Central hosts Grand Blanc in what tabs to be one of the most anticipated out of conference matchups of 2021. Both Grand Blanc and Forest Hills Central are coming off successful 2020 campaigns that ended deep in the district rounds of the MHSAA playoffs and each program returns a large contingent of key players from both of those teams.
The Rangers defeated Jenison in week one, while Grand Blanc picked up one of the more impressive wins of week one with a 40-34 win over a highly touted East Lansing team. Playmakers and future collegiate athletes will be littered across the field at Ranger stadium on Friday night in what figures to be a highly entertaining matchup.
Forest Hills Central
1-0, Defeated Jenison 29-14
Players To Watch
Connor is an explosive athlete who has the ability to make game-changing plays on both sides of the ball. On defense, Connor’s speed and quickness off the snap is evident when he’s lined up at defensive end. His ability to track down ball carries jumps off the tape. On offense, Connor can stretch the field vertically, which was displayed on his 30-yard touchdown reception in week one.
Jacob’s name and number is mostly likely at the top of every opposing defensive coordinator’s scouting report. He’s one of the more elusive slot backs in the area and is a threat to break off huge chunks of yards whenever he touches the ball. He’s as big of a threat on special teams when returning kicks. I Wouldn’t be surprised to see Grand Blanc elect to not kick the ball in his direction if they can avoid it.
Justin stepped in for injured starter Hunter Robinson last week and ran the Ranger offense effectively. The touch he put on his 30-yard touchdown pass to Milton shows a glimpse of his upside. There hasn’t been an update of the timeline of Robinson’s injury, but Forest Hills Central should feel confident in Justin’s ability to lead the Rangers in the meantime.
Much of the hype surrounding Forest Hills Central going into the season centered around Hunter Robinson lining up under center for the Rangers. As a junior last season, Hunter showed he is a clear cut two-way threat and someone who can carry the load in crunch time. His pocket presence and running ability are big reasons why the Rangers posted close to 30 ppg in the final four games of the 2020 season. Watch for those intangibles to make an appearance if he’s able to suit up.
Much like teammate Jacob Bonnet, Ben is another fleet of foot weapon for the Ranger offense. Forest Hills Central loves to get Ben the ball in space and let him work. If the stats were available, I’d place a safe bet that his yards after catch is close to the top in the OK Conference. Keying in on where he is on the field will be key for Grand Blanc.
1-0, Defeated East Lansing 40-34
Players To Watch
The fastest player on the field on Friday will be wearing #2 for Grand Blanc. Eastern Michigan commit Elijah Jackson-Andersen is one of the best backs in the state and is a big reason why the Bobcats scored 38 ppg a season ago. Elijah is most dangerous when he’s out in space, which is why a focal point of Grand Blanc’s offense is to frequently throw the ball to him on screen plays. Elijah’s speed is also a difference maker on defense as he’s shown a knack of getting in opposing backfields without much resistance.
Jack is Grand Blanc’s main receiving threat and will be a challenge to cover due to his 6’3” 200 lb. frame. In the Bobcats offense, Jack is split out wide in most passing situations. He has proven hands and can rack up a ton of YAC due to his size. Don’t be surprised to see him targeted in screen situations as well.
Cross is the focal point of the Grand Blanc defense lining up at linebacker for the Bobcats. The GVSU commit has quick feet and does a great job of closing in on the ball carrier. His closing speed will be needed to keep tabs on the Ranger’s slot backs.
Andy is another physical specimen the Bobcats have the luxury of playing for them. Standing at 6’6, 260 lbs, Andy uses his size and strength to clear out space for his runningbacks on run plays. The majority of his matchups he simply overpowers his opponents with his size, however Andu does a good job of discarding one would-be tackler and finding another opposing player to block downfield. Expect a lot of runs to go behind #77.
Opposite of Hartman is another lineman with great size in 6’3” 290 lb Jayden Lewin. Jayden operated on the left side of the line in 2020, giving Grand Blanc another reliable and consistent running lane. Defensively, Jayden has shown the ability to blow up opposing offensive lines with his quickness and a couple of savvy moves.
Keys To The Game
Both offenses have shown they can get up and down the field and score thanks to the amount of skilled playmakers each team has. I think that will remain to be the theme in this one as I expect a lot of points will be scored. Taking care of the ball and finishing possessions with six points will go a long ways in determining who comes away with the win on Friday.
With Hunter Robinson’s status still in question, I have to give the slight edge to Grand Blanc in what should be a highly competitive game. If the Rangers can keep Elijah Jackson-Andersen in check, they have a good chance of starting the season at 2-0, however, that may be too tough of an ask. Expect a high scoring game on the edge of a shootout with the Bobcats pulling away in the 4th.
Grand Blanc 38, Forest Hills Central 28