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Muskegon County Teams in Rd 1 Playoff Action
In keeping with tradition, Muskegon County will send more than half of its thirteen schools into the MHSAA football playoffs this season, with seven teams automatically qualifying. Traditional powerhouses Muskegon, Oakridge, Montague, and Muskegon Catholic, as well as Mona Shores, Whitehall, and North Muskegon, round out the field for Muskegon County playoff contenders in 2017.
In Division 2, the Mona Shores Sailors (8-1) enter round one action as a two-seed in Region 1 - District 2, with a home match up against three-seed Portage Central (7-2). Mona Shores enters the playoffs with just one loss on the season, which came in the form of a close game to perhaps the best team in the state, OK-Black Conference foe Muskegon Big Reds. The Sailors have recorded big wins this season against the likes of Canton, Zeeland West, and Rockford. Ranked in the top-ten for all divisions in most publications, the Sailors may be the best two-seed in the state, and have legitimate hopes of making a run to Ford Field. Watch out for a potential district final match up between the Sailors and undefeated GR Forest Hills Central.
In Division 3, the Muskegon Big Reds, the winningest school in MHSAA history, come in as the overall one-seed with a perfect 9-0 season. With finals appearances in four of their last five seasons, the Big Reds are hungry to claim the title after a last-second heartbreaking loss in 2016 to Orchard Lake St. Marys. Muskegon will take on the Holland Dutch (6-3) in round one and will be heavily favored there, after outscoring their opponents this season a whopping 501-52. With a massive offensive line stocked with multiple D1 prospects, and Mr. Football finalist Ladarius Jefferson at QB, the Big Reds are prime for another trip to Ford Field. Watch out for a potential regional final between Muskegon and undefeated East Grand Rapids.
In Division 4, the Whitehall Vikings have qualified for the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season out of the tough West Michigan Conference. At 6-3, the Vikings losses have come to Wyoming Kelloggsville, Montague, and Battle Creek Harper Creek, teams with a combined record of 27-0. Coming in at a four-seed in Region 2 - District 1, the Vikings will take on one-seed Belding in round one, in what should be one of the more closely contested 1 vs 4 seed matchups in the state.
In Division 5, West Michigan Conference foes Oakridge (7-2) and North Muskegon (6-3) have both qualified and will go head-to-head in a round one match up of very familiar opponents. In their regular season match up Oakridge pulled away with the victory 42-14, though the game was played more closely than the score would indicate, with North Muskegon holding a one-point lead as deep as the third quarter. In recent decades, Oakridge has dominated the match up, with one of North Muskegon's few victories coming in a playoff matchup in 2006. Oakridge brings a power run game and large offensive line to the table, while the Norsemen will try to spread things out and use their speed, in what could turn out to be a great game.
In Division 6, undefeated state-power Montague is playoff-bound once again, qualifying 16 of the last 17 seasons. Montague has been nothing short of dominate this season, outscoring opponents 471-75, with their only close game coming against crosstown and conference rival Whitehall. The overall two-seed in what is a stacked D6 playoff field this season, Montague draws a round one match up with Lakeview (6-3), as they look to make their first trip back to Ford Field since their state title in 2009. Watch out for what could potentially be a huge regional final match up between Montague and Ithaca.
In Division 8, perennial powerhouse Muskegon Catholic Central (7-1) looks to win an unprecedented fifth D8 state title in a row. The Crusaders will face off with Decatur (6-3) in round one, coming in as a two-seed but favored nonetheless to make another appearance at Ford Field. MCC's only loss this season came at the hands of an undefeated Montague squad in Week 9. Sophomore sensation QB Cameron Martinez will be a tough match up for any D8 opponent that runs into the Crusaders.
Game Picks for Muskegon County's round one playoff action:
Mona Shores 35 - Portage Central 14
Muskegon 56 - Holland 14
Whitehall 35 - Belding 32
Oakridge 34 - North Muskegon 28
Montague 49 - Lakeview 7
Muskegon Catholic 42 - Decatur 10