The Games

College Game Georgia Southern @ Western Michigan University Sep. 24th

Saturday’s for a high school coach usually start really early. There’s the game from the night before that needs to be broken down and analyzed. Positives and negatives need to be identified for growth and repair. It’s really an important time as a coach to help give your team the best chance at winning moving forward. Plus there’s a new opponent to worry about and their game film to dissect. I used to do that until I started to feel nervous about the upcoming opponent (there’s always something to worry about). Then it was break time filled with college football and sometimes if the weather was nice I’d walk back to the high school and watch a rocket game if I knew a family that had a player. 

I don’t have to worry about game film anymore. My biggest worry with football now is how often my kids will want to visit the concession stand. I’m taking my family and most importantly my two girls to their first college football game. Western Michigan Univ. is a great place to watch a game. It’s usually doesn’t feel overly crowded and I don’t mind the walk down memory lane that is the path to the stadium. The product on the field is much better then when I was in school. PJ Fleck has done a great job of recruiting and it shows, the Broncos are the favorite to win the Mid American Conference this year. I picked this game specifically not totally because I’m a Western grad but because the Georgia Southern Eagles are in town. Oh I get it you want to pick a game Western is most likely going to win. Wrong! I picked this game because Georgia Southern led the nation last year in rushing yards with a really cool option attack out of the shotgun. In fact GS crushed the Broncos last year in Georgia to the tune of 413 total rushing yards. 

Now this is a college game and professionals will be covering it so I’m going to try to keep this brief. If you’d like to know more I’ll include all sorts of links for you to read and watch, but I just feel like there is someone out there more qualified to breakdown this game. 

Georgia Southern has been an option team for a long time. Paul Johnson brought the flexbone here many years ago before his days at Navy and Georgia Tech. The coaches that followed continued to run the flexbone with great success until the university decided to be more mainstream. The spread offense didn’t fit GS very well and the program struggled for about four years until the option came back. In walks Willie Fritz an uber successful coach running this unique offense at Sam Houston (a great breakdown of some key components to that offense here). Fritz wasn’t a flexbone guy and so the early criticism was actually pretty funny in hindsight. “16 of the last 17 years he’s had a winning season” due in large part to this unique offense that he is now taking to Tulane (they probably don’t have the personnel to run the option this year so it might be rough, have patience Green Wave fans). Georgia Southern’s new head coach Tyson Summers has already said several times that he is keeping the offense so all this writing isn’t totally pointless. If you’ve been to this site before you may have read about option style offenses before and it’s important to know that the GS option functions very differently. For starters their offensive linemen block zone and not the ultra fast down blocks employed by the under center option guys. The zone schemes are meant to go just like the Oregon Ducks inside and outside zone schemes (you can watch the videos or even better you can read it straight from the man himself). GS puts their spin on it by instead of having two potential ball carriers a lot of their plays have three, by using a pitch man. There’s a ton of different pitch men by using a ton of different formations coupled with a variety of different motions. This for football nerds makes it a super entertaining offense to watch

So I’ll be in Waldo Stadium rowing the boat as best I can and hoping for an entertaining game my kids will love. If you happen to be in the area give us a wave and cross your fingers my kids will be willing to sit in their seats for at least a quarter. 

The Games

Game 7 Bangor at Hartford Sept. 23rd

This week I’m staying close to home. I’m heading up to Kalamazoo with my family to watch Western Michigan play on Saturday and it’ll be my family’s first college football game. Since I have two young girls that I’m hoping will have a great time and ultimately fall in love with my favorite sport, I’ll need my energy. Friday’s game where Bangor travels to Hartford’s homecoming is an easy game to attend with a ton of questions. At the time I’m writing this I haven’t seen or heard much of Hartford. I know they have their second coach in as many years and we’re looking to change both the offense and defense this year. A quick walk through the local grocery store though and I have a bit more information, one of the perks of living in a small town. Hartford is sporting a three man front on defense which could help against the spread teams like the one they’ll be facing Friday. Hartford is also showing a bunch of different things on offense and it sounds like it might be option based. With there being a new coach there just isn’t anything for me to watch on the Internet to see for myself and I’m not going to peek in on a practice, that’s just weird. 

Bangor is a bit more of a known thing for me even though they have some major questions as well. For starters long time Bangor standout athlete Jondell Jones graduated leaving a really big hole for the Vikings to fill. Who is going to play quarterback in their spread system? Who replaces their biggest offensive weapon of the past few years? They had a freshman take several snaps at the position last year who made solid decisions and proved to be an effective passer, but he just isn’t old enough to be the runner Jones was. Defensively Bangor could look very similar to Hartford sporting a 3-5 that can morph into several different looks depending on what the offense is showing them. A decent amount of turnover will take place at other positions giving way to a pretty new look Bangor for this season but remember Bangor always has speed on their team and this year should be no different. 

Historically speaking this game leans heavily in Hartford’s favor. Since the new millennium Hartford has made the playoffs twelve times whereas Bangor has gone to the postseason only twice. Head to head you have to go back to 2005 to find the last time Bangor won this matchup. 

So while the game is a bit of a mystery, the one thing I’m most looking forward to is the brat tent Hartford has during the homecoming game. I love grilled outdoor foods like this and Hartford’s spread is fantastic. For the longest time I’ve never gotten a chance to go through the line because of coaching. Come to think of it almost all of the homecoming festivities will be new to me. I’ve never seen the parade, the halftime crowning of homecoming royalty, and really anything band related for the most part. I was always so busy in the past I missed these moments and it’ll be a different experience to say the least. If you’re coming to the game come say hi, after all that’s what homecoming is all about. 

The Games

Game 6 St. Joe @ Lakeshore Friday Sept. 16th

The local media every year releases lists of games to watch for the upcoming season. It’s the thing to do when everyone is aching for the football season to start. Every year you’ll see “The War By The Shore” or “The Battle of Cleveland Avenue” on the list. The Lakeshore Lancers’ rivalry with the St. Joseph Bears goes way back and it is the premier game in my area no matter who’s playing. It might be the one local matchup that I’ve attended multiple times. When I started going hall of fame coaches Denny Dock and Ike Muhlenkamp were roaming the sidelines. Later Elliot Uzelac (I know Wikipedia is a terrible source but these things are hard to find) would guide the Bears to the playoffs before heading to Benton Harbor to work magic last year. It’s crazy to think I’ve talked to these amazing coaches and walked away with the same thought of how incredibly nice they were. I used to intentionally not find a partner at the old Southwest Michigan football camps so that I could warm up playing catch with coach Dock and get more instruction. He taught me several things about playing the role of quarterback that I feel were invaluable. Coach Muhlenkamp spoke at my high school several times and was really fun to talk to casually, the few times I got the opportunity. Lastly, I recently watched Coach Uzelac explain his memorable season at BH during a clinic. It is also where I can help shed some light on this year’s rivalry game. When Elliot Uzelac took the job at St. Joe it was impressed upon him to sort of groom the younger staff members maybe in hope that they could take over when he left. Mission accomplished, defensive coordinator Gandalf Church stepped in and everything has continued to flow just the same for the past several years. The mindset of playing good defense while controlling the game with a power run style is so ingrained in this program it’s really like Uzelac never left. If you don’t believe me watch last years game against Benton Harbor and you’ll see the same offense against the same defense. The teams were almost mirror images of each other except for the fact St. Joe played way better in that game. You can see the staple power play as discussed previously on this site but even better you can see a staple of Uzelac teams in the outside zone. The best way to visualize zone plays is to pretend all of the offense live linemen are on a train track. They all move the same direction and if anything gets on their track they block it. If the linemen can gain the defenders outside shoulder then he works to pin him inside, if not he continues to push out stretching the defense. Eventually the runningback finds his own hole. The outside zone is a staple run in the NFL but can be difficult for high school kids to run. It demands offensive linemen to be able to move laterally and some of the blocks that are required can be super difficult, so the Uzelac spin on this came a long time ago and ultimately helps the line take advantage of angles while still maintaining the overall integrity of the play. The wrinkle is called pin and pull. One lineman blocks down and the other pulls around easier blocks for both. This is a blocking scheme that can be used out of multiple formations. The one negative for St. Joe this year is their standout freshman running back from last year transferred to Benton Harbor. Darius Clayton didn’t look like any freshman I’ve ever seen and he was electric many times in somewhat limited action for the Bears. He was dominant in their first playoff game last year despite only carrying the ball ten times. I don’t doubt the Bears ability to run the ball, it will just lack some of the explosiveness without him back there. 

The success of Bears football is through the ground game and playing solid defense. The D looks like a 4-4 a lot but it’s really a 4-3 with the safety walked down against heavier formations. You can really see the 4-3 aspects versus true spread formations and by the way they spill the ball carrier to the sidelines instead of being super contain conscious (although they have moments where the outside linebacker like spots keep contain really well in the 4-4). The big thing people will be looking at on this Bears D is University of Michigan commit defensive end Corey Malone Hatcher. Several recruiting sites have him listed as the fifth best college prospect in the state. According to scouts he should be the best individual player I will see all year. That alone makes the Bears team really intriguing to watch. 

The Lakeshore Lancers are a bit of a different story and it’s hard for them not to be. Denny Dock is considered by most around these parts as an offensive guru. He ultimately ran a bit of everything on offense and the crowd in Stevensville grew accustomed to being dazzled by a new wrinkle every week. I know I loved being wowed as a kid by just how big that playbook must have been for his teams. When he stepped down in came his defensive coordinator to take the reigns and the games took on a more conservative approach. I went to Lakeshores playoff game against Coldwater in 2014 during Bryan Keim’s first season as head coach and it was interesting to say the least. The game was a great defensive struggle, power run game against power run game. Lakeshore controlled the game on the ground and used the power play (there it is again) to grit out first downs. The unique part I felt was the crowd’s reaction to it all. There seemed to be a lack of interest almost with the ground game and the fans were growing restless even with the lead. Perhaps it was just where I was sitting (Lakeshore playoff games usually draw a decent crowd) but the offensive style change wasn’t being well accepted from my perspective. Keim has done well against St. Joe in his two seasons, but he did lose a close one to Benton Harbor last year that generated some grumbles from the faithful. There isn’t much out there showing Lakeshores offense (so maybe changes have already been made since the last game I’ve watched) but you would have to think they are feeling positive about their team this year based solely on the return of junior quarterback Joel Brawley (that is if he’s still playing qb). He looked good as a sophomore and one would have to think his game will continue to develop. The team rests on the defense and the aggressive 4-3 style similar to what St. Joe is running and it’s on that side of the ball where this game is won or lost. Since Keim has been there they’ve held St. Joe to a high of twenty four points and the last few years to just a few scores. Points against for the Lancers is way down since he has been there and with videos like these it looks like it’ll continue (if you’re interested in the new thoughts on tackling the Lancers video is very hawk like). 

Before the game I’m planning on heading to Silver Harbor Brewing Co. to try as many small plates as I can. They’ve got a pretty unique menu and I love trying new food! Good food before a good game, I don’t see how it can get any better. 

The Games

Game 5: Lowell @ East Grand Rapids Friday September 9th

Big time matchup in the state of Michigan this week! Lowell at East Grand Rapids is exciting on so many levels but other than the obvious reasons noting the success these schools have had, I picked this game for much more deeply rooted reasons. It might sound silly but I feel connected to these schools even though I don’t live anywhere near them and have only watched them in person a handful of times. Let me explain, first with East Grand Rapids. Back in the early nineties it was tough for smaller schools to make the state playoffs due to a point system that was difficult for me to understand at the time. All I remember is sitting with my dad at the kitchen table and scrolling through the newspaper looking for certain schools and whether or not they had won, while my dad did the math in a notebook that could have been a prop in the movie A Beautiful Mind. I was about nine or ten years old when my dad revealed his two loss team didn’t make it, so instead he took me to local playoff games. It was one of my most fondest memories and it’s something that is so deeply rooted in me heck at the age of thirty I’m doing it again (my dad also plans on coming with me to most of these games). That year we followed the local big school the Lakeshore Lancers, mainly because he liked to cheer on his former coach. We traveled to Grand Rapids to watch Dylan Karczewski run all over the place in a supremely monumental effort I still remember quite vividly. That guy was easily one of the fastest people I had ever seen. Later that year we went to the old Silverdome to watch EGR lose a heartbreaker. East Grand Rapids in a way represents the kindling that helped my early fire for football grow a little out of control. 

If EGR helped me as a fan Lowell helped me as a student. Once again with my dad watching the state championships in 2009 the hype was surrounding quarterback Devin Gardner of Inkster and his recent commitment to the University of Michigan. The most athletic looking player on the field hands down but the game would be lopsided in favor of a tough Lowell team and one offensive play. No joke one play ran multiple times from just a handful of formations ran the clock and controlled the game in such a way the outcome felt inevitable almost from the outset. The midline option ran with a close single back kept falling forward chewing up yards and there was nothing Inkster could do to stop it. Hopefully as your reading this you’ve  never felt the helpless feeling of “we can’t stop them” during a contest and if you have, you can see why I latched on to a play that I saw dominate a game. I spent the next year engrossed in the midline option, including watching Lowell head coach Noel Dean explain the play at a clinic. Without getting too crazy, the midline option is a play where a defensive tackle, preferably in a three technique (outside the offensive guard), is left unblocked. The runningback runs right down the middle of the center who is usually double teaming the one technique (the other defensive tackle inside the opposite guard) on his way to pin the backside linebacker. The quarterback reads the defensive tackle and if he does anything but crash down he gives it to the back for a decent gain. If that defensive tackle crashes down the qb pulls the ball and runs off tackle to the side of the read. A personal highlight of mine of mine was later in life installing it and running it for just about an entire drive capped with a pull read ran correctly by our young qb who scored untouched. Kind of sad but man that was a proud moment I’ll never forget. It’s a simple concept that’s fun to teach. Google search it and you’ll see a whole slew of ways to run it. 

So the nostalgia is flowing through this game making it an easy choice for me to select for this week even though it almost didn’t happen. Scouting these teams one needs to remember this is division two football and they can do a lot on offense and defense due to their roster sizes. With that said EGR has a new head coach, but considering he is home grown and was the team’s offensive coordinator for the past few years I can only imagine it’ll look pretty similar to years past. On offense they switch from a spread look to a heavy I formation running game. The quarterback, who will be a senior this year, looked athletic with room for improvement (He doesn’t always point his shoulder when throwing on the run. It’s not a big issue because he’s athletic enough to make it work, but as he progresses he can become even more accurate with this little change. Just saying.). The big schematic thing to know is they love to run the power play. Many high school teams run this (it’ll especially be important next week) and it’s easy to see why. It’s an old simple concept that most people will relate to it as a counter play (35 and 34 counter trey if you played with my crew back in the day). Chris B. Brown traces it back to the seventies with Tom Osborne’s Nebraska Cornhuskers but the play was made famous by big John Riggins in Washington. It’s an easy enough idea to follow; there’s a double team at the point of attack, a kick out block on usually the end man on the line of scrimmage, followed with a lineman pulling through the hole to seal any one left usually a linebacker. It can be run out of just about every formation you can think of. It’s an old school play that EGR leans heavily on from what I’ve seen (or been able to find more like it which isn’t much.). On defense they are running a 3-4 like what we discussed last with Farmington Hills Harrison. Lowell is still running the ball with a quarterback read it just looks to be out of the shotgun more. What caught my eye after watching highlights of their win over EGR last year is the defense. It’s a loaded box heavy pressure defense paired with cover zero a lot, meaning no safety help, everyone is man to man. That’s a scary D to run but hey it worked for them last year. 

The pregame meal is going to be a game time decision. It’s a bit of a drive for me to get up there and there are a lot of really nice restaurants in Grand Rapids. I’m probably going to get something small to eat on the way up and eat the highlight meal after the game. If you’re attending this game find me, I’d love a recommendation on where to chow down. 

The Games

Game 4? Take a Break or Zeeland West at Muskegon Mona Shores

It was always probably inevitable that I would enjoy football as much as I do, but there was a moment where I was most definitely on the fence. Rocket football is not a fun memory for me. I wasn’t big and I wasn’t good. I remember attempting to be an offensive and defensive lineman for a few years. I remember surviving practices and games by cutting people (cutting an opposing player’s legs out from under them at the snap of the ball) if I couldn’t do that it was ugly. So at one point I took a break from playing football. I continued to watch just not participate. My mother swears that I attended almost every game in my home town, so long the weather allowed, since I was three years old. She bought snowsuits for me not to play in but to tough out even the most extreme of cold on Friday nights. She’s certain that I didn’t miss a game from third grade on. I’m not sure if that streak is impressive or sad, but I continued said streak through the year after I graduated. I can only hope there’s a better streak out there and if there is I’d love to talk to that person (from a fan’s perspective that is). It wasn’t until my second year of college that I decided to take another break. I was still trying to decide what to do with my life and I wanted to try to find something better on a Friday night. The break didn’t last long I missed the atmosphere to much. So as it turned out what I wanted to do was to teach like all the people I respect and love so much. I started coaching in some capacity as a volunteer in 2007 or so, before even obtaining my degree. I’ve enjoyed football and I guess this is a much too long way of saying I’m taking another break. It’s just for this week but I’m going to go celebrate an old friend’s engagement instead. 

Before you leave thinking ugh I just wanted to read about football not some sappy story, have no fear. If I were to go to a game this week I’d definitely make the long trip up north to watch the defending division four state champion Zeeland West at Muskegon Mona Shores. I know my local crowd is thinking Watervliet plays Schoolcraft this week. Why would I drive so far when there’s a great game close by? I hear you and I went to that barn burner last year (best video I could find even though the game is toward the end of the clip and the commentator makes a bevy of errors in discussing it). Watervliet going for two and the win wasn’t much of a discussion amongst my family members who attended with me. Go for the win when you can is just what you do as the road team, no question. This year’s game should be a good one although it’ll be tough to top last years. 

I’m sticking with the state’s biggest matchup as the game I’d most like to watch. Zeeland runs the wing t which has been covered multiple times on this site. The fun thing about Zeeland is they will use false pulls. Meaning they will pull the guard to trap and the other guard in the opposite direction as a way to mess with the linebackers keys. Zeeland will also run through the trap, cross, keep, sequence at a lightening pace (if you are lost I wrote about the wing t previously on this site, just search it and it will hopefully help). Honestly they have been one of the fastest teams I’ve ever seen play the few times I’ve been able to see them in person. 

While Zeeland’s speed is fun to watch, I fell in love with the offense Muskegon Mona Shores uses. Back in the day the teams I played on used a system known as the veer. The veer is an option play where the first man outside of the hole (the spot designated for the running back to run through) is left unblocked. The quarterback reads that man and determines whether to give the ball to the back or pull it in the event the unblocked defender closes on the potential ball carrier. The quarterback continues down the line to read the also unblocked end man on the line of scrimmage. This defender must make the decision to either tackle the quarterback or stay with another offensive player serving as a pitch back (a player the quarterback has the option to lateral the ball to). It’s a great offense that utilizes angles for undersized linemen and emphasizes speed over power. It’s fun to watch veer teams use formations in an attempt to outflank their opponent or create an extra unaccounted for gap in the defense. It’s honestly the most entertaining thing ever for me and I’m not embarrassed to say it. I love outsmarting an opponent whether it’s an audible on the field as a skinny quarterback or using an unbalanced formation knowing what gap will be left as a more portly coach. 

The split back veer was my offense as a player a long time ago (also used by Portage Central last week to which I loved every minute of watching) and the principles of reading defenders instead of blocking them have really revolutionized the game. Several teams still run the old Bill Yeoman veer like the old Houston Cougars (if you follow the link you should know I grew up a big Joe Montana fan), but as all things it evolved. Now not to get into too much of a history lesson the split back veer eventually was ran out of the wishbone (three runningback forming the letter y behind the quarterback), which was eventually winged known to some as the broken bone. It went further and was double winged often called the flex bone just like the aforementioned Schoolcraft Eagles run. It evolved even further in the city of Muskegon where wings eventually lined up further from the ball and a spread look called the pistol was used. Tony Annese the current head coach of the Ferris State Bulldogs ran what he named the showgun offense with great success at Muskegon high school. Eventually he was called up to the college ranks and his old staff produced two notable head coaches Shane Fairfield who stayed at Muskegon (they also refer to their offense as the ski gun even though it’s the same thing they have done for years essentially) and Matt Koziak who went just a few miles down the road to Muskegon Mona Shores. Finally the connection! How do I know all of this well I attended a few talks on the showgun offense one of which by Tony Annese and two by Matt Koziak. They are wonderful presenters who answered a ton of questions and had several video related things I happily purchased. 

So this offense structure wise might not look like my old offensive formations but the offensive linemen splits are very wide and familiar. It can play like a spread offense with all the infuriating screen passes that go along with it. It also uses several wing motions similar to the flexbone (if you didn’t watch the flexbone link above think of Georgia Tech or one of the academies). The blocking scheme up front is just like the veer schemes of old and I love to watch it. Being a person who used to have to make decisions with the ball it’s fun to read keys along with the qb as the play develops. I’ll often times say aloud “give” or “keep” right as the play is under way. 

The creator of this wonderful offense refers to it as a hybrid. It is not full option or spread or even pistol. You would be wrong if you simply called it the pistol offense likened to the days of Colin Kaepernick at the University of Nevada (better breakdown of that offense here) and even into his time in the NFL

So you might say I’ve come full circle with my football thinking. As a rocket player I didn’t like blocking people and now as an adult I still selectively don’t like blocking people. So whether you go to Zeeland West taking on Muskegon Mona Shores or Schoolcraft against Watervliet watch how many people go unblocked. I think in either game the number will surprise you. Wow, this was a really long post that started with I’m taking the week off. Enjoy your football I’m taking a break. 

The Games

Busy Week: Game 3 East Kentwood vs. Farmington Hills Harrison @ theBig House Saturday Aug. 27

The good people at the University of Michigan are allowing high school games to be played at the Big House to start the prep football season. I picked Saturday and I’ll leisurely get there around the afternoon before four o’clock when the second game of a triple header starts. The plan is to watch East Kentwood play Farmington Hills Harrison while walking around the stadium and taking it all in. I can only imagine that if I were to ever go to watch the Wolverines play the amount of human traffic would make it difficult to explore the grounds. I believe the stadium holds over a hundred thousand people and watching this high school game I’m hoping I’ll see a considerably smaller crowd. The game is of little interest to me, I don’t really follow the big schools and these are two very big schools. East Kentwood is one of the largest schools in Michigan with almost two thousand students going there. I’ve been to its campus once for a pole vault clinic and their facilities are immaculate. Honestly one of the nicest schools I’ve ever been to. I have no idea how good they are at football other than they beat Harrison in the season opener last year 35-28.

Farmington Hills Harrison however is the definition of a perennial power. They have only missed the playoffs five times since 1980 with thirteen state championships within that span. Serious athletes  have funneled through the Hawks program for decades now. 

A quick internet search helps with little things but not a ton for someone looking for the style of football these teams will play. With schools this large it’s best to think of them as small colleges. With inflated rosters and large coaching staffs they can do just about anything they want week to week and then some. I remember watching the Lakeshore Lancers (a big school for my area but still smaller than those mentioned) run a dizzying amount of formations and motion sequences in a playoff game not to long ago. The big schools have the luxury of coaching the same groups of players without many two way players, which opens up what they can do. In talking to some big level coaches there is a base set of plays that are established early in the lower levels, that are ever tally tweaked as they get older. What’s fun is being able to add to the playbook based on game planning each week. Thanks to some videos found on hudl (Kentwood and Harrison) you can see for yourself there’s a ton of offense shown by EK even though it’s mainly out of the spread. Without going super into it I also think Kentwood is sporting a 4-2-5 like defense that works like a 4-4 cover three against run heavy looks like the ones Harrison gave them last year. Harrison looks to be a power run team with a lot of I formations last year. Make no mistake both teams can show tons of different looks as we discussed earlier it’s just the way of class A ball. On defense Harrison shows a versatile 3-4 defense that acts like an old school fifty against power looks. The 3-4 is trending this offseason as a lot of colleges are using its multiplicity to get more athletes on the field. Although three down linemen can be scary for most of us and if you don’t have the athletes on the back end then forget it. Just ask 2015 Indiana University how they felt about stopping the run with the 3-4. 

This ended up being way longer than I anticipated. I honestly am attending this game solely to explore the Big House, but as a bonus I get to stop off at one of my favorite restaurants Joe’s Crab Shack. I love that place and usually I can only go when my family makes are small pilgrimage to Detroit to watch the state championships in November. If you’re around and feeling like a seafood adventure don’t be afraid to hit me up. 

The Games

Game 2 Friday Aug. 26 Portage Central @ Mattawan

I can’t lie I don’t know a whole lot about Mattawan or Portage Central, but I picked this game for Friday because it’s close and I love eating at Chinn Chinn’s. The last time I went to a Mattawan game was several years ago (2012 regional final game they lost to Caledonia). I remember only a handful of observations from that day. One of which was how nonchalant the fans sitting around us where in regards to the action on the field. The second was just how big some of these division two players looked. It’s a pretty high level of football. Seemingly not a ton has changed for Mattawan since then although they have a new head coach. The old one was fired and is now at Paw Paw after their coach left this past offseason. But Mattawan hired their defensive coordinator to be their new head guy and it looks like more of the same for them. Ryan Brown’s wildcats went 5-4 last year running the same stuff they’ve come accustomed to there. I will say though after watching some of their highlights from last year they looked a lot more open on offense then their Power T ways of old. I say Power T only because from what I remember and have seen it looks like more double teams with lead blockers then pulling linemen with backfield deception (old Mattawan Power T highlights of a kid who played for WMU). Not that they don’t do both, but true Wing T teams almost never break the T. We used to think that if we forced a team to break the T then we were winning. Last years highlights show a lot of broken T formations for Mattawan which puts them more in the category of a Power T team in my eyes. (A side note it is really difficult to find videos of teams out there so most of what I’m saying probably should be generalized. I don’t have a film vault I jut have YouTube sadly.) I’m excited to see the different formations thrown out there by the wildcats in order to gain an advantage while maintaining their offensive identity. You can’t run the traditional trap, cross, keep series of Wing T options with two backs away from a powered away wing and that limits the amount of formation options they have. It also helps me play a little game I call “tecmo bowl” where I pick your play based on the formation. 

Portage Central on the other hand is way different and pretty good. They’ve beaten Mattawan the last three in a row, including a real lopsided affair last year 49-7. Central has only lost five games in the last three years, one of which being a game six point loss to Muskegon in the 2013 state semifinal game. I couldn’t find a ton of videos of them out there but from what I’ve seen people from my neck of the woods would love their split back offense. I stopped watching I started gushing over the old school veer looks, a new age pistol option, some power sweep plays, and I legit stopped watching after seeing an old school toss play that made me reminisce of days of old. I didn’t need to see any more. I never got to be a head coach but I had plenty of ideas of what it would look like and no joke it could have easily resembled the guys in blue and gold from Portage (I don’t know if it’s gold or not but I know most schools that sport yellow like to refer to their color as gold. Just saying.). According to mlive, they are losing a ton of seniors from last year including the Kalamazoo offensive player of the year. With the schemes they are running on offense being so close to my heart I can’t imagine them not being entertaining to watch.

Even if the games a dud though the day should be awesome because I’m eating at Chinn Chinn’s before hand! I’m not the food snob I wish I was but I get a different dish every time I go there and I’ve never been dissatisfied with my meal. It’s a pretty popular place so if you’re hoping to get a seat you’d better get there early so you can make the start of the game.