FRIDAY NIGHT PREVIEW
Posted November 18, 2021
St. Joseph vs. Dewitt…Wrestler Ric Flair used to say “to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best” and that is certainly true for the St. Joe Bears as they face defending Division 3 champion Dewitt.
The Bears have relied on running the football all season, amd it’s likely to be no different Saturday. Trey McGinnis and Joron Brown offer a dynamic duo in the backfield, but quarterback Matthew Lanier has added another weapon in the playoffs, which makes it tougher for opponents to stop. Last week, the Bears rolled up 311 yards in their regional win over Parma Western. Parma did have success throwing and that’s a concern this week.
Dewitt has one of the best quarterbacks in the state of Michigan in Tyler Holtz. He has thrown for 2345 yards and 34 touchdowns this season. 6-5 receiver Tommy McIntosh has over 1000 yards receiving and 17 touchdowns, while Bryce Kurncz has 11 touchdown grabs. And if you say, “ok, we’ll make ‘em run it”, Bryce Debri leads a rushing attack that has a combined 2558 yards this season.
Dewitt will be a heavy favorite to make it back to Ford Field.
Edwardsburg vs. Hudsonville Unity Christian…Edwardsburg finally faces a team with as much firepower as the Eddies in Hudsonville Unity Christian. These two teams have combined to score 1324 points this season.
The Eddies are coming off their toughest game of the year in the regional, getting past Grand Rapids South Christian, 28-14. Andrew Colvin was the surprise star, filling in for the injured Jacob Walker and scoring three touchdowns while also getting an interception on defense. The Eddies played ball control, limiting the guests to just seven possessions by rushing for 340 yards and grinding up clock. Defensively, Isaiyah Swartz and Logan McColley led the attack, holding the Sailors in check.
That will be tougher to do against Hudsonville, which is the third-ranked team in the state and has not punted this season. They run out of the T formation with a powerful line and speed to burn in the backfield. Quarterback Cameron Chandler heads things up in the rushing and passing attack, but he has plenty of weapons in Micah Bush, Abraham Rappuhn and Drew Chandler. The Crusaders are scoring a remarkable 58 points per game. Their season low is 46.
The scoreboard worker could have their hands full Saturday at Portage Northern High School.
Adams Central at North Judson…In 1A, most people expect Adams Central and Indianapolis Lutheran to play for the state title next week, but North Judson wouldn’t mind throwing a surprise party.
To do it, they have to slow down a Flying Jets attack, which is easier said than done. Blake Heyerly ran for 235 yards and four touchdowns last week, as Adams Central beat county rival South Adams. Quarterback Ryan Black is a solid dual threat. Defensively, Adams Central has shown great depth with Joshua Mosser leading the way in tackles and three different players recording sacks.
North Judson loves to lean on its defense, led by linebacker Owen and Quentin Frasure. Logan Radtke has had a solid season defensively as well. Offensively, you know all about the exploits of Cheyenne Allen and Aldric Harper, but others will have to step up. Adams Central only allows 4.5 points per game.
Brebeuf at Marian…Marian has been in six semistates…they have yet to win one. Can they finally break through at Otolski Field against Brebuef, the school that beat them in 2017?
Matt Geske’s braves beat top-ranked West Lafayette in the tournament opener, and since then, no one has come close. Quarterback Nolan Buckman has thrown for 2700 yards and 35 touchdowns, so this is a test for the Marian secondary, which struggled against Elkhart earlier this year. Clark Sweet and Jack Meiers have nearly 200 catches between them. Cole Williams and Devin McIlwain spearhead a defense which has been improved since the tourney started.
For Marian, Kaleb Lusanga has really blossomed as the running game has become more consistent with a healthy offensive line. And many of those same guys are on the defensive line, which has effectively shut down foes throughout the playoffs. In fact, the Knights have only allowed 27 points in the tournament.
Something has to give Friday night in the Princess City.
Zionsville at Michigan City…LaPorte County is the site of two semistate games. One will be at historic Ames Field where 8-5 Zionsville comes to Michigan City.
The Eagles are led by running back Colin Price with 1653 yards on the ground this season, and the passing of sophomore quarterback Luke Murphy. That offense has not been held below 35 points in a game this postseason. Seniors Otto Kyler and Owen Rossell lead the Eagles defense, which has matched well against 5A foes after facing 6A opponents throughout the season.
Phil Mason’s Michigan City Wolves are on top of the world after avenging a loss to Duneland foe Valpo to win the regional. The Wolves are scoring 37 points a game with a diverse and explosive offense, featuring the running of Racion Anderson, Jaden Hart and sophomore quarterback Tyler Bush. But last week, that defense shut down the running of Hayden Vinyard and the Vikings offense.
It should be a raucous atmosphere as City looks for its first trip to state in school history.
Northridge at New Prairie…And our game on TV-46 is the other game in LaPorte County. It’s a rematch of the 2014 4A Semistate as Northridge takes on New Prairie.
Northridge is one of the great stories of this tournament. The Raiders were 5-4 on the season and had to endure running clock blowouts in their last two games of the regular season. But they have put together four straight wins in the tournament, thanks to improved line play, the stability of Tagg Gott at quarterback and an offense that chews up the clock.
They will be tested by a New Prairie team that can be just as physical with big hosses like Illinois commit Hunter Whitenack and 6-5 tackle Jacob Meyers on the line. Marshall Kmiecik has blossomed at quarterback since the second half of the season and Casey McKim’s defense has only allowed 10 points per game.
Amzie Miller Field will be rockin’, and we will have the game for you. Kickoff is at 8 pm on the IHSAA’s Pay-per-view livestream but it’s free to watch on TV-46 Friday night at 11 and Saturday morning at 9.
Author: Chuck Freeby, WHME-TV 46 Sports Director