The Port Huron Northern High School Huskies run through the tunnel after closing their win over Port Huron High School 21-7 in the Crosstown Showdown Oct. 20. (Photo: Brian M. Wells/Times Herald)
Playoff Preview: Area football teams seek district titles
Only the strong will survive.
Entering the second week of postseason play, there are four area football teams that are still alive are feeling an increased amount of pressure.
In the playoffs, there are no easy opponents. That especially holds true when district championships are on the line.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at this weekend’s prep football action and the race for district championships.
Huskies think big
It has been a special season for Port Huron Northern. The Huskies (9-1) have achieved their best win total and first playoff victory since 1986.
Now they will attempt to claim the district title when they host Warren De La Salle at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium. Northern advanced with a 13-7 victory over Roseville. De La Salle advanced with a 46-0 victory over Ferndale.
“They are a good football team,” Port Huron Northern coach Larry Roelens said. “They have size and a good amount of kids. They are a good team. They run spread offense and wing-T. They do things we have seen before. So we will be somewhat familiar to their schemes.
“Anytime you are at home, it’s an advantage having your family, friends and moral support from the community. We have to be good in all three phases. If we can get a couple of turnovers and some points on special teams it will help. We have to take care of the ball on offense.”
If the Huskies can generate turnovers while limiting their own mistakes, they will have a chance to take the next step in their dream season.
“I think we all believe we can do it,” Northern defense Brendan VanHorn said. “Everyone is out there doing their job and nothing more. We are coming together and knowing we have a chance.
“Everyone believes we can win and that’s a huge factor.”
Muskrats seek third straight district title
This time last year, Algonac was defeating Almont for a district title. With the win, Algonac moved on to face Ida, a team it defeated 38-22. Fast forward a year, and the teams will meet once again.
Ida (8-2) advanced with a 22-20 win over Detroit Denby, while Algonac (9-1) defeated Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, 20-3. The teams will meet at 1 p.m. Saturday at Algonac.
“Much like last year, they are very well coached,” Algonac coach Scott Barnhart said. “They come off the ball really well. They run hard and they tackle really well.”
Making matters even more interesting is Algonac’s struggles last week. The Muskrats lost three fumbles and even had a punt blocked. But their defense was good enough to help them recover.
“Last week was tough, dealing with some key players getting hurt in the second half,” Algonac senior Luke Stephenson said. “The team responded well and picked each other up when we needed it.
“Ida has a very powerful, bunched-up offense. A lot of our defensive success this week comes with how willing our defensive line and linebackers are to stay low and bang.”
Mariners hit the road
While Algonac and Port Huron Northern will remain at home, Marine City (8-2) heads out on the road for its matchup with Frankenmuth (10-0).
The Mariners defeated Richmond 37-10 behind a dominating effort and will now look to hand Frankenmuth its first loss.
“They have a big, strong team,” Marine City coach Ron Glodich said. “They have a 6-foot-2, 220-pound quarterback, a 6-foot-5 tackle and a 6-foot-4 defensive end. With a school our size, we don’t expect that kind of size.
“They are a good opponent. We will look at what they do well and get them out of their comfort zone. Offensively, we will look at their defense and run things that we think will work well against it.
“The whole thing for us is, year in and year out, if you don’t have the bodies to out-muscle someone, you have to have deception, quick-hitting plays, multiple fakes and things of that nature if you don’t have the size.”
Whatever the Mariners lack in size, they easily make up for in heart. After playing a difficult schedule in which they won the outright Macomb Area Conference Gold Division title, the Mariners feel battle-tested and prepared.
“I think the keys to success this week against Frankenmuth will be efficiently making in-game adjustments and just playing some excellent Mariners football,” Marine City lineman Justin Headlee said. “Carrying our momentum from the Richmond win into this game will give us the right mindset and attitude going up against a solid team like Frankenmuth.
“Going on the road, we really just have to stay focused throughout that two-hour bus ride and know our assignments in and out.”
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Joseph_Hayes11.
De La Salle (8-2) at Port Huron Northern (9-1)
Marine City (8-2) at Frankenmuth (10-0)
Morrice (9-1) at Deckerville (9-1)
Ida (8-2) at Algonac (9-1)