GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — The OK Black conference came down to the final night of the regular season in 2012 when Muskegon met Zeeland East in a matchup of unbeaten teams. Both the Big Reds and Chix figure to be in the mix once again in 2013, here is a preview of the OK Black:
The Chix were a perfect 9-0 during the regular season in 2012, but were eliminated from the playoffs in the 1st round by Zeeland West. This season the Chix have the talent to win the Black again. Senior Spencer Viening starts his 4th year as a varsity player and should lead the way both at running back and linebacker. Joining Viening at linebacker are Travis Jacobs, Jadin Hunderman and Josh Hart who all saw significant playing time last season. In all, the defense returns 8 starters and should be very good, The biggest question for Zeeland East is who replaces the graduated Michael Custer at quarterback?
The Big Reds made it all the way to the division 2 state championship game last season before falling to Birmingham Brother Rice in a great game at Ford Field. This season the Big Reds don’t return a ton of starters from a season ago, but the ones who do return are really good. The only full-time returner on offense is right guard Malik King who is verbally committed to Ball State, Deshaun Thrower figures to play quarterback after splitting time there last season. On defense, Kenneth Finely returns on the defenseive line and William Hunt returns at linebacker. Expect the defense to be ahead of the offense at the start of the season.
The Knights made the playoffs for the 5th straight season in 2012 under head coach Scott Van Essen. This season, much like their conference foes listed above, the Knights bring back most of their defense from a season ago. Zach Evans returns at defesive end and figures to be one of the better defensive players in the area this season. The offense has a lot to replace but they do return 2 starting offensive lineman.
The Sailors started last season 4-1 and appeared to be on the way to their 1st ever playoff appearance, but Shores dropped thier final 4 games of the season. This season, junior Tyree Jackson returns for his 3rd varsity season as the teams quarterback and brings with him 5 other starters including his favorite target, wide receiver Asantay Brown. The Sailors return 5 on defense and should be knocking on the door of that elusive playoff berth in 2013.
The Rockets were 3-6 in head coach Kyle Jewett’s 1st season at the helm. They return 11 starters, 6 on offense led by quarterback Garrett Blanshine and 4 offensive lineman.
GRAND RAPIDS UNION
The Redhawks suffered their 10th consecutive losing season in 2012, but they were very young. Jacquise Rogers started at quarterback as a freshman and showed some promise, Paul Brown also started at both fullback and linebacker last season as a junior. In all, 14 starters in 2012 were non-seniors.