GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Harper Creek won the division for a 3rd consecutive season in 2012, and begin the season as favorites to make it 4 in a row, but Lakeview and Sturgis should challenge. Here is a preview:
The Beavers advanced to the division 3 state semifinals for the 2nd consecutive season in 2012 both times losing to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. Harper Creek brings back 4 offensive starters led by quarterback Trevor Johnson. The defense returns 6 starters led by Brennan Leson who is also the returing starter at center. Zach Testolin and Anthony McNichols are also returning 2-way starters. Harper Creek opens with Mattawan in a big week 1 game.
The Spartans broke an 8-year playoff drought in 2012 and finished 2nd in the East division. Lakeview brings back 14 starters in 2013, 8 of which are on the defensive side of the ball. Quarterback Riley Davis is back and Donnie Ernsberger returns at both fullback and linebacker. This season the Spartans open with Niles and Benton Harbor instead of Lakeshore and St. Joseph, a 2nd consecutive trip to the playoffs should be in order in 2013.
The Redskins made it back to the postseason in 2012 after a 2 year absense. This season Marshall returns 7 starters including quarterback Danny Welke and Center/Linebacker Drew Maisner. Marshall also draws 2 tough games against the West division in Lakeshore and Mattawan.
The Trojans finished 1 win shy of the playoffs in 2012. Western Michigan commit Chance Stewart returns at quarterback giving Sturgis high hopes for the season. Jimmy Lamb took over for Bill Keim in the middle of last season, he now begins his 1st full year as head coach. The Trojans will be a veteran team this season and should find themselves back in the playoffs.
The Knights haven’t had a winning season since T.J. Duckett led them to 8-1 back in 1998, but came so close last season finishing 4-5. They return very little in the way of starters from last season, Joe Boggan started on both sides of the ball as a junior and Terrehl Kelley saw some time at wide receiver.
Tim Hiller begins his 3rd season at the helm of the Blue Devils program after going 3-6 in 2011 and 2-7 last year. Gull Lake returns 8 starters, 5 on offense led by quarterback Tyler Vandermolen. Nick Miller (WR/DB) and Odell Miller (LT/DT) were 2-way starters as juniors last season.
The Cardinals only win in 2012 came against Battle Creek Central in week 7.
BATTLE CREEK CENTRAL
The Bearcats went winless last season for the 2nd consectuive season and managed to score just 60 points in 9 games.