ALLENDALE, Mich -- In his ninth season as Grand Valley head football coach, Matt Mitchell is looking forward to yet another playoff berth. On Sunday, the Lakers found out they'll be taking on Northwest Missouri State, a team they're very familiar with over the years.
I'm really fired up," Mitchell said, "I was part of the staff in 2005 and 2006 when we played them in the national championship, I was also a part of the national semifinal loss in 2009 and as a head coach in 2013, we squared off for the semifinal. For me, playing Northwest at home will be really cool, I'm really excited for our kids and I'm excited for our fans too, these are two of the traditional powerhouses in Division-II, so for these two to meet in the first round, there will be a lot of eyes nationally on this particular matchup."
The Lakers will be a part of Super Regional 3 which is stacked with one-seed and undefeated, Ouachita Baptist and undefeated two-seed and GLIAC champion, Ferris State.
"It's tough and I think this region really mirrors our schedule," Mitchell said. "We had a really tough schedule, one of the toughest in the nation and of the eleven teams [on it], we played two of them in the University of Indianapolis and Ferris State. I told our team going into this thing that this isn't like the NCAA basketball tournament where you have different committees knowing who played a non-conference matchup, I don't think seedings mean anything."
The Lakers finished the regular season at 10-1 with their lone loss coming in week seven against Ferris. The Bulldogs will face seven-seed Harding on Saturday but if both teams advance, they'll face each other in the second round.
"I'm sure it crosses everyone's mind," the Laker head coach stated, "but I'm not going to look too far passed Northwest Missouri, no doubt about that. It's hard not to see that specifically, though, because it's been an intense rivalry [with Ferris] and that would also be Thanksgiving weekend for us so it might provide more juice for West Michigan."