Closer look at Michigan's high school football semifinal games

Teams are one win away from spot at Ford Field

By Keith Dunlap - Graham Media Group

One more win and it’s advance to the ultimate stage for high school football in the state of Michigan.

That is the objective for the 32 remaining teams left in the state playoffs for all eight divisions going into Saturday’s state semifinals across the state. 

Here’s a look at the matchups and who is likeliest to make it to Ford Field.

Division 1
Saline (11-1) vs. Clarkston (10-2) at Okemos
Belleville (12-0) vs. Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (12-0) at Troy Athens

Overview: Three of these four teams have never won state titles before. Clarkston, which has won three of the last five titles and is the defending champion, is the lone exception. The most star-studded matchup in terms of future college players is Belleville and Chippewa Valley. Belleville’s Devontae Dobbs and Julian Barnett are headed to Michigan State, Belleville’s Tyrece Woods is committed to Michigan, while Marcel Lewis of Chippewa Valley is going to Michigan State. 
Predicted winners: Clarkston and Chippewa Valley.

Division 2
Midland (9-3) vs. Muskegon Mona Shores (11-1) at Grand Ledge
Warren De La Salle (10-2) vs. Birmingham Groves (10-2) at Hazel Park

Overview: Mona Shores and De La Salle are clear favorites to meet in the final. Mona Shores’ only loss came to what many believe is the state’s best overall team, Muskegon. De La Salle romped over Oak Park in the second round, 35-7, in a game that was a state championship-worthy matchup early on in the playoffs. 
Predicted winners: Mona Shores and De La Salle.

Division 3
Zeeland East (11-1) vs. Muskegon (12-0) at Grand Haven
DeWitt (12-0) vs. Detroit Martin Luther King (11-2) at Brighton

Overview: Ever since Muskegon and Martin Luther King played a classic in Week 2 of the season, won 24-21 by Muskegon, many around the state have eyed the potential rematch at Ford Field. It’s one win away for both teams, although their opponents aren’t slouches. Zeeland East can score points behind a stellar rushing attack, while DeWitt is a program that will be making its 10th semifinal appearance since 2001.
Predicted winners: Muskegon and Martin Luther King.

Division 4
Grand Rapids Catholic Central (11-1) vs. Edwardsburg (12-0) at Vicksburg
Williamston (10-2) vs. Chelsea (9-3) at Walled Lake Northern

Overview: The biggest news is that neither of these games include Farmington Hills Harrison, the program with the most state titles in state history and one that is now finished after Chelsea won at Harrison last week, 21-14. Harrison will close in June. Catholic Central has won the last two state titles and beat Edwardsburg in the final last year, 42-31. The winner will be the favorite to win at Ford Field.
Predicted winners: Edwardsburg and Chelsea.

Division 5
Hudsonville Unity Christian (10-2) vs. Saginaw Swan Valley (12-0) at Greenville
Portland (12-0) vs. Marine City (10-2) at Howell
Overview: For the first time in six years, there will be a new state champion in this division. Five-time defending state champion Grand Rapids West Catholic was beaten in the first round by Unity Christian. Each one of these teams can score points quickly and often.
Predicted winners: Swan Valley and Portland.

Division 6
Traverse City St. Francis (12-0) vs. Montague (10-2) at Mount Pleasant
Montrose (10-2) vs. Jackson Lumen Christi (11-0) at Novi

Overview: Jackson Lumen Christi is seeking its third straight state title, and the way it is playing, it will be hard for any team to deny Lumen Christi. St. Francis and Montague should be a high-scoring game with how prolific the offenses are.
Predicted winners: St. Francis and Lumen Christi.

Division 7
New Lothrop (11-1) vs. Lake City (12-0) at Clare
Cassopolis (12-0) vs. Madison Heights Madison (12-0) at Jackson

Overview: Madison Heights Madison has beaten three playoff teams in Division 4 and one in Division 3, so it is the clear team to beat. Lake City has been inspired all year playing for the 4-year-old daughter of head coach Kyle Smith, who has battled an intestinal illness.
Predicted winners: New Lothrop and Madison.

Division 8
Breckenridge (12-0) vs. Harbor Beach (11-1) at Chesaning
Holton (8-4) vs. Reading (12-0) at Battle Creek Harper Creek 

Overview: Breckenridge and Reading have been the most dominant of the four teams this season and are likely to meet in the final. Breckenridge has eight shutouts and has only allowed 41 points all season, while Reading has outscored its opponents by a score of 601-94. 
Predicted winners: Breckenridge and Reading.

Your turn

Predict the MHSAA state semifinal football games.

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