By Scott Nason
“The Game” ESPN 1400
Three Eastern Upper Peninsula football teams have qualified for the postseason, while one team is on the outside looking in.
Pickford, Newberry, and Rudyard will participate in this week’s playoffs in 8-Player Division 1. Rudyard topped Pickford in overtime, 20-14, for their first win on the gridiron against their rival in a decade. Newberry also earned a big win on the road last week, knocking off undefeated Rogers City, 44-36.
This sets up a very interesting bracket, with all four teams in Region 1, with all teams 7-2. The top seed in the region is Munising, who finished their season with a 52-30 win at Brimley. The Mustangs will host Rudyard while Newberry will travel to Pickford. All four teams were within three points of each other in the new playoff points ranking system, instituted by the Michigan High School Athletic Association this season. The Panthers edged out Newberry by .3 percentage points to earn home field.
The Sault High Blue Devils, despite their 6-3 record, were not selected for the postseason in Division 4. The Blue Devils defeated Gladstone in their season finale, 15-14, on the strength of three Cole Hawker field goals, including the game-winner. With the new playoff points system in place this season, six wins doesn’t automatically qualify you for the postseason.
The Blue Devils were punished for their conference and non-conference schedule, as they didn’t play a team above Division 5, whereas, they didn’t receive enough bonus points to qualify. As a matter of fact, if they finished the season at 7-2, they still would not have qualified for the playoffs.
This is a big subject of debate across the state, with 16 teams with records of 4-5 making the playoffs, including Fruitport in Division 4, and 3-6 Flint Powers in Division 5 making the playoffs, while many six win teams, including Sault High, not making the postseason.
In other area high school football from Week 9, Cedarville-DeTour earned their second win of the season, topping Farwell, 30-6 to finish the season at 2-6. St. Ignace fell at Harbor Springs, 32-14 to end their season at 2-7.
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Tonight’s special guests include Brandon Lokken, head coach of the Lake Superior State Women’s Basketball Team, and Dave Watson, Voice of the Sault High Blue Devils and Coach’s Corner