It’s finally time Indian fans! Tonight is the season opener for the Indian Varsity Football Team at home! The Indians will begin their 14-week journey towards Ford Field hosting Martin tonight at Indian Stadium. The first kickoff of the season commences at 7:00 PM.
We hope you all can join us tonight at Indian Stadium! For those of you that can not attend the game tonight (me included, as I will covering a game in Buchanan), no fear! The Hartford Indian Football web site has kept you in mind! We will be posting updates via our Facebook page and our Live Twitter feed. Videographer Joe MacMillan will be posting occasional updates from his perch high-a-top Indian Stadium, giving you a virtual view of the game!
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We hope to see you tonight at Indian Stadium. Cheer loud, cheer often and above all, do it in a positive and responsible way. Remember, sportsmanship first, on the field and off it, too!
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Every week on this Blog, I will be making my selections on local games and trying to pick the winners of those games each week. The games posted will be within my seven county area (Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, Saint Joseph and Van Buren) and will cover ALL games. Games predicted below are not in any specific order, just by order of the school alphabetically by county. (NOTE: My weekly rankings will still be limited to schools from Class B – Class D ONLY)
@ Allegan 28, Three Rivers 14
Paw Paw 35, @ Plainwell 7
Middleville Thornapple-Kellogg 38, @ Wyoming Park 6
@ Saint Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic 35, Athens 13
@ Dowagiac 42, South Haven 21
@ Vicksburg 28, Comstock 7
@ Buchanan 42, Fennville 14
Hamilton 20, @ Coopersville 17
Holland Christian 44, @ Holland 24
@ Edwardsburg 30, Hopkins 7
@ Hartford 49, Martin 0
Otsego 35, @ Richland Gull Lake 21
@ Saugatuck 34, Manistee Catholic Central 28
@ Wayland Union 12, Grand Rapids Union 6
@ Hastings 30, Lake Odessa Lakewood 10
Sturgis 42, @ Benton Harbor 12
@ Berrien Springs 38, Decatur 10
@ Bridgman 35, Grand Rapids Northpointe Christian 20
@ Watervliet 42, Coloma 7
@ Eau Claire 20, Hobart River Forest (Ind.) 14
@ New Buffalo 42, Bloomingdale 20
Jackson Lumen Christi 42, @ Niles 10
Niles Brandywine 35, @ Lawrence 7
@ Saint Joseph 21, Marshall 10
Saint Joseph Michigan Lutheran 31, @ Wyoming Lee 17
@ Stevensville Lakeshore 28, Battle Creek Lakeview 17
@ LaPorte LaLumiere (Ind.) 27, Three Oaks River Valley 21
@ Lawton 35, Cassopolis 14
Centreville 30, @ Marcellus 20
@ Climax-Scotts 49, Camden-Frontier 10
Olivet 56, @ Galesburg-Augusta 7 (at WMU)
Kalamazoo Central 35, @ Battle Creek Central 14
Portage Northern 42, @ Kalamazoo Loy Norrix 0
@ Portage Central 35, Battle Creek Harper Creek 27
@ Constantine 56, Vermontville Maple Valley 14 (at WMU)
Mendon 35, @ Deckerville 24
@ Union City 28, White Pigeon 14
@ Bangor 42, Comstock Park 21
Coldwater 38, @ Mattawan 21
@ Delton-Kellogg 20, Kalamazoo Christian 7 (at WMU)
@ Climax-Scotts 49, Camden-Frontier 10
Parchment 35, @ Kalamazoo Hackett 27 (at WMU)
@ Schoolcraft 24, Battle Creek Pennfield 21 (at WMU)
@ Gobles 17, Ashley 10 (at CMU)
Tonight and Tomorrow, teams from across the state will kick off their football seasons, hoping that on Thanksgiving weekend, they will be holding one of the eight State Championship trophies as State Champions. They hope to become this years Lake Orion, Farmington Hills Harrison, East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Grand Rapids West Catholic, Ithaca, Hudson and Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart.
As part of my preview of the 2011 season, I will breaking down seven local conferences and giving you a look inside how I think they will finish when week nine comes around. I will preview the Southwestern Athletic Conference North and South, the Kalamazoo Valley Association, the Lakeland Athletic Conference, the Red Arrow Conference, the Saint Joseph Valley League and the Wolverine Conference. I will be writing most about the SAC conference, as I know the most about those teams. I will write some about the other teams, though, as well.
I hope you will give this an honest read and let me know what you think by either leaving a comment (comments are moderated, so keep it clean!) or e-mailing me using the “Feedback” link at the top of every page and the blog.
Southwestern Athletic Conference–South Division
1. Lawton: Lawton has the deepest lineup in the conference returning. Despite losing key seniors on 9-1 team last season, their Junior Varsity was 8-1 and solid. **Playoff Team in 2011**
2. Watervliet: Can and will compete for the conference title. Jake Cowsert will be a game changer. Watervliet was 4-0 with him, 1-4 without him. Backfield also returns, as does key linemen. **Playoff Team in 2011**
3. Hartford: Despite the return of Gareth MacMillan and three key senior pieces of the line, lack of depth at skill players make this season different for Hartford. It should be a run attack for the Indians, with a sophomore now under center. **Playoff Team in 2011**
4. Decatur: 4-5 last season, a rare losing season for Joe Groh’s Raiders. Stephen Botti and Kaleb and Dustin Kolberg, leading tacklers return. But most of the offensive and defensive lines and backfield graduated, leaving big holes to fill. Maybe a one game improvement.
5. Marcellus: Todd Rice’s club won just one game last fall, but the Wildcats do return some experience in key positions, most notably with Remi Goodrich back at quarterback and Marcus Pompey at running back. They should finish out of the cellar, but no better.
6. Lawrence: Lawrence has one returning senior in Josh Gendron and he has been a leader for Cody Caswell’s Tigers. However, the Tigers lost an entire line and are working with players that have never seen the field before. Expect the Tigers to struggle to score more than two wins with lack of experience.
Southwestern Athletic Conference–North Division
1. Saugatuck: Saugatuck is coming off a great season, going 10-4 and making it to the Division Eight state finals. This team is the favorite to win conference. They only lost two seniors, even though one was all-state in Ethan Colton. QB Brad Speet is a dual threat in the Wing-T and guys like Lance Kleino add to it. **Playoff Team in 2011**
2. Bangor: Bangor is a threat this year to win conference, despite me ranking them second. They lost Jimal Valentine and his 1,400 yards, but when QB Nik Abbott stays healthy, this team is a legit passing threat and with multiple skill players at receiver returning, expect a second trip to the playoffs this year. **Playoff Team in 2011**
3. Gobles: This team will be the most improved team in the North Division this fall. They were 3-6 last year, but were young and injured at times. Adam Vosburg and his 1,000 yards last year are back, as is Quarterback Joey Olsiewicz and leading receiver Seth Johnson, all are juniors. A much improved schedule makes them a five win team, but one change could get them to the postseason.
4. Fennville: The unfortunate events of last March changed this team forever. The loss of Wes Leonard puts a damper on what was a great 7-4 season. Best friend Xavier Grigg takes over for Leonard at QB, but the loss of wide receiver Adam Siegel, running back DeMarcus McGee and a new head coach make Fennville a risky pick. I do hope this season is another healing session for this great town, though.
5. Bloomingdale: Bloomingdale is a solid five in the league and here’s why: talent went up and left. Star runner Gary Jones is gone this season, having transferred to Allegan. Key position players have been forced to change, most notable is the addition of Bryce Bodtke to QB. Bloomingdale should end with about as many victories, if not less this season.
6. Martin: Martin is just trying to break the streak. They have not one a single game in any football competition in nearly 4 years. They are hinging their hopes on second-year coach Keith Snyder and his Wing-T style offense. Senior Logan Curry moves to quarterback this season from running back and will have Ben Schipper and two young freshman to throw to. Expect them to compete. A win: possible.
Kalamazoo Valley Association
1. Constantine: Two-time defending state semi finalists. Lost top three rushers in Wing-T offense, but Junior Varsity was 9-0 last year and I believe two years ago, as well. **Playoff Team in 2011**
2. Schoolcraft: Plenty of fast, but skilled players returning for the Eagles. Clear playoff team this year, hopefully they’ll play someone compliant to rules. Hasn’t beat Constantine since 2006. **Playoff Team in 2011**
3. Battle Creek Pennfield: Always strong in a perennially strong conference. Has not had a losing season since 1997 and expect the streak to continue. Made it to round two of the playoffs last season. **Playoff Team in 2011**
4. Olivet: Defending D5 runners-up. Standout QB Jay Cousineau is gone, but Olivet has the tools to make playoffs this season, but always struggles in a solid league against solid league opponents. **Playoff Team in 2011**
5. Delton-Kellogg: A new coaching staff, but plenty of returning skill players. Offense was the biggest problem for D-K last fall, but expectations are high for a winning season. Line is young and solid.
6. Parchment: Could be the “underdog” of the KVA this season. They return a lot of key players, but skilled players are new and unproven in game situations. Looking for first winning season since 2006.
7. Kalamazoo Christian: Kalamazoo Christian was 4-5 last season, but you can contribute that to injuries. Has a quarterback with some experience and has a solid kicking game, but the defense gave up 26 or more points in five losses last year.
8. Kalamazoo Hackett: Hackett has not had a winning season since 2006. They have gone from 0 wins in 2008 to 3 in 2009 and 4 in 2010. With the likes of Constantine, Schoolcraft, Pennfield and Olivet, 5 wins is about all that is attainable.
9. Vermontville Maple Valley: Don’t know much about Maple Valley, but I’m sure there, 1-8 is unacceptable, like in every football town. Problem is if you don’t have a strong team in the KVA, you can’t compete.
10. Galesburg-Augusta: 0-9 last season, 0-9 in 2009, as well and expect much of the same for the Rams this year, as they lost stud runner Stephan Mejeur to graduation.
Lakeland Athletic Conference
1. Edwardsburg: Made playoff run last season, ending with a loss to D4 champ Grand Rapids Catholic Central. Deep on offense this season with young, proven talent. Must make up for loss of linebacker Austin Stinnett. Slight favorite in a tight league. **Playoff Team in 2011**
2. Berrien Springs: Is my #2, but I consider them a legit favorite, too. They may have one of SW Michigan’s biggest lines, averaging around 250 pounds. Also, Alex Padla, transfer from Lakeshore, has speed and more notably a strong arm. Talented team. **Playoff Team in 2011**
3. Buchanan: Another favorite in one of the premier small school leagues in the state. Five juniors start on defense. They must make up for the loss of QB Bryan Kuntz, but has running back described as one of the best in SW Michigan. **Playoff Team in 2011**
4. Cassopolis: Playoff team in 2010, but is a wild card this season. Lost a number of talented players, including leading rusher to graduation. Shocked unbeaten Lawton in playoffs last year, but definitely not as deep in 2011.
5. Niles Brandywine: Had first winning season since 2002 with 5-4 mark last year. Was in playoff race until 2-3 in last five games ended that. Young team with high hopes. Loss of Jacob Frazier at QB is big. His size and speed, hard to make up. Possible playoff team like Cass.
6. Coloma: 1-8 last season, but looks slightly improved from last season. Defense must improve, as they gave up 27 points or more in eight losses last season. Hasn’t made playoffs in two years, trying to change it in 2011. Conference is strong, though.
Red Arrow Conference
1. New Buffalo: The least experienced team in the Red Arrow last year. Now, more experienced and destined for a conference title. The Levine’s are back and they made a huge impact with five wins last year. Conference champs and a playoff appearance are likely. **Playoff Team in 2011**
2. Saint Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic: Playoff team from last year, but still are strong, but youthful. Losses of Joey Frazee, Austin Juza, Jimmy Koenig and others is big. This team won’t have the same without them. Second best in league would be a solid season.
3. Saint Joseph Michigan Lutheran: Two varsity seasons, two playoff appearances. This team has a major different look without guys like Josh Lane and Micah Rimpel, two key players, on it. This might be the season of hardship for the Titans, but still as a small school, well done.
4. Eau Claire: A playoff team in 2009 to 2-7 last season. League doesn’t look very deep, but Eau Claire isn’t as deep as 2009, but better than 2010. A lot more senior leadership is there this year, but EC still finishes below .500, but more wins are likely.
5. Three Oaks River Valley: Every season since 2003 has finished 2-7 or 0-9. Coincidence? Not really. A change in league didn’t help the Mustangs last season. They only scored 70 points all season and unless a miracle comes, which is possible, expect the same this year.
Saint Joseph Valley League
1. Mendon: Always a elite-state contender and 2011 is no different. Main key players back for Mendon, including all-stater Cody Bingaman. Loss to Hudson last year in playoffs is sticking point and major state run in 2011 appears likely. **Playoff Team in 2011**
2. White Pigeon: Shocking to see them 4-5 last season with seniors that were back. Coach Jason Vogel has the skilled players back, but the line is concerning, losing key senior Roger Stewart to graduation. Strength of schedule is very strong and winning games a must.
3. Bronson: 4-5 in 2008, 9-3 in 2009 and 4-5 in 2010, means maybe a good season this year, right? Well, maybe. Losing key seniors of 2009 playoff team were devastating last fall. Maybe one more fall together will gel the Vikings back together for a run.
4. Centreville: Went 4-5 last season, missing playoffs for second straight year. Five key senior leaders must gel young and youthful new players into fold. It may take a few games, but Centreville could be rather good in non-conference games, but conference? Doubtful.
1. Otsego: Two straight playoff appearances for team that was 0-9 from 2005-2007. Key, skilled players return for Bulldogs. Biggest question is line play. If they control the line of scrimmage, look out conference crown. **Playoff Team in 2011**
2. Dowagiac: Missed playoffs by losing last two games of 2010. Basketball team made a run to state semifinals last winter and expect that enthusiasm to carry over somewhat. Defensive play late in games critical. Lost three games by less than seven points last season. Playoff bound this year. **Playoff Team in 2011**
3. Allegan: 7-3 last season and a playoff team. Team lost key players, among them QB Steve Rasmussen and two-way starter Lucas Bartz. 11 seniors return, but overall, the talent depth isn’t as strong as last year or my top three. Leadership will determine playoff chances. **Playoff Team in 2011**
4. Three Rivers: Went 4-5 after run to state runner-up in 2009. Does not look like a strong team on paper, but JV was strong last season. Veteran leadership is strong. Biggest question is at QB, between Dave Hartsig, a senior and Sam Shutes, a junior. Playoff return looks close. **Playoff Team in 2011**
5. Paw Paw: Made district finals last year and lost to Edwardsburg, ending 9-2. Losing Andrew Buskirk at quarterback is a major dagger for the spread offense. But watch Gabe Guilbee on the line playing two-ways. Line control for new QB is a must for Paw Paw to make playoffs.
6. Vicksburg: Made playoff appearance for first time since 1993 last season. However, have many holes to fill, especially at QB and WR with senior losses in Aaron McGuire and Kris Chesser. Although several two way starters are back, the offensive holes may be too big to fill.
7. South Haven: 1-8 last two seasons after playoff run in 2008. New coaching staff this year. Team has had some major defensive troubles the past two years and offensively, as well. Looking like more speed then previous two seasons, but line play will dictate whether speed can be used to advantage.
8. Comstock: 2-7 last season, there third straight losing season. They have five returning players, who are smart on and off the field. Team is 5-22 in last three seasons and proven track record suggests, while wins probably pick up, this team falls well sort of playoffs in 2011.
9. Plainwell: 0-9 last season. Looking to rebound from season that saw team fight with each other more than opponents. It appears that they will be much improved over last season due to the leadership of two senior lineman. But in a tough league, you need all 11 on one page.
Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls: It’s that time again!
As the calendar nears the end of Summer and the appearance of the changing colors and the sight of school children going back to classes become entrenched in our minds, that must mean that Fall is nearing. And with the same changing of the seasons brings Hartford back together, as one community, at it’s sacred ground: Indian Stadium.
That’s right, the 2011 football season kicks off this Monday, August 8th, as the Indian football teams begin regular season practices. Later this week will likely come full pad and contact hitting practices, the true and first-telling sign football is back in Hartford.
HartfordFootball.com will be at the first practice on Monday and I will be posting another Blog entry tomorrow, giving our Hartford community a birds eye view into the first Indian practice. We will also be taking pictures of the first practice for the fourth straight season and will be posting pictures in the Hartford Indian Football Photo Gallery in the near future.
Hang in there, Hartford. The season kicks off on Friday, August 26th against Martin at home! We will also be hosting a scrimmage at home on Friday, August 19th against Berrien Springs at 10:00 AM. More details will follow on this Blog and the web site, which should be launched in the next couple of weeks!
On behalf of all of us with the Hartford Indian Football teams and the HartfordFootball.com web site, we would like to welcome you to our new Blog for the 2011 season and beyond! It is here that your web site administrator, along with other Bloggers throughout the course of the season, will be posting here to keep you up to date with our Varsity, Junior Varsity and Middle School football teams.
Also, I will be posting my weekly game thoughts, area top teams, area top players, some “not” so great highlights of the week and revisiting local players of the past and updating how they are doing in the college ranks. You can also expect posts about web site updates and my general thoughts about sport and non-sport related topics, so stay tuned!
Check out the links at the top of the page near the banner. Those are shortcut links to our most important pages, including the Home Page, Varsity Team Page, Junior Varsity Team Page, Middle School Team Page and a link to contact me.
We hope you will enjoy the new Blog! If you have any comments, good or bad, about anything with the web site, I encourage you to contact me by clicking the “Feedback” link. Go Green!