The first games of the MHSAA postseason begin on Nov. 1, but for Benton Harbor, the postseason starts this week.
If the Tigers are to automatically qualify for the playoffs, they will have to defeat Muskegon Catholic Central (4-2) and undefeated Berrien Springs (7-0) in consecutive weeks.
“We’re starting the playoffs this week,” Benton Harbor coach Tom Matthews said. “We can’t afford to lose one more game. We’re playing two playoff teams. It’s win or go home.”
The Tigers are hosting a Muskegon Catholic Central team averaging 32 points per game while giving up an average of 17.5 points. Benton Harbor beat a very young Crusaders team 41-21 last season.
“At the beginning of the year we watched some tape of their first game,” Matthews said. “Six weeks later and they’re a much better team. They’ve got good team speed and are very physical. It’s going to be a tough ball game.”
Benton Harbor tallied just 117 total yards of offense in last week’s 14-8 loss to Mattawan. Quarterback Quindarius Davis threw two interceptions and Malachi Dezale had 57 rushing yards on 20 carries. If the Tigers are to earn their fifth win of the season this week, they’ll have to limit turnovers and run the football.
“We’ve got to execute better than we did last week,” Matthews said. “We were making mistakes on every play. We’ve gotta wrap up on defense. (MCC) has three or four guys who are factors in their run game. We have to play well up front and control line of scrimmage.”
Friday’s game will be the last home game of the season for the Tigers.
“It’s the last home game for our seniors,” Matthews said. “There will be a lot of emotion. MCC is a very good football team. This game is gonna be a big one.”
Brandywine – the No. 3-ranked team in Division 6 – hosts Parchment (2-5) on Friday. The Bobcats (7-0) have several weapons they can exploit opposing defenses with, including Gabe Gouin. The quarterback tallied three total touchdowns in last week’s 44-0 win over Gobles.
Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference
St. Joseph is hoping to get back on track following a 14-0 loss to Battle Creek Lakeview – the program’s first shutout setback since 2014. Jeremiah Sterling and the St. Joseph offense mustered a season-low 75 rushing yards, nearly 200 yards shy of their season average. The Bears (4-0, 6-1) will hit the road to face a DeWitt team (5-2) that won last year’s matchup 39-10.
Lakeshore snapped a three-game losing skid and kept its postseason hopes alive with a 27-16 win over Gull Lake last week. Zeke Rohl led the way with 161 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The Lancers (1-3, 3-4) look to start a winning streak when they host Kalamazoo Central (1-2, 2-5) on Friday.
After earning a 7-6 victory over Kalamazoo Central last week, Niles (1-4, 2-5) will try to earn a win against Battle Creek Central (2-5), which is coming off a 47-0 loss to Portage Northern.
Berrien Springs has shut out four straight teams for the first time since 1986, outscoring its opponents 176-0 during that span. The Shamrocks (3-0, 7-0) are off this week and will use the extra time to prepare for their season finale against Benton Harbor.
Buchanan (1-1, 2-5) hopes to bounce back from a 40-0 loss to Berrien Springs with a win over Comstock (0-2, 2-5) this week. The Colts beat the Bucks 52-21 in last season’s matchup.
Following four straight losses, Coloma (0-3, 1-6) will shoot for win No. 2 against Delton Kellogg (1-2, 4-3) on Friday.
Watervliet (0-3, 2-5) wants to end its three-game losing streak but will have a tough task against conference power Schoolcraft (3-0, 7-0).
Conference foes Hartford (3-3, 4-3) and Decatur (2-4, 3-4) are fighting for their playoff lives going into their head-to-head matchup this week. The Indians could eliminate the Raiders from playoff contention with a win.
Bloomingdale (1-5, 1-6) gears up for a road matchup against Marcellus (1-5, 2-5). Eau Claire (0-7, 0-7) hosts Cassopolis (6-0, 7-0).
Following a 40-24 win over Sturgis last week, Dowagiac hopes to clinch a playoff berth when it faces Vicksburg (5-2, 5-2) on the road this week.
South Haven (0-7, 0-7) will host Division 4 No. 2-ranked Paw Paw (7-0, 7-0) on Friday.
Southwest Michigan Eight-man Football League
Bridgman (4-1, 6-1) rebounded from a loss to Martin with a 50-6 win over New Buffalo last week. The Bees will take on Wyoming Tri-Unity Christian ( 4-1, 4-3) in a key conference matchup.
Lake Michigan Catholic (1-4, 3-4) hosts New Buffalo (1-3, 1-5) this week with playoff hopes on the line. The matchup will be at St. Joseph’s Dickinson Stadium, and will be the first between the two programs as eight-man teams.
Michigan Lutheran (0-5, 1-6) would like to halt its five-game losing streak. The Titans have their work cut out for them this week when they travel to face undefeated Martin (5-0, 7-0).
Bangor (0-6) transitions back to eight-man football this week in a road matchup with Lawrence (2-5).
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