'The 256' Coverage

The 256: 15 Tickets Punched, 1 Left

Ithaca vs. St. Francis (92)

Saturday Updated Brackets and Championship Pairings, the Finals are set aside from the Chelsea/Coldwater game taking place at 2PM tomorrow.

Division 1, Division 2, Division 3Division 4Division 5, Division 6, Division 7Division 8

The good news, we are a day away from one of the biggest days of the High School Football season!  The bad, well, this is the 2nd to last weekend of what has been another great and memorable high school football season in Michigan.  Tomorrow afternoon, 32 teams will have hopes of punching their tickets to Detroit, 16 will come out with that dream in hand.

Before, we dive into the predictions with the teams that are actually playing tomorrow, let’s re-visit how good or bad my projections were from 3 weeks ago and how I saw the Semi-Finals shaping up before the post-season started.

Division 1 – (R1) Grand Ledge (R2) Detroit CC (R3) Saline (R4) Cass Tech
Division 2 – (R1) Mona Shores (R2) Walled Lake Western (R3) Franklin (R4) Detroit King
Division 3 – (R1) Mt. Pleasant (R2) Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (R3) St. Joseph (R4) Allen Park
Division 4 – (R1) Forest Hills Eastern (R2) Grand Rapids CC (R3) Powers (R4) Country Day
Division 5 – (R1) Menominee (R2) Portland (R3) Ida (R4) Algonac
Division 6 – (R1) St. Francis (R2) Ithaca (R3) Montague (R4) St. Mary CC
Division 7 – (R1) Nouvel CC (R2) New Lothrop (R3) Pewamo-Westphalia (R4) Loyola
Division 8 – (R1) LaSalle (R2) Muskegon CC (R3) Michigan Lutheran Seminary (R4) Climax Scotts

(17 out of 32 were projected correctly)

DIVISION 1

Romeo (11-1) 100.111 at Grand Ledge (12-0) 103.111 @ Brighton HS S 1:00 PM
Have We Met before? This is the first ever meeting between the two programs.
Semi-Final History Grand Ledge reached and won in the State Finals in 2000.  Romeo has never reached the title game.
Put Brush Street In The GPS This game will be the real deal and could come out either way but the crystal ball says Romeo.

Detroit Cass Tech (10-2) 88.222 at Canton (10-2) 88.111 @ Troy Athens HS S 1:00 PM
Have We Met before? This is the first ever meeting between the two programs.
Semi-Final History Cass Tech reached the title game in both 2011 and 2012, winning both.  Canton made the Finals in 2005 but came up 10 points short.
Put Brush Street In The GPS The crystal ball says the Technicians head down the road to Ford Field for a chance at 3 titles in the past 5 years.

DIVISION 2

Walled Lake Western (12-0) 112.222 at Lowell (11-1) 101.333 @ Alma College S 1:00 PM
Have We Met before? The two met in an epic season opener this year with WLW taking a 42-40 win.  Since then, neither team has lost.  Both have been dominant throughout but since the loss, Lowell took their game to a whole new level, including a dismantling 36-7 win over state power Muskegon last week.
Semi-Final History Walled Lake Western has made it past this round 3 times, going on to win the state titles in 1999 and 1996.  Lowell is no stranger to getting this far, having won in the Semis 5 times, which led to 3 eventual state titles.
Put Brush Street In The GPS The crystal ball says the Red Arrows will move on and look to avenge their 2 title game losses in 2010 and 2011.

Detroit Martin Luther King (12-0) 114.222 at Livonia Franklin (9-3) 67.556 @ Dearborn HS S 1:00 PM
Have We Met before? This is the first ever meeting between the two programs.
History Lesson Franklin hasn’t made it past this round since the 70s.  King has made it past this round 3 times, including their 2007 championship season.
Put Brush Street In The GPS King will join their PSL co-horts from Cass Tech in D1, staying close to home to play another week.

DIVISION 3

Orchard Lake St Mary’s (10-1) 101.889 at East Grand Rapids (9-3) 78.333 @ Howell HS S 1:00 PM
Have We Met before? You bet they have.  Since the 2007 title game, these teams have met 5 times.  3 of them coming in the State Finals, all 3, classics and possibly the greatest Championship game of all-time in the multiple over-time game of 2007.  East GR has won all 5 however, with OLSM looking to break the streak Saturday.  The good news for the Eaglets is that this may be their best team in the 6 meetings that they have faced EGR, they have been favorites before but probably haven’t been as much of a favorite as they will be on Saturday.  I was ready to almost hand OLSM the crown a few times this season but after what I saw form EGR in person last week, lets me know this won’t be a piece of cake for OLSM.
Semi-Final History EGR has advanced past this round 12 times, losing only once in the Finals.  OLSM has won this game 10 times, then going on to win 4 State Titles after that in 10 tries.
Put Brush Street In The GPS The crystal ball says for the first time in 6 tries, the Eaglets get past their arch playoff nemesis Pioneers.

Chelsea (11-1) 84.778 at Coldwater (12-0) 97.778 @ Jackson HS – Withington Stadium S 1:00 PM
Have We Met before? This is the first meeting in school history for the two programs.
History Lesson This is the first ever state Semi-Final round game for both programs.
Put Brush Street In The GPS Chelsea keeps proving me right, Coldwater keeps proving me wrong, one streak will end.  You can’t get any more of a toss-up than this game but for the sake of a coin-flip mentality here, I’ll go with the team that has been proving me right, as the crystal ball goes with Chelsea.

DIVISION 4

Zeeland West (12-0) 104.889 at Ada Forest Hills Eastern (11-1) 91.333 @ East Kentwood HS S 1:00 PM
Have We Met before? First ever meeting between the two programs.
History Lesson This is the 6th Semi-Final appearance for Zeeland West and the first in school history for Forest Hills Eastern.
Put Brush Street In The GPS Both programs reside in the O-K Conference (different divisions) but will see each other for the first time.  Eastern at 11-1 is hardly ‘David’ but if you had to pick a ‘Goliath’ it would be the 2013 state champs from Zeeland West.  As if it wasn’t going to be tough enough for FHE tomorrow, the weather will most likely give ZW the ultimate edge as the crystal ball picks the Dux.

Detroit Country Day (11-1) 89.778 at Flint Powers Catholic (10-2) 75.778 @ West Bloomfield S 1:00 PM
Have We Met before? This is the first meeting since 2009 between the two programs.  Powers is 4-1 all-time against DCD.
History Lesson This will be the 5th Semi-Final appearance for Powers and the 11th for DCD, Powers went on to eventually win 2 state titles, Country Day 3.
Put Brush Street In The GPS You got me, both have play similar competition, both have looked great and average at times for one reason or another but the crystal ball says you just can’t bet again Powers once they reach this round.  So the Chargers will have to save the left-overs till after the weekend, with business to attend to.

DIVISION 5

Lansing Catholic (11-1) 85.333 at Grand Rapids West Catholic (10-2) 75.111 @ Greenville HS S 1:00 PM
Have We Met before? This will be the 4th playoff meeting between the two since 2011.  West Catholic has won the last two, including a thriller in last year’s championship game.
History Lesson This will be West Catholic’s 9th Semi-Final appearance, the 6th for Lansing Catholic.  West Catholic with a win could be making their 5th State Finals appearance in the past 6 years, they have won the last two titles.
Put Brush Street In The GPS I thought West Catholic’s super streak against Menominee was going to end last weekend but the Falcons went up to Maroon-land and came back with a decisive victory.  I think the hunger is unquestionably there for Lansing Catholic and last week I would have went in that direction but the crystal ball came back with the answer of ‘3-Peat’.

River Rouge (11-1) 84.222 at Ida (12-0) 92.444 @ Novi HS S 1:00 PM
Have We Met before? The two met in last year’s district Final, with River Rouge coming away with a big 42-14 win.  This year, Ida is undefeated, better and has revenge on their minds.
History Lesson This is the first semi-final appearance for either program.
Put Brush Street In The GPS Arguably the best season in school history for either team, no doubt for Ida.  Ida now has all that could of asked for, in a playoff rematch with the team that ousted them last season.  Over the last few weeks, there has been a ‘are they for real’ factor that I have paid attention to with River Rouge and they have passed each of those tests.  Ida has proven what they can do this year, I’m just not sure it’s going to be enough to avenge last year.  Weather could certainly impact the game however.  The crystal ball, by a hair, goes the way of River Rouge.

DIVISION 6

Ithaca (12-0) 88.000 at Traverse City St Francis (12-0) 93.667 @ Clare HS S 1:00 PM
Have We Met before? First ever meeting between the two programs.
History Lesson This will be the 7th straight trip to the Semis for Ithaca, eventually resulting in 5 State Finals appearances and 4 titles.  St. Francis is making their 14th Semi-Final appearance, having last been this far in 2011.
Put Brush Street In The GPS This was the game that I said, when I saw the pairings, that if it comes to fruition, I’m going.  I think this has the makings of a classic.  Two powerhouse programs, with one ticket to the State Finals on the line.  You wouldn’t think a team that’s been to 5 straight State Title games would be hungry but I think they are, after how the last game in 2014 went down and not only are they hungry, they are loaded.  St. Francis won’t have an empty cupboard either when they square off tomorrow.  Two different styles of play will be on display tomorrow but the crystal ball says that just because Ithaca can finesse you, doesn’t mean they don’t have the tough guys either … Yellowjackets move on to start a new state championship streak.

Clinton (12-0) 80.000 at Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian (12-0) 86.222 @ Battle Creek Harper Creek HS S 12:00 PM
Have We Met before? First ever meeting.
History Lesson This will mark the 2nd and 2nd straight Semi-Final appearance for NPC, they were ousted by eventual champ St. Mary CC last year.  Ironically, Clinton was ousted by the same team last year.  NPC looks to make it to the Finals for the first time in their young program history.  Clinton is in their 3rd Semi-Final game, looking to advance to their 2nd State Final, having lost a few years back to Ithaca.
Put Brush Street In The GPS Both D6 games are quite the treat.  This will also be a clash of style, which again, with the weather tomorrow, could help lean things closer to Clinton’s direction.  Clinton has had one of the most remarkable runs that I can remember, having knocked off 3 powerhouses in the first three rounds, including the defending champ in the District Opener.  NPC has had a tough stretch in their own right, especially with last week’s overtime 1 point win over Constantine and the week before that when a late drive one it for them against Montague.  What a game this should be and the crystal ball almost broke picking this one but is read that the Mustangs will advance and move on to their first Finals appearance in school history.

DIVISION 7

New Lothrop (12-0) 88.889 at Ishpeming (11-0) 82.667 @ Superior Dome, NMU S 1:00 PM
Have We Met before? First ever meeting.
History Lesson This will be the fourth semi-final appearance for the Hornets and the 8th overall for Ishpeming, 4th in a row.  Ishpeming is looking to get back to the Finals for the 4th year in a row as well, which could possibly set up a 4th straight Loyola/Ishpeming Final.
Put Brush Street In The GPS I think the weather (I know it’s indoors but still in up north :), the location, just about every intangible sides with Ishpeming but I have the feeling and the crystal ball agrees, that after 8 straight years of playoff heartbreak, the Hornets are due for a big(ger) win.

Detroit Loyola (10-2) 77.750 at Pewamo-Westphalia (12-0) 77.333 @ Fenton HS S 1:00 PM
Have We Met before? This will be a rematch from last year’s semi-final game in which Loyola won by 20 but it was far and away the toughest game the Bulldogs had faced to that point.  This year, Loyola is just as good, if not better but the same could be said about P-W.
History Lesson This will be the 5th semi-final appearance for Pewamo-Westphalia and the 4th (in a row) for Loyola.
Put Brush Street In The GPS Pewamo-Westphalia is all that you could hope for in a smaller enrollment program, they have toughness, athleticism and good coaching but they will be going up against a team that might be able to win titles in bigger divisions this year.  They crystal ball doesn’t go against Goliath here, Loyola.

DIVISION 8

Muskegon Catholic Central (9-2) 62.556 at St Ignace (11-1) 65.764 @ Traverse City Central – Thirlby Field S 1:00 PM
Have We Met before? First ever meeting.
History Lesson This will be the 7th Semi-Final appearance for LaSalle but the Saints are looking for their first Finals trip since the mid 80s.  MCC will be making their 21st Semi-Final round game and looking to complete the three-peat, after winning the last two state titles.
Put Brush Street In The GPS Muskegon CC seems ripe for the upset but they may have had their wake-up call in a narrow win over Frankfort last week.  The Crusaders know how to turn it on and are clutch the biggest stages.  This is an upset ‘alert’ game but in the end MCC moves on and goes for a third straight State Championship.

Ottawa Lake Whiteford (10-2) 52.222 at Waterford Our Lady (12-0) 90.667 @ Hazel Park HS S 1:00 PM
Have We Met before? This will mark the 5th meeting between the two programs.  Our Lady has won all of the meetings thus far.
History Lesson Whiteford will be making their first Semi-Final appearance in school history while Our Lady of the Lakes makes their 13th Final 4 debut.
Put Brush Street In The GPS The crystal ball says Our Lady but that could be a great thing for the Bobcats as it’s picked against them in just about every round this post-season.

For more interesting reading, check out Tom Markowski’s picks from State Champs!

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