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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -
By Matt Anderson
It's that time of year again, for those that love everything Fall and Football, this week is the beginning to the most wonderful time of the year.
Like the beginning of any High School Football season, the questions far outnumber the answers. That's the beauty of it all being decided on the field.
Week 1 is when every time from across the state has a clean slate, a dream to reach Detroit during Thanksgiving weekend.
Let's start off by talking about those circle our calendar games for week 1 and for football fans in Mid-Michigan, there's no shortage of them, maybe more than I can remember in quite some time.
DeWitt (CAAC Red) @ Mt. Pleasant (SVL North) – Two of Mid-Michigan's top programs square off of the second season opener in a row. Mt. Pleasant went through a major rebuilding project last year after reaching the Finals in 2011 and it showed in last year's season opener at DeWitt, where the Panthers handled them fairly easily. It will be interesting to see how Mt. Pleasant builds upon last year, while it is shaping up to be another banner year for DeWitt, led by highly touted prospect Jake Johnson at QB. DeWitt returns a lot of talent from last year, especially up front to help protect Johnson. The Oilers on the other hand will boast a strong running game with Michael Tweh, a unique blend of power and speed.
Williamston (CAAC White) @ Ithaca (TVC West) – The only thing I have to say here, is Ithaca has a 42 game winning streak coming into the game. It's not just a matter of if they can make it 43 or not, it's an up close look at just how fast the Yellowjackets reloaded to see if they are destined to continue the streak deep into the season.
Linden (Flint Metro) @ Fenton (Flint Metro) – The top two programs in the FML square off in week one for what should be a classic showdown. We will learn a lot about both teams right out of the gates. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a shootout between two high flying offenses or something similar to the shocking defensive slugfest we saw in Linden 3 years ago. It would be too early to label the winner of this game the front-runner but they surely would have to be feeling good about themselves heading into the early portion of the season.
New Lothrop (GAC Blue) @ Traverse City St. Francis – Talk about your North vs. South showdowns to start the season. St. Francis is coming off of their first losing season in 23 years and as good as their program is, there's not doubt the Gladiators will be back stronger this year. New Lothrop's explosive offense returns a lot of talent but how it stacks up against the physical St. Francis team will be an interesting match-up to say the least.
Reese (GTC West) @ Montrose (GAC Red) – The champions of the Greater Thumb West and the Champs of the GACR square off in a week 1 battle. Reese stormed over Montrose in the season opener last year with a convincing 47-26 win in Reese, it was the Rams' only loss of the regular season. They surely will be out for revenge this year, as they look to get it at home.
Nouvel CC @ Swan Valley (TVC Central) – Just the fourth meeting between the two programs that are separated by just 5 miles between them. They haven't met in the regular season since 1985 and the Nouvel is 3-0 all-time against the Vikes. Nouvel is 2 years removed from their 3rd State Title while Swan Valley reached the Semis last year before being stopped by Country Day. While the two programs rarely meet, it has all the makings of a rivalry as both teams will be comprised of many student athletes that are very familiar with each other. Both teams will boast extremely explosive run games, so it will be the balance and defensive crews for each side that will be the things to watch in this season opener.
Clare (Jack Pine) @ Freeland (TVC Central) – For the ninth straight season, these two great programs will square off. I can't think of any match-up that has provided us with such a tight game over the entire span. Over the last nine years, these have been the results, date from last year, heading back. 10-7 (Freeland), 48-35 (Freeland), 20-19 (Clare), 21-14 (Clare), 28-27 (Clare), 20-19 (Freeland), 12-9 (Clare), 20-0 (Freeland), 14-13 (Freeland). While one loss here doesn't do much damage or even count in the conference standings, it keeps the dreams and goal alive for a 9-0 regular season, starting off on a great foot.
Hemlock (TVC Central) @ Frankenmuth (TVC East) – The defending champions of their respective divisions, Hemlock and Frankenmuth will square off for the third straight season opener, splitting the last two year. Both teams lost key players from last year but have programs in place that allow them to fill in the gaps quite well. This TVC bragging rights battle should be a fun one to watch.
Grand Blanc (KLAA West) @ Carman-Ainsworth (SVL South) – The two Flint area rivals will square off on a field where they last met and Carman-Ainsworth's season ended last October. Grand Blanc won a thrilling battle, 30-26 26 during last season's playoffs. The talent level on both sides of the ball will be in no shortage. Carman-Ainsworth will be out to prove they can hang with the Grand Blanc, whom many consider to be one of that state's elite teams in 2013. If you are looking for a game featuring D1 talent, this might be your stop.
Other games that could prove to be just as entertaining and pivotal opening week games.
Lansing Area – Haslett @ East Lansing, East Kentwood @ Grand Ledge, Ovid-Elsie @ Portland, Fowler @ Mendon
Saginaw Valley Area – Bay City Western @ Walled Lake Western, Walled Lake Central @ Heritage, Carrollton @ Standish-Sterling, Beal City @ Sacred Heart, Traverse City West @ Midland High
Final Pre-Game Warm-Up Thoughts – While we have many games that will pique our interest in week 1, the biggest aspect I'm looking forward to seeing what happens, revolves around the Saginaw Valley League's out of conference match-ups. With big games against the likes of Milford, Walled Lake Central and Western, Traverse City West and Grand Blanc to name a few. This week is like bowl season in College Football when we truly get to see how a conference really stacks up against the rest of the gridiron universe.
Stay tuned Thursday and Friday night for scores, summaries, video and photos from area games! For more on Friday Night Titans, visit their site here.
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