GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — For years it’s been one of the most competitive conferences in West Michigan, will that continue in 2013? Here is a preview:
The Eagles ran the table during the regular season in the KVA in 2012, only to lose to their old friends from Constantine in the playoffs. This season Schoolcraft returns 9 starters, 5 on defense. On offense, fullback Trevor Stoddard returns along with 3 offensive lineman. The defense should be led by returning linebackers Carter Fowler and Nick Cakmakci.
BATTLE CREEK PENNFIELD
The Panthers were 8-2 in 2012, it was their 14th consecutive trip to the playoffs. The 2 losses were by a total of 9 points, Schoolcraft (3 points) and Three Rivers (6 points in the playoffs). Pennfield will be a little inexperienced in 2013, the offense returns 4 starters, all on the line. The defense brings back just 2 players led by linebacker Jonathan Clements.
The Falcons finished 3rd in the KVA last season but made it all the way to the division 6 championship for the 2nd straight season. Constantine brings back just 6 starters from a season ago, but Justin Hull started the state championship game at running back. On defense, 3 of the 4 defensive backs return.
KALAMAZOO HACKETT CATHOLIC CENTRAL
The Irish were 4-5 in 2012 and this season will have a new head coach in John Blankenship. Blankenship has been a varsity football coach for 32 year, most recently at Frankenmuth in 2008. Hackett does return 11 starters, 6 on offense including all 4 wide outs from the spread offense that they ran under former coach Dob Drake. On defense, linebacker Jack Schaefer leads 5 returners.
K-Christian was 3-6 in 2012, and over half of their roster was made up of seniors. Look for junior Teddy Woznicki to play quarterback this year for the Comets.
The Panthers were 3-6 last season, they made the playoffs in 2011.
The Lions were 3-6 last season, but beat both Hackett and K-Christian who finished ahead of them in the standings. Maple Valley does return quarterback Beau Johnson who started as a sophomore last season. Austin Gonser was the teams leading receiver and 2nd leading tackler last year and also returns.
The Rams snapped a 33 game losing streak last season and went 2-7. G-A will look for more improvement in 2013.
The Panthers were winless in 2012. DK does return 10 starters in 2013, 6 of them on defense including 3 of their 4 linebackers.