GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — For years “the blues” have dominated the West Michigan Conference in football, but recently “the purple” of Shelby has replaced Ravenna in that group, will that continue in 2013? Here is a preview:
The Eagles rode a dominant defense to unbeaten regular season and an outright WMC title in 2012. Oakridge returns 10 starters this season, 6 on offense. Quarterback Austin Wright led the offense in 2012 and should be one of the better signal callers in the area this season. Also back on offense are running backs Dan Shoop (3rd year on varsity) and Jerick Wambaugh along with 3 starting offensive lineman, this should be a really good unit. On defense, linebackers Kaleb Cook and Billy Drummond return after strong sophomore seasons. The Eagles should be considered the front runners in WMC this season.
The Wildcats were 8-2 in 2012 and finished 2nd to Oakridge in the WMC. Chris Carroll split time at quarterback with the graduated Brandon Moore last season, running back Brandon Stine, receivers Alex Van Vleet and Keenon Aylor return, expect that Zarren Aylor will also be a big part of the Montague offense in 2013. Stine also returns at linebacker and should lead the defense this season. Don’t be surprised if the Montague/Oakridge game week 2 decides this conference yet again.
The Tigers are coming off an incredible run to the division 6 state semifinals in 2012. Forrest Courtright leads the Shelby returners after starting at fullback and linebacker last season, Devin Mussell is also a returning 2-way starter. The Tigers graduated 5 2-way starters from last season and return just 7 total starters.
The Norseman were a good story last season going 5-4 in Mike Belmonte’s 1st season as head coach, they were 0-9 in 2011. This season North Muskegon should have some experience, especially on the defensive side of the ball where they return 8 starters. They return 3 of their 4 linebackers and their entire defensive line. On offense they return 3 starting lineman and running back Logan Waller who also started at linebacker as a sophomore in 2012.
The Vikings were 4-5 last season and they welcome new coach Tony Sigmon for 2013. There are only 3 returning starters for Whitehall this season, Hunter Shaw returns at linebacker and tight end and Javon Gonser returns at defensive end. Dontae Burks returns and saw some time at receiver in 2012.
The Bulldogs were 4-5 last season, but return half of their starters for 2013. Joshua Kohanski and Gabriel Zimmer both return at running back and Alex White is back at tight end. On defense, Cody DeNio started at linebacker in 2012 as a junior, along with 3 defensive lineman.
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The Spartans return 7 starters from a 2-7 team in 2012. Defensive ends Doug Wyman and Josh Quinn anchor the defense.
The Pirates were 1-8 last season and have not had a winning season since 1997, they have never made the playoffs. Hart returns 6 starters, 3 on offense led by quarterback Joe Fillips who also started at corner. Running backs Brandon Amstutz and Spencer Reterstoff also return.