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TRAVERSE CITY If there is going to be a rematch of the crosstown rivalry here in Traverse City, the Titans and Trojans are going to have to do some heavy lifting first.
Traverse City West, which sits at 8 1, and Traverse City Central, which got its playoff clinching win in Week 9 at 6 3, both made the Region 1 bracket in Division 2 and both will play a team from Midland in the first round of districts.
The Titans take on the 7 2 Midland Dow Chargers at Thirlby Field, while the Trojans square off against the Midland Chemics, who have rattled off eight wins in a row after losing to West in Week One.
West is coming off its first loss of the season after falling to Coldwater, who needed to win to make the playoffs, 24 9 this past Thursday.
“We’re excited to be in the playoffs,” West head coach Tim Wooer said. “To go from being very discouraged last Thursday night to a new opportunity with new life. Everybody’s 0 0, and it’s a chance for our kids to get out on the field in front of our home fans and redeem ourselves.”
This will be the second year in a row West plays a first round game at Thirlby, but the Titans played the role of visitor against Central in a game they lost 13 12 last season.
“Playing on the road at Rockford for numerous years, it’s just nice to be at home,” Wooer said. “It’s one of the best stadiums in the state. There’s that feeling of familiarity and you’ve got your marching band there behind you and your student section. A lot of those small factors come into play, especially when you get in the playoffs.”
Wooer and the Titans are not looking ahead to possible rematches with either the Chemics, whom they beat 42 20, or the Trojans, whom they topped in a close battle 29 27 in Week Three’s TC Patriot Game.
“We’re going to play Midland Dow, right now,” Wooer said. “We’re excited to play Midland Dow, and although we can’t say we’re 9 0 with one to go, we’re now 0 0 with one to go and we’re only going to worry about Midland Dow.
“We have a big enough test with Midland,” Schugars said. “Everyone else can talk about (West vs. Central), but we’re certainly not going to talk about it. That’s not what we’re worried about. We’re in the playoffs, and we have to beat Midland. That’s our focus.”
The Trojans had a team viewing party to watch the playoff matchups be announced, and Schugars said the preparation for the Chargers began immediately.
“Now we’re going to get to work,” he said. “We don’t know much about them other than they played West Week One. I know they’re a good football team, and after they lost to West, they went on to win eight in a row. We’re excited about the opportunity to go down to Midland and play a good football team. We were pretty happy, given all the other alternatives.”
Schugars has a pretty good resource in Wooer if he wants a little more info on the scouting report.
“We have that film, which is a good thing,” Schugars said. “West played them and they played them well and won. If he wants to give me that information, I’d gladly take it. That’s Midland’s only loss. The game you want to see is the game they lost. But that was Week One, and teams change over time and they certainly have. They’re going to be a great test for us.”
Calumet at Traverse City St. Francis. Just like West, the Gladiators fell short of a perfect 9 0 season after losing to Boyne City on a broken play in the final seconds of Friday’s game. St. Francis (8 1) hosts the Calumet Copper Kings (6 3), who are coming in on a three game win streak, at Thirlby Field.
“Calumet had a big win on Friday against Gladstone to get into the playoffs, so they’re on a bit of win streak coming into the playoffs and we are not,” St. Francis head coach Josh Sellers said. “We’re going to have to be a lot better this week than we were last week.”
St. Francis and Calumet clash in a Division 6 matchup and await the winner of Glen Lake (6 2) and the undefeated Ramblers of Boyne City. The Glads are coming off their first regular season loss in more than three years, and Sellers is not sure how his team will react.
“I really don’t know,” Sellers said. “This junior class hasn’t lost a game in like five years. We’ll see (today). They had a pretty good attitude (last night), but it was a pretty quiet bus ride on Friday night. They’ve got a tough draw in the Ramblers, and head coach Jerry Angers is well aware of that.
“They’re a great football team. They won a bigger division and beat St. Francis on Friday,” Angers said. “We’ve got a huge uphill battle playing that team in Boyne City.”
Glen Lake won’t be intimidated, however, when the face the Ramblers. Last season’s experience in the playoff run for many of their starters is one advantage the Lakers have.
“Our guys are excited,” Angers said. “They want to play football and keep playing football. Any time you get an extra game, that’s a bonus.”
Over in Division 8 and in a battle of a couple of 6 2 teams, the Frankfort Panthers play host to an Upper Peninsula team in Newberry. This one came as a bit of a surprise to Frankfort head coach Matt Stapleton.