By Gary Hauf
SMCC(9-2) invades the village of Cassopolis to take on Beatty High(11-0). Cassopolis, population 1,725, resides in Cass County, 174 miles due west of Monroe.
We last saw the Falcons at Navarre Field, who handled business with a 38-28 victory over the Clinton Redskins. Beatty also used a workman’s like performance to dismantle the Bulldogs of Centreville 35-0.
The Falcons, as always, will rely on their tremendous ground game and fantastic offensive line. The big uglies are led by Connor Bogdanski, Briggs Hehl, Brendan Sloan, James Hawkins and Bryce Iott. For me, if I had to pick a difference maker on this team, a kid who doesnt get much publicity(and maybe that is our fault) is QB Josh Blanchett. His number doesn’t get called much, maybe 5 carries a game and a few passes thrown in for good measure. But his impact is felt with the toughness he has shown throughout the season. Blanchett is a kid who never runs out of bounds, gets up after every big hit, hurt or nor not. He has shown an extra gear this year on the edge, picking up timely first downs and and the occasional scamper to the end zone. His leadership is felt throughout the ranks and makes this T go for the Falcons.
The Rangers are built on a stingy, and I mean stingy, defense. Giving up 30 points on the season(yes you read that right 30 points), with 7 shutouts. My math tells me that’s under 3 points a game given up. Hard to lose with defensive performances like that, week in and week out. The defense is led by Gage Collins, Tashawn Morris and Tyrese Hunt-Thomson. Offensively the Rangers operate out of the Full House T, however they will go shotgun and spread you out if the game dictates. QB Dylan Green and RB Hunt-Thompson are the catalysts for the high-powered Ranger attack, averaging 48.3 points per game. With the average score of 48-3, you can clearly see why Cassopolis enters the game unblemished.
This is an interesting match-up. One that pits a program who is knocking on the door to be a regional power(41-7 overall, 7 playoff wins) last 4 seasons, versus one that is a regional power(36 playoff victories since 2003). The T has taken over small ball across the state of Michigan. Whose version of the T will be better? Whose offensive line will control the line of scrimmage? Can SMCC score more than 3 points? Can the Falcons drag the game into the deep end, holding a lead in the 2nd half? Something Cassopolis hasn’t dealt with all season. How will the Rangers deal with a challenge?
The Falcons can rely on a very tough schedule up to this point. Nearly every game was close. For the Rangers, no game was close. Will the tougher schedule hold water or is Beatty High just that good? We will find out the answers to all these questions soon enough.
Due to the distance, this game was agreed upon to kick off on Saturday at 1:00p. You don’t often see a 3-4 hour bus ride for a pre-semi-final matchup. This, in my opinion, will have an affect on the game. How will SMCC deal with the early morning wake-up, the long bus ride, the hostile environment of Cassopolis? The staff at SMCC has reached out, as to how to deal with such a task, and has a great plan in place.
If you can’t make the long drive, you can stream the game live on 983nashicon.com. The Voice of Monroe, Jeff Grodi, will be doing play by play and your’s truly will be joining him.
Chris’ Pick: SMCC 58 Cassopolis 57 Triple OT
Gary’s Pick: SMCC 28 Cassopolis 27
Frank’s Pick: Cassopolis 31 SMCC 22