FNV Final Staff Questions

What was your reaction to the SMCC victory over Glen Lake and the Falcons winning the Division 6 State Championship?

Chris: I though from the beginning of the season that SMCC would make a run at a State Championship. Obviously many things need to go right and/or fall into place to make that happen. To me this was undoubtedly the best roster the Falcons have had since the 2014 Championship team. They were senior laden and were relatively healthy when it mattered. Coach Kipf pressed all the right buttons in the post season and the defense was at it’s best when it mattered most.

SMCC QB/DB Wyatt Bergmooser

Frank: There’s an old saying in football that offense wins games, but defense wins championships. That line could not have been truer for the Falcons, as they played championship-caliber defense in a 7-0 shutout of Glen Lake. In fact, the Falcon defense only gave up 49 points combined in all five postseason games, which is the best postseason mark since the playoff format went to five rounds. A lot of credit goes to the defensive coaches Brian Flint, Pat Ignagni, Lonn Passon, and Nate Geiger for coming up with masterful game plans these playoffs. And I would be remiss if I did not mention defensive players making championship-caliber plays on that side of the ball in the championship game. With Glen Lake deep in Falcon territory, Wyatt Bergmooser (aka “The Swiss Army Knife”) recovered a fumble to stop the momentum the Lakers had after they themselves had recovered an SMCC fumble earlier in the quarter. The Falcon defense had to rise up again, as Glen Lake got the ball back with 2:27 remaining and no timeouts. It started with a Gus Flint sack on first down. It would end with Caden Smith picking off Reece Hazelton on 4th down in what truly was the play of the game. We have talked a lot about the Falcons’ offense being hard to stop, but when it mattered the most, it was the defense that won them their third state championship in school history. An added note: I was amazed that the Falcons did not get called for a single penalty the entire game. That is truly a testament to being a well-coached team.

Gary: Great performance by the defense. Glen Lake couldn’t really get anything going all game and never really threatened the endzone. I thought Bergmoser, among many, played great. The senior tallied the games only touchdown, recovered a fumble and was 2nd in the team in tackles with one for loss. The interior offensive line of Sloan, Hawkins, Patterson, Bogdanski and Bilan controlled the LOS throughout the game, making the trap go with Morgan. I also thought coach Kipf called a great game. Sticking with his game plan and having the courage to go for it on 4th down when the game was on the line.

Which Championship game/result surprised you the most?

Chris: I think it is safe to say that River Rouge’s 30-7 manhandling of Muskegon was the biggest surprise. It was fun to watch Panther coach, Corey Parker coach with so much passion for the game. I really thought the Big Reds would do more offensively and seemed very one dimensional. I think it is safe to assume that the River Rouge speed neutralized an advantage that Muskegon usually brings to every game.

Frank: Apparently, I had the wrong Muskegon team bringing home the hardware. Raise your hand if you thought Muskegon Mona Shores would beat Detroit King. Anyone? Didn’t think so. Now raise your hand if you thought that River Rouge would beat Muskegon, much less stop the best player in the state? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? King came in loaded with Division I athletes and had destroyed anything in their way leading up to this game. Mona Shores survived three close games before the final. On paper, King was clearly the better team. But everyone knows that games aren’t played on paper. As for River Rouge knocking off Muskegon, I remember a conversation I had with my good friend, Zach Harig, who works at Fox 17 in Grand Rapids. I had mentioned D3 being a brutal division, and he said that Muskegon was the best, and it wasn’t close. Count both of us as guys who were fooled. Give a lot of credit to Corey Parker and the rest of the Rouge staff for coming up with a masterful game plan to stop the best player in the state in Cam Martinez.

Gary: Definitely the whooping Rouge put on Muskegon. I thought Rouge had a shot to win but not in blowout fashion, no way. Musky was considered to be the best team in the state but it was Rouge who controlled the game and the LOS.

Which FNV teams, if any, jumps out as a team that could make a strong run in the playoffs next season?

Chris: If I had to venture a guess, it would be Whiteford and Riverview. Both fielded young competitive teams and have solid coaches in place. I wouldn’t count out SMCC. I fully expect the Falcons to reload and be a threat in the playoffs next season, despite heavy graduation losses.

Frank: It’s too early to call, as a lot can happen between now and the start of practice in August. Right now, there are a lot more questions than answers facing all the teams on the blog. SMCC loses 20 seniors from a championship winning team. Can the returning players, coupled with a lot of new faces, ride the wave from this past season? Milan will be coming off their best season in school history, but they will have to replace the best player to ever don a Big Reds uniform in Tristen Hines, as well as other key players. Who will be the next man up? Riverview could be primed to make some noise with players like Jimari Moultrie and Cal Lockhart returning. Will it be enough to springboard them on another deep postseason run? Dundee, Bedford, Whiteford, Airport, and Carlson all made it to the playoffs, yet got bounced in round one. Carlson and Bedford both must replace explosive players in Ian Stewart and Christian Brown, and will have to show that they learned from losing by double digits in Week 10. As for the other three who made it but lost by a combined seven points, the returning players will have to realize that the bar is set high for them for 2020 and beyond. For the remaining teams who missed out, right now, I really like New Boston Huron and Ida to take steps forward and make a push to get in the postseason. I also like Erie Mason to finally get over the hump as they will move to the less-rugged Tri-County Conference. Even Monroe, who returns a lot of players who played as juniors and sophomores, to take a step forward. 2019 was a fun season. I’m excited to see what 2020 brings.

Gary: I think there are a few teams who will be much improved next season. Riverview will be plenty good and will face the DRL again come playoff time. I can see a Regional Title in the very near future, with some fortune, maybe more. Huron also will have plenty coming back next year. Huron has it all, size, some speed, good Wr’s and a good QB. Watch out for the Chiefs in 2020.

Look for the Friday Night Victors All Blog team within the next week. Plans are to do a video and a written piece on those players who will make up the All Blog offense and defense along with Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year and the Overall FNV Player of the Year.

31 thoughts on “FNV Final Staff Questions”

  1. Well our 4 year tender is up!! I personally counted on this Blog for all this time for some Great High school football information ! Chris, Gary, and now Frank are doing a fantastic job giving us all the information we read ! You know all of the people that go anonymous and complain should go on and create your own Blog and stop whinnnning!! Chris, Gary, and Frank thank you for all you did for Tristen over the past 4 years I hope someday you guys get paid for what you guys do!!

  2. how do you think these new playoff rules will be next year?? cuz teams that are 4-5 could get in now and teams with winning records could miss out. I do like the new change cuz of strength of schedule but teams also get bent on if they are in a terrible league

    1. The new playoff format will have to play out for us to see how it will actually affects things. We do know what division everyone will be in now for next year. So no more waiting until week 9 is complete to see what division you will be in for the playoffs.

      Yes it does look like teams with tough schedules who play up divisions will make it in at 4-5 and maybe even 3-6.
      It’ now the top 32 teams in your division playoff point wise. Record matters not.

        1. SMCC will most likely been D6. That could change depending on enrollment numbers in February or the amount of teams that opt to play 8 man football next season. I will go on record and say that SMCC will be D7 next year. Just a hunch.

      1. Teams will be chasing points instead of wins starting next year…not sure that is what you want…but it is what it is. I don’t think rewarding a 4-5 team for a tough schedule while punishing a 7-2 team for a soft schedule makes sense.

        Plus, while we know certain teams will always be successful, how is it in a team’s control to know how their opponents will compete each year…as these bonus points will really matter.

        Look at the Huron League…in a year where Grosse Ile and SMCC finish in top two, that will have some major implications on bonus points for the 3rd and 4th place teams…compared to year Airport and Riverview are top 2. How can a team control that upfront?

        Not sure this will fix the concern of “scheduling issues” for teams. And I think what really hurt teams ability to schedule was the exemption of teams winning 5 games out of an 8 game schedule as an automatic qualifier. That is the rule that caused a ton of problems. You tell the teams that were in 8 game schedules this past year that they would not get that benefit, and create a detriment for it with points, and those teams would have found a 9th opponent. When you look at the teams that only played 8 games this year, there were plenty of close regional options for these teams…it was by and large a decision to manipulate the 5-win/8-game rule instead of taking a chance on a 4th loss.

        It will be interesting to see if the MHSAA does a percentage for teams only playing 8 games next year…or instead gives no reward to the teams avoiding a 9th game. I did not see it addressed yet in any of their information on the new policy. But if it becomes a detriment to success, there would have been a ton of teams “finding” games last year…in their own back yard.

        End of day, I think this hurts small schools. Why would you schedule a weak small school out of conference…when you can lose to an elite large school and get more points…

        As we get 2-3 years into this, teams will start to see how important a single point will become in determining playoff spots…should be interesting…but not sure it SOLVED the problem as much as MOVED it somewhere else…again, the MHSAA decision on 8-game schedules would certainly affect it.

        1. SMCC and JLC played 8 game schedules… do you think they were “worried” about scheduling and losing that 9th game? Or maybe they couldn’t find a a 9th game being a small power house program?
          If you look at SMCC and JLC’s schedules throughout the years, clearly they aren’t afraid to play anyone whatsoever.

          I like the new format better than the old. 6 wins and in created so many problems. All schedules were not the same.. therefore they shouldnt have been treated as such.
          Giving teams who play tougher schedules some added points compared to teams in their divisions who beat up on lesser opponents, is a good thing. If you win, you will get more points then if you lose.

          1. Ha ha – I DO think they were scared of playing EACH other …and chose to go with 8 games instead of a 9th game that would have been a tough match-up and would have affected their points and record. And, certainly, yes, I think everyone else is scared to play either of them too…so you look at that list of teams with 8 games….and most were pretty talented teams left without a 9th game opponent – and it likely had all to do with winning. When you look at the teams in Michigan that had to leave the state to find opponents? Same thing – nobody wants to play GRCC.

            I don’t think there is a perfect answer – there will always be disfunction. If they change the 8-game piece, things will improve as there will be motivation for even good teams to play each other now in week 9.

            But to think a 7-2 team would be excluded because their opponents happen to have a down year with wins while multiple schools make it at 4-5? That concept to me is wrong…

            Trust me – those 7-2 teams that get excluded next year? It will be a heck of a thing to watch how those communities embrace the MHSAA on it.

            Maybe they can find middle ground in a few years – and have all 7-2 teams in – then go points for all the other teams.

          2. SMCC and JLC had a chance to be in the same playoff division. I think that had something to do with them not scheduling that game in week 9.
            Just a guess.

          3. There is a list somewhere of the 7-2 teams that wouldnt have made it in this year and a list of the 4-5 that would.
            The 4-5 teams in every case were much better teams than the 7-2. This many not be the case every year but if this system gets the best teams in, then Im ok with it.

          4. Ok.. somebody did apply the 2020 system to the 2018 results.

            one 7-2 team(Ludington) would not have made it. While several 4-5 teams would have, Airport and Flat Rock being 2 of those.

            neutral field
            [2018] Airport (Carleton, MI) 31, [2018] Ludington (MI) 14
            neutral field
            [2018] Flat Rock (MI) 24, [2018] Ludington (MI) 14

          5. Just not a fan of putting more value on perception of strength of schedule over the clear results of a team winning games…so not a fan.

            Not a fan of thinking a 4-5 team did what they needed to do to earn a berth in the playoffs… To me – just let em all in if that is the case.

            Not sure where you got the projected scores for Ludington and Airport/Flat Rock but the teams did not actually play…so that means nothing here. Just like no one projected Airport to win 6 this year (except Airport fans), or Milan to win the league…I value what happens on the field more – and I personally think winning is a far more controllable variable than how my opponents fair in their schedules…

            I mean, how is a team like Ludington to know how their 9 opponents will do…and then get punished at the back end of the process for not knowing that up front.

            I guess this is today’s world where perception matters.

          6. calpreps.com

            85% winners. Pretty good.

            All leagues are not the same. Giving some weight to strength of schedule is a good way to come to a balance.

            There are several leagues out there that do not deserve a playoff team but because somebody has to win, they will get 3.

            In Ludington’s case in 2018, they lined up 5 non-league games who combined to win 9 games. Believe me, the Ad’s know how strong those teams should or should not be. Im not saying they intentionally lined up teams they could beat, maybe they had no other choice.

            I can give you an actual game played. Ludington(D4) vs MCC(D8), both Lakes-8 conference. MCC won the game by 28. Ludington plays 5 non league patsies and wins 7 games. MCC plays a tougher non league schedule and doesnt make it in. Clearly MCC was better but because of 6 and in, the better team is home in week 10.

            Nothing is perfect but because all leagues are not the same, lets give some weight to SOS and allow the best teams to get in.

        2. As an AD I have some thoughts on this whole process. I do think the system needed to be tweaked a little bit, but I’m not sure if the new system is what we needed. Here is my concern. If I play team A and I lose 49-0, I would receive the same amount of points as another team who plays Team A and loses a 35-34 3 OT thriller. I do believe the system will consistently be tweaked until those in power our happy. Who are “those in power”? I’ll let you figure it out.

          The best part about the new system is the fact that Divisions will be determined prior to the season starting. If there are 560 schools playing 11 man football next season, we know that the divisions will be split evenly at 70 teams each. The top 32 playoff point teams in those divisions will make the playoffs regardless of record.

          So the numbers in 2019 were 533 schools playing 11 man football. Enrollments based on the February count will be turned into the MHSAA. Those numbers will be used to determine enrollments and what divisions schools fall into.

          Using the 2019 numbers. Here is where the FNV schools would have fell:

          Monroe 1
          Bedford 2
          Carlson 3
          Riverview 3
          Huron 3
          Airport 4
          Milan 4
          Flat Rock 4
          Jefferson 4
          Grosse Ile 5
          Dundee 5
          Ida 5
          Erie Mason 6
          SMCC 7
          Whiteford 8
          Summerfield 8

          As you can see, SMCC would have played in D7 instead of D6.

          It will be interesting to see where schools fall next year based on enrollment trends and those choosing to play 8 man football instead next year.

          1. Just looked at Ludington’s schedule – you are definitely right they were gaming the system on 6 wins for certain. Still not a fan but its happening no matter what and certainly Ludington has had a year to adjust.

            I wonder if teams can opt to play at a higher division? There is no sense sticking at Div 4 with Country Day and GRCC…might as well bump up and take your chances there.

  3. Chris, you think this year had more talent than the 2015 team that lost to Clinton. I realize they lost first round of playoffs but I feel like overall they had a better squad.

    I think huron will win the league next year. there offensive scheme was really solid this year and they have a lot of returning players. cc will be about .500 I believe. but in two years, I could see them getting back to the playoffs.

    1. I do. I think it would be disingenuous to say that 2015 was better than this team which won it all. As for Huron, I really have no clue. I saw them play one time this year and they were manhandled by Riverview. I do think they have some really really good players, but you really do have to produce on the field.

  4. I just want to congratulate the cheerleaders on making it to ford field. Their dedication is truly inspirational. The deserve more praise than they are given. Great season girls

  5. – Will you guys be doing an all-blog team again this year?
    – With all-state teams being announced this week? Who are some of the leading candidates that are covered on the blog?

    1. Brandon, did you not read the disclaimer at the bottom of the staff questions post? lol
      Yes the All-Blog team will be out soon.

  6. Great year and fun stuff!

    #1 – Bergmoser made some great plays at the right time…to me that stands out. The run on 3rd down near their end zone really jumps out to me – that was a huge first down in a game where field position mattered a lot…he did a lot of little things REALLY well in the state championship game…and little things make the difference there.

    #2 – Grand Rapids Central’s thrashing of Detroit County Day jumps out here. Hard to believe the best team in the state is Div 4…but GRCC is clearly that and it is not even close. Their SOPHOMORE quarterback ran right past DCD defense. DCD’s defense only gave up a total of 18 points in their first 4 playoff games and pretty much dominated each game…GRCC scored 18 in the first quarter alone and it looked easy…WOW. In the era where great players want to play with each other – and an environment where “arms races” occur to assemble elite talent…tip your hat to GRCC. Don’t be surprised if DCD is doubling down their efforts to catch GRCC though….

    #3 – No clue on next year…2019 will be remembered as a good year in a lot of places. Certainly SMCC’s state championship and Milan’s undisputed league championship and district title stand out. But also Dundee earning a playoff spot…and Airport’s resurgence to earn a playoff birth…a lot of good stories for a lot of schools. Fun year.

  7. Personally, I believe that SMCC will have a fairly good year. Not nearly as well as this year. Riverview or Huron Will most likely win the league with cc coming 3rd. That’s just my thoughts on it.

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