By Frank Vajcner
Lenawee County Athletics Association or Huron League?
It has been a somewhat popular debate amongst blog readers, as well as blog contributors, as to which conference is better in football.
As the lone LCAA school grad amongst four other Huron League school grads, I decided that the best way to determine this (hypothetically) would be a conference crossover challenge, much like the B1G and ACC do in college basketball.by Zuckerman, Gregory :: Rising Above: How 11 Athletes Overcame Challenges in Their Youth to Become Stars-Paperback
Now before we get into the proposed matches, allow me to explain my methods of madness.
To decide the match-ups, I grouped the top four and bottom four from each conference based on standings, and then did a blind draw. The easy way to do this would have been put first place against first place, second against second, and so on. But with Clinton being a newcomer, I had to place them at second based on their record. After determining match-ups, I then used the website calpreps.com to project the outcome on a neutral field.
As for when this happens, the only time to do so is in Week 1, as the Huron League opens conference play in Week 2, while the LCAA does so in Week 3. A season-opening conference crossover challenge seems to have more appeal than later on, as teams could potentially meet again in the postseason. The winning conference gets a trophy to be displayed at a respective school’s home game throughout the season.
I’ll also include the following disclaimer: This is NOT what I think would happen if we had such a challenge, as I have no to very little info on all of the teams as they head into the coming season. This is rather a “just for fun” scenario, and should be taken with a grain of salt.
Clinton vs. Riverview
Storyline: A first-time meeting of two teams who run the Full House T. Both the Pirates and Redskins have had postseason success in the last decade, with Riverview making a run to the State Semifinals in 2017, and Clinton making trips to the State Finals in 2013 and 2015.
Who wins: Clinton prevails 28-22 in a game I believe would be a knock-down, drag out affair.
Milan vs. Onsted
Storyline: Two teams coming off of some of their best seasons in school history. Milan won a school-record 11 games, while Onsted made a surprise run to the State Semifinals where they gave eventual State Champion SMCC all they could handle. This would be the third meeting all-time between the Big Reds and Wildcats, with the Big Reds having won both prior meetings. Interestingly enough, both were in the playoffs (1996 and 1999).
Who wins: The third time isn’t the charm for Onsted, as Milan prevails 31-19.
Jefferson vs. Hudson
Storyline: Another first-time matchup of Full House T teams. While neither team is what they used to be, both have won state championships in their time, with the Bears bringing home the hardware in 1994, and the Tigers doing so in 2010.
Who wins: Hudson squeaks out a close one 24-21.
Blissfield vs SMCC
Storyline: This is the juiciest matchup of the challenge, given a fairly recent matchup between both programs back in the 2007 playoffs. For those who need a refresher, it was the Royals who shocked the Falcons in the final seconds 20-19 in the District Championship game. That Royals’ team advanced to the State Championship game. Since then, the Falcons have gone on to win two state championships (2014 and 2019). This would be the 13th meeting between the programs.
Who wins: No need to sweat this one, Falcon faithful, as SMCC prevails 35-19.
Hillsdale vs Airport
Storyline: This would be the sixth meeting between the programs, but first since 1957. Hornets’ head coach Marc Lemerand is familiar with the Jets, as he played against them while at SMCC.
Who wins: In another tight game, the Hornets prevail over the Jets 22-17 to go 6-0 against Airport.
Dundee vs Grosse Ile
Storyline: On the surface, this one doesn’t have a lot of sizzle. But both programs have some familiarity, as they were members of the Huron League until the Vikings left in 1964. They would meet again in 2005, 2006, and 2011, with the Red Devils taking all three meetings.
Who wins: The last time Dundee prevailed over Grosse Ile was 1963. The Vikings end a 57-year drought with a 28-22 win.
Flat Rock vs Ida
Storyline: Another matchup between teams with prior history, as both the Rams and Blue Streaks opened the season with each other from 1990-2004, and again from 2009-2012.
Who wins: Ida gets a fight from Flat Rock, but hangs on to win 34-28.
Huron vs Columbia Central
Storyline: Another first time meeting between programs, but in this one, the Golden Eagles and Chiefs run spread offenses.
Who wins: This is the closest game of the challenge, and it’s the Golden Eagles who prevail 24-22.
Final Verdict: Upon proposing this challenge to the rest of the blog contingent, I was told that the Huron League would win, which I happened to agree with.
Well, as Lee Corso likes to say, “Not so fast, my friend!”
The LCAA wins the challenge 6-2 in my scenario. The biggest surprise for me was Clinton beating Riverview, Clinton is nearly three times smaller in terms of size of student body, and is in Division 6, compared to View being in Division 3. We had another Division 6 prevailing over a Division 3 with Columbia Central’s win over Huron, who doubles Columbia in size. The largest gap in divisions is Jefferson (Division 4) and Hudson (Division 8).
Will we see something similar in the future? We can only hope at this point. But if it does happen, all fans should hope for great games.