October 22, 2020

Kalamazoo-area Week 2 football picks: Who’s ready for a winning streak?

KALAMAZOO, MI – Week 1 provided a chance for Michigan’s high school football players to fly around the field and release the stress for an offseason full of uncertainty.

Now that we’re heading into Week 2, it’s time to get down to business.

Fifteen Kalamazoo-area teams picked up wins last week, some of them coming in dominating fashion, while others needed nail-biters.

This prognosticator sees 12 of those 15 moving to 2-0, and if Week 1 was an indication, that number won’t be far off the mark.

I posted a 20-4 record in the opening Week and hope to keep that momentum rolling.

Here’s a look at a full slate of predictions for Kalamazoo-area teams in Week 4, including five featured games that promise to be especially competitive.

Portage Northern vs. Mattawan

Portage Northern senior Cory Cunningham (21) prepares to catch a pass in the end zone for a touchdown during Portage Northern’s home game against the Mattawan Wildcats at Portage Northern High School in Portage, Michigan on Friday, September 27, 2019.Emil Lippe | MLive.com

Portage Northern (1-0) at Mattawan (1-0)

The Huskies clawed their way back from a 12-7 deficit to escape Stevensville Lakeshore with a 15-12 win thanks to a touchdown pass from T.J. Coon to Xavier Thomas with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter. While the defending league champs would have liked to create a little more separation from Lakeshore, the thrilling win showed Northern’s passing game can’t be slept on and that the Huskies can overcome adversity.

Mattawan’s good ground game and stingy defense led the Wildcats to a 20-0 win over Gull Lake, but they won’t have as easy a time with Northern and star running back Anthony Tyus. Expect the A-Train to really get rolling after gaining 120 yards against Lakeshore

Pick: Portage Northern 28, Mattawan 17

Kalamazoo Central holds first week of football practice

– Kalamazoo Central’s Cincear Lewis goes through a drill during a Maroon Giants football practice on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020 at Kalamazoo Central High School. Patrick Nothaft | MLive.comPatrick Nothaft | MLive.com

Stevensville Lakeshore (0-1) at Kalamazoo Central (0-1)

Both teams are looking for their first win, so there should be plenty of intensity on the field at K-Central. There will certainly be plenty of talent on both sidelines, as Lakeshore features veteran quarterback Jimmy Gillette and big-play running back Cage Davison, while K-Central boasts star running back Jaden Blanchard and lockdown defensive back Cincear Lewis. The Maroon Giants also have a lot of depth in the trenches, but few of their linemen are seniors, and those young guys will need to do a better job of moving the line of scrimmage compared to their effort last week against St. Joseph.

If K-Central’s skilled-but-inexperienced front seven can’t consistently stop the run, Lakeshore should escape with its first win.

Pick: Lakeshore 22, K-Central 21

Paw Paw football holds first practice after 2020 season restart

– Paw Paw’s Dennis Strey Jr. goes through warm-ups during football practice on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020 at Paw Paw High School. Patrick Nothaft | MLive.comPatrick Nothaft | MLive.com

Paw Paw (1-0) at Otsego (1-0)

Both teams rolled to big wins last week behind a dominant ground game, and both will hope to use their talented running backs to set the tone again on Friday. Paw Paw’s Kolby Hindenach showed why he’s one of Southwest Michigan’s best by tallying 139 yards in last week’s win over Dowagiac, while Otsego’s talented tandem of Quinn Thomas and Ashton Atwater combined for 194 yards and three touchdowns in a victory over Allegan.

RELATED: Otsego RB off to fast start after missing junior football season with back injury

The difference in this contest will be Paw Paw’s jumbo line, and if the Red Wolves big blockers can get their mitts on Otsego’s undersized-but-athletic defensive linemen, they should be able to move the ball up and down the field.

Pick: Paw Paw 24, Otsego 21

Vicksburg vs. Three Rivers football

Three Rivers celebrates with the Swine Bone Trophy after defeating Vicksburg on Friday, Oct. 21, 2016 in Three Rivers, Mich.Bryan Bennett

Three Rivers (0-1) at Vicksburg (0-1)

The Battle for the Swine Bone will have as much intensity as ever, as both teams look to get in the win column this week. The last 10 meetings of the rivalry game have seen each team win five times, and last year’s battle was an instant classic, with Vicksburg holding off a furious Three Rivers comeback to escape with a 49-42 win.

Bulldogs quarterback Jacob Conklin is back under center after tallying 446 total yards and seven touchdowns in last year’s matchup, and that experience will go a long way toward keeping the Swine Bone in Vicksburg.

Pick: Vicksburg 31, Three Rivers 28

White Pigeon (0-1) at Centreville (1-0)

White Pigeon took a tough 26-24 loss to Mendon last week, and things don’t get much easier this Friday, when the Chiefs travel to a Centreville team coming off a 52-0 win over Decatur. Converted running back Sam Todd looked right at home in his first start at quarterback for Centreville, but White Pigeon’s defense will be a much different test than Decatur.

The Chiefs and Bulldogs both take pride in stopping the run and being able to move the line of scrimmage on offense, making this matchup old-school football at its finest.

Give a slight edge to Centreville because of the Bulldogs’ depth and Todd’s big-play ability.

Pick: Centreville 14, White Pigeon 7

More predictions

Battle Creek Lakeview 26, Portage Central 14

Battle Creek Central 20, Richland Gull Lake 13

Kalamazoo Loy Norrix 22, Buchanan 13

Sturgis 21, Allegan 14

Plainwell 35, Dowagiac 10

Constantine 35, Parchment 13

Kalamazoo United 38, Coloma 30

Delton Kellogg 27, Galesburg-Augusta 13

Lawton 31, Niles Brandywine 25

Schoolcraft 42, Saugatuck 17

Cassopolis 36, Decatur 15

Mendon 29, Hartford 14

Berrien Springs 33, Comstock 12

Niles 17, South Haven 10

Marcellus 24, Vandercook Lake 20

Martin 31, Bridgman 22

Climax-Scotts 28, Athens 12

Webberville 28, Bloomingdale 16

Gobles 31, Vermontville Maple Valley 19

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