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Jason Schmitt is the editor of, the high school sports website for The Oakland Press. He has served as the sports editor for a number of newspapers, including the Daily Tribune in Royal Oak and the Macomb Daily in Mount Clemens. In his time in the industry, he has covered every high school sport and has served a a beat writer for boys and girls soccer, boys and girls tennis, hockey, wrestling, bowling and cross country.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Football playoffs are near - what are the odds?

If you'd have told me at the beginning of the season that Friday night's Lake Orion-Clarkston football game would decide the OAA Red championship, I would probably have replied with a sarcastic response not suited for this blog. Of course. These are the two best programs in the division.
But if you'd have told me that for one of these two teams, a win would be necessary for automatic inclusion into the state playoffs, I'd have said "get outta here."
But, because the Wolves (5-3) have had to battle their way through some off-the-field adversity this year, they find themselves needing to beat their biggest rivals to get that critical sixth win. Now, could they qualify with a 5-4 record? Sure. Based on the current playoff point standings, Clarkston would be a good candidate to make it in based on playoff points. They currently sit behind only Macomb Dakota among 5-win teams in Division 1. Last year, two 5-win Division 1 teams made it into the playoffs.
But anything can happen. A win in our MIPrepZone Game of the Week would take all the guesswork out for the Wolves. I think that'll be the case on their home field.
Clarkston isn't the only team fighting for its playoff life, a handful of other county teams are in dire need of a win Friday night. Here's a look at the other 5-win teams needing a victory, and a pair of 4-4 squads with perhaps an outside chance of qualifying with a fifth win:

Win and they're in
Ortonville Brandon (5-3) vs. Holly (6-2)  The Blackhawks are looking for their first playoff appearance since 2000. They face a tall order, even at home, against a Bronchos team looking to capture a share of the Flint Metro League title.
Walled Lake Central (5-3) vs. Westland John Glenn (4-4)  The Vikings have everything going for them. They're at home and must win to get into the playoffs. Expect them to make it back in.
Walled Lake Northern (5-3) at Northville (7-1)  This is not the situation Northern wanted to be in with its playoff life on the line. Northville is very good, and they are at home. The Mustangs are 4-0 all-time against the Knights. Northern's first-ever playoff appearance may have to wait.
Milford (5-3) vs. Lakeland (4-4)  The host Mavericks find themselves in a very familiar situation, hovering around .500 heading into Week 9 for the fifth-straight season. They lost in this exact same position at Lakeland a year ago, 32-31. Too much emotion playing at home. Milford gets in.
Birmingham Groves (5-3) at Birmingham Seaholm (6-2)  Toss a coin. Both teams have a lot riding on this one. Seaholm, a shot at a share of the OAA Blue title in a season in which they lost their coach to a heart attack back in the spring, lays in the balance. Groves is also playing for a share of the league title, as well as its playoff life. Seaholm, at home, wins by four.
Bloomfield Hills Lahser (5-3) vs. Bloomfield Hills Andover (0-8)  An upset of all upsets if it happens. But I'll pull out my Sharpie and lock the Knights into the playoffs.
Pontiac (5-3) vs. West Bloomfield (2-6)  The Phoenix have won three straight to put themselves in this position. At home, they'll finish things off and sail into the playoffs.
Rochester Adams (5-3) at Stoney Creek (1-7)  The Highlanders have two things going for them, to say the least. They've made 14-straight trips to the playoffs; and they've never lost to Stoney Creek. Trends like those are hard to bet against.
Southfield-Lathrup (2-6) at Southfield (5-3)  Seven straight wins over the Chargers. No reason to think this year will be any different, especially with all the talent on the Southfield sideline and the home-field edge.
Farmington (5-3) at Harrison (8-0)  The Hawks are ranked No. 24 in the country by Rivals. Enough said.

On the bubble
Brother Rice (4-4) at Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy (7-1)  A win over a solid Class B team like Chandler would give Rice some much needed points. But it's still up in the air as to whether the Warriors can pass a handful of other potential 5-4 teams currently ahead of them.
Our Lady of the Lakes (4-4) vs. GP Woods University Liggett (8-0)  Throw the records out. Liggett is a good team, but they play in an inferior league than do the Lakers. And WOLL's losses have come to Cleveland St. Joseph (5-3), Country Day (6-2), Shrine (8-0) and Detroit Loyola (8-0). Three wins over Class B schools have set the Lakers up as the top 4-4 team in Class C. A win this weekend would bode well for Lakes.

See what Keith Dunlap and Scott Burnstein had to say about some of these games in our latest MIPrepZone Football Picks Show. And read who KOSMO thinks will win this week.

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