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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.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Which conference in Michigan is the toughest?

Nothing creates conversation, or controversy, more than asking a state-wide audience if their football conference is better than another. I have covered football in a number of regions in this state, and each is passionate about the sport. I grew up in the Lansing area, went to college in Mount Pleasant, took my first job in Gaylord (up north) and made my way back downstate to the west side of Detroit, then the east side, and now in Oakland County.
About the only place I have not spent any time in is on the west side of the state. But from everything I have seen (covered state championship games), heard and observed (online), the west side boasts a number of the state's best football programs and leagues. I have a great deal of respect for the "West Side."
All that being said, and from spending a good deal of time reading up and down MLive's Football forums, I wanted to pose the question: Which football conference is the toughest in the state. You can break that question down a hundred ways. Some leagues are bigger than others. Some are top heavy, some are deeper. What exactly do you mean, "Toughest?"
Well, to simplify it, let's treat it like an ACC/Big Ten challenge in basketball. Try to seed the teams in each league, based on recent success - mostly weighted for this year - and include a hint of tradition. Then, pit those teams, based on seeds, against the other conference's top six. Add up the wins, and see what you get. Some will argue, why don't you go eight deep, or 10 deep, or 16 deep. Of course, that could change things up a bit. But because I have 10 other projects I'm working on right now, and the fact that this is for fun, I decided to keep it to just six. Yes, that's an even number, which could create ties, but oh well. That's life.
The greatest thing about this "debate" is that there will be no right answer. Everyone is going to have their own opinion. Loyalty is golden. But I love to hear people argue their case. Sometimes they make a good argument. Sometimes, not so much.
I narrowed it down to seven conferences from across the state. In alphabetical order, they are:

Capital Area Activities Conference: DeWitt, East Lansing, Grand Ledge, Holt, Lansing Sexton, Mason
Catholic High School League: Brother Rice, Catholic Central, Divine Child, De La Salle, Orchard Lake St. Mary's, U-D Jesuit
Detroit Public School League: Cass Tech, Crockett, Henry Ford, Martin Luther King, Pershing, Southeastern
Kensington Lakes Activities Association: Canton, Grand Blanc, Northville, Plymouth, Walled Lake Central, Walled Lake Western
Macomb Activities Association: Chippewa Valley, Dakota, Eisenhower, Marine City, Romeo, Stevenson
Oakland Activities Association: Clarkston, Harrison, Lake Orion, Oxford, Rochester Adams, Southfield
Ottawa-Kent Conference: East Grand Rapids, GR West Catholic, Lowell, Muskegon, Rockford, Zeeland West

I will follow this blog up with another and try my best to seed the teams and square them off. Opinions (you can leave them below in the comments section) will be very helpful. I would weigh recent success - mostly this season - when comparing teams head-to-head. I included a bit of tradition in selecting the teams so that you didn't necessarily get many one-time wonders on the lists.

We have a poll up on the right side of so viewers can vote on who they think the toughest conference is. And I would encourage you to follow us on Twitter @MIPrepZone to help spread the word. Check back by Thursday for an updated blog with the league matchups. And remember, leave your opinions here as to who you would seed where in each league.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which conference is the toughest in football? Maybe the parent-teacher ones coming up at Walled Lake Western at the end of the fall semester. lol

November 24, 2011 at 2:38 AM 

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