The nearly two-month wait was worth the wait as far as Saturday’s regional winners are concerned.
High school football finally returned this weekend with the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s state regional round for all eight divisions. Check out MLive’s coverage below, including highlights from each region, as well as photographs and more.
It's taken a while, but the the Michigan high school football playoffs have reach the Final Four in its 11-man divisions, and the finals of the two 8-man fields. Beginning in September, the season was suspended in November in an effort to help control the rise in COVID-19 cases.
Now, it's the race to the finish line with 20 games this Friday and Saturday.
In Division 1, Davison and Rockford, the state's top two teams in the MaxPreps Michigan rankings, square of in one semifinal while Belleville and West Bloomfield tangle in the other game. The winners meet Jan. 23 at Ford Field in Detroit to compete for the long-delayed title.
Davison is led by senior quarterback Brendan Sullivan, whose thrown for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Cardinals. Rockford counters with QB Zak Ahern, who accounted for five scored and 300 yards offense in last week's 40-17 win over Saline. The Rams look to derail Davison's repeat quest while Rockford is looking for its first title since 2008.
In the other semifinal, 9-1 West Bloomfield looks to end Belleville's perfect season behind four-star Michigan commit Donovan Edwards who ran for 193 yards and four scores in last week's quarterfinals victory. The Tigers counter with quarterback Christian Dhue-Reid, who led his squad with nearly 200 yards in the air and three scores.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced on Wednesday that the 11-player high school football state championships will stay at Ford Field in Detroit.
Ford Field will host the 11-player finals across two days from Jan. 22-23 to conclude the long fall season. Also, the two eight-player division finals will be held at the Legacy Center in Brighton for the first time on Jan. 16.
The Michigan high school football season began 22 weeks ago, but the finish is now in sight.
The state semifinals were played Saturday, with only next week’s championship games remaining.
MLive reporters and photographers were out and about Saturday, detailing who has advanced to the big games as well as this weekend’s 8-man finals in Brighton. Check out their reports below.
The MHSAA announced Thursday that it has finalized times and locations for the 2020-21 prep football championship games.
The eight-player finals will be played at Legacy Center in Brighton on Saturday, Jan. 16, beginning with the Division 1 title game at 2 p.m. The Division 2 final will begin 40 minutes following the completion of the first game.
The 11-player finals will be held at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 22-23.
On Friday, the Division 8 title game will be at 10 a.m., the Division 2 final will be at 1 p.m., the Division 6 final will be at 4:30 p.m., and the Division 4 final will be at 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday, the Division 7 title game will be at 10 a.m., the Division 1 final will be at 1 p.m., the Division 5 final will be at 4:30 p.m., and the Division 3 final will be at 7:30 p.m.
Although 2020 is finally behind us, there is still plenty of unfinished business in the high school sports world that has spilled over in 2021 thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. For high school football players across Michigan, the season that officially began nearly five months ago on Aug. 10 might finally end this month as the Michigan High School Athletic Association playoffs are set resume this weekend and conclude on Jan. 22-23.
The eight 11-player divisions still have three games to finish the state tournament with the region championships slated for Saturday. The two eight-player divisions resume with eight total teams in the state semifinals on Saturday too.
If everything goes according to plan, Saturday’s games will be played 56 days after the last scheduled game was completed on Nov. 14.
Here are five things to keep in mind as the longest football season in MHSAA history attempts to end.
Two games canceled due to opt outs
If this was a normal season, 72 football teams would play on Saturday. However, the MHSAA confirmed the number dipped to 68 teams after both Stevensville Lakeshore and Oscoda opted out of their respective 11-player tournament brackets. The MHSAA said the teams opting out of the region finals will not be penalized with a forfeit and their opponents will move on via a “no contest” decision.
Lakeshore (7-2) was scheduled to travel to face DeWitt (9-0) in the Division 3 regional finals, but it opted out on Dec. 20. Lakeshore cited 12 of the team’s 22 starters would not be available for practices, with reasons ranging from family commitments to injury to concerns about the yet-to-be-defined testing protocol. Although the MHSAA further delayed its restart for practice to Dec. 28, Lakeshore stood by its decision to opt out.
On Dec. 28, Oscoda coach Mark Whitley informed MLive that his team was opting out of its game against Traverse City St. Francis for the Division 7 regional final.
“We are going to shut it down,” Whitley told MLive. “The No. 1 thing is keeping everybody safe. When we came together and talked about it as a team, we just won’t have the numbers – for many different reasons. It is not safe to continue on and play with 11 or 12 players.”
Oscoda finishes the season 9-0 and captured its first district title in program history.