Herbert’s Huddle: Welcome, it’s here

By: Jacob Herbert | Online Only | Published October 31, 2019

 Royal Oak Shrine quarterback Conor Benson throws a pass in a game earlier this season. The Knights are set to take on Ottawa Lake Whiteford in the first round of the playoffs.

Royal Oak Shrine quarterback Conor Benson throws a pass in a game earlier this season. The Knights are set to take on Ottawa Lake Whiteford in the first round of the playoffs.

Photo by Mariusz Nowak

 Rochester Adams junior Nick Traficante carries the ball in a recent game. The Highlanders are set to take on Utica Eisenhower in the opening round of the playoffs.

Rochester Adams junior Nick Traficante carries the ball in a recent game. The Highlanders are set to take on Utica Eisenhower in the opening round of the playoffs.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

 Groves running back Markell Harris carries the ball in last year's Division 2 state semifinal against Warren De La Salle. Last year's game was the first time the two teams had played one another.

Groves running back Markell Harris carries the ball in last year's Division 2 state semifinal against Warren De La Salle. Last year's game was the first time the two teams had played one another.

File photo by Erin Sanchez

Over the past nine weeks, high school football teams across the state have put in their due time of preparation and hard work. While many teams accomplished what they set out to do by making the playoffs, they now turn their attention to what’s next — a state title.

Week 1 of the playoffs pin many of the best local teams against one another. Following is a look at some of those top matchups.

Fresh Faces

Ottawa Lake Whiteford (5-4) at Royal Oak Shrine (7-2) — 1 p.m. Nov. 2

In his first two years as Shrine football coach, Oscar Olejniczak has made the playoffs both seasons. The Knights snuck in last season with five wins and fell to eventual state runner-up Madison Heights Madison in the first round.

By offensive and defensive point production, the Knights have improved significantly from last season. During the regular season, the Shrine offense scored 41 more points than last season an allowed 111 less points on defense. The win total also improved.

Ottawa Lake enter the matchup with just five wins on the season but the Bobcats are two years removed from an undefeated season that cultivated in a Division 8 state title. Over the past five seasons, they boast an overall record of 52-9. 

The Knights and Bobcats have never met before. The winner of this matchup will face off against the winner of Britton Deerfield and Detroit Public Safety Academy in the district final. 

MAC vs. OAA

Rochester Adams (7-2) at Utica Eisenhower (7-2) — 7 p.m. Nov. 1

Both the Highlanders and Eagles enter the playoffs with winning streaks that started when they lost to the eventual division champion of their respective leagues. On Oct. 4, Adams lost to Oakland Activities Association Red Division champion West Bloomfield High then won three straight to close out the regular season. On Sept. 13, Ike lost to Macomb Area Conference Red Division champs Clinton Township Chippewa Valley then ripped off six straight wins. 

The last time these two teams met was in the playoffs in 2017. Ike beat Adams in a low-scoring affair but fell to West Bloomfield in a Division 1 regional final.

Adams scored just three more points than Eisenhower on offense during the regular season while the Eisenhower defense held opponents to 44 less points than Adams.

Eisenhower leads the all-time series 11-1 over the Highlanders. The winner of this matchup will face off against the winner of Lake Orion High and Rochester Hills Stoney Creek in a district final.

State Semifinal Rematch

Warren De La Salle (5-4) at Birmingham Groves (7-2) — 7 p.m. Nov. 1

The Falcons will get their chance for revenge against the team that kept them from playing in the state final last season. The Pilots beat Groves 28-0 in a Division 2 state semifinal before knocking off Muskegon Mona Shores in the state final.

After back-to-back 12-2 seasons, the Pilots experienced a bit of a different run this season as they lost four games for the first time since 2016. De La Salle’s losses this year came to Muskegon High, Birmingham Brother Rice, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and West Bloomfield High. Those teams combined for a 31-5 regular-season record. 

The Falcons enter this matchup as the runner-up in the OAA White and winners of four of their last five games. Groves’ offense has outscored the Pilot offense by 86 points so far this season while the De La Salle defense allowed 99 points all season long.

The winner of this game will meet the winner of Birmingham Seaholm and Sterling Heights High in a district final.