Happy New Year everybody. I’m currently on vacation in an unknown location.
OK, I’m sitting on my couch in my living room watching football, but it doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about what happened this past year and what’s to come. As 2015 begins, I thought it’s a good time for a few things I’d like to see happen this coming year for some area teams.
1. Benton Harbor Tigers
The Benton Harbor athletic program really only revolves around two sports. Well to be specific, one sport, but two different genders. Boys and Girls Basketball. But it doesn’t really change the fact that the other Benton Harbor sports are in rough shape. The football team has won just 4 games in their last 8 years, with the Tigers going 0-9 in 2007, 2008, 2013, and 2014.
It’s not a matter of talent for the Tigers football program, it’s a matter of depth, coaching, and experience. The Tigers simply are out of their league when it comes to fielding a football team in the SMAC Conference. Benton Harbor is the only Class B team in the now all Class A SMAC, and we’re not talking by a few students. This past year, Benton Harbor had 634 students at the High School. The next school up from them is Class A Niles with 251 more students than BH.
So what do I want to see for Benton Harbor… A switch to another conference. The natural choice would be for the Tigers to switch to the Wolverine Conference, An all Class B conference, but the exit of Coloma and Berrien Springs, leave the Wolverine with no other schools in Berrien County. Another possible move would be the new BCS Conference, but I realize that it’s probably scary for most of the area BCS teams to have a former Class A team like Benton Harbor in the mostly C and D league, but there are a few Class B teams in the BCS’s new division with Buchanan, Berrien Springs, Parchment, and Comstock. Berrien and Buchanan are already in the same District anyways, so what’s the issue.
Simply put, for Benton Harbor’s athletic program to survive and maybe even grow, they need to get out of the SMAC and head to a league that more closely fits with their enrollment.
2. Lakeshore Lancers
OK, here’s what I want to see for Lakeshore, a separate facility for the high school soccer teams.
Lakeshore has a strong athletic program, but is undersized with the available athletic facilities. Basically Al Stockman Stadium seemingly is used almost every night during the fall and possibly 3 times a week during the spring time. The main culprit for the overuse of the Stockyard is high school soccer and middle school football. I know I work in a Utopian world at St. Joe where the high school soccer teams and even the middle school football teams have a separate facility at Upton Middle school, but a similar set up would serve Lakeshore’s soccer teams greatly to have their own facility.
Lakeshore is constantly moving middle school and high school football games, and soccer games around the weeknights to get them all in. The problem gets a little easier in the spring, but track and field also takes up a night of the stadium
The overuse of the natural grass field was the main reason why Lakeshore installed artificial turf in 2008. But even turf can be overused and worn out.
Also, Lakeshore football games draw near capacity crowds at the stadium, the same soccer games draw maybe a hundred, if that? I would rather sit in a soccer facility closer to other fans, than be spread out over the length of a football stadium. Building a soccer only facility for Lakeshore, I think it would create a better atmosphere for games. It would also free up the stadium a few nights.
Not only that, of the 11 teams in the SMAC that play soccer (Benton Harbor does not), only Gull Lake and Lakeshore do not have a separate soccer facility.
3. St. Joseph Bears
With my involvement with basketball games at St. Joe 2 to 3 nights a week, I wish for a couch or a recliner somehow installed on the bleacher at the scorers table. Right now, we’re less than a month into the season and I’ve already got a case of bleacher butt. There’s only so much padding I can add to make sitting on a bleacher for 10-15 hours a week can do.
4. Niles Vikings
Actually I had only one wish for Niles, and the wish came true this past summer when new lights were installed at the football field. So, really nothing.
5. BCS Conference
I know you’re still in year 2 of existence, but let’s not try to reinvent the wheel. You did an OK job during football season in year one, but having the smaller Class D teams playing the larger conference schools is only going to make those small schools want to leave and may think again about reincarnating the old Red Arrow Conference.
6. Lake Michigan Catholic
The Lakers are a Class D school, but since they are a co-op team with Countryside Academy, they play football as a Class C team, which only hurts them when it comes to playoffs. They move up instead of playing with like sized schools. Is it really worth it for less than a handful of players? Simply put… yes, the reason…. Mendon.
In fact, if LMC really wanted to make some deeper playoff runs and play along like sized schools and avoid Mendon in the process, then the Lakers should just drop to 8 man football. LMC already plays 8 man football at the JV level, so they are familiar with it, and it wouldn’t be a big change for the program. It would also give them the chance to restart the rivalry with Michigan Lutheran during football.
7. Michigan Lutheran
The Titans went 1-7 in 8 man football this past season. My wish for the Titans, a 9 game schedule against Litchfield. and never again to see Battle Creek St. Philip on the Titans schedule.
To say the Titans had a rough year in football would be an understatement, ML opened the season against 8-Man Champion Lawrence. a 50-0 loss. ML’s first five games were all against playoff qualifiers. Those five teams combined for a 40-14 record.
So Michigan Lutheran, I applaud you for sticking it out in 8 Man Football, but my wish for you is something you really can’t control, I wish that more area teams would play 8 man football, giving you some more opponents to play, and not have to travel around the state for games.
8. Portage Northern/Portage Central
Can we finally build a separate football stadium for each school. McCamley Field is the least desireable places for a game in the SMAC. The field never lasts past week 5. The stadium leaks, and the pressbox faces the sun. Portage has two modern high schools. One recently built and the other recently renovated. Why do we still have a football stadium from the 1950’s?
9. Detroit Lions
A win AT Green Bay
10. Michigan Wolverines
I pretty much got my wish on Tuesday when Jim Harbaugh was named head coach, but it means very little if the Wolverines continue to fall to Ohio State and Michigan State.
11. Michigan State Spartans
MSU’s football program has been on the rise since Mark Dantonio was named head coach. Realize that nothing lasts forever. The recent upswing in the MSU Football program could be gone in a flash. If the Spartans want to continue their recent success, Dantonio will need to find someway to overcome the “Harbaugh Factor.”
12. Detroit Tigers
A bullpen, consistent starting pitching.
13. Detroit Red Wings
14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
It’s no secret that I really despise the University of Notre Dame. But i really hate the notion that everything at Notre Dame revolves around “Tradition.”
They don’t have a video scoreboard at Notre Dame Stadium because of “Tradition”. But why isn’t the new turf field against the tradition?
If Notre Dame was all about the tradition being the reason for updating anything, they’d still be playing with leather helmets and wouldn’t have let NBC put lights in the stadium. Some traditions make sense, but things like video scoreboards don’t break tradition, they just add to the gameday experience. The tiny lowly South Bend Cubs baseball team has a large HD video scoreboard, and Notre Dame can’t?
Yankee Stadium is gone, the Chicago Cubs actually put lights at Wrigley Field. The Tigers left Tiger Stadium. Just do it, you might actually like them. Unless they’re showing replays of the last few home games the Irish played this season and it might be best to never show those ever again.
15. Chicago Bears
Marc Trestman back…
Well I’m done for now, I’ll be back from my couch on Monday morning, until then, have a safe and happy new year and look forward to seeing you all in 2015.