It’s been a few weeks since I went on a rant, but I think it’s time for one.
After witnessing two huge blowouts in High School football in less than a week’s time, I can safely say that some things need and must change.
First, the back ground. I went and watched Michigan Lutheran take on Battle Creek St. Philip in 8-man football last Saturday 89-18. Then I saw St. Joe beat Benton Harbor 59-8 this past Friday night.
Now on to the ramble. After seeing two Michigan Lutheran football games this season, it’s plain to see that this is a very young and inexperienced team. ML to their credit continues to do things to put their young players that gives them the best chances of success, but the thing is, those Michigan Lutheran players don’t have the background in football compared to the teams they faced each of the two games I’ve seen. The kids who played at Lawrence and St. Philip grew up learning the game and grew up in communities where Friday Night Lights is a way of life. The games are community events. The Michigan Lutheran program is in their 7th season after shutting down the program in 1984.
Michigan Lutheran’s players haven’t had the middle school and even rocket football playing experience. A good number of ML’s players are playing organized football for the first time this season.
One issue for Michigan Lutheran is the lack of other Southwest Michigan 8-man football teams to play against. Lawrence is the closest to Michigan Lutheran, but then you’re dealing with opponents in Burr Oak, Tekonsha, Litchfield. Places that I didn’t even know existed until I saw them on Michigan Lutheran’s schedule.
Michigan Lutheran’s survival in 8-man football is dependent on something that they can’t control, and that is more 8-man teams.
Class D teams in the area should take a serious second look at going to 8-man football, unfortunately there is still a stigma and fear of change and it’s against the tradition. But how can you hold on to tradition if you can’t hold on to the program itself. Class D teams such as Martin, River Valley should look at making the switch next season. Plus if Covert, who tried to restart their football program before the 2013 season, wanted to try again, they should do it as an 8-man team.
Now onto the other blowout of the week and that was the St. Joe 59-8 over Benton Harbor. Quite simply, Benton Harbor has to leave the SMAC. The Tigers have athletes, but the number of them as the other schools in the conference have. The SMAC Conference used to be a conference with almost an even number of Class A and B teams. this season it’s 11 teams as Class A, and just one Class B team (Benton Harbor).
I know there is tradition for Benton Harbor in the SMAC, I know there are rivalries in the SMAC. But the Tigers players in virtually every sport are losing on pretty much every event. It won’t cure the financial troubles of the district, but don’t you think that if the Tigers sports programs were a little more competitive, the school wouldn’t be losing student athletes to other area districts or charter schools?
So now that I think I’ve shown that Benton Harbor needs to find a new conference, the next logical question would be where will they go?
The next obvious choice would be the Wolverine Conference, who will be a 10 team league next season, or maybe even 9 depending on some other possible scenarios.
Projections seem to show that Edwardsburg in the Wolverine could become a Class A team in the next few years. Now the Wolverine Conference is officially the Wolverine “B” Conference, the “B” is the significant part of it, because the bylaws of the league says you have to be Class B to be in the league. That fact was discovered when Gull Lake was forced out of the Wolverine, and they found a place in the then Big 16. The same thing could happen again in a few years, maybe even next year. If that happens, the solution would be simple, just have Benton Harbor and Edwardsburg trade places.
Benton Harbor would face schools more like they are in terms of enrollment. The Tigers obviously lose out on the rivalry games in football with Lakeshore and St. Joseph, but there is no reason they can’t continue in basketball, where the SMAC and Wolverine schools actually play non-conference games. The locked football schedule of both conferences prevent some great old rivalries to continue.
Join me on Friday Night Kickoff prior to St. Joe at Niles on Sports Radio 1400 WSJM as Bret Wikowski and I get you ready for the night of games, and start looking at some possible playoff possibilities.
Dave Wolf – Sports Radio 1400 WSJM