The 4-4 (3-2) Adrian Maples thought their season would be much different than it is. Last year they made a run into the playoffs, but in this rebuilding year they came up short in games they were in and with the breaks going against them, this will be their last game of the year. They will travel up to face the 5-3 (4-2) Traverse City West Titans who still need a win to get into the playoffs and will be looking to shut down Adrian to get it. Can Hunter Hayes and company get it done this week on the road and pull an upset?
Traverse City West started their season on the road when they traveled to Grand Rapids to face the Kenowa Hills Knights. Their first drive ended with a safety which was followed by a rushing touchdown by the Knights. By the end of the first quarter they were down 9 and couldn’t amount enough of a comeback as they were defeated 16-12.
The Titans then came home for two games. The first was against the Grand Haven Buccaneers. With some great defense and good production from their quarterback Donny Cizek and being helped by two touchdowns from their running back Grant Balino, Traverse City West won a close one 16-14.
The other game was against the Gaylord Blue Devils who they defeated 48-14.
From here they went on the road and decimated the Alpena Wildcats 42-0.
They came back home the following week to take on a team that I am covering in the Cadillac Vikings. At the time the Vikings were undefeated, but they missed tackles and had costly turnovers as the Titans took that game 40-11.
Traverse City West went back on the road for two more. The first was across town to the Traverse City Central Trojans with control of the Big North conference on the line. The Titans put up some points, but it wasn’t enough as they were handled 35-21. The other game was a close contest against the Petoskey Northmen. Traverse City West snuck past with a 24-17 victory.
Then last week, the Titans were looking to secure their sixth victory and automatically qualify for the playoffs. They were surprised at home by the Ogemaw Heights Falcons instead. The Titans couldn’t slow down their running game and the Falcons kept them off balance with some big passes as they took the 56-39 victory.
The Maples defense is going to have their hands full this week. For the most part, the Titans like to run the ball. They have gone up against some tough defenses where they have to go to the pass, but if they have it their way, it will stay on the ground. They have a trio of backs led by Balino that they will look to get going. What makes them dangerous though is that Cizek can pass, but he isn’t afraid to run with it if he needs to. Adrian saw that this week, which will help them. The problem is that some teams’ running games have really given them problems. They will need to get turnovers, but more than that they need to limit the Titans on the ground and force them to pass.
The game plan is simple for Adrian; they need Hayes to throw the ball for success. He has some good receivers in Joshua Perez and Michael Hamden. If he can get it going through the air, it could open up some running room for their backs. Isaac Gradeless has had a disappointing season, as I thought originally he would be the focal point. Jeffrey Marvin might be leaned upon more in this one. Either way, Hayes needs all the help he can get if they’re going to move the ball against this tough Traverse City West defense.
Last year when these two teams faced, Traverse City West scored the victory in Adrian 38-25. The problem is that the Maples aren’t featuring as strong a defense or passing game as last year. The Titans look as strong as they did last year, which is going to be a problem.
I believe that the Titans will win this game again this year. They have home field advantage and are featuring a three-headed monster running game, plus a quarterback that can throw as well as run. Adrian has struggled with their identity this year and they don’t have a solid running game. Their defense has fallen apart a lot this year, especially when their offense is struggling to move the ball. I think Traverse City West is a more complete team and will win this game. My prediction will be a similar score of 38-24.
This game will be played in Traverse City, Michigan on Friday October 19th at 7:00 p.m. at Traverse City West High School.