Unpredictable is perhaps the best word used to describe the Grand Rapids football season approaching 2020.
First, no one knows for sure how the season will look because of the coronavirus pandemic. The MHSAA announced that they would continue with the traditional autumn schedule, but contingency plans are being formed if that is not possible.
Also, the OK Conference has been adjusted, and while some favorite competitions have been lost, who knows what will be interesting will form.
MLive is looking at the most exciting game that will come for the new season, which is scheduled to begin with the opening of the August 10 training camp. See below.
Rockford will have a new coach for the first time since 1992 after Brent Cummings replaced Ralph Munger, who retired at the end of last season. The season begins August 28 for the Rams, and is a great way to usher in a new era. The Rams hosted Sterling Heights Stevenson, who advanced to the 1st Semifinal state semifinals last year before losing to Davison 34-27 in overtime.
Cedar Springs hosts Rockford on Week 2 on September 4. The Red Hawks have built an impressive program under Gus Kapolka, a joint 19-4 over the past two years. It’s been almost 40 years since the Red Hawks and Rams were involved. Rockford defeated Cedar Springs 46-0 on November 6, 1981, the last time they played.
Remember the battles of Lowell and East Grand Rapids before EGR left OK White for Gold in 2016? The competition never really ended because they played non-conference matches in 2016 and 2017 and met in the playoffs last year. Now EGR will rejoin White, Red Arrows and Pioneers as league enemies once more. They will surrender on Sunday 4 on September 18 at Lowell.
The state champion will fight on September 4 when the Catholic Center hosts River Rouge. The Cougars went 13-1 a year ago and won the 4th Division of the state championship for the third time in four years. The Cougars defeated the Panthers 17-14 in Week 1 last season, and that proved to be River Rouge’s only defeat. The Panthers run the table, defeating Muskegon 30-7 in the state final 3.
Christian South will host Grand Rapids Christian on Sunday 1 on August 28, and Sailors and Eagles will take the place they left last year. The Sailors defeated the Eagles 31-28 in the opening round of the State Division 4 playoffs. This is one of the most competitive competitions in the region. The Sailors lead the all-time series 26-23. Christian defeated Christian South 27-20 years ago on October 11 before the two teams came out in the playoffs.
Grand Rapids Christian and Unity Christian have never played. That will change September 3 when the Crusaders visit the Eagles on Week 2. Unity has qualified for playoffs in each of the last six years, including 2018 when they won the 5th Division state title and a year ago when they advanced to the semifinal state . Christian has been to the postseason 10 consecutive seasons and brought in new coaches Rueben Riley and Kirk Sundberg.
One OK Silver match to watch out for is the September 25 fight which features Hopkins in Sparta. Hopkins comes from 9-2 back-to-back season and is a defending silver champion twice. Sparta joined Silver this year after enjoying one of the best seasons in the program’s history a year ago. The Spartans won 9-2, with nine wins equaling the most scores in a season since Sparta won 9-0 in 1953.
The Union has lost 43 matches in a row, believed to be the longest losing streak in the state today. Enter Don Fellows as Union’s new coach. Fellows guided Grand Rapids Christian to 10 consecutive playoff appearances before taking over the Union coaching period. Fans will get their first glance at the Red Hawks led by Fellow when Union face former City League rivals Ottawa Hills on August 28.
OK Gold added OK White champion Cedar Springs and OK Blue champion Catholic Central. The teams will fight on October 2 at Catholic Central. The Cougars lead the series 4-0.
Zeeland West has won four state championships since 2006, and over the past six seasons, Muskegon has been to the state finals five times, including 2017 when the Reds won the Division 3 title. The Dux and Big Reds are now conference rivals since Muskegon joined OK Green Both teams will play October 16 at Muskegon.
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