LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – On Sunday evening, high school football teams across the entire state of Michigan found out where the Road to Ford Field will begin. The 2021 MHSAA football playoff pairings were announced on Bally Sports Detroit, and while that was happening, the 6 Sports crew was out at watch parties to get reactions for our local teams.
In Division 3, DeWitt, the reigning state champs, was watching at Relli’s sports bar in downtown DeWitt. The Panthers found out their quest to repeat will begin at home against CAAC foe Ionia. When speaking with DeWitt coach Rob Zimmerman and Wisconsin commit Tommy McIntosh, we ask what needs to happen between Sunday and Friday to get ready for the Bulldogs.
“We haven’t watched that much film on them just yet, so I can tell you in a couple of hours after we get going with our meeting,” Zimmerman said jokingly. “I think you just have to continue to get better. We’ve done a great job with that since Week 2 – improving each week, and regardless of who you’re playing you have to have a good week of practice. You have to improve and you have to have great focus. There’s a lot of luck that goes into the playoffs too, but I love our mentality right now. I think we’ll be extremely ready to go Friday night.”
McIntosh said, “It’s win or go home time so there’s no team you can overlook. Each week you just try to get better each day. Study the game plan and give ourselves a shot.”
Also in Division 3, There was a lot of excitement pumping through the auditorium at Mason, once the Bulldogs found out they’d be hosting South Lyon East in the opening round. The Bulldogs are clicking at the right time of the year, closing out the regular season on a five-game win streak. And as a result, head coach Gary Houghton believes his team has established its identity.
“We weren’t really sure who we were, what we were about the first half of the season because we were so young,” Houghton said. “I think we really settled in and I think we’ve sort of established who we are, and we’re very productive now. So, I’m excited about our chances in the playoffs.”
Mason senior wide receiver, Landon Russell said, “I think we’re doing amazing. All the guys are comfortable now. They understand their assignments. Everything is looking great.”
In Division 5, Portland threw itself quite the Selection Show party. The Raiders had Fajitas catered to the high school and then watched the show inside of head coach John Novara’s classroom. Portland finished the regular season at 7-2, with seven of its nine opponents making the playoffs. That tough schedule turned out to be a positive one for the Raiders.
“This is probably the toughest schedule that we’ve put together. We had two state champs on our schedule from last year, a state finalist, and a state runner-up,” Portland coach John Novara said.
Portland senior quarterback, Haden Getchell said, “Confidence-wise, I think beating those big teams or even just playing them has given us a lot more confidence.”
Portland senior wide receiver, Ethan Patrick said, “It’s just getting us ready for the playoffs, having all those hard teams that are actually going to make it far in their own playoffs. It’s just going to help us be better prepared.”
Novara said, “We’re looking for that consistency from this group. They play the right way and they play hard every single down, if we do that, we can do something in these playoffs.”
For the full pairing, you can head to the MHSAA website and see where all 21 playoff teams in Mid-Michigan landed.