Welcome to the Southeastern Conference Red Division. And for Ann Arbor high school football programs it’s not exactly coming up roses.
High School football in Ann Arbor – outside of Gabriel Richard – has been a struggle for the most part in 2017.
As Pioneer prepares to host Skyline at 7 p.m. on Thursday – yes, Thursday so don’t forget – it’s a good time to look at the numbers as the three SEC Red teams have passed the midway point of the season.
The Pioneers, under first-year coach Bill Bellers, have the talent and desire to stick games into the win column – they’ve proven that.
They head into Thursday’s showdown with the only wins in the SEC Red among Ann Arbor schools with a 2-1 record. A win over Skyline would make Pioneer the elite team in the city and secure bragging rights for the year.
Last week’s comeback against Bedford fell short in a 29-27 loss to the Kicking Mules. And that loss really hurts for a team that showed some playoff aspirations after beating Monroe (3-2 overall) the previous week.
A win over Skyline – certainly not a lock – would give the Pioneers three wins on the season. They would need to win all three of their remaining games – Oct. 6 vs. Saline (4-1), Oct. 13 vs. Adrian (3-2) and Oct. 20 vs. Ypsilanti (2-3) – to secure a playoff spot.
Beating the Hornets would be a huge upset especially considering the way Saline is playing – beat Skyline 50-7, Huron 64-6 and Bedford 31-7.
The Pioneers (2-4 overall) won just three games last year and a win Thursday would equal that mark so improvement is certainly a given for the young Pioneers.
And even though they lost to Bedford, the way they didn’t give up and came storming back should equate into a nice confidence boost in the rivalry matchup with the Eagles.
Pioneer opened with the big loss to Muskegon. The Big Reds have been crushing everyone on their schedule, scoring over 60 points in each of their last three games.
The 44-6 loss to U-D Jesuit was more the result of a young team still trying to find their footing. And some costly mistakes and bad bounces early didn’t help. U-D, facing a tough Catholic League schedule, has not won a game since.
The Eagles started the season with optimism under first-year coach Andrew Sorgatz and the win in week one over Saginaw Arthur Hill only raised expectations.
But nothing has seemed to go right since.
The Eagles lost on the road to Okemos 46-8 in week two. The Chieftains lost just their first game of the season last week to Grand Ledge 28-20.
Two tough SEC Red losses followed for the Eagles – 37-20 to Monroe and 46-13 to Bedford. Saline ran it up on Skyline last week with a 50-7 victory.
The Eagles, who have allowed 193 points to 98 scored, finishes with Huron, Pinckney (4-1) and Dearborn (2-3).
The River Rats also are under the direction of a first-year coach in Broderick Smith, who like the others deserves plenty of time to turn things around.
Huron’s past doesn’t need to be revisited here – they’ve won only four games since 2010 should just about cover it – because it’s the future that’s important.
The good news is the River Rats have scored in every game this season. They were shut out five times last year. The bad news is they’ve given up 200 points including a 64-6 loss to Saline in week four and a 62-6 loss to Monroe last week.
The River Rats, who haven’t been competitive in any game since the opening 6-3 loss to Detroit Southeasern, face Bedford this week and then finish with Skyline, Chelsea (4-1) and Flat Rock (3-2).