Friday, July 20, 2018

Carlson Marauders Schedule Analysis

Frank continues his drive up I-75 to take a look at the team that really turned it around with a hall of fame coach at the helm in his first season. Carlson, you’re up!

Schedule:
Aug 23 Woodhaven
Aug 30 Trenton
Sept 7 @ Dearborn Edsel Ford
Sept 14 Melvindale
Sept 21 @ Southgate Anderson
Sept 28 @ Allen Park
Oct 5 Taylor
Oct 12 @ Wyandotte 
Oct 19 @ Lincoln Park

Gut Check Game: at Wyandotte. Marauder fans remember the last time their team met up with the Bears, as Wyandotte escaped a raucous environment with a 24-20 win, and ultimately claiming the Downriver League title outright. Will this be the game that decides the title again? 

Trap Game: at Dearborn Edsel Ford. The Thunderbirds are a newcomer to the Downriver League, and welcome Carlson in Week 3. Edsel Ford went 6-4 last year, qualifying for the playoffs. This game also falls after a tough two-game stretch to open the season. Special mention goes to a Week 6 trip to Allen Park, as the Marauders survived a scare from the Jaguars last year, escaping with a 28-21 win at home. 

Snoozer: Taylor Kennedy and Taylor Truman have merged to form the Taylor Griffins. Both schools went a combined 2-16 last season (Truman won the two games). It won’t be enough to stop the Marauders.

Non-con Challenge: None. All of Carlson’s games are conference games.

Notable: Dearborn Edsel Ford joins the Downriver League after leaving the Western Wayne County Athletics Association…Taylor Kennedy and Taylor Truman merged high schools, which created the opening in the Downriver League.

Final Analysis: Jack Giarmo returned to coaching, and brought the Marauders back to respectability. Can he duplicate the success from last season, or has the rest of the Downriver League figured him out? The season will come down to the showdown at Wyandotte on October 12.

Thoughts from Chris: The overall talent level at Carlson could be down from 2017, but there are plenty of players returning. Look for the T to be more effective in 2018 as Giarmo enters his 2nd season. If the defense can step up and be better this year, the Marauders will compete for a Downriver League Championship.

Thoughts from Gary: Giarmo year 1, produced maybe the best team in Carlson history.  Year 2 might be a different animal for a few reasons.  The DRL got tougher with the addition of Edsel Ford and the combining of the two Taylor schools.  The Marauders won’t be as talented this year, I don’t see a 7-0 start like last year but I do see them getting to 6 wins and making the playoffs.  



Next Up: Dundee

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Bedford Kicking Mules Schedule Analysis

Frank continues his schedule analysis series by heading to Temperance to glance at Bedford.

Schedule:

Aug 23 @ Sterling Heights Stevenson
Aug 31 Toledo St. Francis
Sept 7 @ Pinckney
Sept 14 @ Saline
Sept 21 Ann Arbor Pioneer
Sept 28 Monroe
Oct 5 @ Ann Arbor Skyline
Oct 12 Ann Arbor Huron
Oct 19 Coldwater

Gut Check Game: at Saline. The Mules have not beaten Saline since 2013, and have not won there since 2010. In addition to facing the reigning SEC-Red champs on the road, this game comes off of another tough road game at Pinckney, in what many will say is the toughest set of back-to-back road games for the teams we cover.

Trap Game: Ann Arbor Pioneer. The Pioneers roll into Temperance right between the weeks where Bedford travels to Saline, and hosts Monroe. This is a game the Mules can ill afford to look past. Ann Arbor Skyline deserves special mention here, as that game comes after a tough September slate.

Snoozer: Ann Arbor Huron. The last time the River Rats won a game was October 3, 2014 (yes, you read that right). They have since lost 30 consecutive games, and are on their fourth coach in four years. Enough said.

Non-Con Challenge: A season-ending game against Coldwater will be much easier than opponents past, but the Cardinals are still a formidable foe. They have qualified for the playoffs each of the last five seasons. Could this be a potential playoff-eliminator game for both teams?

Notable: Pinckney rotates as the SEC-White crossover game. The Pirates have recorded eight wins in each of the last two years. This will be the first meeting on the gridiron between both schools…The Mules will travel 370 combined miles for their first three road games.

Final Analysis: The month of September is brutal for Jeff Wood’s squad. If Bedford can get through September with no (or just one) loss, they could be a force to be reckoned with. Lose more than two, and the final game against Coldwater could carry more weight. If the Mules make the playoffs this season, it will be well-earned.

Thoughts from Chris: No gimmees for the Kicking Mules this season with the exception of Ann Arbor Huron in week 8. Stevenson was 2-7 last season, but played a murderous schedule that included 8 playoff teams. Coach Wood is one of the best coaches in SE Michigan and Bedford always has players, but making the playoffs this season would be a big accomplishment and I think they will.

Thoughts from Gary: What jumps out to me is the interesting non-conference slate. Stevenson, St Francis and Pinckney should all be pretty good this year. Throw in Saline, Monroe along with Pioneer and you have a difficult schedule. I have no reason to think, however, that Coach Wood will not have his team primed for another playoff appearance.

UP Next: Carlson

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Airport Jets Schedule Analysis

This is the first in a series of teams we cover at Friday Night Victors. We’re just looking at the schedule and highlighting a few games. Season predictions will come in August. We’re starting at the beginning of the alphabet, so that means Airport is up first.

All schedule analysis was done by Frank Vajcner. You will find his football knowledge is pretty darn good.

Schedule:

Aug 23 Monroe
Aug 30 @ Grosse Ile
Sept 7 New Boston Huron
Sept 14 Jefferson
Sept 21 @ Riverview
Sept 28 Flat Rock
Oct 5 SMCC
Oct 12 @ Milan
Oct 19 Tecumseh

Gut-check Game: at Riverview. The Jets battled the eventual Huron League champs hard for three quarters last season, before the Pirates pulled away for a 51-28 win. Some think that Airport is a dark horse in the Huron League, and a Week 5 trip to Riverview is the best chance for them to prove their worth. This could be a potential Game of the Week if both teams are at least 3-1.

Trap Game: at Grosse Ile. The Jets open Huron League play with a trip to The Island in Week 2. Both teams were locked in a defensive struggle in their last meeting, before the Jets prevailed 14-8. Both squads are considered sleepers in the conference, and this will be the game that determines who’s a pretender and who's a contender.

Snoozer: The easy thing to do would be to put Jefferson here, but the Bears are expected to be much better. Plus, the Jets escaped Marc Cisco Field 23-22 last season. No snoozer here.

Non-con Challenge: Monroe. This will be the first ever meeting between the Jets and Trojans. Like Airport, Monroe is looking to take some steps forward in their conference. This is a sneaky good game to watch if you’re looking for a good Week 1 game.

Notable: Monroe will be the first SEC-Red opponent to play the Jets since 2010, when Airport played Bedford.

Final Analysis: Jim Duffy’s team lived on the edge in his first year, as six of Airport’s games were decided by six points or fewer. This is a year to take another step forward (and away from that edge). There are plenty of opportunities for the Jets to prove their worth in the Huron League, with road trips to Grosse Ile, Riverview, and Milan, as well as a home game vs. SMCC. This is a team that is capable of making the postseason, especially if they can avenge close losses to New Boston Huron and Milan.

Thoughts from Chris: I think the schedule is really a non-issue for the Jets, but I am a bit surprised that they went after Monroe High. The Jets have shown over the years that they can compete and win the Huron League. Airport has stars and talent on offense, but will have to find a way to stop people if they plan on competing for a league title or making the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

Thoughts from Gary: Airport is a real wildcard in the league this year. The talent is there in the backfield and wide out positions. Can they find the horses up front?  Can they tighten up on defense and win a 14-13 game?  If the answers are “yes”, Airport can finish in the top half of the league. If the answers are “no”, it may be a long season for Coach Duffy and his Jets.


Next Up: Bedford

New Feature

We will be adding a new feature as we draw closer to the start of practice. Our newest member of the blog, Frank Vajcner will be doing a detailed “Schedule Analysis” of all 16 teams that Friday Night Victors covers. He will provide some keen insight into all of the team. As always, Chris and Gary will add their thoughts and we will allow your opinions as well.

*Please note that these will be opinions and commentary based on what information we have on each team at this moment.