Milan (9-0)is the two time defending Huron League champion and is coming off of a 20-13 victory over a solid Ypsi Lincoln team. Thurston has won 5 consecutive games and beat their arch rival Redford Union week 9 by a score of 56-6. This will be the first ever meeting between the two schools.
Milan surprised many around the Huron League this season by reloading after heavy graduation losses last year including a handful that are now playing in the college ranks. The Big Reds are led by the best all around player in the Huron League in QB/S Robert Kanitz. Kanitz accounted for over 1,650 yards and 20 TD's this season and simply doesn't make mistakes. Defensively, he is a sure tackler and rarely allows teams the home run play.
The biggest surprise in the league this season is the arrival of freshman Trace Lindeman,. The 5-8, 145 lb speedster has rushed for over 1,100 yards and 10 TD's. Blowing holes for Lindeman are offensive linemen and senior captains Jake Friese and Chad Hall. The leading receiver for the league champions is senior Gage Smith with 35 catches for 525 yards and 4 TD's.
Defensively, the Big Reds are led by their linebacking corp of seniors Austin Hoover and Max Blackburn along with junior Josh Colville. Hoover is considered by many as the best defender in the Huron League. Junior DB CJ Duffiney is a two year starter and has an interception and two fumble recoveries on the season. Milan gives up a paltry 13 ppg.
Thurston was on the brink of missing the playoffs this season when they started 1-3 but reeled off 5 straight wins to qualify for the playoffs. This isn't a vintage Eagle team but their losses are to solid programs and they have a fine coach in Bob Snell.
Offensively Thurston is led by QB Tyler Bellis. The senior signal caller is a threat both through the air and on the ground. The Eagles boast a solid tandem at WR in Tommy Hailey and Curtiss Cobb. Hailey will also get a few rushing attempts per game when the Eagles line up in the wildcat formation.
The defense for Thurston is the reason they qualified for the playoffs. During the 5 game winning streak they have given up a meager 6 ppg. The defense is led by LB's Aaron Griffin and Robert Seton along with DL Deonte Jones.
Many times in the playoffs a 9-0 team is rewarded with an easy #4 seed. This certainly isn't the case with this match up. Thurston is capable of pulling off the upset and Milan cannot afford to look past this game. One advantage for the Big Reds will be playing on the grass at Milan as opposed to the beautiful turf in Redford. Pick: Milan 21 Thurston 17.