Reed City and Kingsley, both unbeaten, will square off at 7 p.m. Friday night at Reed City High School in the MHSAA Division 5 District 1 championship game. The game is a rematch of last year's district semifinal, when Kingsley knocked off the Coyotes 48-36.
Both teams feature highly potent running attacks. Reed City is led by its quartet of seniors, Landen Tomaski, Alex Wirgau, Payton Hansen and Noah Jones. Against a much larger Kingsford team last week, the Coyotes managed to run for 358 yards. Jones led the way in the 32-14 win, scoring three times and gaining 159 yards.
The Coyotes also had success through the air last week. Quarterback Isaac Williams hit Seth Jackson for an acrobatic 26-yard touchdown. Jackson was one of eight Coyotes to be named First Team All-CSAA Gold. Williams was the Coyotes' lone honorable mention selection.
Other Coyotes named to the division's first team were Joe Shewan, Chaz Davis, Teddy Cross, Wirgau, Hansen, Jones and Dylan Schebil. Schebil was on crutches during the Coyotes win over Kingsford, so his status for Saturday is in doubt.
Starting center Kyle Crusan left the game in the fourth quarter last week with an injury. If both he and Schebil are unable to play against the Stags, expect Logan Ringler and Kaiden Burgess to step in.
Kingsley has a solid stable of backs as well, led by Aidan Shier, Owen Graves and Connor Scheuller. Each of the three had long touchdown runs in the Stags' win over Gladwin. Graves led the team in rushing with 154 yards while quarterback Evan Douglass completed 5-of-7 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
Neither team throws the ball much, however they'll struggle given the talent in the opposing secondary. Jackson is arguably the area's best safety when it comes to athleticism, while Kingsley's Jayden Inthisone picked off three passes last week.
The winner of this one will be the team who plays the cleanest game. Both squads know exactly what they want to do and rarely deviate from their game plans. For that reason, limiting turnovers and controlling the time of possession becomes paramount.
Whichever team keeps the ball the longest will likely hoist a trophy when the dust settles.