Eddies, Bucks ready for playoffs

Published 2:58 am Friday, October 29, 2010

Buchanan’s Ryan Catalano (left) has 20 receptions for 487 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also has hit 48-of-50 extra points. (Daily Star photo/File)

Buchanan’s Ryan Catalano (left) has 20 receptions for 487 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also has hit 48-of-50 extra points. (Daily Star photo/File)

It will be home sweet home tonight for the top two teams in the Lakeland Conference when the Michigan High School Athletic Association football playoffs begin.

The runner-ups from the Lakeland and Wolverine conference will square off Friday night in a Division 5 district semifinal game at Leo Hoffman Field in Edwardsburg.

The Eddies (8-1) are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2005, while visiting Otsego (7-2) is making its second straight trip to the post season.

Veteran Edwardsburg coach Kevin Bartz said his team is excited to be returning to the playoffs, but what makes it even more special is the fact that the Eddies will be playing at home for the opening round.

They will be playing a Bulldog squad that knocked off Dowagiac 21-10 in Week 8 to qualify for the post season and then struggled to beat arch rival Plainwell (0-9) in the regular season finale last week.

Otsego and Plainwell were locked in a scoreless deadlock at halftime before Ashton Bowling scored the winning touchdown on a 3-yard run in the third quarter and quarterback Jared Klein connected with Harold Watkins for a 30-yard fourth quarter score.

“Otsego has a very good quarterback, who throws the ball exceptionally well on the run,” Bartz said. “They are very big up front. They go 6-3, 295; 6-3, 285; and 6-1, 295, so they have some big boys.”

The Bulldogs, like many of the teams in the Wolverine Conference, run the spread formation. Bartz noted that in film he did not see them take a single snap from under center.

One of the keys to success Friday night for the Eddies will be trying to keep Klein in the pocket and not letting him get outside and making plays down the field while he scrambles.

Defensively, Bartz doesn’t know what to expect from Otsego because they have only seen them play against spread teams.

“I never know what to expect on defense, so I have given up tying to figure it out,” he joked.

Edwardsburg capped off its season Friday night with a big 41-15 win over visiting Saginaw Nouvel. Bartz said that game helped the Eddies prepare for the post season.

“I think our Saginaw Nouvel game was a pretty good warm-up,” he said. “We treated it like a playoff game. We had a lot of activities going on, so hopefully that kind of got us prepared. I don’t think the atmosphere is going to be a lot different this week.”

This has been a historic season for the Eddies and a win on Friday night will add to the record book.

This Edwardsburg team has already scored the most points in school history, while its allowing of just 88 points on defense is the best total in 45 years.

“It is definitely a big game,” Bartz said. “A win would make this the first Edwardsburg team to win nine games in a season and it would be our first home playoff victory. So the kid realize it is more than just another football game. But I think that will help them focus even more.”

The Eddies and the Bulldogs will kick things off at 7 p.m. The winner advances to the district finals against either Allegan (7-2) or Paw Paw (8-1).

Olivet at Buchanan

The Buchanan Bucks, champions of the Lakeland, will host Olivet at 7:30.

The Bucks will put their 8-1 record on the line against the Eagles, who come into tonight’s contest with a 7-2 mark.

The Bucks rolled up 369 points on offense this season, while allowing its opponents 131 points. Muskegon Heights scored 41 of those points in the season finale when it edged Buchanan by a field goal.

Olivet scored just 274 points this year, but allowed just 80 points.

The Eagles are led by quarterback Jay Cousineau, who was 81-of-122 for 1,223 yards and 10 touchdowns. Cousineau threw just three interceptions this season.

His favorite target was Tanner McCarn, who had 31 receptions for 399 yards and three touchdowns.

Nick Coolidge was the leading rusher with 659 yards on 96 carries with nine touchdowns. Cousineau was the team’s second leading rusher with 405 yards on 66 carries and seven touchdowns.

Buchanan has run for 2,133 yards this season, led by Cordell Jackson, who gained 927 of those yards and scored 15 touchdowns on 119 carries.

Ryan Catalano led the bucks in the receiving department with 20 receptions for 487 yards and 13 touchdowns. Catalano, who is also a standout on the soccer team, also has hit 48-of-50 extra point attempts and a 29-yard field goal, giving him a team-high 129 points.

The Bucks are making their fifth playoff appearance in the past seven years, while the Eagles are in the post season for the third consecutive season and the 10th time since 1998.

The winner gets to face either defending state champion Jackson Lumen Christi or Hopkins.