Western Michigan Dominance

The final four champions were crowned Saturday in the MHSAA's Playoff tournament, where the west side of the state of Michigan flexed its muscle in nearly a clean sweep of titles.

The west side of the state is king of football in 2008. Seven state titles went to teams hailing from there. The only outlier? Northern-based Traverse City St. Francis in Division 7, who, geographically-speaking, is also a team from the west side of the state.

The odd-numbered divisions took aim at state titles in the MHSAA Playoffs Saturday.

Division 1

Rockford (13-1) beat Lake Orion (12-2) again, 26-14, in a rematch of the teams' season opener.

A fairly evenly played game, Rockford (248 total yards) used three Lake Orion (263 total yards) turnovers to keep the Dragons at bay.

The Rams scored four touchdowns from four different players and were led by linebacker Josh Osburn on defense with 11 tackles (8 solo), including two for a loss.

Lake Orion tried to ride running back Branden Oakes, who had 107 yards on 16 carries, but fell short of a title.

Rockford claimed its third state title, all earned since the 2004 season.

Division 3

East Grand Rapids (13-1), once again, stands alone. Inkster (12-2) fell to the Pioneers 43-24 Saturday night.

Led by workhorse running back Joe Glendening with 177 yards on 39 carries, along with three touchdowns, the Pioneers built a 22-16 halftime lead, then scored the next 21 points to bury a talented Inkster squad.

Inkster quarterback Devin Gardner threw for 84 yards and ran for another 44 in the loss. Wide receiver Cameron Gordon led Inkster with 58 receiving yards and a touchdown.

East Grand Rapids, one of the most successful programs in MHSAA history, won its third-straight state title, bringing its total to nine overall.

Division 5

Muskegon Oakridge (14-0)made it a clean sweep for Muskegon County Schools in the state championships, defeating Ovid-Elsie (13-1) in a back-and-forth game, 26-14.

Ovid-Elsie led 14-13 at the half but could manage only seven first downs the entire game. The Eagles pulled ahead in the third with 13 points and shut the Marauders out in the second half.

Junior running back Chris Robinson piled 117 yards on 14 carried to lead Ovid-Elsie, while the Eagles boasted a pair of running backs with over 100 yards, Michael Shoop (178) and Matt Eaker (104).

The win is Muskegon Oakridge's third state title.

Division 7

Traverse City St. Francis (13-1) continued a tradition of excellence with a 41-13 state title victory over Ubley (13-1).

Ubley marched down the field with their opening possession, but fumbled as it neared the Traverse City red-zone. The Gladiators marched back the length of the field, scored a touchdown, and never looked back, building a 28-0 halftime lead.

The Bearcats finally broke its goose egg with a late-third quarter touchdown, but could never mount a serious comeback.

Michigan State commit Max Bullough, a junior linebacker/tight end/kicker did it all for St. Francis. He led the team with 15 tackles, including two for a loss and a sack, he kicked three extra points and even threw for a two-point conversion.

Running back Alex Peruski (123 yards) and quarterback Jordan Kaufman (110 yards) led the Ubley rushing attack, accounting for a touchdown each.

St. Francis, who currently holds the longest appearance streak in the MHSAA Playoffs at 19, won its fifth state title.


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