This is one of my favorite three weeks of the high school football season.
Covering football in Livingston County means there are usually only three games all season involving two teams from my coverage area. There’s a lot more excitement in the stadium when Brighton, Hartland and Howell face off than when they’re playing random KLAA opponents.
If I’m lucky, the Fowlerville-Pinckney rivalry will be renewed for four games a year. There is no reason for both of them to have to travel so far for non-league games when a comparably sized county rival is available. This has to happen every year, regardless of which team is up or down.
If county fans are lucky, we’ll have a rematch between any combination of our three Division 1 schools in the state playoffs like we had the last two years.
For now, it’s time to get excited for another renewal of the Brighton-Hartland rivalry.
It’s also time to return to the regular schedule, with football set to be played at 7pm on Fridays for the rest of the regular season.
After a 4-1 opening week predicting Livingston County football games, I had a dismal 2-3 record last week. A 6-4 record through two weeks won’t cut it.
I’ll attempt to return to respectability with the following Week 3 picks:
Brighton to Hartland
Brighton have won the last seven meetings between the rivals, the last defeat coming 14-7 on October 2, 2015.
This streak should continue.
This is one of Brighton’s best teams during this period, reaching the No. 8 spot in Division 1 by the Detroit Free Press. Hartland has the potential to keep things close with its defense, but the Eagles need to clean up the turnovers and penalties that plagued them last week in a 13-10 loss at Novi.
The game features the top two running backs in the county. Brighton’s Carson Shrader has scored touchdowns on six of his 16 touches this season. Hartland’s Joey Mattord was a 1,000-yard rusher last year, but Novi’s defense was able to shut down the run game last week. Brighton contributors could pose a similar problem.
Prediction: Brighton 28, Hartland 14
Fowlerville to Mason
Fowlerville’s schedule is not very forgiving.
Mason, ranked No. 8 in Division 3 by the Free Press, is one of three state teams the Gladiators will face in the first five weeks.
The Bulldogs appear to be the toughest of the three. They have thrashed two bigger schools, winning 62-0 at Division 2 Okemos and 35-12 at Division 1 Holt.
The Gladiators would do well to replicate their first three quarter performance against Mason last season. Fowlerville hung on strong, trailing just 10-6, before Mason pulled away for a 24-6 victory.
Prediction: Mason 35, Fowlerville 7
Howell in Northville
Howell’s defense is back to gearing up for a more conventional offense after being hammered for 316 yards on the ground by Canton’s T-formation last week.
Northville, which is 2-0 for the first time in six years, will mix it up with quarterback Luca Prior leading the offense. He threw for 112 yards and two touchdowns last week against Plymouth, while Caleb Moore ran 15 times for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Howell, like Hartland and Novi, could be set up to use some time at quarterback. Dru Taylor (two touchdown passes) and Levi Curtin (two touchdown runs) had some success running the offense last week using different skill sets.
Prediction: Howell 24, Northville 21
Tecumseh to Pinckney
Pinckney quarterback Brady Raymond has shown he can put up big numbers on the ground and through the air, leading the county in rushing and passing through two weeks.
It will need to be in its game against a Tecumseh team that is used to playing high-scoring games.
The Indians have scored 54 points in each of their first two games and have been involved in shootouts with Pinckney the past two years. The Pirates won those games 51-34 in 2020 and 55-28 in 2021. Pinckney is 5-0 against Tecumseh since joining the SEC White in 2017, but the Indians could threaten that streak on Friday.
Prediction: Pinckney 42, Tecumseh 41