This isn’t going to be easy. The playoffs never are, and even tough every team qualified for the postseason this year, this is relatively new territory for the three Ann Arbor public schools.
Pioneer reached the playoffs for the first time since 2015 last year and lost 50-21 in the opening game. Since starting the program in 2010, Skyline has never reached the postseason and have never won more than four games in a season. Huron last played in the postseason in 2002 (17-14 loss to Pioneer) and have won just seven games since 2010 – and two of those wins were this year.
So the locals aren’t exactly bursting with playoff experience. And to make matters worse, they are all playing on the road on Friday night and against higher seeds.
Pioneer, Huron and Skyline are all in Division 1, District 2.
The River Rats have the furthest distance to travel but perhaps the best chance to win when they play the first playoff game in almost two decades. Huron, one could argue, would have more wins and be hosting a game had a COVID19 situation not forced the River Rats to cancel two games.
Huron (2-2) heads west to play at Kalamazoo Central (2-4).
Huron opened the season with a 43-19 loss at Saline but then won at Pioneer 18-8. The next time they took the field was on Oct. 23 at Flat Rock, a game they easily won 56-8.
The River Rats didn’t draw top-seeded Saline, but they do have a capable opponent in Kalamazoo Central. The Maroon Giants lost their first three games of the season before knocking off Battle Creek Central, 35-20 and Mattawan, 27-7 – those two teams have a combined three wins on the season.
Kalamazoo Central heads into the postseason following a 37-6 loss to Portage Northern. One interesting side note is that Portage Northern’s only loss of the season was to Holt, Skyline’s playoff opponent.
The River Rats have a high-octane offense with several playmakers including at quarterback with junior Anthony Pinnace and senior Tyson Edmunson. Both have great speed and can throw the ball and will have defenses on the top of their toes.
“We have a two quarterback system. Both guys can play, run, and throw. Against teams like this, we want to use our speed and athleticism and get guys into space,” Huron head coach Antaiwn Mack said. “We want to exploit matchups with our speed. Both quarterbacks did a great job tonight. Flat Rock fought hard and they weren’t going to quit.”
The Maroon Giants haven’t exactly been shutting teams down. They allowed 28 or more points in their four losses.
And 28 might be the magic number. If they can get there or beyond, they could be returning from the “west coast” with a playoff victory – the first for the school since 2000.
Pairings for the first four weeks of the tournament are based on regular-season playoff point averages, with the highest-ranked team hosting, regardless of the distance between the two schools. For District First Round and Regional First Round play, the top-seeded team in each bracket will host the eighth-seeded team; and the second-seeded team will host the seventh-seeded team, etc.
MHSAA DIVISION 1 matchups
* All games are at 7 p.m., Friday
Ann Arbor Pioneer (0-5) 9.500 at Saline (5-1) 66.533
Ann Arbor Huron (2-2) 31.000 at Kalamazoo Central (2-4) 33.567
Kalamazoo Loy Norrix (0-6) 10.167 at Grand Ledge (4-2) 51.100
Ann Arbor Skyline (1-4) 20.000 at Holt (2-3) 38.167