Familiarity a plus for Mendon as they begin Division 8 playoffs

BRIDGMAN — Traditional playoff qualifiers make up the four-team field in Division 8, Region 4, District 1 playoff.
Mendon’s football team is very familiar with the other three schools.
Although St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic is a team Mendon hasn’t faced this season, Bobby Kretschman and his coaching staff are aware of the Lakers’ strong gridiron tradition.
Mendon (7-2) battles LMC (8-1) in a pre-district matchup in Bridgman at 7 p.m. Friday.
The other matchup has Colon (5-4) visiting Climax-Scotts (9-0) the same night and time.
Because LMC does not have its own field, the Lakers play their home games at St. Joe High School and Bridgman.
Both Mendon and LMC are members of the BCS League, but compete in different divisions. However, they have five common opponents this season.
Mendon finished second in the BCS League’s Red Division at 3-1, a game behind Cassopolis. The Hornets’ lone two losses came to Cassopolis 33-14 and Buchanan 47-0.
LMC, meanwhile, went 4-0 in BCS League Blue Divisional play. The Lakers’ lone loss came to Parchment, 1-2 in the BCS League’s White Division, 44-0.
Mendon is 11-0 in all-time meetings with St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic which began its football program in 1969. These two teams last met in 2014 with the Hornets prevailing 48-0. In fact Mendon has won the last five meetings with LMC by shutouts.
LMC is coached by Toby Riley.
Mendon, meanwhile, is guided by first-year coach Bobby Kretschman, a long-time assistant coach and all-state linebacker under legendary coach John Schwartz, who retired after last year’s 5-5 record.
“LMC is a good football team,” Kretschman said. “We have three games of theirs on film. They like to run and throw the football. We’ve struggled against teams that throw the football so we’ve really been working hard on that in practice this week.
“LMC mixes their offensive attack between the I-Formation and spread attack. We have to do a good job of loading up the box when we’re on defense.”
Both teams are coming off big victories to end the regular season last Saturday.
Mendon traveled to the Upper Peninsula where it defeated Manistique 49-24, while LMC routed Bronson 44-0.
Mendon’s Wyatt Cool has returned to full-time duty at the tailback position.
That could mean bad news for the LMC defense.
Cool has seen limited duty since suffering a high ankle sprain early in the season.
Cool has 98 carries for 562 yards and 8 TDs.
Freshman fullback Austin Rensi handled a majority of the ballcarrying duties in Cool’s absence.
Rensi has 96 carries for 714 yards and 11 TDs.
Quarterback Hunter Lovell is 42-of-78 passing for 636 yards and five TDs.
Braxton Samson, previously Mendon’s starting signal caller, leads the Hornets in receiving with 21 catches for 259 yards and one TD.
Junior Mikki Feister leads Mendon’s defense with 73 tackles.
Samson and Noah Slaughter lead Mendon in fumble recoveries with two each.
Samson also has 2 interceptions.
Scott Hassinger can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 25 or sports@threeriversnews.com.

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