CARSONVILLE — The good news for Owendale-Gagetown?
The first time the Bulldogs played Carsonville-Port Sanilac they managed to score 50 points.
The bad news?
They gave up 91.
That’s the uphill climb facing the 5-4 Bulldogs on Friday night when they travel to Carsonville-Port Sanilac to take on the 8-1 Tigers in the opening-round of the first-ever state sanctioned 8-man (Division 9) playoffs.
For the Bulldogs, it’s their first trek to the post-season since 1979, when the team finished 9-0 during the regular season, but dropped a 34-20 decision to Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary in the first round of the playoffs.
Since then, Owen-Gage has finished above .500 just nine times, including this season — its third playing 8-man.
CPS comes into the contest as the unofficial defending state champion in 8-man. Last year, the Tigers beat Bellaire 25-14 in the unsanctioned 8-man title game.
CPS coach Tim Brabant thinks that experience will help his club as it looks for a repeat performance.
“I think last year is going to help us a lot,” he said. “For a lot of teams at the start of the season, winning a state championship might be a pipe dream. But to us, we feel like we have a legitimate shot.”
And for good reason. The Tigers come into the 8-man tournament with the most playoff points among the 16-team field at 61.063. Rapid River and Cedarville are the only other squads with at least eight wins.
“We think we’re in pretty good position,” Brabant said. “We were hoping to go undefeated, but we got caught looking ahead and Akron-Fairgrove beat us (in Week 3). We know we can’t do that at this time of the year. We know one big mistake at the wrong time can end it for the whole team.”
CPS didn’t make many mistakes in its 41-point victory over the Bulldogs on Oct. 7. The Tigers had a field day running and throwing over the Owen-Gage defense.
Brabant, though, knows there is room for improvement.
“The only negative from that game was that we gave up that many points,” he said. “We need to do a better job on defense. We think we can do some things on offense, but we need to limit them on defense.”
CPS has 10 seniors on the squad, led by quarterback Hayden Adams, receiver Trevor Adams and linebacker Steven Koehler.
“This year’s senior class is the most athletic and hard working class we have ever had at CPS,” Brabant said.
Koehler leads the defense with more than 100 tackles, including 30 “pancakes.”
“He’s been an absolute beast for us,” Brabant said.
Owen-Gage comes in off a tough 36-30 setback to Akron-Fairgrove in the regular season finale. The Bulldogs scored 24 first-quarter points, but saw the Vikings rally to beat them for the second time this season. Owen-Gage senior quarterback Hunter Champagne is one of the Bulldogs’ main weapons. Juniors Jordan Kain and Tommy Kennedy also make major contributions.
The winner of this game plays the winner of the Bellaire-Akron-Fairgrove contest in next week’s second round.
W1: Flint MSD 71-0
W2: Burr Oak 42-0
W3: MCCM 28-44
W4: Flint MSD 72-0
W5: A-Fair. 6-20
W6: Litchfield 44-6
W7: CPS 50-91
W8: MCCM 41-20
W9: A-Fair. 30-36
PF: 376 (41.7)
PA: 217 (24.1)
Opp Win %: 50.6
Playoff Points: 34.349
W1: Wyo. Tri. 49-6
W2: MCCM 36-8
W3: A-Fair. 13-18
W4: Litchfield 62-8
W5: Flint MSD 57-12
W6: MCCM 70-32
W7: O-Gage 91-50
W8: A-Fair. 39-6
W9: E. Wash. 1-0 F
PF: 419 (46.5)
PA: 132 (14.6)
Opp Win %: 53.9
Playoff Points: 61.063
BOGAN SAYS: CPS has one goal in mind: A state championship.
PICK: CPS 55, Owen-Gage 35