Rematches dominate first-round matchups for six Washtenaw County teams in MHSAA football playoffs
Updated with quotes from Saline coach Joe Palka
If past is prologue, Washtenaw County teams should be in for some exciting matchups when the playoffs get underway this Friday.
Six area teams heard their names called when the MHSAA football playoff field was unveiled Sunday night on Fox Sports Detroit.
Chelsea, Father Gabriel Richard, Manchester, Milan, Pioneer and Saline will all have a chance to win a state title over Thanksgiving weekend at Ford Field in Detroit.
All six qualified for the playoffs by winning six or more games during the regular season. The only team eligible for the playoffs that didn’t make the field was Lincoln, which finished with five wins.
Related content: Complete MHSAA football playoff brackets
The road gets underway this Friday with district semifinal games. Times and dates for the games will be announced Monday.
Of the six Washtenaw County teams in the postseason, five will play rematches of regular-season matchups in district semifinal games Friday. And three of those matchups, three were decided by a touchdown or less in the regular-season game.
In the Division 1 playoffs, Saline hosts Temperance Bedford, a rematch from a Sept. 21 game that Saline won, 28-25.
The Hornets needed 10 third-quarter points to erase a halftime deficit, before holding on through a late Bedford charge for the win.
"It was a game that could have gone either way," Saline coach Joe Palka said Sunday night. "Both had long kickoff returns, we both turned the ball over a couple of times. It was a real even game, and I think that’s the same type of thing you’ll see the second time we play."
The game was the start of five-game win streak to end the season for Saline. That ended with three games won by 35 points or more.
"I do like the way we’re playing," Palka said. "You want to be playing your best football at the end of the year, and I think that we’re doing that right now."
On the other side of the district bracket, Pioneer will take on Monroe, a team that represents one of its three losses on the year, and the only one in SEC play. Monroe won, 19-12 on Oct. 5.
The Pioneers will continue to play without coach Paul Test, who will be serving the second game of a two-game suspension for his role in the post-game brawl with Huron Oct. 12.
Pioneer also played its Week 9 game without several of its players suspended for the brawl. Ann Arbor Public Schools has not released a length to those suepensions.
Should both Pioneer and Saline win their district semifinal games, they would meet in a district final that would rematch a 7-6 Pioneer win from Sept. 14.
It would also give Saline quarterback Tyler Palka a chance to make good on a vow he made after that loss.
"We want Pioneer again,” Tyler Palka said after the Pioneer game. “That game they beat us, good for them, but that one doesn't sit well with me.
"We'll score more than six points, I can promise you that."
In Division 3, Chelsea, which enters the game on a six-game winning streak, travels to Tecumseh, a team it beat by three points in Week 7. On the other side of the bracket, undefeated Milan takes on Carleton Airport, a team it beat 41-0 in Week 8.
Father Gabriel Richard, fresh off a Saturday Prep Bowl win, will take on Dundee in the Division 5 playoffs, the only area game that’s not a regular season rematch.
In Division 6, Manchester will look to avenge one of its three losses on the season: an opening-week loss to Clinton, 32-14.
(Game dates and times to be announced on Monday)
REGION 3, DISTRICT 1
Temperance Bedford (6-3) 66.222 at Saline (8-1) 93.889
Ann Arbor Pioneer (6-3) 72.000 at Monroe (7-2) 82.222
REGION 3, DISTRICT 2
Carleton Airport (6-3) 65.444 at Milan (9-0) 101.333
Chelsea (6-3) 68.556 at Tecumseh (7-2) 72.222
REGION 4, DISTRICT 1
Dundee (6-3) 54.556 at Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (8-1) 88.778
Lake Fenton (7-2) 72.667 at Jackson Lumen Christi (8-1) 85.889
REGION 4, DISTRICT 1
Manchester (6-3) 53.111 at Clinton (9-0) 81.778
Michigan Center (8-1) 66.333 at Grass Lake (8-1) 76.333