10 best Saginaw area football games to watch in 2021


With the season starting Thursday, fans and players alike check the schedules, using the red marker to circle the biggest games on the schedule.

All the coaches will talk about the importance of each game, taking one game at a time, giving 110% every week, not looking at any opponents and the records don’t matter.

With probably a few other shots alongside.

But some games, whether because of rivalry, records, or historical significance, are simply more important than others.

Here’s a look at the top 10 Saginaw area games ahead of the 2021 season, sorted by date.

Saginaw United at Saginaw Heritage, August 26

Saginaw United will make history playing their first college game as a co-op team made up of players from Saginaw High and Arthur Hill. But Heritage coach Justin Thelen would also like to do a bit of history. The former Pewamo-Westphalia quarterback is looking for his first victory as a varsity coach. He was 0-9 at Kalkaska in 2019 and 0-6 in a rambling first season at Heritage in 2020. Heritage’s games against Arthur Hill and Saginaw High in 2020 were wiped out due to COVID.

Hemlock junior Robert Knapik (39) walks around the Millington defense in a Millington High School football game on Friday, October 16, 2020 (Kaytie Boomer | MLive.com)Boomer Kaytie | MLive.com

Breckenridge to Hemlock, August 26

The teams haven’t played since 1974, when they were rivals in the Central Michigan League. Hemlock has an 18-4-1 advantage in the series, but both teams have enjoyed success in recent years. Breckenridge is only three years away from an appearance in the State Finals in Division 8, while Hemlock has recorded three straight seasons of eight Division 6 and 7 wins. Both have key returning players, with the quarterback Luke Saunders leading the Breckenridge Huskies with fullback Robert Knapik pacing the Hemlock Huskies. In an added twist, Breckenridge coach Kris Robinson lives in the Hemlock School District.

Millington Football welcomes Hemlock to TVC West Championship

Millington’s players head to the end zone after a soccer game against Hemlock at Millington High School on Friday, October 16, 2020. Hemlock won 12-6. (Kaytie Boomer | MLive.com)Boomer Kaytie | MLive.com

Millington to Hemlock, September 10

Both teams bring back a lot of experience and talent from the successful 2020 seasons, a season that saw Hemlock beat Millington, 12-6. Bullock Creek is also set to compete for the Level I title of the Tri-Valley West Conference, but there is a strong rivalry between the Millington and Hemlock teams. Hemlock’s victory in 2020 shattered a five-game winning streak at Millington against the Huskies. Millington still has a 9-5 advantage in a series that began when the Tri-Valley Conference was in its infancy. Millington returns five three-year-old starters, while Hemlock counter with one of the region’s best full-backs, Robert Knapik.

Saginaw Nouvel's football defeats Michigan Lutheran Seminary 35-14

Michigan Lutheran Seminary junior Daniel Hilgendorf defeats Saginaw Nouvel’s second student Joseph LeFevre as he gains ground in the opening kickoff on Friday, September 25, 2020 in Saginaw. Saginaw Nouvel defeated Michigan Lutheran Seminary 34-15. (Jake May | MLive.com)Jake May | Mlive.com

Ithaca to Saginaw Nouvel, September 17

Both teams suffered a few hard knocks until graduation, but both are also set to fight for the TVC West Tier II title. Ithaca lost star quarterback Brady Hessbrook, as well as his father, coach Terry Hessbrook. Nouvel has lost offensive leader Jack Kujawa and defensive leader Daron Chinery. Jordan Hessbrook has replaced his uncle in Ithaca and will try to take the Yellowjackets to another league title. Nouvel won a Division 6 regional’s first meeting in 2003, but Ithaca has won the last two encounters, including a 47-27 decision in 2020.

Freeland v.  Frankenmuth

Sophomore Bryson Huckeby runs with the ball in his hands as a flag is thrown onto the pitch as Freeland hosts Frankenmuth for a soccer game on Friday, September 20, 2019. Rachel Ellis | MLive.com

Freeland in Frankenmuth, September 24

Yes, both teams have massive showdowns during the season. Frankenmuth starts against Goodrich at Flint’s Atwood Stadium and ends with games against Essexville Garber and New Lothrop. Freeland travels to Clare and adds matches against Garber and Flushing. But both programs have produced successful seasons that typically result in games that have playoff or conference championships, creating a rivalry that has only intensified since Freeland and Frankenmuth joined the same conference. Frankenmuth has won the last two games, including a 41-3 record last year. But since 2015, the teams are at 4-4. Last year, Freeland reached the Division 5 semifinals before losing to Grand Rapids Catholic Central, while Frankenmuth reached the national final, also losing to Catholic Central.

Hemlock football hosts Cass City in Division 7 District Championship game

Cass City junior Jordan Mester (3) races for the end zone in the Division 7 District Championship game against Hemlock on Friday November 13, 2020 (Kaytie Boomer | MLive.com)Boomer Kaytie | MLive.com

Cass City to Reese, September 24

Reese ended the 2020 season with a strong push, eventually falling to Cass City, 36-26, in a District opener. Cass City remain the beating team in Greater Thumb West, but the Rockets’ solid finish as well as a roster full of talented ghosts who include Tanner TerBush, Damarquss Palmeuter, Levi Foco and Jacob Rau have the think tank title. of the Rockets. But that championship probably goes through Cass City, which reached the Division 7 semi-finals last season.

Portland St. Patrick in Merrill, September 24

After getting his toes wet in the 8-man football pool last season, Merrill joined an 8-man league this season, the Central Michigan Football League 8. The new league includes Portland St. Patrick, which has reached the division 2 to 8 players. state final in three of the past four years. Last season, Portland St. Patrick beat Merrill in the regular season, 26-22.

Freeland football welcomes Swan Valley

A view of the trophy presented to the winning team of the Freeland vs Swan Valley football game at Freeland High School on Friday October 9, 2020 (Kaytie Boomer | MLive.com)Boomer Kaytie | MLive.com

Freeland in Swan Valley, October 8

Swan Valley reached the Division 5 final in 2017 and the semi-final in 2018, but graduation has hit the Vikings hard and they will be hard pressed to give young players the experience they need. Freeland has 20 seniors back, so on paper it looks like the rivalry is, at least for this season, unbalanced. The Freeland-Swan Valley rivalry, however, is as intense as any in the Saginaw area, with the winner taking home the King of the Hill Trophy. And in week 7, these young players from Swan Valley may not be so young anymore. Swan Valley has a 21-13 advantage in the series and is 6-4 in the last 10 games, although Freeland eliminated Swan Valley in 2020, 21-13.

First day of Michigan football practice Lutheran Seminary

A Michigan Lutheran Seminary helmet rests on the ground during their first workout on Monday, August 9, 2021 (Kaytie Boomer | MLive.com)Boomer Kaytie | MLive.com

Western Crossings of the Tri-Valley Conference, October 15

In week 8, Tri-Valley Conference West teams will face off against their peers from other levels. TVC West has 10 teams, which works well with other sports but makes things difficult in football with only nine regular season games. Thus, TVC West, for football only, is divided into two levels, with the larger schools at level I and the smaller ones at level II. There is a certain schedule between levels during the regular season, but during week 8 teams will face their counterparts in the standings of the other level.

Midland Dow at Mona Shores Football

Keondre Pierce (11) of Mona Shores is eliminated by Dawson Studebaker (40) of Midland Dow during Friday’s Division 2 District Championship soccer game at Sailor Stadium, Norton Shores on November 8, 2019.Kayla Renie | MLive.com

Midland High at Midland Dow, October 22

Both teams have huge games during the season. Midland opens at the University of Michigan against Traverse City West and adds games against Lapeer and Davison. Dow, meanwhile, also opens at UM against Fenton, with other top-level matches against Grand Blanc and Lapeer. Still, the final game of the regular season usually has Saginaw Valley League North and City in the rivalry bragging rights. Midland won both clashes last season, winning the Week 9 game, 32-6, and then the playoff game, 31-15.

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