BELLAIRE — Which Rapid River team shows up will be an interesting question.
Is it the Rockets' team that lost to Cedarville 72-12 in the regular season? Or the one that beat the top-ranked Trojans 22-12 in the second week of the playoffs?
The answer probably lies somewhere in between.
Bellaire (8-3) and Rapid River (9-2) meet up in Saturday's eight-player football semifinals at Rapid River in what is the two squads' second meeting of the season.
The Eagles won 28-16 in their first matchup of the season three weeks ago, but saying the Eagles are the favorite because of that win isn't quite that simple.
Bellaire won when they knocked Rapid River star quarterback Jake Pearson out the game with an ankle injury in the second quarter.
"We made the long trip up and they were ahead 16-8," Eagles coach Ron Bindi said. "We scored on our first possession because we broke a run for about 60 yards. They came right back, and we were in a funk on defense from being on the bus and they scored. Then we drove the ball down there and turned it over and they got it back and they scored. Midway through the second quarter, we knocked (Pearson) out for a series and got the ball back and kept the ball away from them the whole rest of the second quarter and scored with no time left."
Pearson came back in the third quarter, but Bindi said he was slowed by an ankle injury.
"Looking at the film now, he's back to being the real thing," Bindi said.
Playing without Pearson against Cedarville, the Rockets lost 72-12. With him against the Trojans last week, they won 22-14.
"The game plan is pretty simple: You have to stop No. 7, their quarterback," Bindi said of Pearson. "He's a good runner and can throw the ball 50 or 60 yards in the air with no problem. They like to put him back in the shotgun formation and he runs it or he throws it. ... The key to beating these guys is to keep No. 7 under control and keep the ball away from him."
The two teams have no shortage of common opponents to judge performances.
Playing the Eight-Man Bridge Alliance, the pair have faced off with seven of the same teams. Rapid River posted a 6-1 mark in those contests, while Bellaire was 4-3.
All three teams Bellaire has lost to this season — Eben Junction, Cedarville and Rock Mid-Peninsula — Rapid River has beaten, although it took the Rockets two shots at Cedarville to get a victory.
Bindi discounts two of those early-season losses by the Eagles, who started 0-2 and are 8-1 since.
"The first two games, they were so long ago, I'm not even worried about them," Bindi said. "We weren't even a third of the way to where we are now. We were making mistakes, we weren't running the plays the right way, we had distractions. We've played 11 games, so those first two games are like a season ago to us. The last nine games are our season."
Rapid River has given up 27 or more points in six games, including a 28-16 home loss to the Eagles on Oct. 19.
The Rockets — who played in last year's first Michigan High School Athletic Association-sanctioned eight-man state championship game — also received a forfeit win from a Wisconsin school early in the season.
The Eagles are hoping to win the program's first semifinal game after notching their first regional football victory in school history last week. Last year's playoff win over Akron-Fairgrove was in pre-regionals, and in 2009 Bellaire team earned selection directly into the state finals before eight-man football was sponsored by the MHSAA.
Starting with the second half of the Rapid River game, Bellaire has given up just one late touchdown to Kingston in the last 10 quarters of play — an accomplishment in eight-man football, where games are commonly more high-scoring than 11-player football.
"We made some crucial first downs and kept the ball away from them," Bindi said of limiting the Rockets' offense this first time around.
One major difference in the Rapid River games against Cedarville was who was playing and who wasn't.
Pearson and several other Rapid River players missed the first matchup, and the Trojans played without quarterback Bobby Krackowski and star lineman Dylan Badour, who were both suspended for the playoff contest.
Pearson has completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He also leads the Rockets with 2,132 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns and was the Bridge Alliance defensive player of the year. Pearson's top receiving target, senior Robert Metter, has 32 catches for 609 yards and 15 TDs.
Bellaire counters with sophomore running back Chase Small, who has racked up 1,446 yards and 21 touchdowns this season, while quarterback Zach Smith adds another 850 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns.
Saturday game will be the two teams' second meeting this season
BELLAIRE — Which Rapid River team shows up will be an interesting question.
Bums fall in extra innings
Ben Waldrip made up for his ninth-inning gaffe with some 10th-inning heroics.Continued ...
You're Needed: 07/19/2014
Volunteers are needed for Harbor Days in Elk Rapids.Continued ...
Blood Drive Calendar: 07/19/2014
Area Blood Drives: American Red Cross —Ellsworth, noon-5:45 p.m., July 22, Ellsworth Community Building, 6520 Center St.Continued ...
Community in Brief: 07/19/2014
Museum garage sale; DAR anniversary; Auditions set. (Plus more)Continued ...
Body & Soul in Brief: 07/19/2014
Ride for Father Fred; Arcadia Daze luncheon; Autism awareness. (Plus more)Continued ...
Education Newsmakers: 07/19/2014
The following local seniors were named Kiwanis Club of Traverse City Students of the Month:Continued ...
Letters to the Editor: 07/19/2014
Not a ‘disorder’; Homeless, cherries; Win the primary first.Continued ...
Charter school board will consider legal action to get $1.6 million
Grand Traverse Academy officials are trying to find out more about the $1.6 million that’s owed to them by their federally indicted founder and head of their former management company.Continued ...
Homeless death disclosure draws dissent
Traverse City police officials defended their decision to withhold public disclosure of a homeless man's slaying, and said they'd do so again if similar circumstances arise.Continued ...
GT County sues jail inmates over fees
Grand Traverse County is headed to court in an effort to collect money from county jail inmates.Continued ...
Hogs to ride for Father Fred
It began when some local hogs decided to throw a few bucks in a hat and take a ride for a good cause.Continued ...
Road work planned across GT County
Motorists should expect traffic delays at several locations in Grand Traverse County in the upcoming week.Continued ...
Futures File: Downed jet prompts increase in commodities
The crash of the Malaysia Airlines flight in Eastern Ukraine killed all 298 people aboard. Initial fears that the plane had been shot down were supported by intelligence agencies, sparking concerns the crash could signal a deepening of the conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists.Continued ...
Ag Forum: Signs, signs, understanding signs
“I don’t know what that sign means, but I like it.” This is the common feedback Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) technicians receive from local wineries.Continued ...
Mancelona man dies in crash
A Mancelona man who rode an adult tricycle down U.S. 131 died when a vehicle struck him from behind.Continued ...
Filing deadline nears for TCAPS board candidates
The petition-filing deadline for candidates interested in sitting on the Traverse City Area Public Schools Board of Education is Tuesday, and only four have filed to fill five open seats.Continued ...
Cyclist dead in Antrim County crash
A cyclist died after a vehicle struck him along an Antrim County road.Continued ...
Sidewalk cafes face season-long ban
Downtown restaurant owners will have to closely monitor their sidewalk cafes this summer under a proposed ordinance that could strip violators of their outdoor dining perk for an entire season.Continued ...
E. coli drops to safe level at local beach
Swimmers can once again enter the water at the Sayler Park beach on East Grand Traverse Bay without worry about E. coli bacteria.Continued ...
Mental Wellness: How the world sees you
I recently took an assessment that focuses on how the world sees me. This gave a unique perspective, unlike other assessments that teach us more about how we see the world.Continued ...
Church thrift shop closes doors
Betty Hammond trolled for treasures in First Congregational Church Thrift Shop first as a daughter. She returned as mother to young, fast-growing kids — the thrift store kept clothes on their backs without breaking the bank, Hammond said.Continued ...
It's opening day at Northport Creek Golf Course
Nearly three years in the making, the 9-hole Northport Creek Golf Course opens for play today.Continued ...
- Friday, July 11, 2014
Chelsea Lajko named National Cherry Queen
Chelsea Lajko has been named the 2014-2015 National Cherry Queen.Continued ...
Mixed margins for festival vendors
Stephani Beauchamp is having her slowest year yet selling gluten-free granola and cookies at the National Cherry Festival farm market, but on the other side of her booths Julie Millen’s cherry goods practically leap into customers’ hands.Continued ...
Winners announced from R-E drawings
Petersburg resident Keith Labadie claimed the grand prize in a drawing among visitors to the Record-Eagle's tent at the National Cherry Festival. Labadie won a gift certificate for $100 from Cherry Republic.Continued ...
- Bums fall in extra innings