TRAVERSE CITY — Thirlby Field’s artificial turf receives a workout next weekend.
All three Traverse City football teams will host first-round playoff games.
Traverse City Central (8-1) hosts Midland Dow (6-3) in Division 2 at 7 p.m. Friday, while Hudsonville (6-3) visits Traverse City West (7-2) in Division 1 Saturday at 7 p.m. and Traverse City St. Francis (6-3) brings in Houghton Lake (6-3) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Division 7.
A record 54 teams with five victories made this year’s postseason. Four of those had only four victories.
Gaylord St. Mary was the only squad with a losing record to make the field, getting in at 4-5 after forfeiting four victories because of using academically ineligible players from one of its co-op schools. Three 11-player teams earned spots with 4-4 marks.
The Snowbirds travel to Pellston (8-1) to start off the eight-player playoffs Friday at 7 p.m.
Glen Lake hosts Lake City at 7 p.m. Friday in Division 6, as Lakers offensive coordinator Tim Peterson gets to face the team he coached for 15 seasons.
Cadillac (5-4) qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2016, and gets to travel almost 300 miles to take on 7-2 Escanaba at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Eskymos played Big North Conference members TC Central, Gaylord and Alpena, giving Vikings head coach Cody Mallory plenty of game tape against common opponents to draw from.
Likewise, Mancelona (5-4) has to make a nearly 300-mile trek to Iron Mountain (9-0) Saturday at 1 p.m.
All three area 9-0 teams — Kingsley, Johannesburg-Lewiston and Suttons Bay — get to host throughout districts.
Kingsley brings in Reed City (6-3) in Division 5 play, while Joburg hosts Montabella (5-4) at 7 p.m. Friday, with Brimley (5-4) traveling down from the Upper Peninsula to visit Suttons Bay for a 7 p.m. Friday game.
Charlevoix (6-3), which lost defensive lineman Seth Migda to a broken arm in its Week Nine win over Harbor Springs, gets to host the Rams (6-3) as they meet in consecutive weeks.
Onekama (6-3) hosts Wyoming Tri-unity (5-4) in eight-player Division 2, while Brethren (5-4) heads to Climax-Scotts (7-2) in the same regional. Mesick (7-2) goes on the road to play Kingston (7-2) at 7 p.m. Friday in eight-player Division 1.
The MHSAA used its final playoff tiebreaker for the first time, with a coin flip deciding whether Durand or Imlay City received the final spot for a 5-4 team. Durand won the flip.