LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — Lowell established itself as one of the winningest programs in the state for more than two decades.
After three straight mediocre seasons, the Lowell Red Arrows appear to be back to their old ways.
“They have returned to form, for sure,” Byron Center coach Marc Cisco said. “On defense, you see a bunch of kids that just compete like crazy and refuse to be blocked. They make some big plays in the secondary and there’s always kids around the ball.
“That’s what we’re used to seeing from them, and offensively, they are just going to be very simple and do those things really well,” Cisco continued.
Lowell will host Byron Center Friday night in a key O-K White Conference affair between unbeaten teams.
The Red Arrows are ranked No. 4 in Division 2, while the Byron Center Bulldogs are ranked No. 10 in Division 2.
Lowell is two years removed from a 1-8 record. The Red Arrows went 5-5 last year but returned to the playoffs before bowing out in the first round against rival East Grand Rapids.
The Red Arrows exacted revenge in the season opener with a 20-6 win over the EGR Pioneers and then took care of Northview (27-6) and Greenville (56-7).
“It all started in the weight room and then into the offseason,” Lowell coach Jacob Henige said. “Just creating that bond as a team and putting in the work.
“We are preparing like any other week and haven’t changed too much about our preparation. Just making sure we are executing even more. Obviously, Byron center is a great team and it’s a big game for us.”
Byron Center has continued its success from a year ago. The Bulldogs went undefeated in the regular season last year but lost to East Grand Rapids in the district finals.
They opened with a 38-7 win over Forest Hills Northern before posting a pair of impressive wins the last two weeks against Grand Rapids Christian (41-6) and Forest HIlls Central (35-14).
“They play very physical football on both sides of the ball, so we keep telling our kids they better be prepared,” Henige said. “You better bite down on your mouthpiece a little bit more and buckle your chin strap because they are going to hit you.”
The Bulldogs made giant strides last year after back-to-back losing seasons.
“It’s been about continuity,” Cisco said. “We walk into day one now and we can pretty much run our entire offense and a majority of our defense at the freshmen level because of what our middle school coaches have done. And as we move forward, now we’re just polishing things up and having that ability with a short preseason I think has really benefited us.”
HOPKINS AT BELDING; FRIDAY 7 P.M.
A battle of state-ranked and unbeaten teams clash Friday night in an O-K Silver Conference battle.
Both teams are ranked in Division 5.
Hopkins is No. 6, while Belding is ranked No. 7.
Hopkins’ defense has been the story this season as the Vikings have recorded shutouts in two of its first three games.
They blanked Muskegon Orchard View (43-0) and NorthPointe Christian (22-0), while only allowing 10 points in a win over Sparta.
Belding, which missed the playoffs last year with a 4-5 overall record, is 3-0 for the first time since 2013 after wins over Comstock Park, NorthPointe Christian and Godwin Heights.
The two teams have split their last four meetings with Hopkins, coming out on top the past two years.
Hopkins, the two-time defending conference champion, has won 14 straight O-K Silver games and hasn’t lost a conference game since the end of the 2017 season.
Belding can win a share of the conference title with a victory.