It took a late-season rally for the Bedford football team to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth straight season, and the Mules have earned a rematch in the opening round of the Michigan postseason.
After a 14-13 loss Sept. 28 to Ann Arbor Pioneer, Bedford’s record stood at 3-3. The Mules had to string together three straight wins to earn a berth, and they accomplished the feat with wins over Ann Arbor Skyline, Monroe, and Monroe Jefferson. All teams with six wins qualify in Michigan.
The reward is a rematch at Saline (8-1) at 7 p.m. Friday in a Division 1 predistrict game.
“We are excited just to be playing anybody,” Bedford coach Jeff Wood said. “We did a great job getting in. I believe we can compete with anyone.”
Bedford (6-3, 3-2 Southeastern Conference Red Division) has outscored its opponents 320-166 (an average of 35.6 to 18.4 per contest).
Saline, which is led by former Whitmer coach Joe Palka, has outscored its opponents 324-113. Its only loss was 7-6 to Ann Arbor Pioneer.
Saline edged the Mules 28-25 on a rain-soaked and turnover-filled contest Sept. 22. Saline is led by coach Palka’s son, Tyler, at quarterback. The father-son pair led Whitmer to the Division I state semifinals last season.
“We expect a very low scoring, defensive struggle,” Wood said. “We both have a lot of film on each other. Joe and his staff will be very prepared.”
The Mules are led by two backs who have each rushed for more than 800 yards. Junior quarterback Brad Boss has 876 yards on 127 carries (6.9 average) and 13 touchdowns.
Running back Alec Hullibarger has run for 804 yards on 139 carries (5.8 average) and 10 TDs. Senior Jon Shepherd has added 427 yards.
Boss has completed 35 of 72 passes for 678 yards and five touchdowns. His top target has been Collin Carter, who has 17 catches for 374 yards and four scores.
Wood said the key for a Bedford win is to protect the ball and not give up big plays. Receivers Weston Swick and Shepherd have been key on offense.
“Defensively they are good, but we are fortunate to have some good players who carry the mail,” Wood said.
Whiteford moves on
In the Division 7 Michigan playoffs, Whiteford (8-1) takes a five-game winning streak into its first-round matchup with Dansville (7-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Bobcats are outscoring their foes 259-95 and are led by senior quarterback Gabe LaRoy (65 of 112 for 995 yards and seven touchdowns).
Whiteford has rushed for 2,180 yards and 26 touchdowns as a team. Colin Lake (702 yards and six scores), Tyler Lee (602, 13 TDs), and Brian Tabbert (544, five TDs) have led the attack.
Troy Diller has a team-high 487 receiving yards and five TDs, while Lake has 308 receiving yards. Diller also leads the Bobcats with 54 tackles.
Whiteford’s only loss came in week four, a 26-24 setback to Clinton (9-0).
Dansville, which has also won five straight, is outscoring its opponents 234-180.