ALMONT — When the 2019 state gridiron playoffs begin this Friday there will be one Tri-City Area team active. That is because Almont has qualified for the postseason again.
This time around Almont will start what they hope is a lengthy playoff run when they travel to Richmond for a Division 5, Region 3, District 1 opening round assignment. The matchup lists a 7 p.m. starting time.
It will mark the 10th straight year Almont has reached the playoffs.
Richmond, the Blue Water Area Conference second place team, heads in to the contest coming off a 30-20 road win at Ortonville-Brandon’s expense.
Before that, Richmond prevailed in seven out of eight games. That run featured 34-23 victory over Marysville at home; a 26-7 triumph against Algonac at home; a 47-33 win at Armada; a 35-18 victory at Cros-Lex; a 47-7 triumph over Yale at home; a 14-7 win over North Branch at home; a 38-10 loss to Almont at home; and a 35-20 road victory over Imlay City in Dryden.
Almont, the Blue Water Area Conference champion, enters the clash fresh off a 50-12 victory over Clio at home.
Prior to that, Almont went unbeaten in eight contests. That stretch included a 54-6 win against New Haven at home; a 56-7 victory over Imlay City at home; a 35-0 triumph at Algonac; a 61-20 win at North Branch; a 42-0 victory over Cros-Lex at home; a 48-14 triumph against Armada at home; and a 49-0 road win over Yale.
Leusby said he doesn’t think his team will take a win against Richmond for granted.
“It was a good game the first time we met,” Leusby said. “We expect another good game this time around,” he noted.
Leusby lists Josh Hellebuyck (quarterback), Jack Paupert (running back), Colby Schapman (split end), Jacob Hausmann (guard), Nathan Kerby (tackle), Derek Johnston (lineman), Mason Smith (running back), Michael Lulgjuraj (running back), Jacob Castillo (running back), Jackson Malcolm (tight end), and Meric Okoniewski (tight end) as possible offensive starters.
He projects Paupert (secondary), Hausmann (linebacker), Johnston (lineman), Okoniewski (lineman), Nolan Panduren lineman), Michael Rinke (lineman), Blake Kapron (linebacker), Landon Kruse (linebacker), Schapman (defensive back), Caleb Weigand (secondary) and Gavin Dempz (secondary) as his team’s potential defensive starters.
The survivor of this Friday’s battle will face the winner of a clash between Mount Morris (5-4) and Marine City (9-0) the following Friday or Saturday for the district title.

Kevin Kissane has been covering high school sports for the Tri-City Times since 1985. When not standing on a field or court with his camera and notepad, he enjoys golf, travel and family. Kevin is a 1980 graduate of Capac High School, and is also a grad of St. Clair Community College and earned a degree in journalism from Central Michigan University.