It really is no surprise that the final game of the regular season has come down to a championship showdown between the two old football rivals.
The Flying Dutchmen of Hope (7-1) and the Britons of Albion (7-2) will meet Saturday (Nov. 11) at Holland Municipal Stadium. Kickoff will be 1 p.m.
The game will be broadcast by WHTC-AM (1450) and WFUR-FM (102.9). It will also be available on the internet (www.hope.edu).
Once again at stake is conference glory. In the previous 25 years, the MIAA football championship trophy has been displayed at either Hope or Albion 22 times. And this year it will be no different.
The Flying Dutchmen are seeking their first outright MIAA football crown since 1987. Albion has been either the outright or co-champion 10 of the last 11 years.
These are schools with solid traditions. Albion has won the MIAA championship 31 times (since 1894) while Hope has been the champion 17 times (since 1926). Except for last year's three-way co-championship with Alma, the teams have never been co-champions by themselves.
This Hope/Albion series started in 1926. Albion holds a 35- 29-7 advantage in the rivalry, including a 20-14 victory in 1999.
The game will match the MIAA's leading offense -- Albion at 368.6 yards per game -- against the MIAA's leading defense -- Hope at 289.3 ypg. Each team features a balanced offensive attack. In fact, the difference between Hope's rushing and passing average per game is 16.9 yards while the difference between rushing and passing for Albion is 16.0.
Entering Saturday's game, the Flying Dutchmen are still under consideration for a spot in the NCAA Division III championships. Hope has not been in the playoffs since 1986.
The Flying Dutchmen are ranked 26th this week among NCAA Division III teams by the American Football Coaches Association.
The game will mark the final regular season game for 15 senior players -- Brian Adloff of East Grand Rapids (East Grand Rapids HS), Matt Bride of Petoskey (Petoskey HS), Chase Carpenter of Lake Ann (Benzonia Central HS), Todd Corstange of Portage (Portage Central HS), John Dobbins of Marshall (Marshall HS), J.D. Graves of Troy (Troy Athens HS), Craig Gruner of Chesaning (Chesaning HS), Kevin Kudej of Mount Morris (Flint Powers HS), Jim Lamb of Mattawan (Mattawan HS), Scott Langlois of Hopkins (Hopkins HS), Adam Magers of Battle Creek (St. Phillip HS), Landon Matthews of Battle Creek (Pennfield HS), Duane McCollum of North Muskegon (Fremont HS), Steve Molesa of Troy (Troy Athens HS), and Ryan Overmyer of Caledonia (Caledonia HS).
The senior players have the distinction of having played on three MIAA championship teams. In the 91 years of Hope football, that's an accomplishment that be counted by only five senior classes.