By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Sites and game times have been announced for the MHSAA Football 11-player Semifinals.
Friday's 8-player Final will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday at Greenville High School, with Cedarville and Lawrence both making their first 8-player championship game appearances.
Below are sites for the 11-player games; all are 1 p.m. Saturday unless noted, with Wednesday updates in bold (click for all previous results, team records and playoff points from this fall):
East Kentwood vs. Clarkston at Brighton High School
Saline vs. Detroit Cass Tech at Troy Athens High School
Muskegon Mona Shores vs. Farmington Hills Harrison at Howell High School
Southfield vs. Warren DeLaSalle at Novi High School
Muskegon vs. Zeeland West at Greenville High School
Orchard Lake St. Mary's vs. New Boston Huron at Dearborn High School
Grand Rapids South Christian vs. Edwardsburg at Jackson High School, 3 p.m.
Lansing Sexton vs. Detroit Country Day at Fenton High School
Menominee vs. Grand Rapids West Catholic at Northern Michigan University Superior Dome, 11 a.m.
Lansing Catholic vs. Almont at Ortonville-Brandon
Boyne City vs. Ithaca at Midland Community Stadium, 2 p.m.
Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian vs. Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central at Battle Creek Harper Creek High School
Ishpeming vs. Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary at the Superior Dome, 2 p.m.
Pewamo-Westphalia vs. Detroit Loyola at Jackson High School, 11 a.m.
Munising vs. Beal City at the Superior Dome, 7 p.m. Friday
Muskegon Catholic Central vs. Harbor Beach at Alma College
PHOTO: Detroit Cass Tech defeated Clinton Township Chippewa Valley on Saturday to return to the Semifinals. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit Public School League.)
Separated by 527 travel miles – whether over Mackinac Bridge or around Lake Michigan, the Novara family celebrated nearly parallel football successes this fall.
At Portland, John Novara completed his 25th season as head coach leading the Raiders to a 12-1 record – their best since finishing Division 5 runner-up in 2018, and a second-straight Capital Area Activities Conference White championship on the way to reaching the Division 4 Semifinals.
At Kingsford, fifth-year coach Mark Novara led the Flivvers to a 10-2 record – their best since posting the same in 2004. Kingsford shared the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper title and won a Division 5 District title, its first District championship since 2009.
John Novara graduated from Iron Mountain in 1989, and younger brother Mark graduated from Kingsford in 1993.
Similarly parallel, both teams were quarterbacked by Novaras. Dominic Novara directed the Raiders’ attack, and cousin Nic Novara led the Flivvers. Both are juniors. (Mark Novara was a Division III All-American at quarterback at Lakeland College in Wisconsin.)
One more connection: Portland athletic director Kevin Veale quarterbacked the Iron Mountain teams with John Novara as tight end long before they worked together downstate. Veale’s nephew Garrett Veale was a standout two-way lineman for Mark Novara and Kingsford this fall.
Small gesture, memorable connection
Dante DeGrazia’s senior season was sadly short-lived this fall, as he suffered a season-ending injury during the first half of South Lyon East’s opening game against White Lake Lakeland at Michigan Stadium.
But an official provided a memory the DeGrazias will not forget.
Chris Curtis had begun his 16th season as an official earlier that day at U-M, and stuck around to watch the Lakes Valley Conference matchup. A month later, he was officiating the East/Warren Mott game, and made sure to check in with DeGrazia – a small gesture, but a meaningful one as well and another reminder of the interconnectedness of communities within educational athletics.
“When he heard my son wasn't able to play anymore, needed surgery and that he was a senior, he offered him kindness and a hug on the field,” Dante’s mother Dana DeGrazia wrote to East athletic director Greg Michaels. “As a parent whose son is going through a rough time dealing with losing his senior season, hearing this story from Dante means a lot to me and the support that was given to him and I wanted to reach out and tell him thank you.”
PHOTOS (Top) Kingsford football coach Mark Novara, far left, quarterback Nic Novara and Portland coach (and uncle) John Novara celebrate the Flivvers' District title. (Middle) South Lyon East's Dante DeGrazia (33) and official Chris Curtis meet for a quick hug during East's Week 5 game. (Photos courtesy of the Portland football program and DeGrazia family, respectively.)