1st & Goal: 2021 Playoff Week 1 Review

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

November 2, 2021

The beginning of playoffs in any sport often is looked at as starting over or a second chance – especially by teams that maybe didn’t accomplish everything they’d wanted during the regular season.

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A number of teams took advantage of those opportunities during the first weekend of these 2021 MHSAA Football Playoffs.

Of 144 games total, 38 were rematches from the regular season – and 18 were won by the other team this time, with a number of those highlighted in this week’s “review” below.

(And in case you’re wondering, the upcoming 11-Player District Finals and 8-Player Regional Finals feature 25 more rematches.)

11-Player Division 1

HEADLINER Dearborn Fordson 21, Detroit Cass Tech 14 (OT) Antonio Gates Jr. caught two touchdown passes including the eventual game winner in overtime as Fordson (8-2) moved on against a familiar playoff foe. Fordson had fallen to Cass Tech (6-4) in the playoffs the last two seasons and has faced the Technicians in the postseason eight straight years. Click for more from the Dearborn Press & Guide.

District Digest Howell 35, Hartland 28 (3 OT) The Highlanders (8-2) trailed Hartland 14-0 at halftime before coming back to avenge a Week 6 loss to the Eagles (7-3). Oxford 38, Clarkston 28 After losing to Clarkston 20-17 in Week 5 to cap a 1-4 start, the Wildcats (6-4) haven’t fallen again – with this win breaking a four-game losing streak against the Wolves (8-2). Belleville 14, Ann Arbor Huron 10 The Tigers (9-1) got their biggest scare since late September but held on to end Huron’s most successful season since 2001 at 8-2.

11-Player Division 2

HEADLINER Port Huron Northern 13, Port Huron 0 After falling to Port Huron High 14-7 just three weeks earlier, Northern (8-2) avenged with its third shutout of the season – highlighted by five tackles for loss, four sacks, two fumble recoveries and a blocked punt. The Huskies also broke a three-game losing streak against the Big Reds (6-4). Click for more from the Port Huron Times Herald.

District Digest Bay City Western 25, Midland Dow 23 The Warriors’ best season in a decade added another highlight, as Western (8-2) avenged its one-point Week 5 loss to the Chargers (6-4). Battle Creek Lakeview 49, Dexter 48 (OT) The Spartans (7-3) made it three straight seasons with a playoff win with a rain-soaked overtime extra point against the Dreadnaughts (5-5). Muskegon Mona Shores 31, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 7 The reigning champion’s potential all-road game march back to Ford Field began in a big way as Mona Shores (8-2) handed host Forest Hills Central (8-2) a playoff loss for the third time in four seasons.

Harper Creek/River Rouge football

11-Player Division 3

HEADLINER River Rouge 14, Harper Woods 6 (OT) The reigning Division 3 runners-up rallied after halftime with all of their points and a defensive stand, holding Harper Woods (7-3) to its fewest points this season. River Rouge (7-2) has won a playoff game eight of the last 10 years.

District Digest Allen Park 28, Riverview 20 The Jaguars (8-2) ended Riverview’s season for the third time in four years, this time with the Pirates (9-1) suffering their only defeat in the playoffs for the second straight. St. Joseph 29, Zeeland West 26 The Bears (6-4) bounced back from four straight losses – including three by six points or fewer – to end up on the positive side of a close one against the Dux (6-3). Mount Pleasant 37, Marquette 6 The Oilers (10-0) won this matchup of league champions to reach double-digit wins for the second time in four seasons, ending Marquette’s at 7-3.

Marquette/Mount Pleasant football

11-Player Division 4

HEADLINER Cadillac 42, Fruitport 35 Cadillac’s outstanding defense received one of its toughest challenges as Fruitport rallied late to pull within a score before the reigning Division 4 runner-up held on for the win. Cadillac (8-2) scored its most points in a game this season, but Fruitport (4-6) also scored the most the Vikings have allowed – with both offenses perhaps benefitting from a second look as Cadillac had won their Week 2 meeting 28-12. Click for more from the Cadillac News.

District Digest Three Rivers 9, Vicksburg 7 In avenging a 46-27 Week 6 loss to Vicksburg (8-2), Three Rivers (6-4) also won a playoff game for the first time since 2017. Croswell-Lexington 6, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 0 The Pioneers (9-1) scored the game’s lone points in the first quarter and held on for a second-straight shutout and fourth this season, against a Notre Dame Prep team (7-3) that averaged 37 points per game entering the weekend. Livonia Clarenceville 36, Madison Heights Lamphere 28 The Trojans (9-1), playing as independents this fall, are enjoying their best season since 2013 with just a three-point Week 7 loss to Berkley from being undefeated and Lamphere (7-3) the second league champ they’ve defeated.

Grand Rapids South Christian/Plainwell football

11-Player Division 5

HEADLINER Clare 32, Gladwin 12 It’s a rare season when Clare is left out of the Jack Pine Conference title, but the second-place Pioneers made some major amends by handing the champion Flying G’s (9-1) their lone loss to end their season. Gladwin had won the first meeting 48-42 in Week 7. Al Warner scored all five of Clare’s touchdowns, including with runs of 50 and 79 yards. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.

District Digest Olivet 3, Williamston 0 (OT) Tyler Latunski’s 22-yard field goal was the difference in this matchup of league champions, after Olivet (8-2) had also edged Williamston (6-4) 20-19 in Week 8. Grand Rapids West Catholic 42, Comstock Park 0 The Falcons reached 40 points for the seventh time this season in moving to 9-1 overall, while shutting down a Comstock Park offense that had averaged nearly 51 points per game during that team’s 9-0 regular season. Dundee 6, Macomb Lutheran North 0 The Vikings (6-4) earned their first District Final berth since 2011, against a Mustangs team (6-4) that shared a league title.

11-Player Division 6

HEADLINER Michigan Center 8, Jonesville 6 A scoreless game through three quarters played out dramatically in the fourth as Michigan Center (9-1) put the first points on the board and kept Jonesville from tying after its lone touchdown. The Cardinals then made a near-goal line stand to close out a second playoff win over the Comets (9-1) in as many seasons. Click for more from the Jackson Citizen Patriot.

District Digest Calumet 35, Menominee 20 The Copper Kings (8-2) also won a matchup of league champions, defeating Menominee (5-5) in the playoffs for the third straight season. Boyne City 19, Grayling 18 The Ramblers (9-1) stopped a two-point conversion try late, avenging last season’s District Final loss to the Vikings (7-3). Detroit Southeastern 16, Detroit Pershing 0 The Jungaleers (7-3) have won seven straight, with this shutout of Pershing (5-5) their second on the field this season and part of a defensive effort that’s given up only 9.5 points per game over its last six played (with two wins coming by forfeit).

Negaunee/Gladstone football

11-Player Division 7

HEADLINER New Lothrop 34, Montrose 7 The reigning Division 7 champion Hornets (7-3) opened with a decisive win over one of the other two co-champions in the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference, avenging a 35-14 Week 5 loss to the Rams (7-3). New Lothrop and Montrose also had entered the playoffs tied for the No. 10 spot in Division 7. Click for more from the Owosso Argus-Press.

District Digest Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker 49, Reese 6 After falling to Reese 27-18 in Week 7, Laker (8-2) found what worked in the rematch and remains the only one of three Greater Thumb Conference West co-champions still standing. The Rockets (8-2) had averaged nearly 32 points per game entering the weekend. Ishpeming Westwood 44, East Jordan 6 The Patriots (9-1) held an eighth opponent this season to single digits in winning a matchup of league champions over the Red Devils (6-3). Hemlock 20, Bad Axe 12 The Huskies (6-4) have emerged from a 2-3 start to win three of their last four, including this one over that third GTC West co-champion. Bad Axe still has plenty to celebrate; in addition to the league title, the Hatchets (7-3) posted their highest win total since 2001.

11-Player Division 8

HEADLINER Addison 24, Centreville 16 Given these teams’ defensive prowess, this score makes sense – and this win may soon be recalled among the Panthers’ best at least since the turn of the century. Not only was Centreville the reigning Division 8 champion, but Addison (9-1) reached its highest win total since 2006 in tying the most points the Bulldogs (7-3) had given up over the last three seasons. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.

District Digest Muskegon Heights Academy 66, Holton 42 The Tigers (6-4), who didn’t play last season and won just one game over the previous two, earned their first playoff victory since 2010. Fowler 28, Flint Beecher 0 The Eagles (7-3) went on the road and came back with their third shutout in five games. Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest 13, Marine City Cardinal Mooney 12 The last month has seen an incredible turnaround for Lutheran Northwest, which went 0-7 a year ago and opened this season 1-4 before winning five straight including this one with a touchdown on the last play of the game. Mooney had won their Week 2 matchup 31-7. 

Beal City/Bark River-Harris football

8-Player Division 1

HEADLINER Britton Deerfield 36, Deckerville 14 Despite losing its starting quarterback to injury at the end of the regular season, Deerfield (9-1) rallied for the most impressive win so far of its 8-player debut. A defense that has shined all fall continued to do so as well – Deckerville (8-2) hadn’t been held to 14 or fewer points in a game since 2018. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.

Regional Roundup Rudyard 38, Munising 14 After finishing as one of three runners-up in the Great Lakes Eight Conference East, Rudyard (8-2) topped the champion, avenging a 30-12 Week 4 loss to the Mustangs (7-3). Indian River Inland Lakes 38, Rogers City 24 The Bulldogs (10-0) faced one of their toughest matchups of the season, but emerged to earn a showdown this week with also 10-0 Suttons Bay. Martin 41, Tekonsha 0 This win over another league champion was Martin’s third-straight shutout and pushed the Clippers to 10-0.

8-Player Division 2

HEADLINER Colon 35, Portland St. Patrick 13 The Magi (9-1) will move on this time after falling to Portland St. Patrick in last year’s Regional Final and watching the Shamrocks finish Division 2 runners-up for the second-straight season. Colon held St. Patrick (9-1) to its fewest points in a game since 2018, sticking almost exactly to the 11.2 it’s giving up this fall. Click for more from the Sturgis Journal.

Regional Roundup Crystal Falls Forest Park 8, Lake Linden-Hubbell 0 The Trojans (8-2) won for the first time in three weeks by avenging their first loss of the season, to the Lakes (7-3), and to earn a rematch with the team that dealt Forest Park its other defeat (Powers North Central). Hillman 32, Mio 26 The Tigers’ 1-3 start is becoming a distant memory as they’ve won six straight with this one avenging a Week 2 12-0 defeat to the Thunderbolts (6-4). Kinde North Huron 48, Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 21 Just as we saw a number of teams avenge in rematches over the weekend, North Huron (10-0) instead was able to hold off the Irish for the second time. Sacred Heart (7-3) had finished second to the Warriors in the North Central Thumb League Stars.

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PHOTOS (1) Westwood's Zach Carlson [2] gets around East Jordan's Granger Kitson [25] and down to the 1-yard-line before getting tackled. (2) Harper Woods and River Rouge players prepare for contact Friday. (3) A Mount Pleasant defender attempts to wrap up a Marquette ball carrier. (4) A Grand Rapids South Christian ball carrier eludes a pair of Plainwell defenders. (5) Gladstone quarterback Nate Young [6] holds onto the ball before getting tackled by Negaunee's Eli VanBuren [8], Jed Anderson [35] and another defender. (6) Beal City defenders pull down a Bark River-Harris ball carrier in their Division 8 matchup. (Photos by Cara Kamps (1 and 5), Quintin Love Jr. (2), High School Sports Scene (3 and 6) and Gary Shook (4).

Ubly Offense, Kicker Pile Up Record Book Listings During Championship Run

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

April 12, 2024

Ubly finished a combined 27-1 over the last two seasons, following up a Division 8 runner-up run in 2022 with its first MHSAA Finals championship this past November. And the Bearcats stacked plenty of record book performances along the way.

Individually, senior Brett Mueller made the single-season extra point list again this past season with 76 in 81 tries, and he set the MHSAA career record with 220 extra points over 232 attempts, 40 games and three seasons. He has signed with Saginaw Valley State.

As a team, Ubly was added to the record book 13 times for achievements over the last two years, most notably in the rushing game. The Bearcats topped 5,200 total yards both seasons, and also made the rush yardage list twice including with a sixth-best 5,148 in 2022. Their 90 touchdowns in 2022 rank seventh all-time, and their 85 this past fall tied for 13th, and they tied the record with 10 rushing touchdowns in a 2022 win over Reese and set another record with 84 rushing touchdowns total that season.

See below for more recent record book additions in 11-player football, and click the heading to see the record book in full:

11-Player Football

Dundee’s Ben Miller has a pair of basketball record book entries, and he’s also been added in football for scoring seven touchdowns in his team’s 72-36 win over Erie Mason on Oct. 20, 2017. A senior that season, he ran for five scores and caught two touchdowns passes.

Nearly four decades later, Howard City Tri County’s Mike Wagoner has reached the record book for his work on defense in 1985. A junior that season, Wagoner returned three interceptions for touchdowns – 65, 55 and 35 yards – which would have been second on the list at the time and remains tied for third-most for one season.

Jaxon Lippert tops the list of 21 who have returned kickoffs 99 yards. Lippert, now a senior at Walled Lake Western, joined the list against Davison during his junior season.

A handful of records from Warren De La Salle Collegiate’s recent run of Ford Field teams and also one from decades ago were added. Jake Badalamenti was added three times for kickoff returns between 96-99 yards, one as a junior in 2016 and two as a senior the following fall, and Marty Wyzlic was added for his 95-yarder in 1976. Mason Muragin is the new leader for tackles for loss in a career with 71 over three seasons, and he also was added to the single-season list with 31 as a junior in 2021, as was Will Beasley for 38 as a junior in 2020. Wayne Wright was added for his 16 sacks over nine games as a senior in 1984, and Josh Cox was added for his 100-yard interception return as a senior in 2012. Muragin plays at Illinois, Beesley plays at Princeton, Cox played at Central Michigan, and Badalamenti played baseball at Wayne State.

Pinckney junior Nolan Carruthers caught 16 passes during a 13-7 loss to Jackson on Sept. 15, good to tie for ninth-most in one game and breaking the Livingston County record of 14 by Hartland’s Greg Matthyssen in 2007 – a listing that also was added.

Ethan Wissner did some major lifting, or rather carrying, during Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker’s 28-14 District Final win over Montrose in 2022. The then-senior ran 42 times to make the record book, for 289 yards and three touchdowns. He’s continuing at Siena Heights.

Senior quarterback Andrew Schuster and junior receiver DeShaun Lanier formed a game-changing pass-catch combo this past season for Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, with Schuster finishing his career with nine record book listings and Lanier totaling six with a season to play. Schuster most notably was added for 212 completions on 301 attempts for 2,766 yards and 28 touchdowns this season, and 321 completions and 4,199 career yards over two years and 22 games. Lanier was added in part for 73 receptions for 1,132 yards and 15 TDs this fall. Junior kicker Juliano Haddad also earned impressive mentions with 10 field goals and 50 extra points – and he’ll carry a streak of 35 straight extra points into next fall. Schuster has committed to Grand Valley State.

Fulton’s Evan Barton has been added to the single-game touchdowns list after catching four scoring passes Sept. 8, 2017, against Potterville. He was a senior that season.

Saginaw Heritage’s Braylon Isom completed his career this past fall as arguably the most accomplished receiver in MHSAA history. His name is listed in the record book eight times, with career records of 3,837 receiving yards and 52 touchdowns over 34 games and four seasons, and with a single-season record 26 touchdowns this past fall over 12 games. His 91 career receptions rank fifth, and he’s also listed for 82 catches and 1,617 yards (seventh-most) as a senior and 1,428 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. He will continue at Miami (Ohio).

Evart’s 24-8 run over the last three seasons has been its most successful of the MHSAA playoff era, and senior quarterback Preston Wallace has played an enormous part. He finished his 33-game career in the fall – he came up for one game as a freshman – on record book lists twice for single-season passing yards and touchdowns and on career lists for 662 attempts, 421 completions, 6,955 yards and 88 passing touchdowns over those 32 games and three seasons. The yardage ranks 15th all-time, and the touchdowns are tied for sixth-most for one career.  

The 2005 Midland Bullock Creek team was added for scoring 547 points over 12 games. The Lancers finished 11-1, their only loss in a Division 5 Regional Final.

PHOTO Ubly's Seth Maurer (30) carries the ball during the Division 8 championship win over Ottawa Lake Whiteford in November.