1st & Goal: 2021 Week 2 Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 1, 2021

Last week's return to "normal" football was as good as anticipated, if not better. And the good news is we're just getting started. 

As we cruise into Labor Day weekend, the great majority of Week 2 games will again be played Thursday. Additionally, more than 150 games will be viewable live on MHSAA.tv, with Bally Sports Detroit broadcasting Friday's Detroit Cass Tech at Muskegon game on its PLUS cable channel and State Champs! Sports Network streaming live Saturday's Grand Rapids Catholic Central game against Merrillville (Ind.) Andrean. See the full schedule from the MHSAA Score Center.

In addition to our weekly glance at some of the games to watch in every corner of our state, we're also introducing a new feature for this season -- an "Unforgettable 5ive" of highlights from MHSAA.tv and media partner broadcasts. See below for our Week 1 5ive, which includes the following: 

► Marquette's Jordan Demay with the Pick 6 in Marquette's 49-14 win over Alpena.
► Clinton Township Chippewa Valley's Cephus Harris with the 60-yard TD run in a 45-20 win over Detroit Catholic Central.
► Dearborn Fordson's Alex Osman connecting with Antonio Gates Jr. for a 37-yard TD in Fordson's 38-23 win over Canton.
► DeWitt's Tyler Holtz throwing a 30-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Kurncz in DeWitt's 47-27 win over Traverse City Central.
► Grand Blanc's Elijah Jackson-Anderson sealing a 40-34 win over East Lansing with a 40-yard TD run.

Bay & Thumb

Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (1-0) at Ubly (1-0), Thursday

Both got off to solid starts last week, Laker downing Flint Beecher and Ubly upending Unionville-Sebewaing. By October, both could be contending for league championships as well. Ubly was third in the Greater Thumb Conference East last season, while Laker came in third in the GTC West.

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Saginaw Swan Valley (0-1) at Frankenmuth (1-0), Saginaw Nouvel (1-0) at Millington (1-0). FRIDAY North Branch (1-0) at Croswell-Lexington (0-1), Lapeer (0-1) at Midland (0-1).

Greater Detroit 

Muskegon Mona Shores (1-0) at Detroit Martin Luther King (0-1), Friday

Mona Shores began its drive last week for a third-straight Division 2 championship with a 42-point win over Lowell, and they’ve lined up 2019 Finals foe King for a second-straight regular-season meeting. The Sailors have won both of those last two matchups, and the Crusaders also have plenty driving them from last week’s 42-40 loss to Indiana power Carmel – decided on a 35-yard touchdown catch on the game’s final play.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Davison (0-1) at Detroit Catholic Central (0-1), West Bloomfield (0-1) at Oak Park (0-1), River Rouge (1-0) at Warren De La Salle Collegiate (1-0), Dearborn (1-0) at Belleville (1-0).


Lansing Catholic (1-0) at Williamston (1-0), Thursday

Formerly league rivals until 2018, both again have league title aspirations after the Capital Area Activities Conference didn’t award championships last season due to the shortened schedule. Williamston, from the CAAC Red, set the tone coming off last year’s Division 4 Semifinal trip by doubling up Croswell-Lexington on the road last week. Lansing Catholic, in the CAAC White, made the Division 5 Semifinals last season and doubled up Lansing Waverly in its opener.

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Lansing Everett (1-0) at Lansing Eastern (1-0), DeWitt (1-0) at Portland (1-0), Pewamo-Westphalia (1-0) at Laingsburg (1-0), Jackson (1-0) at Grand Ledge (1-0).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Maple City Glen Lake (1-0) at Kingsley (1-0), Thursday

These are two more who could emerge as league champions over the next eight weeks. Kingsley – from the Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends division – has made the best of last year’s unfortunate circumstance, when the undefeated Stags were unable to take the field for their District Final. Kingsley opened with a 54-8 win over McBain, last season’s Highland Conference champion. Glen Lake was second in the NMFC Leaders last fall, ending a four-year league title streak, but opened last week with a 35-6 win over 2020 Highland co-runner-up Houghton Lake.

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Marquette (1-0) at Traverse City Central (0-1). FRIDAY Grand Haven (1-0) at Traverse City West (1-0), Escanaba (1-0) at Petoskey (1-0), Grayling (1-0) at Traverse City St. Francis (1-0).

Southeast & Border

Erie Mason (1-0) at Hudson (1-0), Thursday

The Eagles were one of the best stories of the 2020 season, breaking a string of 15 straight sub-.500 finishes to win the Tri-County Conference in their first season in the league. If this fall’s Week 1 is an indication, former Lenawee County Athletic Association foe Hudson could be a candidate for a similar 2021. The Tigers earned some statewide attention with a 59-14 opening win over annual power Ithaca.

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Jonesville (1-0) at Homer (0-1), Ida (1-0) at Ottawa Lake Whiteford (1-0), Michigan Center (1-0) at Hanover-Horton (1-0), Harper Woods (1-0) at Pinckney (1-0).

Southwest Corridor

Three Rivers (1-0) at Edwardsburg (1-0), Thursday

Even with reigning Division 6 champion Montague undergoing a bit of a fresh start, few results jumped off the page more last week than the Eddies’ 38-0 win in their opening matchup. A little more undercover but intriguing also was Three Rivers’ 36-34 overtime win over Paw Paw, the most frequent runner-up of late to Edwardsburg’s Wolverine Conference dominance. Three Rivers’ victory also gave it as many wins as it totaled all last season, and this week will be another opportunity to show what’s possible.

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Niles Brandywine (1-0) at Cassopolis (1-0), Schoolcraft (0-1) at Centreville (0-1), Battle Creek Pennfield (1-0) at Marshall (1-0), Kalamazoo Hackett Prep (0-1) at Stevensville Lakeshore (1-0).

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming Westwood (1-0) at Iron Mountain (1-0), Thursday

The Mountaineers have a chance to stake a pretty serious claim as Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper favorites if they can add a win over Westwood to last week’s two-pointer over Negaunee. The Patriots similarly would enjoy a major boost with another Copper contender, Calumet, up next. Iron Mountain and Westwood have split their last four meetings on the field.  

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Calumet (0-1) at Negaunee (1-0), Bark River-Harris (1-0) at West Iron County (0-0). FRIDAY Gladstone (1-0) at Kingsford (1-0), Marinette, Wis. (0-2) at Menominee (1-0).

West Michigan

Detroit Cass Tech at Muskegon, Friday 

This was another anticipated matchup that couldn’t be played last fall because of the late start, but this would be a massive draw any season. Both are coming off big wins, and as in years past both feature plenty of future college players. The Technicians are riding a 10-game regular-season winning streak – but Muskegon has lost only twice at home over the last six seasons.

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Cedar Springs (1-0) at Rockford (1-0), Muskegon Oakridge (1-0) at Whitehall (1-0). FRIDAY Grand Blanc (1-0) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (1-0), East Grand Rapids (0-1) at Grand Rapids South Christian (1-0). 


Hale (1-0) at Pellston (1-0), Friday

Pellston is a combined 15-3 over the last two seasons, and Hale is 12-6 over the same span of time – and Pellston won their league matchups in 2018 and 2019 before both moved into different conferences and didn’t play each other last season. This return of the series could feature strength on strength. Hale hasn’t given up more than 20 points in a game since last season’s opener, while Pellston’s 64 points last week followed the 45+ they scored six times a year ago.

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Marion (1-0) at Brethren (0-1), Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (1-0) at Deckerville (0-0). FRIDAY Rapid River (0-1) at Lake Linden-Hubbell (1-0), Ironwood (1-0) at Ontonagon (1-0).

PHOTO: Capac and New Haven kicked off their season last week. Capac, returning after playing only one game a year ago, won 22-0. (Photo by Robert Batzloff.)

Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

May 26, 2023

Mendon’s run to the Division 2 Final last fall included some of the strongest rushing performances over the history of 8-player football.

The Hornets ran for 4,317 yards, second-most all-time, on the second-most attempts (520) and with a record-setting 682 yards Oct. 14 against Marcellus. Mendon also set the record for total offense with 692 total in that game, and made the single-season touchdowns list with 76 including 66 rushing (also second on that list).

Junior Jack McCaw made the single-season scoring list with 212 points, most coming on 29 touchdowns, and Evan Lukeman made the single-game rushing list with 401 yards against Marcellus. Mendon’s defense also earned praise, twice making the fewest-first-downs-allowed list with a low of three.

See below for more recent additions to the 8-player portion of the football record book:

8-Player Football

Athens’ Landon Bennett earned a pair of record book entries after reaching the end zone seven times during his team’s 72-0 win over Burr Oak on Sept. 8. His seven scores are tied for third-most in 8-player history and included three rushing, three on punt returns and one on an interception return. The three punt return touchdowns are a record. Bennett is a junior.

On the night Powers North Central broke its 8-player record for consecutive wins, claiming its 28th straight, senior Luke Gorzinski tied Jets great Jason Whitens for the record for interception touchdowns in a game with two, scoring on returns during the second and fourth quarters. Gorzinski has signed with Michigan Tech, and North Central’s winning streak is 37 games and counting.

A pair of Atlanta offensive playmakers and a top defensive lineman earned a total of seven entries in the record book for achievements last fall. Senior quarterback Tyler Currie threw for 30 touchdowns over eight games, and also made the records for six touchdowns and 419 passing yards against Whittemore-Prescott on Sept. 23; the passing yards are second-most for one 8-player game. Sophomore Landon Galea was added for 263 yards and five of those touchdowns against the Cardinals, and also for 1,418 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns over nine games. Junior teammate Tucker Kendrick made the tackles for loss list with five against Hillman on Oct. 6.

Adrian Lenawee Christian senior Brady McKelvey became the first to make the career extra points list in 8-player football this past fall. He bettered his previous single-season record making 64 of 66 extra-point attempts over 11 games and finishing his two-year varsity career with 123 extra points in 127 tries.

Sam McKissack reached the record book showcasing multiple skills for Crystal Falls Forest Park during the 2021 season – twice for rushing attempts in a game including with a record 59 against Ontonagon that Sept. 10, and then with a record 70-yard punt Oct. 30, 2021, against Lake Linden-Hubbell. Teammate Devon Basirico also made the record book with six fumble recoveries over 11 games that season. As a team, Forest Park was added twice for single-game rushing attempts – including 73 total in that Ontonagon game – and for 424 rushes over 11 games for the season. McKissack and Basirico are seniors this spring.

Nikolaus Lewis tied for eighth-most rushing touchdowns in an 8-player game when he reached the end zone six times for Carsonville-Port Sanilac in its win over Caseville on Oct. 7. He’s a senior this spring.

Bridgman has won 24 straight games over the last three seasons, and an exceptional offense – and exceptional offensive star – have played major roles. The Bees were added for 658 total yards in a win over Lawrence last season, that total ranking third all-time, and also 613 yards in a win over Eau Claire. Those included totals of 575 and 547 rushing yards, respectively, and Bridgman was added for 3,598 rushing yards (sixth on the list), 59 rushing touchdowns (fourth) and 76 total touchdowns (seventh). Senior Reid Haskins capped his four-year, 32-game varsity career with 13 record book entries, including for 254 points last season over nine games (tied for fifth all-time) and a record 620 career points, 41 touchdowns last season (fifth) and a record 95 for his career, 2,344 rushing yards last season (third) and a record 5,206 for his career, and 41 rushing touchdowns last season (third) and a record 94 for his career. Senior teammate Tanner Peters made the records three times including for 50 extra points last season (fourth) and 99 over 26 games and three seasons (second on the career list).

Mio's Austin Fox rewrote the 8-player passing record book this past fall, with his 621 yards in a game against Whittemore-Prescott setting a single-game record as he totaled four of the five-highest passing yardage totals. He also set a record with 3,516 over nine games for the season, another record with 289 passing attempts over those nine games and a third record for nine touchdown passes in that game against the Cardinals. His 41 touchdown passes total rank fourth. Teammates Gage Long and Nathan Hurst also earned several record book entries on the receiving end of those passes. Long’s 297 receiving yards against Whittemore-Prescott were tied for third most, and Hurst’s 266 against Alcona rank eighth. Long set a single-season record with 1,739 receiving yards, with Hurst sixth all-time at 1,321, and Long’s 14 receptions against the Cardinals and 70 for the season also rank second on those respective lists. Hurst set a record for longest 8-player kickoff return with a 99-yarder against St. Helen Charlton Heston. All three are seniors.

Peck was one of the first MHSAA 8-player champions, claiming the title in 2013, and Cody Abrego one of the state’s first 8-player stars. The Pirates were added to the MHSAA record book 52 times, and Abrego 14 times individually. Among the most notable entries for the 2015 graduate were for 462 points scored over his two-season career (ranking sixth all-time), 74 career touchdowns (sixth), 2,202 rushing yards in 2013 (fifth) and 35 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (sixth). Current senior Caleb Lentner was one of the stars statewide this past season, and he was added eight times including for 50 points scored in a game (ranking second), 272 points for a season last fall (fifth), eight touchdowns in a game (tied for second), 42 touchdowns in a season (fifth), an 8-player record of 2,694 rushing yards from last season, and 38 rushing touchdowns also last fall (fourth). Others to make the individual lists were Nathan Robar, Caleb Dudley, Steven VanConant, Kyle Abrego and Nathan Neihaus, Dudley for a record 20 career interceptions over two seasons and VanConant for a record 12 tackles for loss in a 2022 game and 36 tackles for loss for the season last fall. The Pirates also are all over the 8-player team record book, including for a record 97 touchdowns in 2013, a record 5,895 yards of total offense that season, 528 carries, 4,346 rushing yards and 73 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (all ranking second); and 24 interceptions in 2014, which ranks second on that list.

Senior quarterback JR Hildebrand was one of the most dynamic players in 8-player football in the fall in leading Martin to the Division 1 title. He had one of his most exciting nights in a playoff opener against Tekonsha, making the single-game touchdown pass list with six in a 68-6 victory.

PHOTO Mendon’s Jack McCaw (21) eludes a tackle during the 8-Player Division 2 Final in November at Northern Michigan University. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)