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.)

Southfield A&T, Marshall End Belleville's 2-Year Reign with 1st Finals Championship

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

November 27, 2023

DETROIT – Isaiah Marshall took a second Sunday night to think about the interception he’d just thrown that led to Belleville taking a late lead in the Division 1 Football Final.

But just a second.

When Marshall and his Southfield Arts & Technology teammates took the field down four points with 4 minutes, 47 seconds remaining at Ford Field, the interception wasn’t on his mind. Neither was the raucous Belleville crowd that had awoken on the home side of the stadium. 

He wasn’t thinking about stopping a three-peat or snapping a 38-game Belleville win streak. He wasn’t thinking about the talk he’d heard during the week leading up to the game, that his team was on its way to getting blown out like so many of those previous 38 opponents. 

All Marshall was focused on was doing his job.

“As soon as I threw the pick, I knew what I had to do differently,” Marshall said. “I just wasn’t thinking about that last play. As soon as I threw the pick, I just thought about it on the bench, then as soon as I came out, it wasn’t on my mind at all. I just knew I had to go down the field and score.”

Like he had all night, Marshall came through when the Warriors needed him most, leading his team on a 69-yard scoring drive, finishing the final 11 with his legs for the go-ahead score in Southfield A&T’s 36-32 victory against Belleville. 

The Warriors ended the night by raising their first championship trophy. His defense finished the rest, as Dorian Freeman intercepted a pass during the final seconds, sealing the first Finals title for Southfield. 

“It’s special,” A&T coach Aaron Marshall said. “It’s special for the community. It’s a long time coming. All week I’ve been getting calls from guys I’ve never met just congratulating the boys on making it. We had never even made it to the championship game, let alone won one. It’s real big for the community. I’m really proud.”

To do it, the Warriors needed to overcome the team that has dominated Division 1 for the past three seasons in Belleville (13-1). The Tigers had won the past two Division 1 Finals, and hadn’t dropped a game since Sept. 10, 2021.

They entered Sunday having outscored opponents this fall by an average of 49-7. They also featured the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2025 in quarterback Bryce Underwood.

But Sunday, none of that mattered to Marshall and the Warriors (13-1). Well, except maybe the last part.

“Just a little bit,” Marshall said when asked if he was out to prove he was the state’s top quarterback. “I do think I’m the best player in the state. Me proving that tonight, and showing what I can do on the big stage shows that, I think.”

He finished the night completing 20 of 31 passes for 281 yards with two touchdowns, as well as two interceptions. He also rushed for 134 yards and the go-ahead score, as well as the two-point conversion that put his team up four.

“He came out there and played like I thought he was going to play,” said Belleville star linebacker and running back Jeremiah Beasley, who has committed to Michigan. “He’s a real tough player. Since we were little, he’s always been tough. He came out there and played with all his heart, and they came out on top.”

Underwood certainly had his moments, finishing 11 for 24 for 164 yards and a touchdown to go along with one interception. He also had five rushes for 39 yards. 

And A&T was certainly cognizant of what Underwood could do, especially when he got the ball back with 47 seconds to play and a chance to take the lead. But by playing coverage, they didn’t allow the Tigers to push the ball down the field, and eventually pressure from senior defensive tackle Reggie Gardner forced the throw that Freeman intercepted to clinch the game.

Belleville’s Adrian Walker (2) makes a stunning behind-the-back interception.“My coaches just told me to spy the quarterback, and whatever he did, I would go,” Freeman said. “Then it was just right in my zone.”

A&T led for most of the game, getting a pair of rushing touchdowns from Mathias Davis during the first half, the second score giving them a 12-7 lead. 

After a 31-yard field goal from Belleville’s Brayden Lane made the score 12-10, Marshall engineered an 80-yard drive over the final three minutes of the second quarter to give his team a 10-point lead at the half. He accounted for 79 of the 80 yards with either his legs or his arm, finishing it off with a 13-yard TD pass to Tashi Braceful with 13 seconds remaining in the half. Braceful finished the night with 10 catches for 152 yards.

The Warriors nearly added to that halftime lead, as well, recovering a squib kick at the Belleville 43. Marshall hit Tyjuan Esper for a 38-yard gain on the next play, but he was tackled as the first-half clock expired.

Early in the third quarter, Marshall and the Warriors did stretch their lead when he threw a 19-yard TD pass to Xavi Bowman on a 4th-and-14. DaMario Quarles’ conversion run put them up 28-10 with 3:39 to play in the third quarter.

Of course, Belleville didn’t go away.

The Tigers responded immediately with a 45-yard TD pass from Underwood to Jalen Johnson. And after stopping Marshall on a 4th-and-2 run near midfield, they needed just three plays and 30 seconds to pull within three points of the lead as Beasley scored on a 15-yard run.

On the next A&T possession, Marquis Peoples put Belleville right back in business with an interception that he returned to the 35-yard line. Beasley again cashed in three plays later, with a 22-yard TD run that gave Belleville a 33-27 lead with 4:47 remaining.

Beasley finished the night with 106 yards and the two touchdowns on the ground.

“He’s a senior ball player; he did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Belleville coach Calvin Norman said of Beasley. “He came through in the clutch. When he ran the ball, he did his thing. I have nothing but love for the young man.”

Belleville cornerback Adrian Walker made one of the more remarkable plays of the weekend late in the first quarter, intercepting a Marshall pass deep in A&T territory. 

Walker got both hands on the pass, deflecting it up and toward himself as he was spinning up the field. The ball went over his head and Walker reached behind his back to make the catch at the A&T 26.

Four plays later, Belleville was on the board with a 16-yard Colbey Reed touchdown run, and the Tigers led 7-6.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Southfield A&T quarterback Isaiah Marshall stretches for the game-winning touchdown during Sunday’s Division 1 Final. (Middle) The Warriors ended the night by raising their first championship trophy. (Below) Belleville’s Adrian Walker (2) makes a stunning behind-the-back interception. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)