1st & Goal: 2021 Week 3 in Review

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 13, 2021

The anticipated came through during Week 3 of this football regular season, and the unpredicted provided an entertaining mix of storylines too.

As expected, the statewide headliners came from Detroit with Martin Luther King winning a much-heralded rivalry matchup – but also Livonia Churchill claiming the upset of this young season.

Elsewhere, Grand Blanc won close again over another highly-regarded opponent. Hudson continued to build on arguably the best small-school start in the state. A number of 8-player teams tried to wear out scoreboards – the 8-player schedule alone saw four games break 100 combined points and a fifth end up at 98, with Indian River Inland Lakes and Central Lake tying the 8-player scoring record by combining to put up 152.

Here’s a glance at those and other results that especially caught our attention.

Bay & Thumb

HEADLINER Grand Blanc 27, Midland Dow 23 Another week, another noteworthy win for the Bobcats (3-0), who have now handed first losses of this season to all three of their opponents. Hunter Ames connected twice with Tae Boyd on scores, the second during the third quarter ending up the game-winner, and the defense stopped Dow’s final rally on the Grand Blanc 15-yard line. Click for more from WJRT.

Watch list Port Huron Northern 22, Fraser 15 The Huskies quickly are the only undefeated team left in the Macomb Area Conference Blue after handing Fraser (2-1) its first defeat, and Northern also is 3-0 for the first time since 1995.

Remember this one Fenton 39, Flushing 20 The win was only the first for Fenton (1-2) after opening with tough nonleague opponents Dow and East Lansing, and it also put the Tigers 1-0 in the Flint Metro League Stripes as those first two losses have nothing to do with Fenton’s opportunity to three-peat as league champion.

More shoutouts Millington 38, Hemlock 7 The Cardinals (3-0) have won by an average of just about 31 points per game, this one avenging last year’s 12-6 loss to the Huskies that decided the Tri-Valley Conference 10-1 title. Bad Axe 26, Unionville-Sebewaing 8 The Hatchets are 3-0 for the first time since 2001 and already halfway to posting their best record since that season.

Greater Detroit

HEADLINER Detroit Martin Luther King 41, Detroit Cass Tech 34 As anticipated, this one absolutely was worth watching. (Watch the replay here.) Crusaders quarterback Dante Moore threw for 365 yards and five touchdowns including go-ahead scores with 33 seconds to play in the first half and 29 seconds into the fourth quarter as King (2-1) went on to avenge last season’s pair of losses to the Technicians (1-2). Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.

Watch list Livonia Churchill 28, Belleville 21 If not for King/Cass Tech, this would’ve been the headliner not only from the Detroit area but statewide. Belleville (2-1) hadn’t lost a regular-season game since Week 3 of 2016, and Churchill (3-0) had lost all three recent meetings by at least three touchdowns.  

Remember this one Orchard Lake St. Mary's 28, Harper Woods 14 The four teams in the Detroit Catholic League Central are a combined 10-1 with league play set to begin, and handing Harper Woods (2-1) its first defeat ranks right up there with the most impressive of those 10 wins so far.

More shoutouts Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 23, Detroit Loyola 8 The Fighting Irish (3-0) are quietly 19-4 over the last three seasons and made statements on both sides of the ball scoring the first points Loyola (2-1) had given up and holding the Bull Dogs to only eight after they’d scored a combined 119 over their first two games. Armada 34, North Branch 28 The Tigers are 3-0 for the first time since 2011, after winning three games total last season and no more than four since 2012. They also sent reigning champ North Branch (1-2) to 0-2 in Blue Water Area Conference play.


HEADLINER DeWitt 49, East Lansing 14 As expected, DeWitt’s offense keyed by quarterback Ty Holtz and receivers Tommy McIntosh and Nick Flegler immediately bounced back from scoring 17 points in a Week 2 loss to Portland. The Capital Area Activities Conference Blue looks a lot stronger top to bottom this season than the past few, but the Panthers have some history on their side going forward as East Lansing is the only league team to defeat DeWitt since it joined the Blue in 2018. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Watch list Ovid-Elsie 23, Montrose 22 The Marauders’ seven-point opening loss to still-undefeated Portland looks better by the week, and add to that a win over the Rams (2-1) after losing to them by 42 and 22 points the last two seasons.

Remember this one Mason 34, Williamston 27 The CAAC Red race started off with a massive comeback as the Bulldogs trailed 27-13 at halftime but then held the Hornets scoreless over the final two quarters.

More shoutouts Brighton 7, Hartland 6 The Bulldogs (2-1) earned the slim advantage with a 75-yard pass off a fake punt and their second straight week giving up just one score. St. Louis 35, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 32 The Sharks (3-0) hadn’t won three games in a season since 2018 and at 41 points per game are on pace for their most productive offense since the 1960s.

Northern Lower Peninsula

HEADLINER Traverse City West 21, Cadillac 7 The Titans (3-0) guaranteed they will again have a loud say in who wins the Big North Conference holding off the Vikings (2-1) to set up this week’s possible league-title decider with reigning champ Traverse City Central. West ran its winning streak against 2020 Division 4 runner-up Cadillac to seven, led by a defense that has given up only one score each of the last two weeks. Click for more from MI Sports Now.

Watch list Mancelona 44, Elk Rapids 15 The Ironmen won three games total last season but are 3-0 for the first time since 2012 with a defense giving up just under 12 points per a game.

Remember this one Frankfort 32, Oscoda 16 The Panthers (2-1) handed Oscoda (2-1) its first regular-season defeat since Week 8 of 2019 – and they play each other again this week in a nonconference rematch.

More shoutouts Lake City 24, Manton 0 The Trojans (3-0) are quickly making their way back after finishing 2-4 a year ago, with this week’s Beal City matchup possibly the most telling so far this fall. Boyne City 44, Maple City Glen Lake 10 The Ramblers (3-0) have avenged their two 2020 regular-season losses in back-to-back weeks and have given up only 25 points total over their three wins this fall.

Southeast & Border 

HEADLINER Hudson 36, Clinton 28 A great start just keeps getting greater for the Tigers, who added a league-opening win over the reigning Division 6 runner-up to their first 3-0 start since 2017. Hudson took a 28-14 lead into halftime and held off the Redwolves’ second-half rally. Nick Kopin tore through four touchdown runs including a 91-yarder. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.

Watch list Napoleon 20, Manchester 18 The Pirates (3-0) are off to their best start since 2002 with now as many wins this fall as they earned the last two seasons combined.

Remember this one Temperance Bedford 37, Dexter 36 (OT) With these two back in the same league for the first time in more than a decade, this could end up deciding the Southeastern Conference Red championship or at the very least keep Bedford (3-0) in contention to win it.

More shoutouts Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 33, Carleton Airport 26 The Falcons are 3-0 for the first time since 2015 with Huron League powers Milan and Riverview up over the next two weeks, respectively. Saline 34, Ypsilanti Lincoln 14 Seven-time reigning SEC Red champ Saline (3-0) won its 40th-straight league game.

Southwest Corridor

HEADLINER Battle Creek Harper Creek 50, Parma Western 22 The Beavers might be one of the best 1-2 teams out there and got into the win column after an opening loss to Battle Creek Lakeview and then a three-point defeat to Hastings. Those two and Parma Western remain a combined 7-2 so far. Harper Creek also had defeated Parma Western in a playoff opener last season. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Watch list Watervliet 19, Buchanan 13 After winning two games each of the last three seasons, Watervliet (3-0) has put together an attention-grabbing start with two of those victories over teams that finished last season with winning records.

Remember this one Kalamazoo United 48, Schoolcraft 22 The Hackett/Kalamazoo Christian co-op opened with a difficult slate of Whitehall, Stevensville Lakeshore and now Schoolcraft, and this first win might get the ball rolling with league play coming up.

More shoutouts Cassopolis 28, Comstock 0 The Rangers (2-1) bounced back from a Week 2 loss by shutting out a Comstock team that had scored a combined 82 points during a 2-0 start. Battle Creek Central 34, Lansing Everett 12 The Bearcats (2-1) also showed the ability to rebound nicely, following up a Week 2 defeat by dealing the Vikings (2-1) their first.

Upper Peninsula

HEADLINER Calumet 28, Ishpeming Westwood 14 The Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper race just opened back up with previously-winless Calumet handing Westwood its first defeat. The Copper Kings (1-2) slowed a Patriots offense that had totaled 80 points over the 2-0 start. Click for more from ABC 10

Watch list  Bark River-Harris 40, Kalkaska 20 The Broncos have piled up three double-digit wins for their first 3-0 start since 2015.

Remember this one Houghton 21, Iron Mountain 14 These two have been facing each other as members of the West-PAC Copper together since 2018 – and Iron Mountain (1-2) had won the previous two games of the recent series with Houghton (2-1) by a combined 81-0.

More shoutouts Menominee 35, Gladstone 34 The Maroons (3-0) held off a late scare from Gladstone (1-2) to open Great Northern Conference play. Marquette 50, Escanaba 21 The reigning GNC champ improved to 2-1 and ran its winning streak over rival Escanaba (1-2) to four with its highest-scoring game since 2017.

West Michigan

HEADLINER Muskegon 28, Zeeland West 20  The Big Reds (2-1) bounced right back from a Week 2 loss to Cass Tech with an impressive opening win in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green. The teams were tied midway through the fourth quarter before Muskegon pulled away from the Dux (1-1). Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Watch list  Caledonia 24, Grandville 14 The Fighting Scots (3-0) joined the O-K Red in 2016 and have yet to make their mark in that league – but it could be on the way with this win avenging last year’s 42-7 loss to the Bulldogs (1-2).

Remember this one Grand Rapids Christian 13, East Grand Rapids 11 The Eagles (1-2) ran their winning streak over EGR (1-2) to four, and this O-K White opener could become much more important when the league schedule wraps up in six weeks.

More shoutouts Grand Rapids West Catholic 51, Allendale 14 The Falcons (3-0) have picked right back up from last October’s scoring surge averaging nearly 41 points per game over this start. Allendale (2-1) had given up a total of seven over its first two games. Comstock Park 34, Sparta 27 The Panthers (3-0) had won a combined four games over the last three seasons, but a late score helped pull them within a win of equaling that this week.


HEADLINER Deckerville 82, Genesee 48 Scoring a combined 130 points, this matchup exceeded expectations for high-powered offense. Ethan Bowerman set the MHSAA 8-player record with six touchdowns in a quarter and finished with seven total for the Eagles (2-0). Genesee (2-1) saw its scoring average fall to just 50 points per game in defeat. Click for more from the Sanilac County News.

Watch list Waldron 34, Camden-Frontier 22 The Spartans (2-1) had given up at least 44 points every time in losing their first four meetings with C-F (2-1) after the latter moved to 8-player in 2016.

Remember this one Indian River Inland Lakes 86, Central Lake 66 While it’s unfortunate either team lost a game like this, it will live on as it tied the 8-player record for most points in a game where both teams scored at least 40. Inland Lakes remained undefeated at 3-0 while Central Lake fell to 1-2.

More shoutouts Crystal Falls Forest Park 62, Ontonagon 60 (2OT) Hardly a consolation prize on a night of historic 8-player scoring, this game now ranks third all-time among highest-scoring 8-player overtime games. The Trojans improved to 3-0 while Ontonagon (2-1) suffered its first loss. Au Gres-Sims 62, Mio 54 These two combined for only 116 points as the Wolverines (3-0) stayed at the top of the North Star League and handed Mio (2-1) its first defeat.

PHOTO: Detroit King’s Rashawn Mersier (18) is taken to the ground after a gain during Friday’s win over Detroit Cass Tech. (Photo by Quintin Love Jr.)

Nightingale Embarking on 1st Season as College Football Head Coach

By Scott Hassinger
Special for MHSAA.com

July 10, 2024

CJ Nightingale's family values, small-town upbringing and Christian faith steered the Mendon native into a career coaching college football.

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosNightingale, a 2010 Mendon High School graduate, is busily preparing for his first season as Belhaven University's eighth football coach. He was officially named the Blazers' head coach seven months ago, on Jan. 1.

Belhaven, a Division III school located in Jackson, Mississippi, competes in the USA South Athletic Conference.

Nightingale credits his love of coaching to his father Chris Nightingale and grandfather Charles Nightingale.

"It all started with my dad and grandfather. At one time they were both involved in coaching, and their general love for sports wore off on me," CJ Nightingale said.

Once CJ reached high school, his interest in athletics only intensified thanks to several people who made a big impact on him.

"I had the most wonderful experience attending school and participating in Mendon athletics,” Nightingale said. “We didn't always have the better athletes, but we were successful because of all the time and commitment put in by our coaches, teachers, administration along with parental and community support. Success is the result of many people who focus on the same cause."

Nightingale lettered in football, basketball and baseball at Mendon, earning four varsity letters in all three sports. He was named the St. Joseph Valley League's MVP in all three sports his senior year, and Mendon earned league titles in all three during Nightingale's senior year as well.

As a starting quarterback and defensive back his sophomore year, Nightingale led Mendon to the 2007 Division 7 football championship with the Hornets' 20-0 win over Traverse City St. Francis. Nightingale still holds the state record for career interceptions with 27.

Mendon had finished the 2006 season 3-6. A losing season remains rare in Mendon, and Nightingale stated it fueled the Hornets' title run the following season.

"I think losing is more difficult in football than in any other sport because of how much work goes into preparing for a season,” Nightingale recalled. “We were a very young team in 2006 and got punched in the mouth. It wasn't the best feeling, but it was a real learning experience and served as a big driving force that next season.

"All the hard times we endured the previous year served as a byproduct for our success in 2007. That team was unselfish, and not one player on the team cared who got the stats or accolades."

At Mendon, Nightingale played for legendary coach John Schwartz in football, David Swanwick in basketball and Glen Samson in baseball.

Lessons from Schwartz – a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association's Hall of Fame – and Samson have especially stuck with Nightingale into adult life and his own coaching career.

"Coach Schwartz had a way of getting everyone on the same page not just on the field, but he taught you how to be the best version of yourself off the field in every-day life. Coach Samson knew how to get his players in the right positions on the diamond to make us successful," Nightingale said.

"The environment at Mendon solidified my desire to become a coach and teacher. The best leaders are also the best teachers, and when you are surrounded by people like that it makes a big difference."

Nightingale attended Wheaton College in Illinois, where he lettered in football four years as a defensive back and return specialist. During Nightingale's career, the Thunder posted a combined record of 34-8 and qualified for the NCAA Division III playoffs when he was a freshman.

After graduating college, Nightingale taught history and spent two years as the varsity football coach at Richmond High School in Indiana. In 2016 he secured his first collegiate coaching job at Greenville University (Ill.) as a defensive backs coach, where he spent one season. He then served as special teams coordinator and linebackers coach at Indiana Wesleyan University beginning in 2017 before returning to his alma mater Wheaton in 2019 as the Thunder's defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach.

Nightingale makes an open-field tackle against the Gladiators in the 2007 Division 7 Final. Nightingale coached 24 all-conference players, 10 all-region performers and seven All-Americans over his four seasons at Wheaton, and the Thunder made the Division III playoffs all four years.

The head football coaching position at Belhaven became available in December 2023 when previous coach Blaine McCorkle moved on to Division 1 Northwestern State (La.). Nightingale applied and went through a three-week interview process before being selected as the program’s next head coach.

"I truly feel like God has called my wife Shanel and I and our family here for a reason. We are going to pour into Belhaven as deeply as we can and see what life brings us,” CJ Nightingale said. “As a college football coach, you have the unique chance to pour into your players spiritually, academically, athletically and socially. That's what is really special about this profession."

Belhaven's program has enjoyed a lot of success, especially the past three seasons with a combined 24-7 record, including a 9-2 finish last fall.

"I am very fortunate to be taking over a strong program here at Belhaven. You don't sustain success, but rather you must be able to build on it," Nightingale said. "We are excited about this season after a great spring. This group of coaches and players got a lot done these past six months. We have had a lot of guys here on campus all summer working to get better. There are lot of goals in front of us that haven't been achieved yet. Two of those goals are to go undefeated in conference play and host a playoff game.”

CJ and Shanel have three children, including 5-year old daughter Charlotte, 3-year old son Trey and 14-month old daughter Coco. They are expecting a fourth child in mid-September.

2024 Made In Michigan

June 28: E-TC's Witt Bulldozing Path from Small Town to Football's Biggest Stage - Read

PHOTOS (Top) At left, Mendon’s CJ Nightingale (2) celebrates during his team’s 2007 championship win over Traverse City St. Francis at Ford Field; at right Nightingale is pictured with his wife Shanel and children Charlotte, Trey and Coco. (Middle) Nightingale makes an open-field tackle against the Gladiators in the 2007 Division 7 Final. (Family photo courtesy of CJ Nightingale.)