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.)

Inspired by Dad's Memory, Lawrence's Vasquez Emerges After Family Losses

By Pam Shebest
Special for MHSAA.com

January 16, 2024

LAWRENCE — While COVID-19 affected many students in different ways, it definitely made an impact on Austin Vasquez.

Southwest CorridorAs a freshman at Lawrence High School during the pandemic, Vasquez lost his grandmother Theresa Phillips to cancer on March 25, 2021.

Two days later, on March 27, his father Tom Vasquez, died of complications from COVID. And on April 19 that spring, his grandfather Darrell “Gene” Phillips also lost his fight against the coronavirus.

“There is no way (to cope). You just have to keep on moving,” Austin said. “It’s what (my dad) would want me to do.

“He was my biggest (influence) in sports. He talked to me about never giving up – leave everything you’ve got.”

That is just what Vasquez is doing in the midst of his three-sport senior year.

He is the top wrestler at the school, competing at 175 pounds with a goal of making the MHSAA Tournament. He was a versatile contributor on the football field this past fall, and he’s planning to join the baseball team this spring.

Vasquez works on gaining the advantage in a match against Mendon. He’s 8-3 with six pins on the mat this winter after a busy summer of camps and tournaments. Those experiences helped lessen the nerves he’d felt during matches previously, and now he’s wrestling with an outlook of “everything to gain and nothing to lose.”

And Vasquez said he feels his dad’s presence as he prepares for competition.

“Before every match, before every game, I just think about what my dad would be telling me,” he said. “Everything he’s always told me has taught me to get better. 

“In life, I still remember everything he taught me. He was definitely a great man, and I want to be like him someday.”

Wrestling also has made Vasquez more in tune with his health.

His sophomore season he went from 230 pounds to 215, and by his junior year was down to his current 175.

“I just wanted to be healthier, not just for wrestling,” he said. “I started going to the gym every night, watched my calories, and from there grew (taller).

“Now I’m at 6-(foot-)2, and I don’t know how that happened,” he laughed.

Lawrence coach Henry Payne said Vasquez always has a positive attitude and helps the other wrestlers in the program.

“When he notices a kid next to him doing a move wrong, he’ll go over and show him the right way,” Payne said. “We have a lot of young kids that this is their first year, and he’s been a good coach’s helper.”

The coach’s helper gig will continue after graduation.

"Next year we’re hoping to open up a youth program here, and I got him and an alumni that graduated last year and is helping the varsity team this year (Conner Tangeman) to take over the youth program for us,” Payne said.

 From left: Lawrence wrestling coach Henry Payne, athletic director John Guillean and football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. On the football team, Vasquez was a jack of all trades.

“He started at guard, went to tight end, went to our wingback, went to our running back. He was trying to get the quarterback spot,” football coach Derek Gribler laughed.

Vasquez said there is no other feeling like being on the field, especially during home games.

“Wrestling is my main sport, but I’d do anything to go back and play football again,” he said. “I just love it.”

Although the football team struggled through a 1-8 season, “It was still a really fun season,” Vasquez said. “Everybody was super close. Most of us never really talked before, but we instantly became like a family.”

Vasquez had the support of his mother, Heather, and four older sisters: Makaylah, Briahna, Ahlexis and Maryah. He also found his school family helped him get through the end of his freshman year.

“(My friends) were always there for me when everything was going on,” he said. “I took that last month off school because it was too hard to be around people at that time.

"Every single one of them reached out and said, ‘Hey, I know you’re going through a rough time.’ It really helped to hear that and get out of the house.”

Vasquez also was a standout on the football field. The family connection between Vasquez and Lawrence athletic director John Guillean goes back to the senior’s youth.

“I was girls basketball coach, so I coached his sisters,” Guillean said. “I remember him when he was pretty young. I knew the family pretty well. I knew his dad. He was pretty supportive and was there for everything.”

Vasquez said that freshman year experience has made him appreciate every day, and he gives the following advice: “Every time you’re wrestling, it could be your last time on the mat or last time on the field. Treat every game and every match as if it’s going to be your last. If you’re committed to the sport, take every chance you have to help your team be successful.”

Gribler has known Vasquez since he was in seventh grade and, as also the school’s varsity baseball coach, will work with Vasquez one more time with the senior planning to add baseball as his spring sport.

“When we talk about Tiger Pride, Austin’s a kid that you can put his face right on the logo. His work ethic is just unbelievable,” Gribler said. “Everything he does is with a smile. He could be having the worst day of his life, and he’d still have a smile on his face. He pushes through. It’s tough to do and amazing to see.”

The coach – who also starred at Lawrence as an athlete – noted the small community’s ability to rally around Vasquez and his family. Lawrence has about 150 students in the high school.

“It goes beyond sports,” Gribler said. “Austin knows when he needs something he can always reach out and we’ll have his back, we’ll have his family’s back. It’s not so much about winning as it is about the kids.”

Vasquez is already looking ahead to life after high school. He attends morning courses at Van Buren Tech, studying welding, and returns to the high school for afternoon classes. 

“I’d like to either work on the pipeline as a pipeline welder or be a lineman,” he said, adding, “possibly college. I would like to wrestle in college, but let’s see how this year goes.

“I’m ready to get out, but it’s going to be hard to leave this all behind.”

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Lawrence senior Andrew Vasquez, right, wrestles against Hartford this season. (2) Vasquez works on gaining the advantage in a match against Mendon. (3) From left: Lawrence wrestling coach Henry Payne, athletic director John Guillean and football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. (4) Vasquez also was a standout on the football field. (Wrestling and football photos courtesy of the Lawrence athletic department. Headshots by Pam Shebest.)