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.)

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.)