For the last 20 years, we would have entered Week 4 of football season discussing how many teams would have to win the rest of their games to guarantee making the playoffs.
But the six-wins-and-in era is done (and never existed for 8-player), and there’s still plenty of time for every team to impact its destiny – especially with only 130 of 598 teams still undefeated and 12 more sure to fall off that list this weekend.
MHSAA.tv will carry 170 games live this weekend, with Bally Sports Detroit broadcasting Friday's Traverse City Central/Traverse City West matchup on its PLUS cable channel. See the full schedule from the MHSAA Score Center and see below for some of the games with the most intriguing storylines as we take another step toward the regular season’s midpoint.
Bay & Thumb
Davison (1-2) at Grand Blanc (3-0)
This is the fourth season these two will meet in the Saginaw Valley League Red, and Davison has won all four meetings of the recent series including for a Division 1 District title last year. Coming off three one-score wins over highly-touted foes – East Lansing, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central and Midland Dow – Grand Blanc could be ready to take its turn in the rivalry. But the Cardinals’ record is deceptive. Coming off last season’s second-straight trip to the Division 1 Final, Davison opened this fall with losses to Clarkston and then Detroit Catholic Central, falling by just three to the still-undefeated Wolves.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Mount Pleasant (3-0) at Midland Dow (2-1), Standish-Sterling (3-0) at Millington (3-0), Freeland (3-0) at Essexville Garber (3-0), Harbor Beach (2-1) at Ubly (3-0).
Warren De La Salle Collegiate (2-0) at Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (3-0)
The four Detroit Catholic League Central teams are a combined 10-1 this fall, and this week begins a must-see title race. These two have opened league play against each other since 2010, with seven meetings (including one in the playoffs) decided by seven or fewer points. Rice won the 2019 matchup 16-14 and last year 27-25, but the Pilots followed up the latter by reaching the Division 2 Final for the third time in four seasons. The Warriors haven’t given up a point since a season-opening win over Macomb Dakota, but De La Salle can claim the biggest headliner so far after downing last season’s Division 3 runner-up River Rouge 38-29 in Week 2.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Grosse Pointe South (2-1) at Romeo (3-0), Detroit Country Day (3-0) at South Lyon (3-0), Marine City (3-0) at Wyandotte Roosevelt (3-0), Southfield Arts & Technology (2-1) at Clarkston (3-0).
Haslett (2-1) at Mason (2-1)
Last week’s Mason comeback win over Williamston thrust this game quickly into the spotlight as it’s almost sure to have Capital Area Activities Conference Red implications. Mason has won the league the last two seasons, while Haslett is returning to contention – the Vikings already have as many wins this fall as in 2020 and 2019, and they need one more point to also equal last year’s scoring over seven games. Both of these teams have intriguing offensive skill players, but both also needed time last week to get rolling – Williamston trailed 27-13 at halftime before winning 34-27, and Haslett was up 7-0 at halftime on the way to defeating Lansing Eastern 33-14. Getting on track first could be key.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Lake City (3-0) at Beal City (2-1), Big Rapids (2-1) at Central Montcalm (3-0), Holt (2-1) at DeWitt (2-1), Lansing Everett (2-1) at Grand Ledge (3-0).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Traverse City West (3-0) vs. Traverse City Central (2-1) at Thirlby Field
The annual “Patriot Game” is the place to be in northern Michigan – crowds every season of 10,000+ would agree – and this year’s chapter could read more like the one-score classics from most of the last decade after less-characteristic big wins (both by Central) the last two seasons. They’ll go together into the Saginaw Valley League for football next season, and started their final Big North Conference schedules last week with wins – West 21-7 over last season’s Division 4 runner-up Cadillac. The only loss by either so far has been Central’s season opener to reigning Division 3 champion DeWitt.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Traverse City St. Francis (3-0) at Maple City Glen Lake (1-2), Frankfort (2-1) at Oscoda (2-1), Harbor Springs (1-2) at Boyne City (3-0), Petoskey (3-0) at Gaylord (1-2).
Southeast & Border
Michigan Center (3-0) at Addison (3-0)
Addison has won two straight Cascades Conference titles and 16 straight league games, but this will be its first matchup with Michigan Center since 2019. They didn’t see each other during last year’s abbreviated regular season, although the Cardinals finished second in the league with a loss coming to Hanover-Horton. Addison has outscored its three opponents so far – including Hanover-Horton last week – by a combined 145-35. But the Cardinals have been just as impressive if not more – outscoring their three opponents 136-0, including a 42-0 avenging against Hanover-Horton in Week 2.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (3-0) at Milan (3-0), Monroe (2-1) at Saline (3-0), Ann Arbor Huron (2-1) at Temperance Bedford (3-0), Clinton (2-1) at Ida (2-1).
Vicksburg (3-0) at Edwardsburg (3-0)
It’s early, of course, but statistically this Edwardsburg team is following the pattern of its best over the last decade. The offense has scored more every week, from 38 to 55 to 61 against Niles in the latest win, and the defense has given up seven points total. Next up are the Bulldogs, who lost twice to Edwardsburg last season but have been a playoff team five of the last seven years. The three opponents the Eddies defeated are all 2-1, and league rivals are lined up – undefeated Plainwell is next after Vicksburg, with Paw Paw coming up in Week 6.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Three Rivers (2-1) at Niles (2-1), Battle Creek Lakeview (2-1) at Battle Creek Central (2-1), White Pigeon (3-0) at Comstock (2-1), St. Joseph (3-0) at Kalamazoo Central (1-2).
Ishpeming Westwood (2-1) at Ishpeming (1-1)
This rivalry will be restored after Ishpeming did not field a varsity last season. The Patriots solidly ended a 23-game losing streak to the Hematites the last time they met, however, claiming the 2019 matchup 38-0. Westwood’s fast start this fall ran into an obstacle last week with a loss to Calumet, but there would hardly be a better way to pick back up than with a win tonight. Ishpeming was off last week and has had plenty of time to prepare for a game that could pay big dividends toward its rebound as well.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Kingsford (3-0) at Marquette (2-1), Iron Mountain (1-2) at L'Anse (2-1), Negaunee (2-1) at Manistique (2-1). SATURDAY Houghton (2-1) at Bark River-Harris (3-0).
Muskegon Oakridge (3-0) at Montague (2-1)
A fresh start with some new faces saw Montague shut out in Week 1 by a strong Edwardsburg team. But the reigning Division 6 champion Wildcats stormed right back with back-to-back shutouts the last two weeks of North Muskegon and Hart. And they could get another big boost against rival Oakridge, which they’ve beaten three of the last four seasons including 42-6 a year ago. The Eagles are coming off a forfeit win/bye last week but already own a pair of solid wins over Sparta and Whitehall. Another this week combined with the Week 2 victory over the Vikings would put the Eagles in pretty strong position in the West Michigan Conference title race.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Zeeland West (2-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (2-1), East Grand Rapids (1-2) at Byron Center (3-0), Manton (2-1) at Evart (3-0), Grand Rapids South Christian (2-1) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (3-0).
Mendon (3-0) at Bridgman (3-0)
These two are likely league title contenders in the Southwest Michigan 8-Man Football League Tier 1 and 2, respectively. Mendon had been one of the last southwestern holdouts its size before switching to 8-player football for this fall, and the Hornets brought a run of 13 winning seasons over their last 14 with them. So far so good after the switch, as the offense is averaging just more than 63 points per game. Bridgman successfully made the switch in 2018 and is a combined 18-2 since the move. The Bees are scoring 55 points per game so far – but more notably for this matchup, giving up only seven.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Adrian Lenawee Christian (3-0) at Athens (3-0), Norway (2-1) at Ironwood (2-1), Lawrence (3-0) at Morrice (3-0). SATURDAY Lake Linden-Hubbell (2-1) at Powers North Central (3-0).
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PHOTO: Ishpeming's Preston Gauthier (37) is chased by Manistique's Austin Hinkson (24) during their teams’ Week 1 matchup. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)
SOUTHFIELD — Normally, having students come up and say they won’t be in school the next day might have a school administrator seething and ready to reserve seats in the detention room.
But if there ever was a time to allow it, this was the moment.
Following a 36-32 upset of Belleville that stunned many around the state in the MHSAA Division 1 Football Final on Nov. 26, Southfield Arts & Technology senior quarterback Isaiah Marshall said he and other players made it known, “Don’t expect us in school on Monday.”
After all, the game was played and ended late on a Sunday night, the team achieved something nobody else in the community had done, and there were celebrations that needed to begin.
And for the record, the players were back in school Tuesday.
Whether it’s been in school or outside the halls of Southfield A&T, it’s been a week of historic celebrations and congratulations after the Warriors captured the first MHSAA Finals championship in school history.
Marshall said that remained the case when he attended the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis on Saturday.
“Everywhere I go, there is someone congratulating me,” he said.
Over their final decades before the schools merged in 2016, Southfield High School and Southfield-Lathrup High School had plenty of talented teams with numerous players who went on to play big-time college football and even in the NFL.
But none of those good teams was able to advance to a state championship game, let alone win it all.
“There was a lot of people that texted me and talked to me and said they graduated from the 1980s,” said Marshall, pointing out that one former player who reached out was Nic Jones, currently a member of the Kansas City Chiefs who graduated from Southfield High. “There were a lot of older people that used to go to Southfield that told me that they couldn’t do the job. They were proud of us that we could do it for them.”
Marshall said that after the game was over Sunday, he and other teammates congregated at his house at 3 a.m. to watch a replay of the game.
It was only the first time this week the replay was watched.
“We watched it that day and the day after,” Marshall said. “I think we’ve been watching it the whole week.”
A parade Saturday will start at noon at the building that housed the old Southfield-Lathrup and finish at the current school, which was the home of Southfield High before the merger. A&T then will host a celebration in the school gymnasium from 1:15-2:30 p.m.
Players will certainly soak it all in while they can, because it won’t be long before they split up.
Marshall will soon sign to play in college for Kansas and will be enrolling early there. He plans to take his last final exams at Southfield A&T next week and head to Lawrence the first week of January.
Teammate Jalen Todd will do the same as he is also committed to Kansas, while Tashi Braceful will enroll early at Toledo.
But long after this year, it’s a group that won’t be forgotten in the community, or the state after it pulled off the upset of a Belleville team that was riding a 38-game winning streak and was two-time reigning Division 1 champion.
No doubt, future reunions should be memorable and festive.
Even Marshall admitted his still rubs his eyes in amazement over what his team did.
“Yes, I still do,” he said.
Keith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties
PHOTOS (Top) Southfield A&T players enjoy the first moments after their Division 1 championship win at Ford Field. (Middle) The A&T band plays during a break in the action. (Below) Fans celebrate in the stands during the victory over Belleville. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)