1st & Goal: 2021 Week 7 Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

October 8, 2021

Rivalries play out every week of the nine-game football regular season – but a few we watch for every fall top the Week 7 schedule.

MI Student Aid

Neighbors Port Huron and Port Huron Northern will face off with a league title on the line, as will Marquette and Menominee, and the Muskegon High/Mona Shores matchup will decide first place in their conference as well. Saline/Temperance Bedford and St. Joseph/Stevensville Lakeshore will have similar impacts.

MHSAA.tv will carry more than 175 games live this weekend, with Bally Sports Detroit broadcasting Friday's Rockford/Caledonia game on its primary cable channel and State Champs! Sports Network streaming Saturday's Warren Michigan Collegiate/Harper Woods Chandler Park matchup. See the full schedule from the MHSAA Score Center.

Also, circle Oct. 24 on your calendars and tune your TVs to Bally Sports Detroit’s primary channel for the MHSAA’s annual football playoff selection show, kicking off at 5:30 p.m. The fields and full brackets for 11 and 8-player will be announced.

(Games below are Friday unless noted.)

Bay & Thumb

Port Huron (5-1) at Port Huron Northern (6-0)

This rivalry this season will be a championship decider with the winner tonight claiming the Macomb Area Conference Blue title outright. Port Huron is the reigning champion and won last year’s meeting 20-7, and actually has claimed the last two matchups as these teams split regular season and playoff games in 2019. It’s very possible this will be just the first chapter again this fall; Northern is ranked No. 5 in Division 2 and the Big Reds are No. 14. They’re succeeding with different strengths; Port Huron has scored 28 or more points in five straight games since an opening-night loss to Rochester Hills Stoney Creek, while the Huskies are scoring less but giving up only eight points per game.  

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Reese (5-1) at Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (5-1), Goodrich (5-1) at Lake Fenton (5-1), Midland Dow (4-2) at Lapeer (5-1), Swartz Creek (3-3) at Flushing (3-3).

Greater Detroit

Romeo (5-1) at Sterling Heights Stevenson (5-1)

After a few tough seasons playing in one of the state’s strongest leagues, Stevenson got rolling last fall and hasn’t stopped. The Titans shared the 2020 MAC Red title but can finish an outright championship tonight – while a Romeo win would mean a shared title between the two as the Bulldogs fell by three points to Clinton Township Chippewa Valley two weeks ago. Stevenson has scored at least 30 points every game, including a Week 1 loss to still-unbeaten Rockford, while Romeo excels defensively and has given up 13 or fewer points in all of their five wins (but 37 in the loss to the Big Reds). Stevenson won last season’s meeting with Romeo 14-7.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Livonia Churchill (6-0) at Dearborn Fordson (5-1), Allen Park (5-1) at Harper Woods (5-1), Detroit Osborn (4-2) at Detroit Pershing (4-2). SATURDAY Harper Woods Chandler Park (4-2) at Warren Michigan Collegiate (4-2).


Gladwin (6-0) at Clare (4-2)

The Flying G’s also took a big jump in 2020 and have guaranteed their most successful finish since 2014. They can add tonight a share of their first Jack Pine Conference championship since 2002, their first season in the league. Gladwin is scoring nearly 63 points per game and has five shutouts in six games – the only points given up were 18 three weeks ago in a 40-point win. But the JPC road always goes through reigning champ Clare, and the Pioneers have defeated the Flying G’s all 19 seasons they’ve been in the league together, including 41-30 a year ago. Clare’s defeats this season are to Freeland and Marquette teams that are a combined 10-2.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Carson City-Crystal (6-0) at Breckenridge (4-2), Lansing Catholic (6-0) at Charlotte (4-2), New Lothrop (4-2) at Durand (5-1), Olivet (4-2) at Lake Odessa Lakewood (4-2).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Boyne City (5-1) at Mancelona (5-0)

Mancelona’s best start since back-to-back 10-1 finishes in 2011 and 2012 fast forwards this week into what could be an unforgettable regular-season conclusion with Boyne City this week also undefeated in Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders play and Week 8 opponent Charlevoix only a game back. The Ironmen are coming off an open date and have had a little more time to prepare for a Ramblers team that lost only to Traverse City St. Francis two weeks ago but bounced back big last week against Kalkaska. Boyne City has played one more league game than Mancelona and can clinch a share of the league title if victorious tonight; the Ramblers already own a 27-8 Week 2 win over Charlevoix as well. Boyne City won last season’s meeting 48-6.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Petoskey (3-3) at Cadillac (4-2), Harbor Springs (1-5) at Frankfort (5-1), Traverse City Central (5-1) at Alpena (1-5), Charlevoix (5-1) at Kalkaska (1-5).

Southeast & Border

Saline (6-0) at Temperance Bedford (5-1)

The last time Saline lost a Southeastern Conference Red game was Week 5 of 2013 – to Temperance Bedford. This matchup has determined the league champion three times since the Kicking Mules claimed the title that season, and Saline has a one-game edge heading into this weekend thanks to Bedford’s one-point loss to Ann Arbor Huron in Week 4. Three of the last five games between these two have been decided by one score – although Saline won last season 56-14. The Hornets are ranked No. 3 in Division 1, while Bedford is No. 6 in Division 2 from a league that also has Huron at No. 10 in Division 1, Dexter slated to make the playoffs and Monroe only one spot away from doing the same with three games to play.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Sand Creek (4-2) at Erie Mason (4-2), Napoleon (5-1) at Michigan Center (5-1), Dundee (4-2) at Clinton (4-2), Chelsea (6-0) at Tecumseh (3-3).

Southwest Corridor

Stevensville Lakeshore (5-1) at St. Joseph (5-1)

The Bears lost an overtime heartbreaker last week to Portage Central but have had to rebound quickly with this game now pitting two of the three teams sitting in first place in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference. Lakeshore has defeated St. Joseph in nine of their last 10 meetings, including 26-0 and then 14-9 in the playoffs a year ago – when the Lancers were the only team to defeat the Bears. Lakeshore’s loss this fall came against Portage Northern in Week 4, and it won by four against Portage Central in the season opener. St. Joseph downed Northern 21-3 in Week 3.  

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY South Haven (5-1) at Berrien Springs (6-0), Vicksburg (5-1) at Plainwell (5-1), Cassopolis (4-2) at White Pigeon (5-1), Watervliet (4-2) at Kalamazoo United (4-2).

Upper Peninsula

Menominee (4-2) at Marquette (5-1)

This matchup once again will decide the Great Northern Conference title, as Marquette can clinch the championship outright with a win and Menominee can clinch a share with a Week 9 meeting with Kingsford left on the GNC schedule. Marquette has won the last two league titles outright after sharing with Escanaba in 2018, and its only loss this season came Week 2 against Traverse City Central, which can clinch the Big North Conference title outright this week. Menominee’s losses both qualify as good ones – both came to Wisconsin teams that are 6-1, and because of that the Maroons are No. 13 in Division 6. Marquette is No. 16 in Division 3 coming off a one-point win last week over Clare (mentioned above).  

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Hancock (3-3) at Iron Mountain (3-3), L'Anse (3-3) at Ishpeming Westwood (5-1), Traverse City St. Francis (6-0) at Sault Ste. Marie (4-2). SATURDAY Calumet (4-2) at Houghton (4-2).

West Michigan

Muskegon (5-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (5-1)

Undefeated Caledonia and Rockford meet with first place on the line in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red, but it’s tough these days to not call Muskegon High/Mona Shores this region’s top game of any week. They are tied atop the O-K Green, both having lost to Detroit Public School League powers (Muskegon to Cass Tech and Mona Shores to Martin Luther King). The Big Reds haven’t given up a point since Week 3 and before that allowed just 20 to a Zeeland West team averaging nearly 40 per game. Mona Shores will counter with an offense averaging 47 points per game. The Sailors won last season’s meeting 21-14 on the way to eventually claiming their second-straight Division 2 championship.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Caledonia (6-0) at Rockford (6-0), Manistee (4-2) at Muskegon Catholic Central (5-1), Grand Rapids Christian (3-3) at Byron Center (6-0), Grand Rapids West Catholic (6-0) at Hudsonville Unity Christian (6-0).


Mendon (5-1) at Martin (6-0)

The winner receives a share of the Southwest Michigan 8-Man Football League Tier 1 title, and this will be their first meeting since 1997. Martin is in the midst of its third season as a force in 8-player football, and Mendon made the format switch this fall and has only a nonleague loss to Bridgman keeping it from a matching perfect start. Subtract that defeat, when the Hornets were shut out, and they’re averaging 58 points per game in their wins. Martin no doubt will incorporate a little bit of what worked for the Bees to augment a defense that has given up only a combined 18 points in five games played (the sixth win was a forfeit).

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Suttons Bay (6-0) at Marion (6-0), Waldron (5-1) at Tekonsha (4-2), Pickford (5-1) at Newberry (5-1), Genesee (4-1) at Morrice (6-0).

Second Half’s weekly “1st & Goal” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTO Muskegon's defense readies for the snap this season against Detroit Cass Tech. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)

All-Woman Football Officiating Crew Makes History, Inspires More to be Made

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

September 26, 2023

Caryn Jackson said it “started to hit her” at about noon, some seven hours before kickoff.

An official for football games at both the high school level in Michigan and the college level for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Jackson started to fully realize what a special event she was about to participate in.

Jackson was assigned to be the head line judge for the Waterford Kettering at Detroit Lincoln-King varsity game last Thursday at Detroit Mercy, but this was a different assignment than any other.

In addition to Jackson, there were four more women to form what’s believed to be the first all-female officiating crew for a varsity football game in state history.

With that in mind, Jackson posted what was about to happen on her X (Twitter) feed hours before the game.

“It had 23,000 engagements in an hour,” Jackson said.

And all this happened without any retweets from her daughter Rikea Jackson, the 2019 Miss Basketball Award winner at Detroit Edison who plays for Tennessee and has over 10,000 followers.

The football game arrived, and right away spectators sensed they were watching history unfold.

The crew of Jackson, referee Nicole Randolph, line judge Delonda Little, umpire RanDee Henry and back judge Kamaria Douglas made history and inspired others during a night that should be impactful for a long time.

And this also wasn’t the first time they’ve led in the officiating world.

Randolph is a Big Ten football official. As noted above, Jackson officiates Division II college football. Douglass, Little and Henry all are college basketball officials as well, and Little in March became the first woman to officiate an MHSAA Boys Basketball Final since 1995 when she refereed the Division 3 championship game at Breslin Center.

Here are thoughts from all five about their unforgettable evening on the football field:

Kamaria Douglas: “It was very well-received, which was an even better feeling,” she said. “There were a lot of people, whether we were in the parking lot afterward or just chit-chatting, who wanted to take pictures. People gave us kudos and flowers and said we did a nice job. It’s one thing to get an opportunity, but also to go out there and do a good job. They want to see more of it. Waterford Kettering’s coach said he was the father of three girls, so it just warmed his heart. He came over and got a picture with us, which was really cool.”

RanDee Henry: “This game, although historic, was even more amazing because I got to do it with friends,” she said. “All of these women have strong friendships on and off the field, making this moment even more amazing and monumental.”

Caryn Jackson: “For my children, I always tell them to leave your mark wherever you go and whatever you do,” she said. “Be a part of history. Who knew I would be refereeing high school, let alone doing it with all women? It feels good when I walk the football field and people are cheering just because they see a woman. People say ‘I’m glad you’re here, ref.’ I’ve had young boys walk up to me and shake my hand and say thank you for making history, and that you’re the first female official I have had. That stuff makes me feel good. To do it alongside four other women, that was amazing.”

Delonda Little: “Women are breaking barriers, and it’s nice to be acknowledged and to have some gender equality out there,” she said. “We all felt good to get the support during the game from the coaches and the fans. Both coaches told us we did a great job. Coaches wanted to take pictures with us to be a part of the historical moment. Fans as we were leaving told us we did a good job.”

Little continued: “Women, we still have a long way to go. But it’s good we are getting the acknowledgment we deserve. There should be gender equality.” 

Nicole Randolph: “The players kind of got the adrenaline going,” she said. “I was already a little nervous going into the day because it was really happening. When I got to the field, I was calm, cool and collected. When we all walked onto the field, the players were excited, and the coaches were excited. They asked for pictures and said they wanted to take pictures at the end of the game because they had never seen this many female officials at a game.”

Randolph continued: “We went in and said ‘Hey girls, this a great opportunity. Let’s make the best of it so we can continue to open the doors for other young ladies to continue to aspire (in) our footsteps.’”

PHOTO Thursday's crew at Detroit Mercy, from left: head line judge Caryn Jackson, umpire RanDee Henry, referee Nicole Randolph, line judge Delonda Little and back judge Kamaria Douglas. (Courtesy photo.)