1st & Goal: 2021 Week 9 in Review

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

October 25, 2021

For a lot of reasons – two big ones in particular – this football regular season had a different feel to it.

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And one of those was magnified significantly during Week 9.

Of course, we’ve rolled through the fall almost “normally” after the 2020 season had to hurdle various COVID-related adjustments.

But the biggest football-related change this fall dealt with the first year of playoff qualification using the enhanced strength-of-schedule formula instead of automatic qualification by win total.  And with that switch, eyes were glued to the MHSAA playoff-point webpage from Thursday night through about 11 p.m. Saturday, watching every adjustment as we arrived with our 288-team field.

A lot of moving parts went into those final calculations, and the results below had leading roles.

Bay & Thumb

HEADLINER Ubly 25, Bad Axe 13 The Bearcats (9-0) won a matchup of Greater Thumb Conference champions, representing the East in victory over one of the three co-champs from the West in the Hatchets (7-2). Ubly also locked up one of two perfect regular seasons in Division 8 – its first undefeated regular season since 2016 – to add to a run that has seen the program go 62-16 over the last seven years. Click for more from the Huron Daily Tribune.

Watch list Marine City 21, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 10 The Mariners (9-0) moved up to No. 2 in Division 5 playoff points, finishing with one of six perfect regular-season records in that bracket. Four wins came against teams in Division 3 and 4, including Notre Dame Prep (7-2).

Remember this one Lapeer 38, Davison 35 While the Lightning (7-2) locked up a Division 1 playoff spot, Davison (5-4) just missed the postseason for the first time since 2014, adding another layer to an always highly-anticipated rivalry game.

More shoutouts Flint Kearsley 35, Armada 27 The Hornets started 2-3 but won four straight to return to the Division 3 playoffs, over an Armada team that at 6-3 is back in the playoffs for the first time (not counting the all-in 2020) since 2004. Frankenmuth 28, New Lothrop 14 Both are hoping to return to Ford Field, New Lothrop (6-3) the reigning Division 7 champion and Frankenmuth (9-0) the returning Division 5 runner-up and coming off a second-straight perfect regular season.

Frankenmuth/New Lothrop football

Greater Detroit

HEADLINER Gibraltar Carlson 28, Brownstown Woodhaven 14 Carlson’s first win over Woodhaven (8-1) since 2017 netted the Marauders a share of the Downriver League championship, their first since sharing with Woodhaven in 2018, and also pushed Carlson (8-1) up to No. 3 in the final Division 3 ranking. Three Cody Britt rushing touchdowns were among the difference-makers. Click for more from the Southgate News-Herald.

Watch list Detroit Cass Tech 40, Orchard Lake St. Mary's 7 Eyes across the state were watching the Division 1 playoff list as scores came in Friday night, knowing the Technicians (6-3) had won big Thursday but still were on the edge of qualifying. Downing the Division 3-qualifying Eaglets (5-4) provided the necessary bump for Cass Tech to lock up a postseason spot.

Remember this one Belleville 46, Hartland 9 Since falling to Livonia Churchill in Week 3, Belleville (8-1) has won six straight including to clinch the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East and now overall titles. This win over the Eagles (7-2) tied for its biggest playoff points bump of the season.  

More shoutouts Oxford 29, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 28 The Wildcats (5-4) ran their winning streak to four with three of those wins by one score and two by one point, this time against a Chippewa Valley team (6-3) with three losses by a combined nine points. Madison Heights Bishop Foley 43, Clarkston Everest Collegiate 37 Jackson Zeiter caught two touchdown passes, ran for a third score and returned a kickoff for another in the Detroit Catholic League Cardinal championship game.


HEADLINER Pewamo-Westphalia 12, Lansing Catholic 7 The Pirates pushed the go-ahead score across midway through the fourth quarter to add one of their most impressive wins to a run of 60 regular-season victories over their last 62 games going back to 2015. P-W not only handed Division 6 top-ranked Lansing Catholic (8-1) its lone loss, but the Division 7 No. 5 Pirates (9-0) avenged last season’s 28-13 defeat against the Cougars. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Watch list Portland 31, Montague 7 The Raiders (7-2) earned their second win this season over a reigning Finals champion, adding this victory over Division 6 Montague (6-3) to the Week 2 edging of Division 3 DeWitt.

Remember this one Ionia 35, Lake Odessa Lakewood 14 The Bulldogs’ third-straight win in this annual Week 9 rivalry game meant more this season as it sent Ionia (5-4) into the Division 3 playoffs with their first (not counting 2020) berth since 2013.

More shoutouts Holt 34, Grand Ledge 6 The Rams (7-2) made it three wins in their last four games against the rival Comets (6-3), this one helping Holt finish second in the final Capital Area Activities Conference Blue standings. DeWitt 50, Stevensville Lakeshore 14 The CAAC Blue champ Panthers (8-1) added another impressive nonconference win against a Lakeshore team (6-3) they could see again in a Division 3 Regional Final.

Perry/Bath football

Northern Lower Peninsula

HEADLINER Traverse City St. Francis 38, Kingsley 30 The winner-takes-all matchup for the Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends championship was everything it was billed, with St. Francis (9-0) regaining the title after Kingsley (8-1) had won the last two. The Gladiators were behind 16-0 early, then up 16 into the fourth quarter before holding off a late rally to finish their first undefeated regular season since 2018. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Watch list East Jordan 22, Frankfort 18 This one easily could’ve been considered the region’s “headliner” as well as East Jordan also won a winner-take-all NMFC matchup, to claim the Legacy title, and in doing so also clinched the final playoff spot in Division 7.

Remember this one Maple City Glen Lake 20, Mancelona 6 The Lakers (4-5) appeared all but done after a 1-5 start. But those defeats came against an eventually undefeated team, three with still one loss and another now at 6-3 – and defeating Mancelona (5-3) earned Glen Lake the second-to-last playoff spot in Division 6.

More shoutouts McBain 32, Muskegon Heights Academy 28 The Ramblers (6-3) were able to lock up a Division 7 playoff spot against a Muskegon Heights Academy team (5-4) that also reached the postseason, in Division 8. Grayling 32, Benzie Central 26 The third-place team in the Legends, Grayling (7-2) closed on a four-game winning streak.

Southeast & Border

HEADLINER Jonesville 20, Addison 14 The Comets completed their first perfect regular season since 1988 (according to Michigan-football.com) in this Big 8/Cascades champions crossover, in doing so handing Addison (8-1) its lone loss. Defense reigned as both teams were held to season-low scoring totals. The win helped Jonesville (9-0) improve four spots to No. 11 in Division 6, but didn’t move Addison from No. 3 in Division 8. Click for more from the Jackson Citizen Patriot.

Watch list Ottawa Lake Whiteford 62, Erie Mason 22 The Bobcats (8-1) eliminated the possibility of a shared Tri-County Conference championship, instead earning the title outright and finishing an in-state run of eight wins by at least 20 points. Their only loss this season was to Edon, Ohio.

Remember this one Ann Arbor Huron 31, Rochester 14 This season has been memorable and then some for the River Rats. Huron (8-1) moved up five spots to No. 10 in Division 1, and its eight wins tied as many as the program won from 2011-20 – and are the most in one season since 2001.  

More shoutouts Parma Western 35, Richmond 17 The Panthers (6-3) held onto the No. 27 spot in Division 3, and Richmond (4-5) also kept its grip on a playoff spot in Division 5. Michigan Center 28, Reading 20 This Big 8/Cascades runner-up crossover capped another solid regular season for the Cardinals, whose only loss was by a point Week 4 to Addison.

Southwest Corridor

HEADLINER Portage Central 26, Battle Creek Harper Creek 7 The Mustangs (7-2) won this matchup of league champions with one of their strongest defensive performances, holding Harper Creek scoreless until midway through the fourth quarter. Portage Central moved up five spots to No. 11 in Division 2, while Harper Creek (6-3) moved down five to a still-comfortable No. 21 in Division 3. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Watch list Lawton 42, Saugatuck 21 This combined with Delton Kellogg’s loss to Schoolcraft gave Lawton (9-0) the outright Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley championship and its second perfect regular season in three years.

Remember this one Mattawan 26, Battle Creek Central 6 After losing nine straight on the field between the end of last season and start of this one, the Wildcats (4-5) finished on a three-game winning streak (to go with a Week 4 forfeit victory) to gain the No. 29 spot in Division 3.

More shoutouts Niles Brandywine 44, Benton Harbor 32 After opening with a pair of solid wins including against reigning Division 8 champion Centreville, Brandywine (4-5) found itself outside the Division 7 playoff field before jumping up five spots to No. 28 with this victory. Parchment 38, Watervliet 27 The Panthers (6-3) have occupied the No. 32 spot in Division 5 four of the last seven weeks – and with this win, held onto it when it counted most. Watervliet (5-4) still tied for No. 29 in Division 6.

Bark River-Harris/Ishpeming football

Upper Peninsula

HEADLINER Ishpeming Westwood 32, Negaunee 14 The Patriots (8-1) locked up a shared Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper championship with Calumet, putting up the most points Negaunee has given up in a game this season while holding the Miners (7-2) to their fewest since Week 1. The championship was Westwood’s first since 1992 in the Mid-Peninsula Conference. Click for more from Upper Michigan Source.

Watch list Kingsford 34, Menominee 27 The Flivvers (6-3) hadn’t played a Great Northern Conference game since Week 5, but came back to finish off the regular season by keeping Menominee (5-4) from an outright league title and turning the championship into a three-team share with these two and Marquette.

Remember this one Bark River-Harris 26, Ishpeming 0 The Broncos (6-3) finished a perfect run through the West-PAC Iron with this winner-take-all championship game victory.

More shoutouts Calumet 53, L'Anse 32 As noted above, this gave the Copper Kings (7-2) a share of the Copper championship, their first since 2018. Marquette 17, Petoskey 14 Not only did it get to celebrate a league championship, but Marquette moved to 7-2 for the second-straight season to again tie its winningest going back to 2010.

West Michigan

HEADLINER Muskegon Catholic Central 30, Muskegon Oakridge 28 They aren’t quite neighbors, but made the 10-mile drive again for the first time since back-to-back games in 2015 and 2016 in another matchup of league champions. MCC (8-1) made the return trip home having represented the Lakes 8 Activities Conference well with a close victory over Oakridge (7-2), one of three co-winners of the West Michigan Conference title. Joe Waller ran for the tying touchdown and then two-point conversion winner with nine seconds to play. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Watch list Reed City 38, Whitehall 28 This league champion clash saw the winner of the Central State Activities Association Gold, Reed City (8-1), edge another of the three West Michigan Conference co-champs in Whitehall (7-2).

Remember this one Hopkins 38, Belding 22 Both are in Division 5, and Hopkins (5-4) made a big jump to No. 17 past Belding (5-4), which sits No. 19 as both secured spots in the field.

More shoutouts Cedar Springs 38, Grand Rapids South Christian 32 The Red Hawks (7-2) bounced back from a one-point Week 8 loss to Grand Rapids Catholic Central to win another close one, over the Sailors (6-3). Grand Rapids Christian 48, Grand Rapids Northview 17 The Eagles (6-3) moved up for the third-straight week with this win, to No. 7 in Division 4, while making Northview (4-5) the last team eliminated from joining the Division 3 field.


HEADLINER Morrice 60, Deckerville 18 The Orioles (9-0) secured their fifth North Central Thumb League title in five seasons and second-straight in the Stars division while also handing Deckerville (7-1) its lone loss of the fall. Morrice shut down an Eagles offense that entered averaging 56 points per game, and with the win jumped five spots to No. 1 in Division 2. Click for more from WILX.

Watch list Adrian Lenawee Christian 41, Britton Deerfield 20 The Cougars (9-0) won this matchup of undefeated teams, but it could’ve been only chapter one – they may face again in a Division 1 Regional Final, although Britton Deerfield (8-1) opens this week on the road at Deckerville.  

Remember this one Powers North Central 42, Crystal Falls Forest Park 0 These two have build quite a rivalry over the last decade, and this meeting gave the Jets the outright Great Lakes Eight Conference West championship and their sixth shutout on the field this fall. North Central has given up 13 points total over eight games.

More shoutouts Indian River Inland Lakes 44, Gaylord St. Mary 30 The Bulldogs (9-0) finished a perfect regular season with the Ski Valley Conference championship, when a win by the Snowbirds (5-4) would’ve created a three-way shared title. Newberry 44, Rogers City 36 The GLEC East co-runners-up handed Rogers City (8-1) its lone loss while improving to 7-2.

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PHOTOS (Top) A Pewamo-Westphalia defender wraps up a Lansing Catholic ball carrier as the ball pops loose Friday. (2) A Frankenmuth ball carrier makes a move toward the sideline against New Lothrop. (3) Novi, left, and Livonia Churchill lock up during a Friday night crossover. (4) A Perry ball carrier pulls away from a Bath defender down the sideline. (5) A Bark River-Harris ball carrier works for more yardage as Ishpeming players pursue. (Photos by High School Sports Scene (1), Terry Lyons (2), Douglas Bargerstock (3), Christine McCallister (4) and Cara Kamps (5).)

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.)