1st & Goal: 2022 Playoff Week 2 Review

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

November 7, 2022

Only 72 teams remain in this season’s MHSAA Football Playoffs. And several of them this weekend took advantage of opportunities to avenge past losses with District and Regional titles on the line.

MI Student AidMost were seeing rivals for the second time this season. Others were running into opponents they’ve faced in playoffs past – and a number of teams are moving on that were stopped the last time around.

Below is a glance at a number of those results as we move another step closer to 8-Player Finals at Northern Michigan University in two weeks and 11-Player Finals at Ford Field the weekend after that.

11-Player Division 1

HEADLINER Caledonia 14, Rockford 13 (2 OT) Only two weeks earlier, Caledonia fell to Rockford 38-15 with a league title and perfect regular season on the line. But the No. 8 Fighting Scots (10-1) avenged by handing the No. 3 Rams (10-1) their lone loss, clinched by Mason McKenzie’s 2-point conversion run on the game’s final play. Click for more from FOX 17.

District Digest Clarkston 49, Davison 40 The No. 5 Cardinals (9-2) got within two of the lead late, but No. 7 Clarkston (9-2) put away the win with Ethan Clark’s sixth touchdown of the game. Grand Ledge 21, Holt 20 The Comets (9-2) scored first and continued to hold Holt off until the end, the final defensive stand coming with just under two minutes to play to avenge a 14-6 Week 3 loss to the Rams (7-4). Macomb Dakota 17, Romeo 0 No. 2 Dakota (11-0) posted its third-straight shutout to finish a season sweep of Romeo (8-3) after also winning their Week 6 meeting 21-14.

11-Player Division 2

HEADLINER Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 33, Muskegon Mona Shores 21 The No. 4 Rangers (11-0) avenged playoff losses to the No. 7 Sailors (8-3) from the last two seasons, rolling up 30+ points for the fifth straight game. FHC quarterback Justin Osterhouse starred throwing and running. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

District Digest Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse 49, St. Clair Shores Lakeview 7 Not only did L’Anse Creuse (7-4) avenge a 37-0 Week 6 loss to Lakeview (7-4), but the Lancers earned their first District title in doing so. East Lansing 34, Portage Northern 24 The Trojans (8-3) continued to bounce back from a two-game losing streak to end the regular-season, downing the Huskies (7-4) to clinch their third District title in six seasons. Midland 41, Waterford Mott 34 The No. 5 Chemics (10-1) earned their third District title in five seasons by holding off a Mott offense that scored a combined 200 points over its final four games in finishing 8-3.

11-Player Division 3

HEADLINER DeWitt 56, Mount Pleasant 49 (3 OT) This piled a season’s worth of nail-biters into one game, as No. 9 DeWitt (8-3) scored on the final play in regulation to force overtime, the teams traded scores through the first two extra sets of downs and the Panthers scored to start the third overtime and then held the No. 5 Oilers (9-2) scoreless. It was the second-straight season these two met in a District Final, with DeWitt also advancing in 2021. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

District Digest Trenton 17, Gibraltar Carlson 7 After Trenton’s 27-6 Week 4 loss to No. 10 Carlson eventually resulted in the two teams sharing the Downriver League title, the Trojans (10-1) nearly flipped the score to claim a District championship. Zeeland West 36, St. Joseph 18 The No. 6 Dux (10-1) also did some avenging after falling in a District opener last season to the No. 8 Bears (9-2), who hadn’t lost since Week 1. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 30, Walled Lake Western 22 Brother Rice reached 5-5 by holding off a Western attack that averaged 42 points per game entering the weekend. The District title was Rice’s second straight. Western ended 9-2 and was ranked No. 2 entering the postseason.

11-Player Division 4

HEADLINER Goodrich 10, Freeland 9 The No. 6 Falcons (8-3) carried a 9-0 lead into the fourth quarter. Goodrich made it 9-7 on a Jace Simerson run early in the final period, setting up an incredible series of moments over the final seconds as the Martians (10-1) blocked a Freeland punt attempt, the ball came to rest with two seconds to play, and Caden Kolanowski kicked the 25-yard game-winning field goal as time expired. See below for more from WJRT.

District Digest Riverview 53, Tecumseh 30 No. 3 Riverview (11-0) slowed down a Tecumseh offense averaging 51 points per game entering the weekend and posted its highest score of the season as well in a matchup of previously-undefeated teams. Tecumseh ended 10-1 and was ranked No. 7. Dearborn Divine Child 30, Livonia Clarenceville 24 (2 OT) The Falcons (9-2) needed a 2-point conversion to send the game to double overtime, and then stopped Clarenceville (6-5) to close out the District title win. Grand Rapids South Christian 35, Hudsonville Unity Christian 20 The No. 2 Sailors (11-0) won their third-straight District title, stopping Unity’s pursuit of a possible fourth in five seasons. The Crusaders, last season’s Division 4 runners-up, finished 6-5.

11-Player Division 5

HEADLINER Flint Hamady 33, Marine City 27 The Hawks (10-1), who were playing in Division 7 just six years ago, defeated a second league champion this playoffs to earn this Division 5 District title – the program’s second ever, but also second in five years to go with the championship won in Division 6 in 2018. Marine City (8-3) was last season’s Division 5 runner-up. See below for more from the D Zone.

District Digest Flat Rock 29, Romulus Summit Academy North 28 The Rams (8-3) earned their first District title with a comeback capped by a 23-yard game-winning field goal by Mitchell Smith with 15.5 seconds to play. Summit finished 8-3, tying its winningest season of 2019. Muskegon Oakridge 30, Belding 8 The No. 4 Eagles’ defense continued to shine, this time stopping a Belding offense averaging 43 points per game. Oakridge moved to 10-1, and the No. 6 Black Knights ended at 9-2. Portland 34, Corunna 28 The No. 10 Cavaliers (8-3) pulled within six of the lead with just under three minutes to play, but got no closer as No. 3 Portland (10-1) clinched its fourth District title in six seasons.

11-Player Division 6

HEADLINER Warren Michigan Collegiate 14, Madison Heights Bishop Foley 0 Last season’s Division 6 runner-up and current No. 4-ranked Michigan Collegiate (10-1) posted one of its most impressive defensive performances of the last two seasons in shutting out a Ventures offense averaging more than 39 points per game. Bishop Foley (10-1) closed its first season reaching double-digit wins and had entered the playoffs ranked No. 9. Click for more from the Macomb Daily.

District Digest Gladstone 36, Manistee 14 No. 10 (tied) Gladstone (9-2) not only claimed its first District title since 2008, but earned a chance to avenge a Week 7 loss to No. 3 Negaunee this week. Manistee started 3-3 but closed at 7-4 for its winningest season since 2018. Millington 14, Standish-Sterling 12 Both defenses impressed, but Millington (10-1) made some crunch-time stops in avenging a 28-24 loss to the No. 10 (tied) Panthers (8-2) in Week 5. Grand Rapids West Catholic 50, Constantine 24 Top-ranked West Catholic (10-1) reached 50 points for the second time this season and held No. 8 Constantine (9-2) to almost half of its 47 ppg average entering the weekend.

11-Player Division 7

HEADLINER Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 36, Detroit Central 28 The Falcons (6-5) handed top-ranked Central (10-1) its lone loss to clinch their fourth District title in six seasons. The Trail Blazers were giving up only 4.7 points per game entering the weekend, but St. Mary was able to build a lead and hold on to down a second undefeated opponent over the last three weeks. Click for more from the Monroe News.

District Digest Jackson Lumen Christi 35, Hudson 0 The No. 4 Titans (8-3) shut out a Hudson offense that was averaging 38 points per game, making the No. 3 Tigers (9-2) the sixth of their last seven opponents to score seven points or fewer. Lawton 35, Schoolcraft 21 Last season’s Division 7 runner-up and current No. 10-ranked Lawton (9-2) finished a season sweep of Schoolcraft (7-4) after also defeating the Eagles 49-14 in Week 7 to decide the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley title. Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker 28, Montrose 14 No. 6 Laker (10-1) finished a repeat District title run and reached double-digit wins for the first time since 2017, ending Montrose’s season at 7-4.

11-Player Division 8

HEADLINER Fowler 28, Beal City 27 The No. 8 Eagles handed No. 3 Beal City its only loss of the season, in doing so clinching its second District title in four seasons. Fowler scored the most points the Aggies (10-1) gave up this fall and came back after trailing by a score at halftime. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

District Digest White Pigeon 34, Reading 20 After avenging a Week 5 loss to No. 10 (tied) Centreville to open the playoffs, White Pigeon (8-3) did the same in this District title matchup after losing the No. 9 Reading 33-14 in their season opener. Clarkston Everest Collegiate 42, Marine City Cardinal Mooney 21 The Mountaineers (8-3) avenged a league-title deciding loss, having fallen to No. 10 (tied) Cardinal Mooney 15-8 in Week 6. The District title was Everest’s third straight. Ubly 49, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 14 The top-ranked Bearcats (11-0) earned their fourth-straight District title by limiting an MLS offense averaging 45 ppg entering the weekend. At 9-2, the No. 5 Cardinals finished their winningest season since 2016.

A Grand Ledge receiver hauls in a pass against Holt.

8-Player Division 1

HEADLINER Martin 56, Adrian Lenawee Christian 14 There will be a new Division 1 champion this month, as No. 3 Martin (9-2) ended No. 8 Lenawee Christian’s opportunity to extend a two-season reign. A year ago, the Cougars defeated Martin 36-14 in a Semifinal. But the Clippers found their stride on both sides of the ball in this Regional title game, with the 56 points the most Lenawee Christian (8-3) has given up in a game since switching to 8-player in 2020. Click for more from FOX 17.

Regional Roundup Munising 36, Newberry 22 This matchup was decided by 14 points for the second time this season, but with much more scoring than in the top-ranked Mustangs’ 14-0 win in Week 2. Munising improved to 11-0, while No. 6 Newberry ended 9-2 and its winningest season since 2004. Merrill 68, Breckenridge 28 The No. 2 Vandals (11-0) have won all of their games by at least 22 points this season, that closest win coming over Breckenridge (8-3) in Week 2 before nearly doubling up the margin in this rematch. Brown City 52, Deckerville 6 The No. 9 Green Devils’ 8-player debut almost couldn’t be going better. Brown City (10-1) claimed its first Regional title since 1997, in the process earning an opportunity to avenge its lone loss to Martin. Deckerville, surging at the end with a four-game winning streak, ended at 7-4.

8-Player Division 2

HEADLINER Mendon 46, Colon 44 These neighbors met for the first time in 8-player football, and with the kind of finish hoped for with a long-anticipated matchup. Mendon took the lead after a fourth-down conversion set up Jack McCaw’s go-ahead scoring run with 3:39 to play. The No. 7 Hornets held on to hand No. 2 Colon (10-1) its only defeat and will play in their first Semifinal since 2017. Click for more from the Sturgis Journal.  

Regional Roundup Powers North Central 45, Lake Linden-Hubbell 6 The top-ranked Jets (11-0) finished a season sweep of the Lakes (7-4) and ran their three-year winning streak to 35. Marion 14, Gaylord St. Mary 0 The No. 4 Eagles (11-0) are headed to the Semifinals for the third-straight season and have yet to give up a point in the playoffs. No. 10 St. Mary finished its winningest season since 2017 at 8-3. Morrice 34, Au Gres-Sims 14 The No. 9 Orioles piled up 409 yards including 386 on the ground and came back from an early deficit to win their first Regional title since 2019. The No. 6 Wolverines finished 7-2, their only other defeat in Week 2.

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PHOTOS (Top) A Livonia Franklin ball carrier finds an opening Friday against Temperance Bedford. (Middle) A Grand Ledge receiver hauls in a pass against Holt. (Photos by Douglas Bargerstock and Michele Hoffman, respectively.)

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.)