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.
Most 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.
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) November 5, 2022
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.
Highlights of Forest Hills Central senior quarterback Justin Osterhouse in their win over Muskegon Mona Shores on Friday. Delivered by @hungryhowies @JustinOsterhou1 | @fhcsportsreport pic.twitter.com/SoAh5wfGpj
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) November 5, 2022
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.
Here are the highlights of the DeWitt at Mt. Pleasant - Division 3 District Final that aired on Football Fridays Overtime powered by STATE CHAMPS! on @BallySportsDET
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) November 5, 2022
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.
"That was a pull it out of the sky shot. But, it worked!" - Tom Alward
Check-out these highlights pic.twitter.com/qrNU5E3ki4
— Brandon Green🍀 (@BGreenReports) November 5, 2022
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.
Flint Hamady Head Coach Gary Lee is one of the best coaches in Michigan and he spoke with The D Zone tonight.
Lee talked about the win, how motivated the team is, upperclassmen mentoring young players, and more!
— The D Zone (@TheD_Zone) November 6, 2022
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.
Here are the highlights of the Warren Michigan Collegiate at Bishop Foley - Division 6 District Final that aired on Football Fridays Overtime powered by STATE CHAMPS! on @BallySportsDET@MCisFamily pic.twitter.com/3K5ruAY4R2
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) November 5, 2022
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.
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.
— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) November 5, 2022
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.
MHSAA.com'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.
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.)
DETROIT – Dante Moore had no tears left to cry Saturday night, even happy tears, after he played his final high school football game for Detroit Martin Luther King at Ford Field.
“Everybody sees I’m not crying – I really cried before I got here to the game. Before I walked to the gate, I was crying and I cried last night,” Moore said.
King’s four-year starting quarterback cemented his legacy, leading the Crusaders to their second-straight MHSAA Division 3 championship with a 56-27 victory over Muskegon.
The Oregon commit finished 21-of-26 passing for 275 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions to power King (10-3) to its sixth Finals title overall and fifth in eight years.
Before Moore even took the field for his first offensive series against Muskegon (11-3), junior Jameel Croft Jr. staked King to an immediate lead with an electrifying 96-yard return of the game’s opening kickoff.
The Crusaders never looked back.
“I wasn’t expecting that. I just followed my blocks. Guys were blocking for me and the coaches set it up perfectly for me, for real,” Croft said. “It gave us a lot of momentum in the beginning of the game. It helped us out a lot.”
Muskegon pulled within 14-7 midway through the first quarter and 21-14 three minutes into the second, but Moore & Co. always seemed to have an answer.
Croft scored the game’s first two TDs, as he added a 13-yard scoring catch from Moore to make it 14-0 with 6:28 left in the first quarter.
“We started out chasing. We gave up that opening kickoff for a touchdown and we just got ourselves chasing and kind of things went from there,” said Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield, whose team trailed 35-14 at halftime and pulled within 14 with five minutes left in the third but got no closer.
Croft was Moore’s top pass-catcher, finishing with six receptions for 64 yards and two TDs. Senior Sterling Anderson Jr. was a blur as King’s top rusher, totaling 207 yards on only 13 carries, highlighted by his 80-yard scoring sprint that gave the Crusaders a 49-27 lead with 10:55 remaining.
Seniors Samuel Washington and Tim Ruffin paced King defensively with nine and eight tackles, respectively. For Muskegon, senior Julian Neely registered a team-high seven stops, while junior Stanley Cunningham recorded two sacks among his six tackles.
Muskegon junior quarterback M’Khi Guy ran 20 times for 135 yards with two TDs, including a 60-yard breakaway to pull the Big Reds within 14-7 midway through the first quarter. He also completed 2-of-4 passes for 97 yards, including a 71-yard scoring strike to junior Destin Piggee.
Muskegon junior Jakob Price added 93 rushing yards and a TD on 17 carries, but the night belonged to King and Moore.
“There’s no excuse: That kid is amazing. He threw balls that we haven’t seen probably in my career,” said Fairfield, whose program was seeking its first Finals title since 2017. His Big Reds teams have been to the Finals to finish eight of his 13 seasons at the helm.
“Only one other guy threw touchdown passes like (Moore) and passes and balls like that in my career here, and that was (Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice’s) Alex Malzone – went to Michigan. Seems like we always see the (Dequan) Finns and the Dantes and Malzones and stuff when we get here, but you know, we’re here,” added Fairfield, whose 2018 squad lost to Finn and King, 41-25, in the Division 3 championship game.
King coach Tyrone Spencer said that his team overcame a lot of adversity this season. The Crusaders could not practice on their field because it’s undergoing a makeover, so they bussed to practice. They lost their season opener to Warren Central (Ind.), 44-26, and dropped the final two games of the regular season to Detroit Cass Tech (28-14) and Cincinnati Moeller (30-14).
The Crusaders got it going in the playoffs, however. They threatened the Finals record for points by one team, established Friday night by Grand Rapids West Catholic with 59.
“(The season) was up and down, but the kids, I mean, they trust us and we got it back going,” Spencer said. “They’re a resilient group of kids. It speaks to their character.”
Moore mentioned the “championship culture” at King, how one expects to be a champion once he puts on that jersey.
It’s also about giving back and respecting the game, too, which has been a custom of Moore’s since his freshman year when King lost to Muskegon Mona Shores in the Division 2 Final, 35-26.
“My freshman year, me playing against Brady Rose and Muskegon Mona Shores, I remember Brady Rose pulled me to the side and that’s where I really got it from – him taking me to the side, telling me things I can work on, and me congratulating him for what he’s done and being one of the best players to come through Michigan to be honest and leading his team on his back,” Moore recalled.
“I just knew that I had to carry that on through this past year and really pull the (opposing) quarterbacks to the side, especially (those) younger than me. Me being a senior, I’ve been through a lot. I just want to give them the keys and terms to help them be the best they can be in high school.”
Croft called the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Moore a “great leader,” who is “so poised” and one who will leave “a great legacy right here for sure.”
“Special, man,” is how Spencer reflected on Moore’s four-year run.
“You know, he’ll be the one that they’ll talk about maybe the greatest we’ve ever had here,” Spencer said. “Just really proud of him and the person that he is. He deserves it. He works hard for it, and I just couldn’t be more pleased. It couldn’t happen to a better person.”
Meanwhile, Muskegon got off to a bit of a slow start this season by Big Reds standards. They lost two of their first five games, including a 49-16 road defeat to eventual Division 2 champion Warren De La Salle Collegiate, but got healthy and played their best football at the right time leading up to Saturday night.
Fairfield said the Big Reds battled and left it all on the field.
“They played 14 and when you play 14 games, of course this is going to hurt more because it’s the very last one and now you’ve got 364 days to get back,” he said.
PHOTOS (Top) Detroit King’s Samuel Washington (10) wraps up Muskegon’s M’Khi Guy during Saturday’s night’s Division 3 Final. (Middle) Crusaders quarterback Dante Moore rolls out looking for a receiver. (Below) King’s Sterling Anderson Jr. (3) follows his blockers through a sizable opening.