1st & Goal: 2022 Week 1 Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

August 25, 2022

It’s game time again for 605 high school football teams across Michigan.

MI Student AidThis opening weekend will see all but a handful begin their seasons, with 174 games Thursday, 130 on Friday and five Saturday.

Each week, we’ll again discuss intriguing 11-player games from every region of the state and the 8-player divisions, and special this Week 1 we’ll also take a glance at a matchup from all three of the opening showcase events being played over the next three days.

Nearly 200 games will be broadcast this weekend either on the NFHS Network or Bally Sports Detroit; click here for the schedule. To see a list of all games – and scores as they come in – click here for our Score Center.

Rankings below are by the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.

Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic – Wayne State University – Tom Adams Field

Sterling Heights Stevenson (10-3) vs. West Bloomfield (10-2), Thursday

The Lakers have high hopes again after winning Division 1 in 2020 and reaching the Regional Finals a year ago. They enter this season ranked No. 2 in Division 1, behind only reigning champion Belleville. But Stevenson will seek to make a statement right away after reaching the Semifinals last season.

More Xenith games THURSDAY Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (8-4) vs. Macomb Dakota (8-4). FRIDAY Allen Park (9-3) vs. Wyandotte (4-5), Belleville (13-1) vs. Novi (5-5). SATURDAY Dexter (5-5) vs. Grosse Pointe South (6-5), Cedar Springs (9-3) vs. River Rouge (7-3).

Battle at the Big House – University of Michigan – Michigan Stadium

Clarkston (8-2) vs. Davison (5-4), Thursday

After reaching the Division 1 Final two seasons ago (and falling to West Bloomfield), the Cardinals missed the playoffs last season but did finish on a 4-1 run and had two defeats by three points – including 29-26 to Clarkston in the opener. The Wolves will be playing their first game under former assistant Justin Pintar, who took over after the retirement of Kurt Richardson, who was 274-98 from 1987-2021.

More Big House games THURSDAY Brighton (4-5) vs. Dearborn Fordson (9-3), DeWitt (12-2) vs. Haslett (8-3). FRIDAY Livonia Churchill (8-3) vs. Plymouth (1-8), Port Huron (6-4) vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (14-0), Lapeer (7-3) vs. Ann Arbor Huron (8-2).

Vehicle City Gridiron Classic – Kettering University – Atwood Stadium

Grand Blanc (12-1) vs. Grandville (7-4), Thursday

The Bobcats’ only loss last season came to eventual Division 1 runner-up Rochester Adams in a Semifinal, and they enter ranked No. 8 in the division under first-year coach Kaleb Forr – who previously led Flint Kearsley to its first District title in 2020. Grandville is a consistent Ottawa-Kent Conference Red contender and coming off a third-straight seven-win season.

More Vehicle City games THURSDAY Flint Kearsley (6-4) vs. Flint Carman-Ainsworth (2-7). FRIDAY Flint Southwestern (2-6) vs. Swartz Creek (5-5), Flint Beecher (4-6) vs. Saginaw Nouvel (3-6).

Bay & Thumb

Clare (7-4) at Freeland (11-2), Thursday

Freeland is opening the season ranked No. 6 in Division 4 after making a run to last year’s Semifinals – and losing only 30-27 in that game to eventual champion Chelsea. The Falcons’ campaign last season began with a 24-14 Week 1 win over Clare, which is coming off its 16th-straight winning season. But the Pioneers have something of a new look this fall; longtime assistant Steven Spranger has taken over the program from Kelly Luplow, who retired with a 251-95 record from 1987-2021. 

Keep an eye on these THURSDAY Midland Dow (6-4) at Fenton (4-5), Goodrich (7-3) at Frankenmuth (12-1), Essexville Garber (5-5) at Hemlock (6-5), Croswell-Lexington (10-2) at Saginaw Swan Valley (6-5). 

Greater Detroit 

Orchard Lake St. Mary's (6-5) at Rochester Adams (13-1), Thursday

Adams played as long as possible last fall, reaching the Division 1 championship game before suffering its lone loss of the season, to West Bloomfield. The Highlanders are capable of that sort of run again and enter the season ranked No. 3 in Division 1. St. Mary’s is another program replacing a longtime coach, as past star Jermaine Gonzales has taken over for retired George Porritt, who was 278-94 from 1989-2021. The Eaglets enter this fall ranked No. 4 in Division 4. 

Keep an eye on these THURSDAY Montrose (7-3) at Clarkston Everest Collegiate (9-3), Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (7-4) at Detroit Catholic Central (8-3), Walled Lake Western (7-4) at South Lyon (12-1). FRIDAY Canton (7-4) at Livonia Franklin (7-6).


Jackson Lumen Christi (11-2) at New Lothrop (7-4), Thursday

This is the second year in this series of openers between the annual Division 7 championship contenders, with Lumen Christi winning last year’s matchup 27-14. The Titans ended up advancing to the Semifinals, while New Lothrop lost to eventual champion Pewamo-Westphalia in a District Final. There’s every reason to think those high-level opportunities will be possible again, as Lumen enters No. 4 and New Lothrop No. 5 in the Division 7 rankings.

Keep an eye on these THURSDAY Ovid-Elsie (6-4) at Portland (10-3), Zeeland East (5-5) at Williamston (6-4). FRIDAY Carson City-Crystal (10-2) at Fowler (7-4), Redford Union (8-2) at Pewamo-Westphalia (14-0).

Northern Lower Peninsula

McBain (7-4) at Kingsley (10-2), Thursday

Kingsley owns a 5-3 edge during this latest series between these longtime rivals, with the Stags winning big last fall to kick off what ended up turning into another playoff season for both programs. That’s an expectation again for both. Kingsley enters ranked No. 6 in Division 5 and carrying a combined 40-6 record over the last four seasons. McBain is right there at 35-16 over five straight winning campaigns. 

Keep an eye on these THURSDAY Marquette (7-3) at Traverse City West (6-4), Ludington (3-6) at Petoskey (3-6). FRIDAY Charlevoix (8-2) at East Jordan (6-3), Traverse City Central (12-2) vs. St. Joseph (8-5) at Ferris State. 

Southeast & Border

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (7-3) at Clinton (9-3), Thursday

While it would be easy to put the matchup of traditional heavies Hudsonville and Saline here, there’s a lot to talk about as well with Notre Dame Prep taking a trip to Clinton. This will be another nonleague game that eventually should benefit both in playoff points – win or lose. Notre Dame Prep is opening ranked No. 5 in Division 5, while Clinton is No. 5 in Division 6 coming off last season’s District title.

Keep an eye on these THURSDAY Carleton Airport (4-5) at Ida (8-3), Hudsonville (4-5) at Saline (9-1), Jackson (5-5) at Monroe (4-5). FRIDAY Blissfield (3-6) at Ottawa Lake Whiteford (11-2).

Southwest Corridor

Reading (6-4) at White Pigeon (10-2), Thursday

This could be a preview of a Division 8 playoff matchup, as both are expected to be among contenders – Reading entering the season ranked No. 5 and White Pigeon No. 7. They’ve managed to elude each other in playoffs past although that nearly came to an end last fall, when Reading fell to eventual champion Hudson in a District opener and White Pigeon was edged by the Tigers 8-0 in the Regional Final. 

Keep an eye on these THURSDAY Battle Creek Harper Creek (7-4) at Battle Creek Lakeview (7-4), Zeeland West (6-3) at Stevensville Lakeshore (7-4), East Lansing (7-4) at Portage Central (9-3). FRIDAY Berrien Springs (10-1) at Kalamazoo United (8-4). 

Upper Peninsula

Iron Mountain (7-4) at Negaunee (8-3), Thursday

The Mountaineers have won all three matchups since this one went to opening night in 2018, but by only three, three and two points – 14-12 last season – respectively. Starting with a win is even more important as they’re both likely to contend again in the always-loaded Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper. Additionally, Iron Mountain enters this fall ranked No. 9 in Division 8. 

Keep an eye on these THURSDAY Sault Ste. Marie (6-3) at Escanaba (1-8). FRIDAY Calumet (9-3) at Gladstone (4-6), Ishpeming Westwood (10-2) at Houghton (5-4), Menominee (5-5) at Marinette, Wis. (0-9). 

West Michigan

Edwardsburg (12-1) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (9-2), Thursday

Edwardsburg has lived among the elite for more than a decade, its only loss last season in the Division 4 Semifinal to Hudsonville Unity Christian. The Eddies enter this weekend ranked No. 5 in that division but facing an opponent that took a mighty step last season toward returning to championship contender status. The Falcons improved three wins last fall and enter this one ranked No. 2 in Division 6. 

Keep an eye on these THURSDAY Holt (7-3) at Caledonia (10-2), Whitehall (8-3) at Hudsonville Unity Christian (13-1), Montague (8-4) at Spring Lake (6-4). FRIDAY Grand Rapids Christian (7-4) at Grand Rapids South Christian (8-4).


Mendon (8-3) at Martin (11-1), Friday

These league foes met twice last season, Martin winning 28-20 during the regular season and 41-22 in a Division 1 Regional Final. The first round decided the Southwest Michigan 8-Man Football League Tier 1 championship, and this one could eventually do the same. Martin enters ranked No. 4 in Division 1, and Mendon is No. 8 in Division 2.

Keep an eye on these THURSDAY Pickford (7-3) at Gaylord St. Mary (5-5), Suttons Bay (12-1) at Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian (7-3), Morrice (10-1) at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (7-3). FRIDAY Vestaburg (6-4) at Portland St. Patrick (9-1).

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 A rainbow decorates the pregame sky last season at Otsego. (Photo by Gary Shook.)

Unforgettable 5ive: 2022 Football Finals

By Jon Ross
MHSAA Director of Broadcast Properties

November 30, 2022

Ten unforgettable plays from the 2022 Football Finals (one from each division):

► Taegan Harris runs the kick back 94 yards in Martin's 74-24 win over Merrill in 8-Player Division 1.

► Jacob Gorzinksi throws a 33-yard touchdown pass to Luke Gorzinksi in Powers North Central's 66-26 win over Mendon in 8-Player Division 2.

► Shea Ruddy scores from seven yards out as Ottawa Lake Whiteford defeats Ubly 26-20 in Division 8.

► Derrick Walker scores from two yards out as Jackson Lumen Christi downs Traverse City St. Francis 15-12 in Division 7.

► Timmy Kloska propels Grand Rapids West Catholic to a 59-14 win over Negaunee thanks in part to this 61-yard touchdown run.

► Gladwin defeats Frankenmuth 10-7 in Division 5 on this field goal from Treyton Siegert with two seconds left.

► Jacob DeHaan scores from 54 yards out as Grand Rapids South Christian wins in Division 4, 28-0 over Goodrich.

► Detroit Martin Luther King repeats as Division 3 champ, defeating Muskegon 56-27 as Sterling Anderson scores from 80 yards out.

► Jack Yanachik catches the 38-yard touchdown pass from Brady Drogosh as Warren De La Salle Collegiate downs Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 52-13 in Division 2.

► Bryce Underwood keeps it 48 yards for the touchdown as Belleville defeats Caledonia 35-17 in Division 1.