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.)

1st & Goal: 2022 Week 5 Review

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 26, 2022

The champs are here – with more soon on the way.  

MI Student AidWeek 5 saw the first football league champions awarded in Michigan, as at least four varsity teams clinched conference titles as the regular season reached its midpoint.

Several more matchups shaped where league races will be heading the rest of the way. Here’s our glance at many of them.

Bay & Thumb

HEADLINER Frankenmuth 21, Freeland 0 An Eagles defense that has been difficult to break the last many seasons may have put up its most impressive performance of at least the last few. Freeland (4-1) was averaging nearly 49 points per game this fall, but Frankenmuth (5-0) now has given up 30 total this season and none over the last two weeks as it’s taken the sole lead in the Tri-Valley Conference 8. Click for more from the Saginaw News.

Watch list Standish-Sterling 28, Millington 24 The Panthers (5-0) came back from 10 down with a quarter to play to clinch a share of the Tri-Valley Conference 10-1 and hand the Cardinals (4-1) their lone defeat. Millington had won their matchups the last two seasons.

On the move Flint Hamady 61, Flint Beecher 20 The Hawks (5-0) also clinched a share of their league title, in the Genesee Area Conference, and ran their recent streak against Beecher (2-3) to four wins over their last five meetings. Port Huron Northern 14, Port Huron 7 The Huskies (5-0) sit alone atop the Macomb Area Conference Blue after holding the rival Big Reds (4-1) scoreless over the final quarter. Grand Blanc 28, East Lansing 21 The Bobcats (3-2) have caught their stride the last two weeks, this time handing East Lansing (4-1) its lone defeat.

Greater Detroit

HEADLINER Macomb Dakota 28, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 17 Not many seasons go by without this being one of our headlining matchups, and Dakota (5-0) now sits alone atop the MAC Red after running its winning streak over Chippewa Valley to four. The teams were tied into the final eight minutes of the game before the Big Reds (4-1) took a brief lead and the Cougars broke away for the win. Click for more from Macomb Daily.

Watch list Rochester Adams 35, West Bloomfield 18 The Oakland Activities Association Red might be the deepest league in Michigan this season, and newcomer Adams (4-1) is back into a four-way tie for first place after handing reigning champion West Bloomfield (4-1) its lone loss.

On the move Detroit Catholic Central 21, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 19 The Shamrocks (4-1) are the early leaders in the Detroit Catholic League Central after stopping a fourth-quarter Rice two-point conversion attempt – and the Warriors’ opportunity to clinch a share of the conference title. Detroit Central 35, Detroit Southeastern 20 Central gave up its first points since Week 1, but also slowed down a Southeastern offense that was averaging nearly 43 points per game. The Trailblazers (5-0) moved into first alone in the Detroit Public School League Gold, with the Jungaleers (4-1) tied with two others for second. Grosse Pointe South 21, Roseville 14 South (3-2) also took over first place alone, in the MAC White, by sending Roseville (3-2) into a three-way tie for second.


HEADLINER Fowler 20, Pewamo-Westphalia 16 The Eagles broke a seven-game losing streak against the  rival Pirates (3-2), and in doing so took control in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference; their matchup has eventually decided the last two league champions. A final-minute touchdown clinched it for Fowler (5-0). Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Watch list Mason 28, Haslett 13 The Bulldogs (5-0) are up to fourth in Division 3 playoff-point average and alone atop the Capital Area Activities Conference Red with a second-straight win over one of last season’s co-champions.

On the move Beal City 26, Evart 21 The undefeated Aggies’ drive to repeat in the Highland Conference got a major boost as they sent Evart (4-1) into a tie for second with three league games to play. Mount Pleasant 46, Bay City Western 18 The Oilers (5-0) lead the Saginaw Valley League North at the midway point after also sending Western (3-2) into a tie for second in that league. Brighton 17, Northville 14 They entered tied for first in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West, but Brighton (5-0) ended the night alone atop the league after blocking a late field-goal attempt by the Mustangs (4-1).

Northern Lower Peninsula

HEADLINER Cadillac 19, Gaylord 9 The Vikings (3-2) clinched a share of the Big North Conference championship with their first single-digit defensive showing of another solid run on that side of the ball this season. The defense was a difference-maker for the offense as well, as all three Cadillac touchdowns were set up by turnovers. Click for more from the Cadillac News.

Watch list East Jordan 35, Maple City Glen Lake 9 After opening with two nonleague losses, the Red Devils (3-2) have won their first three games in the Northern Michigan Football League Legacy, including this one to move into a tie for first place and send the Lakers (3-2) out of the top spot.

On the move Lake City 36, McBain 30 (OT) The Trojans (3-2) remain alive in the Highland Conference race thanks to an unforgettable comeback from a 30-0 deficit to get past the Ramblers (2-3). Petoskey 24, Alpena 20 This gave the Northmen (2-3) a chance to win a share of the BNC title this week against Cadillac. Ogemaw Heights 7, Sault St. Marie 6 The Falcons (3-2) tied their win totals of both of the last two seasons but this time with four games to play, and handed the Blue Devils (4-1) their lone loss in the process.

Southeast & Border

HEADLINER Dundee 9, Brooklyn Columbia Central 7 Brayden Ratliff’s leg was a decider in a defensive battle, as he kicked three field goals including the game-winner with eight seconds to play. Dundee is 5-0 for the first time since 1992, per Michigan-football.com, with a chance to shape the race in the Lenawee County Athletic Association with undefeated Clinton and Hudson coming up over the next three weeks. Click for more from the Monroe News.

Watch list Erie Mason 20, Sand Creek 14 Halfway through the Tri-County Conference schedule, Erie Mason (5-0) is tied for first after avenging a 48-6 loss to Sand Creek from a year ago.

On the move Ottawa Lake Whiteford 54, Petersburg Summerfield 6 The Bobcats also are tied for first in the TCC; they face Erie Mason in Week 8. Napoleon 35, Hanover-Horton 7 The Pirates (5-0) sit alone atop the Cascades Conference thanks to a second-straight win over Hanover-Horton (2-3). Grass Lake 36, Michigan Center 29 The Warriors (3-2) are one of three teams in the Cascades with one league loss, with this win putting a little more on the line for the showdown with Napoleon this week.

Southwest Corridor

HEADLINER St. Joseph 13, Portage Central 12 The Bears (4-1) took a major step in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference by edging and avenging a 2021 loss to the reigning champion Mustangs (2-3), sending them a game back in the league standings. St. Joseph’s next two games are against opponents also a game back – Portage Northern and Stevensville Lakeshore – but an especially intriguing Week 9 is brewing as Battle Creek Central is the other SMAC co-leader. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.

Watch list Edwardsburg 25, Plainwell 21 A major comeback pushed the Eddies’ Wolverine Conference winning streak to 36 as they received but handled a tough challenge for a second-straight one-score victory.

On the move Union City 20, Homer 14 The Chargers (4-1) sit alone atop the Big 8 Conference after a third-straight one-score win over a team now sitting in second, third or fourth place. Homer (3-2) is that second-place team hoping for a slip up, but Union City needs to win only one of its final two league games to clinch a share of the title. Berrien Springs 20, Benton Harbor 14 Three of five teams in the first-year Lakeland Conference are 4-1 or better, and Berrien Springs (5-0) sits alone in first after handing Benton Harbor (2-3) its second-straight one-score defeat. Centreville 40, White Pigeon 28 The Bulldogs (4-1) are in first halfway through the Southwest 10 Conference schedule, with White Pigeon (2-3) looking to finish strong after losing three games to teams that are a combined 11-4.

Upper Peninsula

HEADLINER Gladstone 48, Marquette 21 The Braves (5-0) clinched a share of the Great Northern Conference championship, with the opportunity to win it outright coming up Week 9 against Escanaba (unless Kingsford or Menominee loses a league game before then). This was another one that was never really in question as Gladstone has now won all of its games by at least two touchdowns. Click for more from RRN Sports.

Watch list Iron Mountain 45, Bark River-Harris 8 Since falling to Negaunee by five in Week 1, the Mountaineers (4-1) have been nearly unstoppable giving up a combined 14 points over the last four games – and with Bark River-Harris (3-2) the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Iron leader.

On the move Ishpeming Westwood 22, Manistique 6 After opening 0-3 with two two-point losses, Westwood (2-3) is on the rise with a defense that’s giving up only 17 points per game. Negaunee 49, Ishpeming 14 Both are possible champions in their respective divisions of the West PAC, but this solidifies Copper leader Negaunee as another of the best teams overall in all of the Upper Peninsula. The Miners play Gladstone in Week 7. Houghton 42, Hancock 0 The Gremlins avenged last season’s loss and earned their first win in this rivalry since 2018.

West Michigan

HEADLINER Zeeland West 38, Muskegon 36 This rollercoaster ride came to a stop with Zeeland West tied with Muskegon Mona Shores atop the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green and Muskegon and Reeths-Puffer just a game back in the standings. The Dux led by double digits, then trailed late before scoring during the final minute to move to 5-0. The Big Reds are 3-2, but with those losses to teams that are a combined 9-1. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Watch list Caledonia 50, Grandville 40 After things sorted out in the O-K Red on Friday, Caledonia finds itself tied for first with Grandville a game back thanks in part to quarterback Mason McKenzie’s standout performance.

On the move Grand Rapids Catholic Central 49, Ada Forest Hills Eastern 21 This stayed close for most of three quarters before GRCC (5-0) broke away to remain tied for first in the O-K Gold and send FHE (4-1) into third. Rockford 41, East Kentwood 20 The Rams (5-0) joined Caledonia in first in the O-K Red, while East Kentwood (3-2) joined Grandville one game back. East Grand Rapids 42, Grand Rapids Christian 14 The Pioneers’ offense found its footing and in doing so gave the team some hope for the final month as it looks to bounce back from a 1-3 start during which all three losses came to opponents still undefeated.


HEADLINER Powers North Central 50, Lake Linden-Hubbell 0 The Jets (5-0) broke their previous MHSAA 8-player consecutive wins record with their 28th in a row –  with their third of four wins on the field this season while not giving up a point. The Lakes (3-2) had been averaging nearly 34 points per game. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

Watch list Auburn Hills Oakland Christian 52, Deckerville 44 After falling in its North Central Thumb League Stars debut three weeks earlier, Oakland Christian (4-1) showed how smoothly it has adjusted to its new conference with this significant win over an annual favorite.

On the move Mendon 36, Gobles 6 The Hornets (3-2) have moved up from 23rd to tied for 11th in Division 2 playoff-point average over the last two weeks, this time in part because of the early success by the Tigers (3-2) – who are in the midst of what could be their most successful season since 2016. Posen 56, Mio 48 After winning just once a year ago, Posen is up to 4-1 with three wins over 2021 playoff teams including the Thunderbolts (3-2). Morrice 42, Breckenridge 20 We’ve been following Breckenridge’s rise in its first season of 8-player, and Morrice (5-0) stood strong against a tough challenge with a possible league title decider against Merrill up next.

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.

PHOTOS (Top) Negaunee's Kai Lacer (22) leaps over an Ishpeming defender during a touchdown run Friday. (Middle) A Zeeland West passer lofts a throw against Muskegon. (Below) Powers North Central celebrates its record-setting win. (Top and middle photos by Cara Kamps and Tim Reilly, respectively. Bottom photo courtesy of the North Central athletic department.)