1st & Goal: 2022 Week 1 Review
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
August 30, 2022
Another slate of season openers meant another fresh start for more than 600 varsity football teams across Michigan this past weekend.
Three reigning MHSAA champions and three more 2021 Finals runners-up were among those starting out 0-1 this fall, while Lansing Waverly, Armada, Allegan and Litchfield were among many who celebrated what they hope will be just the start of special seasons to come.
See below for many of the most notable results from all over Michigan as we take a glance at Week 1.
Bay & Thumb
HEADLINER Davison 28, Clarkston 21 After opening with a three-point loss to Clarkston last season and then missing the playoffs, Davison has switched lanes on the first and set itself up well in the early going for the second. The Cardinals made some big plays late to get past the Wolves this time during the Battle at the Big House at University of Michigan. Click for more from the Flint Journal.
Here's the highlights of Davison beating Clarkston 28-21 at the Battle At The Big House on Thursday.
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Watch list Fenton 46, Midland Dow 7 The Tigers are coming off their first sub-.500 season since 2007, but that might be a distant memory soon if this win over the Division 2 Chargers is an indication.
On the move Montrose 27, Clarkston Everest Collegiate 0 Everest averaged 38 points per game last season but couldn’t get on track against a Rams defense that had two shutouts a year ago. Frankenmuth 27, Goodrich 2 This might be a sign that a strong Frankenmuth defense from last season will be tough to deal with again. Midland 27, Cadillac 21 The Chemics, winners of two games last season, opened with a solid one over a Cadillac program that finished 9-3 a year ago.
HEADLINER Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 20, Detroit Catholic Central 16 This is the type of titanic opening-night matchup we anticipate all offseason, and Chippewa Valley came on strong at the end after trailing by 10 at halftime. The Big Reds also had won last season’s opener between the two. Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.
Here's the TD highlights of Chippewa Valley beating Detroit Catholic Central 20-16 on Thursday. @CVBigReds @ChippewaSports
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Watch list Armada 28, Marine City 27 Last year’s first winning record in a decade may have just been the start as the Tigers opened by edging last season’s Division 5 runner-up.
On the move Trenton 6, Chelsea 3 The Trojans reversed last year’s 40-0 loss to the eventual Division 4 champ. Redford Union 26, Pewamo-Westphalia 6 The Panthers also avenged a 2021 defeat to an eventual champion after falling to Division 7 winner P-W 33-6 a year ago. Southfield Arts & Technology 56, Detroit Cass Tech 54 The Warriors are seeking their first winning season since 2016 and should have plenty of momentum after avenging last season’s 49-22 loss to the Technicians.
HEADLINER Lansing Waverly 18, Lansing Catholic 7 This might be Waverly’s best win since clinching a playoff spot in 2012 – or even going back to defeating Grand Ledge in 2002. The Warriors gave up 33 points a game in winning only two last season, but shut down the reigning Division 6 champion Cougars in arguably the biggest upset in the state during Week 1. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
Watch list DeWitt 21, Haslett 14 Rivalry restored? It may be early to say that much, but this Battle at the Big House – and first matchup of these two past rivals since 2017 – featured a shutout by the Panthers’ defense but two return touchdowns by the Vikings’ Nakai Amachree.
On the move New Lothrop 12, Jackson Lumen Christi 7 The Hornets won arguably the most anticipated small-school opener in the state, avenging last season’s 27-14 loss to the Titans – who went on to make the Division 7 Semifinals. Brighton 35, Dearborn Fordson 14 Both are likely contenders in their respective divisions of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association, Brighton especially making some noise with this win after finishing 4-5 a year ago. East Lansing 21, Portage Central 15 This was switched late from an East Lansing home game to a trip to Portage, but the Trojans made the best of it against a Mustangs team that won nine games in 2021.
Northern Lower Peninsula
HEADLINER Traverse City Central 49, St. Joseph 28 The Trojans traveled to Ferris State for their first game since finishing Division 2 runner-up last fall at Ford Field, and defeated a St. Joseph program that reached the Division 3 Semifinals last season. The win might prove especially notable with Lapeer and Davison up next and then a first-time run through the newly-configured Saginaw Valley League. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Watch list Gaylord 15, Lake Fenton 14 Gaylord had won a combined five games over the last three seasons, and this story gets better with Lake Fenton coming off a nine-win campaign.
On the move Kingsley 40, McBain 0 The Stags are on an impressive four-year run and looking to make it five while opening in a big way against another regular playoff qualifier. Traverse City West 7, Marquette 0 The Titans avenged last season’s 28-17 loss in a rematch of 2021 playoff teams. Cheboygan 52, Lake City 26 The Chiefs are seeking their first winning season since 2013, and this is a strong start after the team went from zero wins in 2020 to three a year ago.
Southeast & Border
HEADLINER Reading 33, White Pigeon 14 Expectations are high for both of these teams as Reading entered the season ranked No. 5 in Division 8 with White Pigeon right there at No. 7. The Rangers posted notable showings on both sides of the ball in this one after averaging 26 points per game and giving up 16 per game last year. Click for more from the Hillsdale Daily News.
Watch list Hillsdale 35, Jonesville 12 The Hornets have tough tasks with Berrien Springs and Hudson up next but should enjoy some added spark after breaking Jonesville’s 13-game regular-season winning streak.
On the move Carleton Airport 35, Ida 32 The Jets avenged last season’s season-opening 43-26 loss as they seek a first winning record since 2019. Manchester 20, Whitmore Lake 6 The Flying Dutchmen are seeking their first winning season since 2015, and opened this one by defeating a 2021 playoff qualifier. Ottawa Lake Whiteford 36, Blissfield 20 It’s a new era but familiar start at Whiteford, as the Bobcats earned first-year head coach and former assistant Todd Thieken his first varsity win with the program.
HEADLINER Battle Creek Lakeview 28, Battle Creek Harper Creek 6 The Spartans ran their winning streak over Harper Creek to three with their best defensive showing in two years. That’s especially significant with one of the tougher Septembers in the state coming up – River Rouge next followed by four of the usual contenders in the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.
Watch list Centreville 20, Union City 14 The Bulldogs have been one of the state’s top small-school programs the last five seasons and opened with a win over a playoff qualifier from last fall.
On the move Portage Northern 41, Vicksburg 27 This should benefit both as Northern is a Division 2 team looking to bounce back this fall and Vicksburg in Division 4 won eight games a year ago. Buchanan 46, Saugatuck 20 The Bucks fell back in 2021 but could be bouncing back after defeating a Saugatuck program coming off a playoff berth. Plainwell 21, Otsego 7 The Trojans improved to 71-44-6 all-time against Otsego in a rivalry that goes back to 1896.
HEADLINER Houghton 14, Ishpeming Westwood 12 The Gremlins’ first win over Westwood since 2016 also avenged a 52-8 loss to the Patriots from a year ago and may have reshuffled the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper race right at the start. Houghton also is coming off its best season since 2013, while Westwood made the Regional Finals in Division 7 a year ago. Click for more from the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette.
Watch list Negaunee 19, Iron Mountain 14 The Miners avenged a 2021 loss to another West PAC Copper contender, adding another wrinkle as that conference gets rolling.
On the move St. Ignace 26, Tawas 6 The Saints are 1-0 for the first time since 2016 and after winning a combined three games over the last two seasons. Gladstone 42, Calumet 13 Gladstone ran its winning streak over Calumet to two, even more impressive this time as the Copper Kings are coming off a 9-3 campaign. Menominee 40, Marinette (Wis.) 6 The 116th game of this rivalry upped Menominee’s overall record against Marinette to 58-51-7.
HEADLINER Whitehall 54, Hudsonville Unity Christian 26 The Vikings have posted some impressive wins over the last two seasons as they’ve rejoined the elite in the West Michigan Conference. But from a statewide point of view, this victory is right up there with their best work. Unity Christian was last season’s Division 4 runner-up, and also averaged 57 points per game – making this another notable performance for a Whitehall defense that has given up only 13.6 points per game over the last two seasons. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.
Watch list Grand Rapids West Catholic 28, Edwardsburg 20 The Falcons ended the Eddies’ 35-game regular-season winning streak by slowing an offense that averaged 49 points per game a year ago.
On the move Grandville 49, Grand Blanc 25 The Bulldogs should be contenders again in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red after this win over a 2021 Division 1 semifinalist. Allegan 55, Cassopolis 0 The Tigers haven’t won more than two games in a season since 2011 – but opened with a sizable victory over a program with eight straight playoff appearances (and nine counting 2020 when everyone made it). Grand Rapids South Christian 42, Grand Rapids Christian 7 The Sailors made it two opening-week wins over the Eagles in two seasons as they seek to contend again in the O-K Gold.
HEADLINER Martin 30, Mendon 28 The Clippers were down 20-8 at halftime of a game that despite being played Week 1 could decide a league title. But they came all the way back to earn their third victory over the Hornets in three tries over the last two seasons. Click for more from the Sturgis Journal.
Watch list Pickford 28, Gaylord St. Mary 16 The Panthers won their second opener in a row over the Snowbirds and after both made the playoffs last season.
On the move Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 65, Suttons Bay 19 The Mustangs handed Suttons Bay its first regular-season loss since 2018, also avenging a 30-12 defeat from last fall. Litchfield 34, Bellevue 24 The Terriers put an end to their 20-game winless streak that went back to 2019. Alcona 82, Mio 52 These two wasted no time putting together one of the highest-scoring 8-player games in MHSAA history.
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PHOTOS (Top) A Livonia Churchill defender wraps up a Plymouth ball carrier during Churchill’s 32-14 win over Plymouth at University of Michigan. (Middle) An Otsego ball carrier looks for an opening against Plainwell. (Top photo by Douglas Bargerstock; middle photo by Gary Shook.)
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:
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.)