1st & Goal: 2022 Week 2 Review

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 6, 2022

We don’t keep track of losing streaks at the MHSAA. But we’re plenty glad to celebrate teams after those streaks have been broken.

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Holland West Ottawa and Litchfield surely are enjoying these first few weeks, as both have started the fall 2-0 after multiple seasons without a victory.

Theirs are among several potential turnaround stories beginning to be told, and we highlight more below as we review Week 2 across Michigan.

Bay & Thumb

HEADLINER Lapeer 56, Traverse City Central 42 The Lightning (2-0) scored first and impressively on the road against last season’s Division 2 runner-up. Quarterback Zak Olejniczak ran for a touchdown and threw for seven more, including four scoring passes to Connor Brown. Although Central (1-1) went over 40 points for the second week in a row, Lapeer’s defense was the difference during the fourth quarter with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Watch list Swartz Creek 36, Lake Fenton 14 The Dragons are 2-0 for the first time since 2018 and after starting 1-3 a year ago but still eventually making the playoffs. This win avenged a 13-0 loss to Lake Fenton (0-2) from last fall.

On the move Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker 39, Cass City 12 The Lakers (2-0) have opened with two commanding wins as they head into Greater Thumb Conference West play, while Cass City is 1-1 heading into GTC East action. Standish-Sterling 31, Ithaca 27 The Panthers (2-0) trailed throughout the first half before making their move during the second to earn a one-score win over Ithaca (1-1) for the second-straight season. Marlette 38, Unionville-Sebewaing 12 Marlette (2-0) last played USA in a 2020 playoff opener, and the Red Raiders hadn’t come within 40 of the Patriots (0-2) two of the three times they’d faced each other over the last seven seasons.

Greater Detroit

HEADLINER Clarkston 62, Southfield Arts & Technology 56 Southfield A&T (1-1) is becoming must-see football this fall – and that’s a strong vote of confidence for Clarkston after the Wolves held on to move to 1-1. Warriors quarterback Isaiah Marshall is up to nine touchdowns passing and five rushing over two games, but Clarkston running back Ethan Clark ran for four scores as the Wolves put up the game’s last points during the final minute to prevail. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

Watch list Birmingham Seaholm 21, Detroit U-D Jesuit 20 (OT) The Maples won one game a year ago, but are up to 2-0 after edging the Division 2 No. 6-ranked Cubs (1-1).

On the move Oxford 17, Birmingham Groves 14 On an emotion-filled night at Oxford, the Wildcats (1-1) opened their home schedule by defeating the No. 10 team in Division 2, sending the Falcons to 1-1. Detroit Catholic Central 44, Davison 34 The early hierarchy in Division 1 should see movement as Davison (1-1) was ranked No. 6 and DCC (1-1) was unranked before defeating the Cardinals for the second-straight season. Warren De La Salle Collegiate 49, Muskegon 16 These two have a combined seven appearances in MHSAA Finals over the last five seasons, which on its own to explains the heaviness of this matchup and significance of this win for the Pilots (2-0) over the Big Reds (1-1)


HEADLINER DeWitt 39, Portland 34 This has become one of the best games every fall in the Lansing area – this time DeWitt entered No. 2 in Division 3 and Portland was No. 4 in Division 5 – and the 2022 chapter was another classic. The Panthers (2-0) won for the first time in three recent matchups with the Raiders (1-1) as Elliott Larner took a handoff and found Bryce Kurncz on a 22-yard halfback pass for the game-winning score with 14 seconds to play. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Watch list Durand 56, Montrose 52 The Railroaders have strung together three straight playoff seasons but have something extra to be excited about so far this fall. Durand (2-0) defeated Montrose (1-1) for the first time since 2009, perhaps the best win since the program’s turnaround got rolling after an 0-9 finish in 2017.

On the move East Lansing 28, Fenton 14 The Trojans (2-0) have loaded their nonleague slate again, and after posting one of Week 1’s most impressive debuts doubled up a Tigers team that also had opened in a big way. Mount Pleasant 51, Midland 29 The Oilers’ immediate schedule gets no easier with Cadillac and Traverse City Central over the next two weeks, but Mount Pleasant (2-0) has started as impressively as anyone in the Saginaw Valley League North as Midland (1-1) also was among the Week 1 high achievers. Williamston 22, Lansing Catholic 0 Although the Cougars (0-2) are off to a rough start, this remains a win over a reigning Finals champion for the Hornets (2-0).

Northern Lower Peninsula

HEADLINER Gaylord 17, Kingsley 16 If Gaylord’s Week 1 one-point win over Lake Fenton turned a few heads, the encore against Kingsley (1-1) should have all of northern Michigan taking notice. At 2-0, Gaylord already has won as many games as it did any of the last three seasons – but getting the second victory this fall over a Stags team that had six losses total over the last four seasons gives this story some statewide spark. Click for more from the Petoskey News-Review.

Watch list Traverse City St. Francis 42, Jackson Lumen Christi 35 A matchup of 2021 Division 7 semifinalists played out like one, with the Gladiators winning the fourth quarter to move to 2-0 while sending Lumen Christi to 0-2, but with those losses to the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the statewide rankings.

On the move Alpena 18, Marquette 16 The Wildcats (1-1) were 2-14 over their last two seasons but could be in for some major improvement after avenging last season’s 49-14 loss to Marquette (0-2). Maple City Glen Lake 34, Oscoda 28 The Lakers (1-1) bounced back from a disappointing opener to win a game that could come into play as the Northern Michigan Football League Legacy standings sort out. The Owls (1-1) should still have a part to play too over the next six weeks. Elk Rapids 20, East Jordan 13 The Elks (2-0) had won a high of two games over the past three seasons, and they’ve equaled that already with this one over a Red Devils program that’s 0-2 but went 6-3 a year ago.

Southeast & Border

HEADLINER Hudson 22, Constantine 20 The Tigers (2-0) ran their overall winning streak to 16 with one of the best regular-season victories of the run. Hudson trailed by 20 points late in the third quarter before coming all the way back against a Constantine program that had won 15 straight regular-season games and remains ranked No. 6 in Division 6. Hudson, last season’s Division 8 champion, is No. 3 in Division 7. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.

Watch list Grosse Ile 21, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 14 The Red Devils (2-0) won just two games a year ago, and hadn’t defeated the Falcons (0-2) since 2018.

On the move Manchester 29, Addison 26 The Flying Dutchmen (2-0) followed up a solid win over Whitmore Lake in the opener by defeating three-time reigning Cascades Conference champion Addison (1-1) for the first time since 2016. Saline 35, Ann Arbor Huron 24 This matchup ended up deciding last season’s Southeastern Conference Red championship, and Saline (2-0) is off to the right start as it looks to repeat while Huron (0-2) is coming off losses against two potential Division 1 contenders. Hanover-Horton 27, Michigan Center 20 The Comets (1-1) have had a tough run over most of the last decade, but started Cascades play by defeating a Michigan Center team that’s 0-2 but made the Division 6 Semifinals last year. 

Paw Paw runs the ball on the way to its first victory, 33-27 over Otsego.

Southwest Corridor

HEADLINER St. Joseph 41, Hudsonville Unity Christian 28 The Bears loaded their nonleague schedule with two opponents that finished the 2021 season at Ford Field. They opened by falling to last year’s Division 2 runner-up Traverse City Central, but came back from a double-digit deficit to claim this win over the reigning Division 4 runner-up. St. Joseph may be the favorite and is certain among the few entering Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference play, while Unity (0-2) should still contend as well in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue after opening with a pair of losses to top competition. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.

Watch list Kalamazoo Loy Norrix 8, Kalamazoo Central 7 The Knights (1-1) have struggled more than most over the last 10 seasons, but this was their first win since 2019 and first over rival Central since 2017.

On the move Kalamazoo United 33, Stevensville Lakeshore 27 The Titans (1-1) reversed last season’s 41-19 loss to Lakeshore (0-2) as it bounced back from a season-opening defeat to Berrien Springs. Niles 28, Buchanan 18 The Vikings (1-1) also bounced back from a season-opening loss to hand the Bucks (1-1) their first defeat. Schoolcraft 22, Centreville 2 It’s fair to say defense reigned but both should score some playoff points as these two go on to successful seasons. Schoolcraft improved to 2-0, and Centreville is 1-1.

Upper Peninsula

HEADLINER Negaunee 40, Calumet 15 The Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper sent four teams to the playoffs last season. Negaunee was one and now has defeated two more, with Calumet also the reigning league co-champion. The victory over the Copper Kings (0-2) actually was the Miners’ second straight, and they don’t face the other co-champion Ishpeming Westwood until Week 9 – although Week 8 opponent Houghton also is making some noise at 2-0 and becoming one to watch in that league. Click for more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Watch list St. Ignace 48, Johannesburg-Lewiston 0 The Saints (2-0) have worked through some tough seasons of late as well, winning a combined three games over the last two years. But they’re riding some momentum this time as the schedule begins getting tougher this week.

On the move Gladstone 34, Kingsford 20 The Braves (2-0) have simply impressed over their first two wins, this one over the reigning co-champion of the Great Northern Conference. Iron Mountain 34, Ishpeming Westwood 0 As noted above, Westwood (0-2) was a Copper co-champion last season, and Iron Mountain bounced back after falling Week 1 to Negaunee. Sault Ste. Marie 16, Grayling 7 The Blue Devils (2-0) had fallen 36-32 last season in their first NMFL Legends meeting with Grayling (1-0).

West Michigan

HEADLINER Rockford 31, Muskegon Mona Shores 27 The Rams (2-0) – No. 6 in Division 1 – came all the way back after trailing 20-0 late in the second quarter, as quarterback Mac VandenHout threw three touchdown passes including the go-ahead score 59 yards to Brody Thompson with 4:07 to play. Mona Shores, No. 4 in Division 2, moved to 1-1. Click for more from FOX 17.

Watch list East Kentwood 19, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 17 The Falcons (1-1) are playing for their first winning season since 2019 and looking strong after also opening with a close defeat against Muskegon. East Kentwood had lost to Brother Rice (0-2) last season 33-0.

On the move Grandville 45, Byron Center 27 That’s two weeks and two notable wins from the Bulldogs (2-0), who followed up a season-opening victory over Grand Blanc by defeating another 2021 playoff team in Byron Center (1-1). Holland West Ottawa 21, Portage Northern 10 The Panthers are 2-0 after bringing a 26-game losing streak into this season. Grand Rapids Christian 41, Fruitport 34 The Eagles (1-1) trailed by 27 points late in the first half before scoring the final 34 points of the game to get past the Trojans (1-1).

A Morrice ball carrier pulls away during a 68-14 win over Vestaburg.


HEADLINER Litchfield 36, Burr Oak 14 The Terriers (2-0) are one of the best stories of the early going this season, opening with a pair of victories after losing 20 straight games from 2019-21. Litchfield hadn’t defeated Burr Oak (0-2) since 2011 and lost their matchup last season 44-22. Click for more from the Hillsdale Daily News.

Watch list Merrill 36, Breckenridge 14 This could end up developing into a great rivalry game, and Merrill (2-0) now owns a 1-0 lead in the 8-player series after Breckenridge (1-1) won their last four meetings as 11-player teams.

On the move Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 51, Indian River Inland Lakes 18 The Mustangs (2-0) are another team that has been especially impressive over the first two weeks, this time adding 51 points to the 65 they put up against Suttons Bay in the season opener. Inland Lakes (1-1) gave up that many only twice in going 10-1 last season. Pittsford 28, Camden-Frontier 6 The Wildcats (2-0) could quickly become contenders with their switch to 8-player, and they’ve looked good so far outscoring their first two opponents by a combined 78-6. Munising 14, Newberry 0 The Mustangs’ defense deserves plenty of praise after stopping a Newberry offense that scored 58 points last week and averaged 36 points per game a year ago.

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) A Mount Pleasant ball carrier works to pull away from a Midland defender during the Oilers' Week 2 win. (2) An official readies for a play during Sanford Meridian's 14-0 win over Shepherd. (3) Paw Paw runs the ball on the way to its first victory, 33-27 over Otsego. (4) A Morrice ball carrier pulls away during a 68-14 win over Vestaburg. (Top and photos 2 and 4 by High School Sports Scene; photo 3 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:

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.)