1st & Goal: 2022 Week 3 Preview
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
September 9, 2022
With Labor Day behind us, all Michigan high schools are back in session – and just in time for league competition to begin for several conferences across the state.
League matchups make up most of our “games to watch” as we prep for Week 3, with the most intriguing from every region highlighted below.
Games are Friday unless noted. Click for the full schedule from MHSAA.com and check out the broadcast schedule from MHSAA.tv.
Bay & Thumb
Armada (2-0) at Croswell-Lexington (2-0)
The way this season has begun – and the way last season ended – makes this matchup look like a potential title-decider in the Blue Water Area Conference. Croswell-Lexington was last year champion, thanks in part to holding off co-runner-up Armada 30-14 in the final game on the league schedule. The Pioneers have outscored their first two opponents this fall by a combined 95-14, while Armada made a loud statement immediately with a 28-27 season-opening win over Marine City, last season’s Division 5 runner-up.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Marlette (2-0) at Ubly (2-0), Grand Blanc (1-1) at Saginaw Heritage (2-0), Traverse City Central (1-1) at Davison (1-1), Hemlock (1-1) at Millington (2-0).
Livonia Churchill (1-1) at Belleville (2-0)
Belleville is off to another strong start this fall coming off last season’s Division 1 championship. But tonight’s matchup could help the Tigers do one better this fall in their repeat attempt. Churchill last season won the Week 3 meeting 28-21, handing Belleville its first regular-season loss since 2016 and only loss of 2021. But the Chargers must bounce back quickly to make this game another classic after seeing a seven-game winning streak against Westland John Glenn end with a 21-20 loss last week.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Clarkston (1-1) at Rochester Adams (2-0), Utica Eisenhower (2-0) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (2-0), DeWitt (2-0) at Detroit Catholic Central (1-1), Warren Michigan Collegiate (2-0) at Detroit Country Day (2-0).
Fowler (2-0) at Bath (2-0)
The Bees are off to their best start since 2017, already avenging one loss from when the team finished 2-7 a year ago. But this matchup could tell a lot more about where Bath is headed in 2022. The Bees fell to Fowler 47-14 last season and will be seeking to break a five-game losing streak to the Eagles. Fowler has opened with wins over 2021 playoff qualifiers Carson City-Crystal and Petersburg Summerfield, both by 20-plus points.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Saginaw Nouvel (2-0) at Ithaca (1-1), Fowlerville (1-1) at Mason (2-0), Pewamo-Westphalia (1-1) at Dansville (2-0), Durand (2-0) at Ovid-Elsie (1-1).
Northern Lower Peninsula
St. Ignace (2-0) at Frankfort (2-0)
The Saints own one of the best rebound stories of the early going after finishing 2-7 a year ago and winning one game in 2020. They’ve outscored their first opponents by a combined 74-6. Granted, both opponents are winless so far this season and were winless last year as well, but Frankfort will give St. Ignace a better idea how it measures up in what should be a super-competitive Northern Michigan Football League Legacy division. The Panthers have followed their best finish (6-4) since 2017 with a pair of big victories including last week over 2021 playoff qualifier Mancelona.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Mount Pleasant (2-0) at Cadillac (1-1), Boyne City (2-0) at Grayling (1-1), Charlevoix (2-0) at Mancelona (1-1), Bay City Western (1-1) at Traverse City West (1-1).
Southeast & Border
Napoleon (2-0) at Manchester (2-0), Saturday
This Saturday showdown presents some interesting possibilities as both look to rise in the Cascades Conference. Napoleon was a contender into October last season before losing the final two games on the league schedule, but was in play in part thanks to a 20-18 win over Manchester in Week 3. The Flying Dutchmen have factored into the race a couple of times since their league title season of 2015, and edged reigning Cascades champion Addison 29-26 last week to re-enter the mix.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Grosse Ile (2-0) at Milan (1-1), Hanover-Horton (1-1) at Addison (1-1), Hastings (1-1) at Jackson Lumen Christi (0-2), Centreville (1-1) at Sand Creek (1-1).
Lawton (2-0) at Constantine (1-1)
Lawton is off to another solid start coming off last season’s run to the Division 7 championship game, and additionally the Blue Devils have won 12 straight regular-season games and 25 of their last 26. All but two of those 25 wins were by double digits – with the lone loss to Schoolcraft in 2020 – but Lawton also hasn’t played Constantine since 2017. The Falcons saw their 15-game regular-season winning streak end with a 22-20 loss to reigning Division 8 champion Hudson last week. Before that, no regular-season opponent had come within single digits of catching Constantine since the second game of 2020.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Schoolcraft (2-0) at Kalamazoo United (2-0), Battle Creek Lakeview (1-0) at Portage Central (0-2), Plainwell (2-0) at Sturgis (1-1), Allegan (2-0) at Berrien Springs (2-0).
Gladstone (2-0) at Menominee (1-1)
The Maroons regained the Great Northern Conference title last season, sharing it with Kingsford, but earned that claim also because they were able to survive a 35-34 challenge from Gladstone. Menominee has won three straight in this series, but is coming off a rough outing last week against an opponent from Illinois. Gladstone, meanwhile, is off to its third 2-0 start in four seasons but looking to get to 3-0 for the first time since 2017. There’s a little more reason for excitement this time though – both of those first two wins came against 2021 league champions.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Houghton (2-0) at Iron Mountain (1-1), Cheboygan (1-1) at Sault Ste. Marie (2-0), Ishpeming Westwood (0-2) at Calumet (0-2). SATURDAY Gaylord (2-0) at Marquette (0-2).
Zeeland East (0-2) at Zeeland West (2-0)
On first glance, this might not seem like much more than the next chapter in a rivalry. But there is some near-uniqueness to this rivalry – it’s one of the few in Michigan where the schools are next door to each other. West has won the last four meetings, including a matchup during the 2019 playoffs, and has rocketed to wins over Stevensville Lakeshore and Cedar Springs – two playoff teams from last season. East’s losses, however, also have come to 2021 playoff qualifiers – Williamston and Spring Lake – and the Chix lost to the Lakers by just seven points.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (2-0) at Byron Center (1-1), East Kentwood (1-1) at Grand Haven (1-1), Grand Rapids West Catholic (2-0) at Spring Lake (1-1), Ludington (2-0) at Fremont (2-0).
Lake Linden-Hubbell (2-0) at Norway (2-0)
Two-time reigning Division 2 champion Powers North Central has set the pace lately in the Great Lakes Conference West. But the league is full of contenders. The Jets are ranked No. 1 this week, but Crystal Falls Forest Park is No. 3, Lake Linden-Hubbell is No. 5 and Norway could make its way into the Division 1 top 10 with a win over the Lakes. The Knights won last season’s meeting 30-8 and have opened this fall outscoring its first two opponents by a combined 102-12. Lake Linde-Hubbell’s margin is a similar 119-30.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Adrian Lenawee Christian (2-0) at Pittsford (2-0), Bridgman (2-0) at Mendon (1-1), Merrill (2-0) at Fulton (1-1). SATURDAY Marion (2-0) at Mesick (2-0).
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PHOTO: A trio of Muskegon defenders bring down an East Kentwood ball carrier during the Big Reds’ 20-14 season-opening win. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)
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.)