1st & Goal: 2022 Week 3 Review
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
September 12, 2022
At first glance from a mile-high view last week, Michigan’s Week 3 high school football schedule didn’t have a ton of matchups that popped off the page.
But when there are only nine regular-season games and only 288 teams that move on to the playoffs, every matchup matters much more.
And of course, plenty found a way to grab our attention. We check in on 45 below.
Bay & Thumb
HEADLINER Croswell-Lexington 34, Armada 12 The reigning Blue Water Area Conference champion Pioneers (3-0) took a big-time step toward a possible repeat, as Armada (2-1) has received a lot of attention for its turnaround over the last two seasons including its fast start this fall. Croswell-Lexington quarterback Gavin Espinoza starred as his team ran its league winning streak to 12. Click for more from The Sports Report.
Watch list Saginaw Heritage 52, Grand Blanc 40 The Hawks are 3-0 for the first time since 2006 and have put up more than 50 points every game, with 52 the most Grand Blanc (1-2) has given up since 2019.
On the move Davison 49, Traverse City Central 14 The Cardinals (2-1) bounced back from a Week 2 loss to Detroit Catholic Central to send the reigning Division 2 runner-up to 1-2. Bay City Western 21, Traverse City West 0 The Warriors (2-1) welcomed Traverse City West (1-2) to the Saginaw Valley League, earning their first shutout since 2019. Saginaw Swan Valley 27, Essexville Garber 21 After a tough start but against two league championship contenders, Swan Valley (1-2) is on the board with this win over the Dukes (2-1). If history holds, they may see each other again in the playoffs for the fourth-straight season.
HEADLINER Clarkston 45, Rochester Adams 35 A score-fest during the first half – Clarkston led 42-28 at the break – did eventually slow down as the Wolves (2-1) handed the reigning Division 1 runner-up Highlanders their first regular-season loss since 2019. The win also gives Clarkston an important edge to start the Oakland Activities Association Red schedule, as Adams (2-1) rejoined the division after winning the OAA White a year ago. Click for more from the Oakland Press.
🏈 Here's the highlights of the Clarkston at Rochester Adams game that aired on Football Fridays Overtime powered by STATE CHAMPS! on @BallySportsDET #MIFTBL | @ThinkFordFirst pic.twitter.com/jFigQiOms6
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) September 10, 2022
Watch list Gibraltar Carlson 35, Allen Park 6 The Marauders (3-0) jumped to 9-2 last season, but with 28 and 21-point losses to Allen Park. This win was Carlson’s first in the series since 2018.
On the move Detroit Catholic Central 45, DeWitt 38 (OT) This looks great for both teams; DCC (2-1) for holding on against another of the state’s top programs, and the young but talented Panthers (2-1) for pushing a Division 1 power to overtime. Detroit Country Day 28, Warren Michigan Collegiate 20 All three of Country Day’s wins have come against 2021 playoff qualifiers, with Michigan Collegiate (2-1) last season’s Division 7 runner-up. Plymouth 16, Canton 0 After back-to-back one-win seasons, Plymouth (1-2) earned the first of this fall to avenge losing to rival Canton (1-2) by 50 a year ago.
HEADLINER Hastings 24, Jackson Lumen Christi 21 The Saxons shared last season’s Interstate 8 Athletic Conference championship, a 33-22 loss to Lumen Christi keeping Hastings from the outright title. But the Saxons held off the Titans this time for their second win in the series over the last three seasons – and sent Lumen Christi to 0-3, although those losses have come to teams that sit a combined 8-1. Click for more from The Hastings Banner.
Watch list Ithaca 48, Saginaw Nouvel 6 The Yellowjackets (2-1) started their league title 13-peat pursuit well, stopping a Panthers offense that had scored a combined 93 points over their 2-0 start. Ithaca, currently in the Tri-Valley Conference West 2, has won outright or shared its league’s championship every season beginning with 2009.
On the move Mount Pleasant 27, Cadillac 24 The Oilers (3-0) ran their regular-season winning streak to 15 with their closest victory of the run. Cadillac (1-2), notably, has two one-score defeats. Holt 14, Grand Ledge 6 The Rams’ rebound may be starting as Holt (1-2) ran its winning streak over the rival Comets (2-1) to three. New Lothrop 55, Clarkston Everest Collegiate 0 The Hornets (3-0) are among the most impressive teams in the state through the first third of the regular season, as Everest was 9-3 last fall – but is off to a 1-2 start this time after opening with three 2021 playoff teams.
Northern Lower Peninsula
HEADLINER Boyne City 34, Grayling 6 These two go back most of the last two decades as league opponents, then ended up in separate leagues the last two seasons but faced off in the playoffs, splitting those games with Boyne City winning by a point last year. They are still in different divisions of the Northern Michigan Football League, but the Ramblers (3-0) will enter Leaders play with plenty of momentum coming off their best defensive performance. Grayling will take a 1-2 record into the Legends division. Click for more from the Petoskey News-Review.
Watch list Elk Rapids 30, Tawas 14 The Elks (3-0) have now won as many games this season as over the last two combined, and have yet to allow more than two touchdowns this fall.
On the move Kingsley 30, Ogemaw Heights 20 The Stags (2-1) bounced back from a one-point Week 2 loss to Gaylord to set up this week’s matchup with rival Traverse City St. Francis. Traverse City St. Francis 49, Benzie Central 12 The Gladiators (3-0) also are riding high after moving to 2-0 in the NMFL Legends. Lake City 44, Manton 0 After losing the season opener to Cheboygan, Lake City (2-1) hasn’t allowed a point and handed Manton (2-1) its first defeat after the Rangers had topped 30 points both of their first two games.
Southeast & Border
HEADLINER Tecumseh 35, Pinckney 14 An early slate of three opponents that made the playoffs last season might have seemed a little daunting as Tecumseh was starting this season pursuing its first winning record since 2013. But Tecumseh (3-0) is setting the pace, adding this win to victories over Michigan Center and Richland Gull Lake to start the fall. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.
Watch list Carleton Airport 33, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 14 The Jets (3-0) are coming off back-to-back four-win seasons but have nearly equaled that victory total already, with this one also avenging a 35-26 loss to SMCC from last season.
On the move Addison 48, Hanover-Horton 39 The Panthers (2-1) bounced back from their Week 2 loss by grounding a Comets team that was coming off a big win. Clinton 18, Ida 6 The Redwolves (3-0) have added a solid Lenawee Country Athletic Association win to a big overall start, as Ida was the runner-up in the league a year ago. Napoleon 30, Manchester 25 Add the Pirates (3-0) to the list of contenders in the Cascades Conference after their most impressive win so far, as they handed Manchester (2-1) its lone defeat.
HEADLINER Portage Central 16, Battle Creek Lakeview 13 Not so fast, to anyone who had counted out Portage Central after its 0-2 start. The Mustangs began Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference play with this win over the only league team that had begun 2-0. Central (1-2) came back from a 13-0 halftime deficit to catch the Spartans (2-1). Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.
Watch list Sturgis 55, Plainwell 35 The Trojans (2-1) defeated Plainwell (2-1) for first time since 2015, with Jacob Thompson scoring six touchdowns and throwing for a seventh.
On the move Constantine 47, Lawton 21 The Falcons (2-1) put Lawton’s regular-season winning streak of 12 games to an end with 33 unanswered points. Schoolcraft 33, Kalamazoo United 29 The Eagles trailed by multiple scores but went ahead during the final minutes to get to 3-0. Benton Harbor 28, Muskegon Catholic Central 20 The Tigers (2-1) broke a three-game losing streak against MCC (1-2) and equaled their win total from all of last season.
HEADLINER Gladstone 28, Menominee 6 Make that three 2021 league champions that Gladstone (3-0) has defeated to begin this fall, as the Braves look to be in control in the Great Northern Conference after defeating last season’s co-champions Kingsford and Menominee in successive weeks. Gladstone hadn’t defeated Menominee since 2018, and fell by a point in last year’s meeting. Click for more from RRN Sports.
Watch list Iron Mountain 28, Houghton 6 After a five-point loss to Negaunee in the season opener, the Mountaineers have dominated their next two opponents by a combined score of 62-6. Houghton (2-1) had given up only 18 points total over its first two games.
On the move St. Ignace 28, Frankfort 0 The Saints’ first two wins were over teams that didn’t win a game last year or yet this fall, but defeating Frankfort (2-1) brings another level of impressiveness to St. Ignace’s 3-0 start. Marquette 17, Gaylord 14 The Blue Devils (2-1) were one of the most intriguing teams in the state after two weeks, but Marquette (1-2) pushed past after losing both of its first two games by one score. Escanaba 33, Petoskey 30 After losses to a pair of tough teams to start, Escanaba (1-2) picked up its first victory and will eclipse last year’s win total with another one.
HEADLINER Grand Rapids Catholic Central 21, Cedar Springs 20 The Cougars’ now 40-game winning streak received its toughest challenge yet as GRCC (3-0) needed a late stop on a 2-point conversion attempt to open the Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue schedule with another win. It was the third one-pointer during the streak; Cedar Springs was part of another when GRCC won last year’s meeting 41-40. Click for more form FOX 17.
Watch list Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 21, Byron Center 13 The Rangers (3-0) may have taken a big step toward repeating in the O-K White, as Byron Center finished third a year ago.
On the move Hudsonville Unity Christian 28, Coopersville 27 After a pair of defeats to strong teams to start the season, Unity started off the O-K Blue schedule right by edging the Broncos (2-1). Ludington 7, Fremont 0 The Orioles (3-0) won a matchup of undefeated teams in the new West Michigan Conference Lakes, with likely favorite Muskegon Oakridge up next. Muskegon 28, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer 20 This was the closest game between these two since 2011, but the Big Reds held on to start off the O-K Green schedule.
HEADLINER Norway 40, Lake Linden-Hubbell 26 The Knights (3-0) are climbing the ladder of contenders after getting past another challenger in the Great Lakes Eight Conference West and with also-undefeated Crystal Falls Forest Park up next. Norway reached 40 points for the third time in three games to hand Lake Linden-Hubbell (2-1) its lone defeat. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.
Watch list Bridgman 56, Mendon 50 The Bees (3-0) scored 14 unanswered points during the fourth quarter to extend their winning streak to 16 and earn their second in two years over the Hornets (1-2).
On the move Lawrence 32, Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 28 The Tigers (1-2) hadn’t been close in their first two games, but found their stride in handing the Defenders (2-1) their lone defeat. Mio 46, Hillman 42 The Thunderbolts (2-1) are putting up some big offensive numbers and needed to this time again against the Tigers (1-2). New Haven Merritt 38, Bay City All Saints 30 The Mustangs (1-2) mounted a major comeback to earn their first victory.
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PHOTOS: (Top) A LeRoy Pine River ball carrier finds an opening against Evart on Friday. (Middle) An Ithaca ball carrier works to break free from a Saginaw Nouvel tackler. (Top photo by Tonya Holmes; middle photo by High School Sports Scene.)
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.)