1st & Goal: 2022 Week 4 Preview
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
September 16, 2022
If last week’s top matchups could be considered tough to gauge beforehand, this week’s are a breeze to forecast.
Of the 18 teams listed below in our best-expected games from every region, 13 are ranked in the top 10 of their respective divisions by the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association. Our “Bay & Thumb” highlighted game featured two top-six Division 8 teams, and three more of those 13 are top-ranked with our best 8-player matchup featuring two teams that played in Finals last fall.
Games are Friday unless noted. Click for the full schedule from MHSAA.com and check out the broadcast schedule from MHSAA.tv.
Bay & Thumb
Ubly (3-0) at Harbor Beach (3-0)
The Bearcats continue to thrive as one of the strongest small-school programs in the state, as last season’s only loss came in the Division 8 Semifinals and after they were Division 8 runners-up in 2020 and also made the Semifinals in 2019. Ubly seemed to take over as the Greater Thumb Conference East powerhouse from Harbor Beach, but didn’t truly shake the Pirates until sweeping them last year 50-33 during the regular season and 35-6 in a playoff opener. Harbor Beach should put up another challenge this time; the Pirates didn’t give up a point this season until last week. Both teams have two wins over 2021 playoff teams.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Fenton (2-1) at Swartz Creek (3-0), Clare (2-1) at Gladwin (3-0), Saginaw Heritage (3-0) at Davison (2-1), North Branch (3-0) at Almont (3-0).
Detroit Martin Luther King (1-1) at Detroit Cass Tech (1-2)
This annual matchup between Detroit Public School League powers – now back in the same division – will be a breakout game for the winner. Both have suffered losses to Indiana powerhouses – Cass Tech to Carmel and King to Indianapolis Warren Central – and both rebounded to open the league schedule with 60-point shutouts. King won both matchups with Cass last season, but by only seven and six points. As usual, this likely will be just the first of two meetings this fall, with the next in the PSL playoffs.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Clarkston (2-1) at West Bloomfield (3-0), South Lyon East (3-0) at Walled Lake Western (3-0), River Rouge (2-0) at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (1-2), Carleton Airport (3-0) at Grosse Ile (3-0).
DeWitt (2-1) at East Lansing (3-0)
This has been the matchup not just in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue but usually all of Greater Lansing since DeWitt moving into the league in 2018. The Panthers have won four of the five matchups since, including two in the playoffs and 49-14 last season. This should see a much closer result. East Lansing’s run so far this fall includes two wins over likely league title contenders, Portage Central and Fenton. DeWitt’s two wins also came against league title contenders in Haslett and Portland, and the young Panthers continued to show they’re learning quickly in last week’s overtime loss at Detroit Catholic Central.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Mason (3-0) at Williamston (3-0), Traverse City Central (1-2) at Mount Pleasant (3-0), Lansing Waverly (3-0) at Grand Ledge (2-1), Lake Odessa Lakewood (2-1) at Perry (2-1).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Kingsley (2-1) at Traverse City St. Francis (3-0)
Don’t let the Stags’ one-point loss to Gaylord in Week 2 take any of the dazzle off this Northern Michigan Football League Legends clash. Kingsley’s only other regular-season losses over the last five seasons were to St. Francis, 38-30 last season and then in 2018. The Gladiators have lit up the scoreboard with 42 or more points every game this fall, and they own an impressive 42-35 Week 2 win over Jackson Lumen Christi.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Evart (3-0) at Manton (2-1), Beal City (3-0) at Lake City (2-1), Elk Rapids (3-0) at Charlevoix (3-0), Grand Blanc (1-2) at Traverse City West (1-2).
Southeast & Border
Adrian (2-1) at Tecumseh (3-0)
We featured Tecumseh earlier this week as that team is off to a grand start as it seeks its first winning season since 2013. Adrian is in a similar spot, having won two games a year ago, with those victories breaking a previous losing streak that stretched back to 2017. After falling to Ada Forest Hills Eastern in their opener, the Maples have won by 27 and 31, respectively, the last two weeks. The winner of this matchup may provide the toughest challenge to Chelsea in the Southeastern Conference White.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Union City (2-1) at Reading (3-0), Erie Mason (3-0) at Petersburg Summerfield (2-1), Saline (3-0) at Monroe (2-1), Pinckney (1-2) at Chelsea (2-1).
Constantine (2-1) at Schoolcraft (3-0)
After last season’s game couldn’t be played, this rivalry that goes back at least 70 years is back. And although these teams remain in separate divisions of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, this matchup still carries plenty of clout. The Falcons do have a defeat, but by only two to a Hudson team that’s won 17 straight. Schoolcraft is coming off a four-point win over Kalamazoo United as it continues to rebound from last season – the Kalamazoo win was the second straight to avenge a 2021 loss.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Edwardsburg (2-1) at Vicksburg (2-1), Battle Creek Lakeview (1-1) at St. Joseph (2-1), Sturgis (2-1) at Paw Paw (2-1), Centreville (2-1) at Decatur (2-1).
Gladstone (3-0) at St. Ignace (3-0)
These two have been the stories of the Upper Peninsula so far this season as both are on a roll after finishing sub-.500 last fall. Gladstone has defeated three 2021 league champions and appears the team to chase in the Great Northern Conference. St. Ignace may be the same in the Northern Michigan Football League Legacy coming off its second-straight shutout this month, this one against last season’s Legends runner-up Frankfort.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Manistique (2-1) at Negaunee (3-0), L’Anse (2-1) at Iron Mountain (2-1), Menominee (1-2) at Escanaba (1-2). SATURDAY Bark River-Harris (3-0) at Houghton (2-1).
Ludington (3-0) at Muskegon Oakridge (3-0)
Two of the region’s best matchups this week come from the West Michigan Conference Lakes – Montague/Whitehall is the other – which means the league should sort out a bit by Saturday. Ludington is new to the league after playing formerly in the Lakes 8 Conference, and the Orioles already have equaled their win total of all of last season. The Oakridge matchup presents another level of opportunity though, as the Eagles are regular contenders in the former one-division WMC and owners of three wins already this fall over 2021 playoff qualifiers.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Byron Center (1-2) at Lowell (3-0), Montague (2-1) at Whitehall (3-0), Belding (3-0) at Grandville Calvin Christian (3-0), Holland West Ottawa (2-1) at Grandville (3-0)
Colon (3-0) at Adrian Lenawee Christian (3-0)
The Cougars are bringing a 27-game winning streak into this matchup – coinciding with their move to 8-player at the start of the 2020 season – and Colon was the opponent for two of those victories. But the Magi, last season’s Division 2 runner-up, also gave eventual Division 1 champ Lenawee Christian one of its best challenges last season, 47-21. Sidenote: These are two of five Southern Central Athletic Association A teams that have opened 2-1 or better.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Norway (3-0) at Crystal Falls Forest Park (3-0), Breckenridge (2-1) at Portland St. Patrick (3-0), Cedarville (3-0) at Newberry (2-1). SATURDAY Suttons Bay (2-1) at Brown City (3-0).
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PHOTO: A South Haven receiver pulls in a pass against Ada Forest Hills Eastern in Week 1. (Photo by Michigan Sports Photo.)
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.)