1st & Goal: 2022 Week 4 Review

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 19, 2022

All winning streaks eventually end. And in mentioning them, it is more in recognition of what was accomplished than what is now over.

MI Student AidA couple of those endings took center stage during Week 4.

In 11-player, reigning Division 2 champion Warren De La Salle Collegiate saw its 16-game winning streak end with a one-point loss to rival Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice. The Pilots hadn’t been defeated since the 2020 Division 2 Final.

In 8-player, Adrian Lenawee Christian lost its first game since switching from 11-player at the start of 2020, and a week after tying Powers North Central’s 8-player record of 27 straight victories from 2015-17. Colon ended the streak, while the same weekend North Central’s current team also tied their record with a 27th-consecutive win.

See below for many more headliners as we move toward the midpoint of the regular season this week.

Bay & Thumb

HEADLINER North Branch 34, Almont 14 There are four strong contenders for the Blue Water Area Conference title, but it’s starting to feel like the decider will be the Week 8 matchup between North Branch (4-0) and Croswell-Lexington. Almont (3-1) can still impact this race – the Raiders see Armada this week and Croswell-Lexington next – but the Broncos have to feel pretty good about getting this one out of the way. Click for more from The Sports Report.

Watch list Bay City Western 70, Midland Dow 41 It was only five years ago that Western scored 45 points for the season, but in this victory the Warriors (3-1) went over 60 for the third time over the last two seasons – and after playing Dow (2-2) to a one-point loss and two-point playoff win last fall.

On the move Ubly 42, Harbor Beach 0 Two games into the league schedule, the Greater Thumb Conference East appears strongly in Ubly’s grasp, as the Bearcats (4-0) upped their average margin of victory overall this season to 46-7 while handing the Pirates (3-1) their lone loss. Davison 56, Saginaw Heritage 20 The Hawks (3-1) had earned much of the attention in the Saginaw Valley League over the first three weeks, but the Cardinals (3-1) solidified a spot as a top contender in the SVL South with Lapeer. Swartz Creek 26, Fenton 23 The Dragons (4-0) have done some impressive building the last three seasons and likely enjoyed this win a little more after splitting last year’s Flint Metro League Stripes title with the Tigers (2-2) because of a 41-27 defeat.

Greater Detroit

HEADLINER Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 43, Warren De La Salle Collegiate 42 This might be the stunner of the 11-player season so far, as De La Salle (3-1) had won 16 straight games and 21 of its last 22. But looking back, it must be noted that Brother Rice (2-2) had given the Pilots some of their toughest games over the last five seasons, falling last year only 21-15 and winning the 2019 and 2020 matchups. The Detroit Catholic League Central is so loaded, it’s tough to forecast what happens from here. But this will certainly be a difference-maker in some way. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

Watch list Detroit Martin Luther King 28, Detroit Cass Tech 23 Any other week this would be the premier game in the Detroit area and beyond, as this time King (2-1) held off a late comeback by Cass Tech (1-3) after the Crusaders took a 28-10 lead.

On the move West Bloomfield 35, Clarkston 27 These Oakland Activities Association Red rivals can’t help but combine for must-see football, with this the third-straight meeting and fifth game over their last six together decided by eight or fewer points. West Bloomfield is up to 4-0, and Clarkston is 2-2 with two one-score defeats. Walled Lake Western 51, South Lyon East 23 The Warriors (4-0) are halfway through the Lakes Valley Conference schedule alone in first and a win better than multiple other contenders – including South Lyon East (3-1) in a competitive race. Gibraltar Carlson 27, Trenton 6 The Marauders (4-0) have downed two of the other three top contenders in the Downriver League in successive weeks, the time handing Trenton (3-1) its lone defeat.


HEADLINER East Lansing 36, DeWitt 30 The Trojans (4-0) scored the only points of the four quarter – in fact, of the entire second half – to earn valuable position in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue and potentially put DeWitt’s 15-season league title streak in jeopardy. Jace Clarizio made the big plays on both sides of the ball late as East Lansing avenged last season’s 49-14 loss to the Panthers (2-2). Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Watch list Mason 37, Williamston 29 While most eyes have been on East Lansing and DeWitt, Mason (4-0) might be the best CAAC team few are talking about. Williamston (3-1) joined Holt from two weeks ago among league title contenders to suffer their first loss this season to the Bulldogs.

On the move Belding 46, Grandville Calvin Christian 26 Both entered undefeated, and Belding (4-0) has yet to play a single-digit game this fall. Grand Ledge 37, Lansing Waverly 20 The Comets (3-1) came back from a Week 3 loss to rival Holt to hand Waverly (3-1) its lone defeat. Mount Pleasant 27, Traverse City Central 21 The SVL is even stronger this season with the additions of TC Central and TC West, and the Oilers (4-0) held off the Trojans (1-3) in their league debut after breaking a halftime tie with all 13 points of the third quarter.

Northern Lower Peninsula

HEADLINER Traverse City St. Francis 49, Kingsley 12 The Gladiators (4-0) ran their winning streak over Kingsley to two straight and in doing so may have gained the eventual edge to repeat as Northern Michigan Football League Legends champion. St. Francis scored more than 42 points for the fourth time in four games this fall, but maybe more impressive is a defense that held the Stags (2-2) to their fewest points since 2018. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Watch list Charlevoix 48, Elk Rapids 0 The Rayders (4-0) have put together great starts all of the last four seasons, but nothing like this. They’re up to three straight shutouts, winning by a combined score of 165-0, and handed Elk Rapids (3-1) its only defeat.

On the move Gaylord 27, Petoskey 12 After a slight stumble two weeks ago against Marquette, Gaylord (3-1) got a third win to guarantee its best season since 2018. McBain 55, Houghton Lake 19 After opening with defeats to Kingsley and Beal City, McBain (2-2) has evened its record with more tough Highland Conference competition on the way. Cadillac 46, Alpena 14 The Vikings’ two defeats came against much larger opponents from the Saginaw Valley League, but they are likely the strongest contenders now in the Traverse City-less Big North Conference.

Southeast & Border

HEADLINER Carleton Airport 41, Grosse Ile 34 Both of these teams are in the midst of bounce-back campaigns, and Carleton Airport (4-0) has now equaled its win totals of both of the last two seasons. Handing Grosse Ile (3-1) its first defeat also leaves the Jets and Week 7 opponent Riverview as the last undefeated teams in the Huron League. Click for more from the Monroe News.

Watch list Union City 18, Reading 16 The Chargers (3-1) ran their winning streak over Reading (3-1) to two straight and have put themselves on firm footing tied with this week’s opponent Homer atop the Big 8 Conference.

On the move Addison 42, Michigan Center 40 The Panthers (3-1) have defeated Michigan Center (1-3) the last two seasons by a combined three points. Jackson Lumen Christi 19, Parma Western 14 The Titans’ three losses have been so strong that adding in this win over Western (2-2) sends Lumen up to No. 24 in Division 7. Tecumseh 48, Adrian 26 They have two more to win first, but this one puts Tecumseh (4-0) much closer to playing Chelsea for the Southeastern Conference White title in Week 7.

Southwest Corridor

HEADLINER Edwardsburg 10, Vicksburg 7 The scores have been a little closer than usual during the early going in the Wolverine Conference. But Edwardsburg is still the team to chase. The Eddies (3-1) remain undefeated in league play thanks to Carter Houseworth’s 42-yard field goal with two seconds to play that sent Vicksburg to 2-2. Click for more from the Niles Daily Star.

Watch list St. Joseph 35, Battle Creek Lakeview 14 The Bears (3-1) have set themselves up for a Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference showdown this week against reigning champ Portage Central, which defeated St. Joseph 36-30 a year ago.

On the move Paw Paw 56, Sturgis 42 The Redwolves (3-1) have upped their offensive production each of the last three weeks, this time to outlast a Sturgis team that has scored a combined 97 points over its last two games. Constantine 56, Schoolcraft 22 This rivalry restored went Constantine’s way in a big way as the Falcons (3-1) defeated Schoolcraft (3-1) for the first time since the 2015 playoffs. Battle Creek Central 42, Stevensville Lakeshore 35 After falling just short against Byron Center in the season opener, Central has won three straight to guarantee equaling its best overall record since 2018.

Upper Peninsula

HEADLINER Gladstone 40, St. Ignace 0 Make Gladstone the Upper Peninsula team that should be getting the most attention statewide. The Braves (4-0) are up to No. 5 in Division 6 playoff points after handing St. Ignace (3-1) its lone defeat, and they have yet to play a single-digit game despite facing four opponents which are all 2-2 or better. Click for more from RRN Sports.

Watch list Houghton 34, Bark River-Harris 16 We’ve had an eye on Houghton all season, and it remains justified as the Gremlins (3-1) bounced back from last week’s loss to Iron Mountain to hand the Broncos (3-1) their lone defeat.

On the move Menominee 48, Escanaba 28 The Maroons (2-2) got back to .500 and back to scoring 40 points after being held to just six both of the last two weeks. Ishpeming Westwood 14, Ishpeming 12 (OT) The Patriots (1-3) have had a tough start with two losses by three points or fewer, but getting one of those results back against the rival Hematites (2-2) could provide a jumpstart. Kingsford 28, Marquette 14 The Flivvers (2-2) broke a two-game losing streak as they wait for a possible Gladstone slip-up in the Great Northern Conference.

West Michigan

HEADLINER Byron Center 48, Lowell 35 Put in context, Byron Center’s 2-2 start might be the best 2-2 start in Michigan. The Bulldogs handed Lowell (3-1) its lone loss, and their Week 1 win over Battle Creek Central remains the Bearcats’ only defeat. Byron Center’s losses came to still-unbeaten Grandville and Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central. This time, the Bulldogs got up 28-7 by halftime and never looked back. Click for more from Michigan Sports Radio.

Watch list Grand Rapids Northview 22, Grand Rapids Christian 14 After falling to East Grand Rapids in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White opener, Northview (2-2) bounced way back to avenge last season’s 48-17 loss to Grand Rapids Christian (2-2).

On the move Muskegon Oakridge 30, Ludington 18 This combined with Whitehall’s big win over Montague has made the Eagles and Vikings remaining favorites in the West Michigan Conference Lakes. Kent City 67, White Cloud 26 The Eagles (4-0) are one more win from matching their season totals of the last two. Ada Forest Hills Eastern 35, Wayland 16 The Hawks are 4-0 for the first time since 2015 and a win from equaling last year’s success, while Wayland (2-2) already has guaranteed its best finish since 2018.


HEADLINER Colon 40, Adrian Lenawee Christian 24 Not only had Lenawee Christian never lost an 8-player game, but the Cougars had played only one single-digit game during that 27-win streak – in Week 2 this season against Toledo Christian. Colon has been nearly as impressive since switching to 8-player in 2018 and moved to 45-6 over those five seasons with this victory. Click for more from the Sturgis Journal.

Watch list Rudyard 34, Pickford 6 This was the second-straight win for Rudyard (2-2) over Pickford, and whereas last year’s denied Pickford (3-1) a championship share in the Great Lakes Eight Conference East, this one could also shake up the league race.

On the move Norway 30, Crystal Falls Forest Park 28 Adding this to the Lake Linden-Hubbell win two weeks ago, Norway has surged into contention in the GLEC West and sits as the most likely challenger to North Central. Powers North Central 67, Ontonagon 0 Speaking of, this was the performance that gave the Jets that 27th-straight victory – their second shutout this fall (one win was a forfeit) as they’ve given up only three points over the first month. Breckenridge 44, Portland St. Patrick 20 As anticipated, the Huskies (3-1) are adjusting well to 8-player in their first season, with this win over the annually-contending Shamrocks (3-1) the most impressive so far.

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.

PHOTO: East Lansing's Kanye Jackson (3) works to break away from a DeWitt defender during the Trojans' Week 4 victory. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

Constantine Football All-Stater, Wrestling Champ Aiming for Grand Finale

By Scott Hassinger
Special for MHSAA.com

April 30, 2024

CONSTANTINE – Bennett VandenBerg has earned many accolades over the last four years as a three-sport athlete at Constantine.

Southwest CorridorBut the awards aren't what the 6-foot-3, 240-pound standout will remember most when reflecting on his memories as an all-state football player, state champion wrestler and record-breaking throwing specialist on the Falcons' track & field squad.

"I'll remember how I represented our school and pushed myself to be the best I could be in each sport that I played," said VandenBerg, who has earned 12 varsity letters.

VandenBerg has evolved into one of the most accomplished athletes in the state this school year as a senior, especially standing out among those from smaller communities.

This past fall he was named first-team Division 5-6 all-state at defensive end in football before winning the Division 3 Individual Finals wrestling title at 285 pounds in early March at Ford Field.

VandenBerg's final goal is to win the discus title at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals on Saturday, June 1, in Kent City to end his Constantine career all-state in all three sports.

He broke the school record in the discus his junior year with a throw of 158 feet, 1 inch; the previous mark of 156-6 had been held by Doug Polasek since 1986. VandenBerg has eclipsed his school record twice this spring, most recently with a personal-best toss of 170-9 in a Southwestern Athletic Conference double dual meet with Schoolcraft and Kalamazoo Christian. He ranks No. 4 statewide in the event regardless of enrollment division. Lawton junior Mason Mayne at 175-4 is the only Division 3 competitor with a better throw than VandenBerg.

"It's really cool to have your name up on the school record board, but I'd like to make that mark more untouchable before I'm done," VandenBerg said. "My goal is to be a state discus champion. I've put in the necessary work for it. It would be nice to end my career that way."

Kyle Rimer, Constantine's veteran boys track & field coach, is most impressed with VandenBerg's leadership and presence in working with the Falcons' younger athletes.

VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. "Bennett loves to compete. Ever since he was a freshman, we've also had him on our 400-meter relay team. That's something he really enjoys doing. He's not just a thrower, but a good overall athlete with lots of drive,” Rimer said. “There's a lot of individuality in track & field, but I think he does a great job of leading the younger kids. He has the drive, accountability and technique to achieve his goal of being a state champion in his throwing events.”

VandenBerg is already a two-time Finals placer in the discus, earning sixth as a junior and seventh his sophomore year. He admits being a little disappointed with his distance at the 2023 state meet.

"In that particular event (discus) you need lots of focus and determination because there are a ton of tiny things you can mess up on that affect your throw. To become better you need to be consistent, show up every day and be willing to put in the work," VandenBerg said. "Right now I'm working on my speed in the circle and quickness in my follow-through."

VandenBerg also has been pleased with his improvement this spring in the shot put. He's increased his distance by over five feet and hopes to break the school record in that event as well. John Kampars (1967) holds Constantine's shot put record at 54-8¼, and VandenBerg's personal best is 48-10 in a double-dual meet this season against Parchment and Centreville.

"Shot put is a difficult event. You need power, but your form has to be top-notch – otherwise it's tough to move that 12-pound ball," VandenBerg said. "I would love to qualify for state in both the discus and shot put and be all-state in each. That would be amazing if I could be a state champion in either of those events."

VandenBerg has put in extra work in the offseason with special instruction from Bill Griffey of Next Throw in Plainwell, along with working with Constantine assistant track & field and head football coach Shawn Griffith.

"Bennett puts a lot of time into working on his throwing. He spends a lot of time in the weight room, and he's a bigger kid who is not afraid to be coached and listens to what other people tell him," Griffith said. "We're excited to see what he can do now that we've had warmer weather recently."

VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft.VandenBerg's motivation this spring follows a tremendous wrestling season that saw him finish 54-0 and capture the 285 championship with a 3-0 win in the title match over Reed City junior Wyatt Spalo.

"I gained 20 pounds of muscle and did everything you need to do to become a better athlete to wrestle the heavyweight division. Winning the title was overwhelming. It was everything I ever wanted, and the first 20 minutes after winning it was relief, especially after losing in the Finals as a junior. I just went into that last match and wrestled smart and confident," VandenBerg said. "My speed and strength gave me an advantage over the bigger heavyweights I faced this year."

Vandenberg, 188-22 with 104 career pins, became the 10th Finals champion in Constantine wrestling history and the first to achieve the feat since Kevin Watkins won a 152-pound crown in 2000.

VandenBerg competed at 189 as a freshman and sophomore. He was a Regional qualifier as a freshman and finished sixth in Division 3 as a sophomore before ending his junior campaign as the Finals runner-up at 215. 

"Bennett is a competitor who hates to lose, and if he does he learns from it. He had a lot of good practice partners on the team his first three years, and he wasn't going to be denied after losing in the Finals as a junior," said Constantine wrestling coach Dale Davidhizar Jr.

VandenBerg played on Constantine's varsity football team for four years. He got a lot of extra playing time as a freshman when Constantine reached the Division 6 Semifinals during in the COVID-shortened season. He led the Falcons in rushing as a sophomore before switching to tight end as a junior. Out of necessity, VandenBerg returned to lead Constantine in rushing and scoring again as a senior.

"Bennett learned a great deal from the older guys on the team his first three varsity seasons. He learned leadership qualities and is a very unselfish kid who is willing to do what's best for his team," Griffith said.

VandenBerg is most proud of Constantine winning a District crown last fall, especially after his senior class went 0-5-1 as eighth graders. VandenBerg posted 164 solo tackles at defensive end during his final high school season and was Constantine's main offensive weapon with 1,354 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing on 186 carries.

"Winning Districts as seniors in football was a special moment. As eighth graders, we weren't exactly the most athletic team, but we put in the work as we got older to become successful," VandenBerg said.

VandenBerg has been invited to play for the West team at the annual Michigan High School Football Coaches Association's East-West All-Star Game this summer.

College coaches have shown interest in VandenBerg in all three sports, especially football and wrestling. VandenBerg, who carries a cumulative GPA of 3.989 and scored 1110 on his SAT, is weighing his options in athletics but knows he wants to study either ecology or forestry in college.

"I love being outdoors and doing what I love to do," VandenBerg said.

Scott HassingerScott Hassinger is a contributing sportswriter for Leader Publications and previously served as the sports editor for the Three Rivers Commercial-News from 1994-2022. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Constantine’s Bennett VandenBerg competes in the discus during a home meet his junior season. (Middle) VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. (Below) VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft. (Photos by Brandon Watson/Sturgis Journal.)