1st & Goal: 2022 Week 5 Review
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
September 26, 2022
The champs are here – with more soon on the way.
Week 5 saw the first football league champions awarded in Michigan, as at least four varsity teams clinched conference titles as the regular season reached its midpoint.
Several more matchups shaped where league races will be heading the rest of the way. Here’s our glance at many of them.
Bay & Thumb
HEADLINER Frankenmuth 21, Freeland 0 An Eagles defense that has been difficult to break the last many seasons may have put up its most impressive performance of at least the last few. Freeland (4-1) was averaging nearly 49 points per game this fall, but Frankenmuth (5-0) now has given up 30 total this season and none over the last two weeks as it’s taken the sole lead in the Tri-Valley Conference 8. Click for more from the Saginaw News.
Here's the highlights of the Frankenmuth at Freeland football game that aired on Football Fridays Overtime powered by STATE CHAMPS! on @BallySportsDET#MIFTBL | @FrankenmuthF pic.twitter.com/iQu9X1krWi
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) September 24, 2022
Watch list Standish-Sterling 28, Millington 24 The Panthers (5-0) came back from 10 down with a quarter to play to clinch a share of the Tri-Valley Conference 10-1 and hand the Cardinals (4-1) their lone defeat. Millington had won their matchups the last two seasons.
On the move Flint Hamady 61, Flint Beecher 20 The Hawks (5-0) also clinched a share of their league title, in the Genesee Area Conference, and ran their recent streak against Beecher (2-3) to four wins over their last five meetings. Port Huron Northern 14, Port Huron 7 The Huskies (5-0) sit alone atop the Macomb Area Conference Blue after holding the rival Big Reds (4-1) scoreless over the final quarter. Grand Blanc 28, East Lansing 21 The Bobcats (3-2) have caught their stride the last two weeks, this time handing East Lansing (4-1) its lone defeat.
HEADLINER Macomb Dakota 28, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 17 Not many seasons go by without this being one of our headlining matchups, and Dakota (5-0) now sits alone atop the MAC Red after running its winning streak over Chippewa Valley to four. The teams were tied into the final eight minutes of the game before the Big Reds (4-1) took a brief lead and the Cougars broke away for the win. Click for more from Macomb Daily.
Here's the highlights of Macomb Dakota beating Chippewa Valley that aired on Football Fridays Overtime powered by STATE CHAMPS! on @BallySportsDET#MIFTBL | @DakotaFootball @dakotahsAD pic.twitter.com/6i4o5sSO3f
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) September 24, 2022
Watch list Rochester Adams 35, West Bloomfield 18 The Oakland Activities Association Red might be the deepest league in Michigan this season, and newcomer Adams (4-1) is back into a four-way tie for first place after handing reigning champion West Bloomfield (4-1) its lone loss.
On the move Detroit Catholic Central 21, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 19 The Shamrocks (4-1) are the early leaders in the Detroit Catholic League Central after stopping a fourth-quarter Rice two-point conversion attempt – and the Warriors’ opportunity to clinch a share of the conference title. Detroit Central 35, Detroit Southeastern 20 Central gave up its first points since Week 1, but also slowed down a Southeastern offense that was averaging nearly 43 points per game. The Trailblazers (5-0) moved into first alone in the Detroit Public School League Gold, with the Jungaleers (4-1) tied with two others for second. Grosse Pointe South 21, Roseville 14 South (3-2) also took over first place alone, in the MAC White, by sending Roseville (3-2) into a three-way tie for second.
HEADLINER Fowler 20, Pewamo-Westphalia 16 The Eagles broke a seven-game losing streak against the rival Pirates (3-2), and in doing so took control in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference; their matchup has eventually decided the last two league champions. A final-minute touchdown clinched it for Fowler (5-0). Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
Watch list Mason 28, Haslett 13 The Bulldogs (5-0) are up to fourth in Division 3 playoff-point average and alone atop the Capital Area Activities Conference Red with a second-straight win over one of last season’s co-champions.
On the move Beal City 26, Evart 21 The undefeated Aggies’ drive to repeat in the Highland Conference got a major boost as they sent Evart (4-1) into a tie for second with three league games to play. Mount Pleasant 46, Bay City Western 18 The Oilers (5-0) lead the Saginaw Valley League North at the midway point after also sending Western (3-2) into a tie for second in that league. Brighton 17, Northville 14 They entered tied for first in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West, but Brighton (5-0) ended the night alone atop the league after blocking a late field-goal attempt by the Mustangs (4-1).
Northern Lower Peninsula
HEADLINER Cadillac 19, Gaylord 9 The Vikings (3-2) clinched a share of the Big North Conference championship with their first single-digit defensive showing of another solid run on that side of the ball this season. The defense was a difference-maker for the offense as well, as all three Cadillac touchdowns were set up by turnovers. Click for more from the Cadillac News.
Watch list East Jordan 35, Maple City Glen Lake 9 After opening with two nonleague losses, the Red Devils (3-2) have won their first three games in the Northern Michigan Football League Legacy, including this one to move into a tie for first place and send the Lakers (3-2) out of the top spot.
On the move Lake City 36, McBain 30 (OT) The Trojans (3-2) remain alive in the Highland Conference race thanks to an unforgettable comeback from a 30-0 deficit to get past the Ramblers (2-3). Petoskey 24, Alpena 20 This gave the Northmen (2-3) a chance to win a share of the BNC title this week against Cadillac. Ogemaw Heights 7, Sault St. Marie 6 The Falcons (3-2) tied their win totals of both of the last two seasons but this time with four games to play, and handed the Blue Devils (4-1) their lone loss in the process.
Southeast & Border
HEADLINER Dundee 9, Brooklyn Columbia Central 7 Brayden Ratliff’s leg was a decider in a defensive battle, as he kicked three field goals including the game-winner with eight seconds to play. Dundee is 5-0 for the first time since 1992, per Michigan-football.com, with a chance to shape the race in the Lenawee County Athletic Association with undefeated Clinton and Hudson coming up over the next three weeks. Click for more from the Monroe News.
Watch list Erie Mason 20, Sand Creek 14 Halfway through the Tri-County Conference schedule, Erie Mason (5-0) is tied for first after avenging a 48-6 loss to Sand Creek from a year ago.
On the move Ottawa Lake Whiteford 54, Petersburg Summerfield 6 The Bobcats also are tied for first in the TCC; they face Erie Mason in Week 8. Napoleon 35, Hanover-Horton 7 The Pirates (5-0) sit alone atop the Cascades Conference thanks to a second-straight win over Hanover-Horton (2-3). Grass Lake 36, Michigan Center 29 The Warriors (3-2) are one of three teams in the Cascades with one league loss, with this win putting a little more on the line for the showdown with Napoleon this week.
HEADLINER St. Joseph 13, Portage Central 12 The Bears (4-1) took a major step in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference by edging and avenging a 2021 loss to the reigning champion Mustangs (2-3), sending them a game back in the league standings. St. Joseph’s next two games are against opponents also a game back – Portage Northern and Stevensville Lakeshore – but an especially intriguing Week 9 is brewing as Battle Creek Central is the other SMAC co-leader. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.
Watch list Edwardsburg 25, Plainwell 21 A major comeback pushed the Eddies’ Wolverine Conference winning streak to 36 as they received but handled a tough challenge for a second-straight one-score victory.
On the move Union City 20, Homer 14 The Chargers (4-1) sit alone atop the Big 8 Conference after a third-straight one-score win over a team now sitting in second, third or fourth place. Homer (3-2) is that second-place team hoping for a slip up, but Union City needs to win only one of its final two league games to clinch a share of the title. Berrien Springs 20, Benton Harbor 14 Three of five teams in the first-year Lakeland Conference are 4-1 or better, and Berrien Springs (5-0) sits alone in first after handing Benton Harbor (2-3) its second-straight one-score defeat. Centreville 40, White Pigeon 28 The Bulldogs (4-1) are in first halfway through the Southwest 10 Conference schedule, with White Pigeon (2-3) looking to finish strong after losing three games to teams that are a combined 11-4.
HEADLINER Gladstone 48, Marquette 21 The Braves (5-0) clinched a share of the Great Northern Conference championship, with the opportunity to win it outright coming up Week 9 against Escanaba (unless Kingsford or Menominee loses a league game before then). This was another one that was never really in question as Gladstone has now won all of its games by at least two touchdowns. Click for more from RRN Sports.
Watch list Iron Mountain 45, Bark River-Harris 8 Since falling to Negaunee by five in Week 1, the Mountaineers (4-1) have been nearly unstoppable giving up a combined 14 points over the last four games – and with Bark River-Harris (3-2) the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Iron leader.
On the move Ishpeming Westwood 22, Manistique 6 After opening 0-3 with two two-point losses, Westwood (2-3) is on the rise with a defense that’s giving up only 17 points per game. Negaunee 49, Ishpeming 14 Both are possible champions in their respective divisions of the West PAC, but this solidifies Copper leader Negaunee as another of the best teams overall in all of the Upper Peninsula. The Miners play Gladstone in Week 7. Houghton 42, Hancock 0 The Gremlins avenged last season’s loss and earned their first win in this rivalry since 2018.
HEADLINER Zeeland West 38, Muskegon 36 This rollercoaster ride came to a stop with Zeeland West tied with Muskegon Mona Shores atop the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green and Muskegon and Reeths-Puffer just a game back in the standings. The Dux led by double digits, then trailed late before scoring during the final minute to move to 5-0. The Big Reds are 3-2, but with those losses to teams that are a combined 9-1. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Here are Zeeland West's highlights of the Dux 38-36 win over Muskegon from Friday night. Powered by @LTUAthletics @duxsports pic.twitter.com/XGEfBNEXbJ
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) September 24, 2022
Watch list Caledonia 50, Grandville 40 After things sorted out in the O-K Red on Friday, Caledonia finds itself tied for first with Grandville a game back thanks in part to quarterback Mason McKenzie’s standout performance.
On the move Grand Rapids Catholic Central 49, Ada Forest Hills Eastern 21 This stayed close for most of three quarters before GRCC (5-0) broke away to remain tied for first in the O-K Gold and send FHE (4-1) into third. Rockford 41, East Kentwood 20 The Rams (5-0) joined Caledonia in first in the O-K Red, while East Kentwood (3-2) joined Grandville one game back. East Grand Rapids 42, Grand Rapids Christian 14 The Pioneers’ offense found its footing and in doing so gave the team some hope for the final month as it looks to bounce back from a 1-3 start during which all three losses came to opponents still undefeated.
HEADLINER Powers North Central 50, Lake Linden-Hubbell 0 The Jets (5-0) broke their previous MHSAA 8-player consecutive wins record with their 28th in a row – with their third of four wins on the field this season while not giving up a point. The Lakes (3-2) had been averaging nearly 34 points per game. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.
Watch list Auburn Hills Oakland Christian 52, Deckerville 44 After falling in its North Central Thumb League Stars debut three weeks earlier, Oakland Christian (4-1) showed how smoothly it has adjusted to its new conference with this significant win over an annual favorite.
On the move Mendon 36, Gobles 6 The Hornets (3-2) have moved up from 23rd to tied for 11th in Division 2 playoff-point average over the last two weeks, this time in part because of the early success by the Tigers (3-2) – who are in the midst of what could be their most successful season since 2016. Posen 56, Mio 48 After winning just once a year ago, Posen is up to 4-1 with three wins over 2021 playoff teams including the Thunderbolts (3-2). Morrice 42, Breckenridge 20 We’ve been following Breckenridge’s rise in its first season of 8-player, and Morrice (5-0) stood strong against a tough challenge with a possible league title decider against Merrill up next.
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) Negaunee's Kai Lacer (22) leaps over an Ishpeming defender during a touchdown run Friday. (Middle) A Zeeland West passer lofts a throw against Muskegon. (Below) Powers North Central celebrates its record-setting win. (Top and middle photos by Cara Kamps and Tim Reilly, respectively. Bottom photo courtesy of the North Central athletic department.)
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.)