The champs are here – with more soon on the way.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.)
DETROIT – Isaiah Marshall took a second Sunday night to think about the interception he’d just thrown that led to Belleville taking a late lead in the Division 1 Football Final.
But just a second.
When Marshall and his Southfield Arts & Technology teammates took the field down four points with 4 minutes, 47 seconds remaining at Ford Field, the interception wasn’t on his mind. Neither was the raucous Belleville crowd that had awoken on the home side of the stadium.
He wasn’t thinking about stopping a three-peat or snapping a 38-game Belleville win streak. He wasn’t thinking about the talk he’d heard during the week leading up to the game, that his team was on its way to getting blown out like so many of those previous 38 opponents.
All Marshall was focused on was doing his job.
“As soon as I threw the pick, I knew what I had to do differently,” Marshall said. “I just wasn’t thinking about that last play. As soon as I threw the pick, I just thought about it on the bench, then as soon as I came out, it wasn’t on my mind at all. I just knew I had to go down the field and score.”
Like he had all night, Marshall came through when the Warriors needed him most, leading his team on a 69-yard scoring drive, finishing the final 11 with his legs for the go-ahead score in Southfield A&T’s 36-32 victory against Belleville.
His defense finished the rest, as Dorian Freeman intercepted a pass during the final seconds, sealing the first Finals title for Southfield.
“It’s special,” A&T coach Aaron Marshall said. “It’s special for the community. It’s a long time coming. All week I’ve been getting calls from guys I’ve never met just congratulating the boys on making it. We had never even made it to the championship game, let alone won one. It’s real big for the community. I’m really proud.”
To do it, the Warriors needed to overcome the team that has dominated Division 1 for the past three seasons in Belleville (13-1). The Tigers had won the past two Division 1 Finals, and hadn’t dropped a game since Sept. 10, 2021.
They entered Sunday having outscored opponents this fall by an average of 49-7. They also featured the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2025 in quarterback Bryce Underwood.
But Sunday, none of that mattered to Marshall and the Warriors (13-1). Well, except maybe the last part.
“Just a little bit,” Marshall said when asked if he was out to prove he was the state’s top quarterback. “I do think I’m the best player in the state. Me proving that tonight, and showing what I can do on the big stage shows that, I think.”
He finished the night completing 20 of 31 passes for 281 yards with two touchdowns, as well as two interceptions. He also rushed for 134 yards and the go-ahead score, as well as the two-point conversion that put his team up four.
“He came out there and played like I thought he was going to play,” said Belleville star linebacker and running back Jeremiah Beasley, who has committed to Michigan. “He’s a real tough player. Since we were little, he’s always been tough. He came out there and played with all his heart, and they came out on top.”
Underwood certainly had his moments, finishing 11 for 24 for 164 yards and a touchdown to go along with one interception. He also had five rushes for 39 yards.
And A&T was certainly cognizant of what Underwood could do, especially when he got the ball back with 47 seconds to play and a chance to take the lead. But by playing coverage, they didn’t allow the Tigers to push the ball down the field, and eventually pressure from senior defensive tackle Reggie Gardner forced the throw that Freeman intercepted to clinch the game.
“My coaches just told me to spy the quarterback, and whatever he did, I would go,” Freeman said. “Then it was just right in my zone.”
A&T led for most of the game, getting a pair of rushing touchdowns from Mathias Davis during the first half, the second score giving them a 12-7 lead.
After a 31-yard field goal from Belleville’s Brayden Lane made the score 12-10, Marshall engineered an 80-yard drive over the final three minutes of the second quarter to give his team a 10-point lead at the half. He accounted for 79 of the 80 yards with either his legs or his arm, finishing it off with a 13-yard TD pass to Tashi Braceful with 13 seconds remaining in the half. Braceful finished the night with 10 catches for 152 yards.
The Warriors nearly added to that halftime lead, as well, recovering a squib kick at the Belleville 43. Marshall hit Tyjuan Esper for a 38-yard gain on the next play, but he was tackled as the first-half clock expired.
Early in the third quarter, Marshall and the Warriors did stretch their lead when he threw a 19-yard TD pass to Xavi Bowman on a 4th-and-14. DaMario Quarles’ conversion run put them up 28-10 with 3:39 to play in the third quarter.
Of course, Belleville didn’t go away.
The Tigers responded immediately with a 45-yard TD pass from Underwood to Jalen Johnson. And after stopping Marshall on a 4th-and-2 run near midfield, they needed just three plays and 30 seconds to pull within three points of the lead as Beasley scored on a 15-yard run.
On the next A&T possession, Marquis Peoples put Belleville right back in business with an interception that he returned to the 35-yard line. Beasley again cashed in three plays later, with a 22-yard TD run that gave Belleville a 33-27 lead with 4:47 remaining.
Beasley finished the night with 106 yards and the two touchdowns on the ground.
“He’s a senior ball player; he did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Belleville coach Calvin Norman said of Beasley. “He came through in the clutch. When he ran the ball, he did his thing. I have nothing but love for the young man.”
Belleville cornerback Adrian Walker made one of the more remarkable plays of the weekend late in the first quarter, intercepting a Marshall pass deep in A&T territory.
Walker got both hands on the pass, deflecting it up and toward himself as he was spinning up the field. The ball went over his head and Walker reached behind his back to make the catch at the A&T 26.
Four plays later, Belleville was on the board with a 16-yard Colbey Reed touchdown run, and the Tigers led 7-6.
PHOTOS (Top) Southfield A&T quarterback Isaiah Marshall stretches for the game-winning touchdown during Sunday’s Division 1 Final. (Middle) The Warriors ended the night by raising their first championship trophy. (Below) Belleville’s Adrian Walker (2) makes a stunning behind-the-back interception. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)