1st & Goal: 2022 Week 6 Preview
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
September 30, 2022
Many Michigan football league play right through the end of the regular season, although often league championships are decided by power-packed matchups in Weeks 6, 7 or 8.
This Week 6 is shaping up as perhaps the week that may most shape the 2022 regular season.
A number of eventual conference champions could be decided tonight – some surely by the eight matchups of teams entering the weekend both 5-0.
Games below are Friday unless noted. Click for the full schedule from MHSAA.com and check out the broadcast schedule from MHSAA.tv.
Bay & Thumb
Saginaw Nouvel (4-1) at Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (5-0)
MLS quietly has been dominating this season, with its 233 points only 24 shy of the team’s total over nine games last season. While three wins have come against teams that remain without a victory, a fourth was 43-32 over Marine City Cardinal Mooney, which leads the Detroit Catholic League Intersectional 2. MLS’s next two games – this one against Nouvel and next week against Ithaca – should be similarly tough and will decide if the Cardinals will claim the Tri-Valley Conference 10-2 title, which would be their first league championship since their most recent overall winning season in 2019. Nouvel’s only loss was to Ithaca in Week 3.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Almont (3-2) at Croswell-Lexington (5-0), Grand Blanc (3-2) at Lapeer (5-0), Linden (4-1) at Swartz Creek (5-0), New Lothrop (5-0) at Montrose (3-2).
Warren De La Salle Collegiate (4-1) at Detroit Catholic Central (4-1), Sunday
Every season this game means something, and this season it’s likely to again determine the Detroit Catholic League Central title. DCC went undefeated in Central play to win the league championship in 2020, but relinquished it to the Pilots last season as De La Salle downed the Shamrocks 17-7 in what ended up the title decider. Both teams have done serious work over the first five weeks this fall. DCC came back from a season-opening loss to Clinton Township Chippewa Valley with wins over Davison, DeWitt, Detroit U-D Jesuit and Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice by two points. De La Salle’s only loss was by a point to Rice, and the Pilots own wins over Detroit Renaissance, Muskegon, Jesuit and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Davison (4-1) at Walled Lake Western (5-0), Detroit Central (5-0) at Detroit Northwestern (4-1), Marine City (4-1) at Madison Heights Lamphere (4-1), Macomb Dakota (5-0) at Romeo (4-1).
Portland (4-1) at Charlotte (5-0)
This could be Charlotte’s biggest game since 2008, when it shared the Capital Area Activities Conference Gold title with DeWitt and Haslett. A win over the Raiders would give the Orioles a share of the CAAC White championship – a nice jump after going 2-3 in league play last season. Charlotte has had only four overall winning seasons since 2008 but has all but guaranteed one this fall. Portland, meanwhile, is a five-point Week 2 loss from being undefeated and looking to take back the White after seeing a league title streak end at six last season.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Marshall (4-1) at Hastings (4-1), Gladstone (5-0) at Durand (5-0), DeWitt (3-2) at Grand Ledge (4-1), Olivet (4-1) at Pewamo-Westphalia (3-2).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Charlevoix (5-0) at Boyne City (5-0)
Boyne City’s last league loss was to eventual champion Charlevoix in 2020. Charlevoix’s only league loss since 2019 was last year to eventual champion Boyne City. And that makes for a pretty solid rivalry as this matchup could again decide the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders title. Charlevoix hasn’t given up a point since opening night – with a 48-0 shutout of third-place Elk Rapids among the four straight. Boyne City won by forfeit last week but is barreling along at 46 points per game – making the Ramblers’ offense vs. the Rayders’ defense the matchup of the night.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY East Jordan (3-2) at Frankfort (4-1), Sault Ste. Marie (4-1) at Kingsley (3-2), Cadillac (3-2) at Petoskey (2-3), Evart (4-1) at McBain (2-3).
Southeast & Border
Clinton (5-0) at Dundee (5-0)
Dundee football re-arrived on the scene in 2019 with its first playoff appearance since 2013, and the Vikings took it a step farther last season making the District Finals for the first time since 2011. A win this week would be another giant step, as Clinton has won nine or more games the last three seasons and continues to be a major contender in the Lenawee County Athletic Association. Clinton has won its first three league games this fall by a combined 137-13, and Dundee has given up only 20 points over its first three including against two of the same opponents.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Union City (4-1) at Addison (4-1), Ann Arbor Huron (3-2) at Dexter (5-0), Napoleon (5-0) at Grass Lake (3-2), Tecumseh (5-0) at Jackson (3-2).
Berrien Springs (5-0) at Buchanan (4-1)
These two are part of the inaugural Lakeland Conference, with Benton Harbor, Dowagiac and Niles Brandywine, and a win tonight would put Berrien Springs one away from earning the first league title (while a win combined with a Brandywine loss to Benton Harbor would give the Shamrocks a share of the championship). These two also are rivals from the former Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference, and Berrien Springs has won six of the last seven meetings – but Buchanan already has more wins this fall than all of last season.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Edwardsburg (4-1) at Paw Paw (3-2), Portage Northern (3-2) at St. Joseph (4-1), Allegan (3-2) at Constantine (4-1), Battle Creek Central (4-1) at Portage Central (2-3).
Calumet (3-2) at Iron Mountain (4-1)
Iron Mountain is up to No. 3 in Division 8 playoff-point average, ahead of four undefeated teams thanks to that lone loss coming to unbeaten Division 6 Negaunee. But Calumet has been a bit of a thorn during a strong five-year run by the Mountaineers, winning two of three meetings on the field since Iron Mountain joined the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference in 2018. The Copper Kings won last year’s matchup 21-6 and have picked up three straight wins (one a forfeit) this fall since opening the season with losses to Negaunee and Gladstone – arguably the two best teams in the Upper Peninsula.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Negaunee (5-0) vs. L'Anse (3-2), Maple City Glen Lake (3-2) at St. Ignace (4-1), Bark River-Harris (3-2) at Manistique (2-3). SATURDAY Detroit Old Redford (3-2) at Kingsford (3-2).
Grand Rapids Catholic Central (5-0) at Grand Rapids South Christian (5-0)
Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s 41-game winning streak may face one of its toughest challenges yet – and that’s saying something as the Cougars defeated South Christian by only a point in 2020 and have won three straight Division 4 or 5 Finals. GRCC already has outlasted Ada Forest Hills Eastern and held on against Cedar Springs to defeat the latter by a point. But the Sailors have yet to play a game closer than 22 points – that one a 28-6 win over Cedar Springs – and have given up only 33 points on the year.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Whitehall (5-0) at Muskegon Oakridge (5-0), Lowell (4-1) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (5-0), Grandville (4-1) at Rockford (5-0), Muskegon Mona Shores (4-1) at Zeeland West (5-0).
Morrice (5-0) at Merrill (5-0)
This almost assuredly will end up deciding the Central Michigan 8-Man Football Conference championship, as these two sit atop the standings and two games ahead of four more teams tied for third. Merrill is ranked No. 4 in Division 1, and Morrice is No. 6 in Division 2, and neither has faced a massive challenge yet – the closest game for both was a 22-point win over Breckenridge. Morrice has been among standard-setters in 8-player, with a combined 46-4 record over the last five seasons. But Merrill appears on the verge of joining the elite coming off its first win over annual power Portland St. Patrick since moving to 8-player in 2020.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Brown City (4-1) at Britton Deerfield (3-2), Climax-Scotts (5-0) at Colon (5-0), Pickford (4-1) at Munising (5-0), Martin (5-0) at Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian (5-0).
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PHOTO Caledonia, on defense, faces Holt during a season opener. (Click for more from 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.)