October is league title time in football, and there were plenty of celebrations all over Michigan during Week 6.
We highlighted several this week, especially from the "Greater Detroit" area. Most guaranteed a share of a league championship with an opportunity to win outright coming up. Others set themselves up for a title-deciding showdown ahead, and we offered a glance at those possibilities as well.
Bay & Thumb
HEADLINER Goodrich 42, Ortonville Brandon 21 The Martians (5-1) are undefeated since losing to still-unbeaten Frankenmuth in Week 1, and with this victory they claimed a share of the Flint Metro League Stars championship as well as kept the M15 jug traveling trophy after winning it back a year ago. Goodrich shared the Stars title last year and can clinch it outright this week against Lake Fenton, last season’s other co-champion. Brandon fell to 4-2 with its other defeat to Lake Fenton. Click for more from the Flint Journal.
Watch list Linden 23, Swartz Creek 7 The Eagles (5-1) put themselves in line to earn at least a share of the Metro League Stripes title after entering the weekend tied with Swartz Creek (5-1) for first. Linden also tied its highest win total since 2017.
On the move Davison 52, Walled Lake Western 14 The Cardinals (5-1) handed Lakes Valley Conference leader Western (5-1) its lone defeat and equaled their 2021 win total in the process. Almont 37, Croswell-Lexington 26 With two league losses, Almont (4-2) will have a tough time winning the Blue Water Area Conference – but the Raiders are potential spoilers having knocked Croswell-Lexington (5-1) out of a tie for first. Bay City Central 22, Mount Pleasant 21 This was one of the stunners of the weekend statewide, as Central (2-4) had scored only 37 points total over their last four defeats to the Oilers (5-1) – who hadn’t lost a regular-season game in nearly two calendar years.
HEADLINER Macomb Dakota 21, Romeo 14 The Cougars clinched a share of the Macomb Area Conference Red title with this win over one of last season’s co-champions, taking a 14-0 lead and holding on. Dakota (6-0) had lost last year’s regular-season meeting with Romeo (4-2) but won 35-20 in a District Final rematch.
Here's the highlights of the Macomb Dakota at Romeo football game that aired on Football Fridays Overtime powered by STATE CHAMPS! on @BallySportsDET#MIFTBL @DHSCougars @DakotaFootball @dakotahsAD pic.twitter.com/6ZpKPkRD5S
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) October 1, 2022
Watch list Detroit U-D Jesuit 30, Dearborn Divine Child 22 The Cubs bounced back after three-straight nonleague losses to teams a combined 15-3 to win its two Detroit Catholic League AA matchups and secure the division title. Divine Child moved to 4-2, still tying its most wins since 2017.
On the move Warren De La Salle Collegiate 28, Detroit Catholic Central 0 The Pilots (5-1) bounced back from losing their Catholic League Central opener to win their final two games and clinch a share with DCC (4-2) able to also pick up a share this week against Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. Detroit Central 45, Detroit Northwestern 6 Central (6-0) clinched a share of the Detroit Public School League Gold by holding a fifth opponent to single-digit scoring this fall. Detroit Martin Luther King 38, Detroit Renaissance 0 The Crusaders (4-1) clinched a share of the PSL Blue title with their third shutout over four league matchups. Madison Heights Bishop Foley 29, Riverview Gabriel Richard 28 Bishop Foley (6-0) earned a one-score win for the second-straight week, this time to clinch a share of the Catholic League Intersectional 1 championship. Marine City Cardinal Mooney 15, Clarkston Everest Collegiate 8 Mooney (5-1) avenged last year’s 45-3 loss to Everest (3-3) to clinch a share of the Intersectional 2 title. Center Line 37, Clawson 6 After falling in two nonleague games to start the fall, Center Line (4-2) has won its first four in the MAC Bronze to clinch a title share by handing Clawson (3-3) its first league defeat. Southgate Anderson 33, Gibraltar Carlson 28 This mini-upset, combined with Trenton’s 21-14 win over Brownstown Woodhaven, has all four of these teams with one loss in the Downriver League.
HEADLINER Portland 40, Charlotte 13 The Raiders (5-1) scored the game’s first 23 points on the way to clinching a share of the Capital Area Activities Conference White title. Portland and Charlotte (5-1) entered the night tied for the top spot, and the Raiders held an offense scoring 39 points per game to its season low. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
Watch list Grand Ledge 56, DeWitt 49 The Comets (5-1) control their destiny in the CAAC Blue with a chance to play East Lansing in Week 9 for a share of the title, while DeWitt (3-3) fell to fifth place but with all three defeats this season by seven points or fewer.
On the move Durand 28, Gladstone 24 The Railroaders (6-0) equaled last season’s win total, which remains their highest since 2009, and handed Gladstone (5-1) its only loss as the teams met up in Gaylord. Holt 30, Lansing Waverly 6 The Rams (3-3) have played five opponents sitting .500 or better, with Waverly (4-2) also a playoff hopeful but with a tough slate ahead. Ionia 19, Lansing Catholic 18 (OT) The Bulldogs (2-4) had lost their CAAC White games to Lansing Catholic (2-4) over the last eight seasons by an average of 25 points per contest, but this time they halted the Cougars’ two-game winning streak as Lansing Catholic also was rebounding from a tough start.
Northern Lower Peninsula
HEADLINER Boyne City 42, Charlevoix 14 The Ramblers (6-0) set themselves up with a chance to clinch a Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders title this week against Elk Rapids by handing Charlevoix (5-1) its only defeat. Gavin Hewitt was among standouts as Boyne City scored the first points Charlevoix had given up since Week 1. Click for more from the Petoskey News-Review.
Watch list Frankfort 20, East Jordan 14 Defense has been the strength for Frankfort (5-1) this fall, and East Jordan (3-3) had averaged 31 points per game entering the night. Frankfort now will be rooting for the Red Devils, as they need an East Jordan win over first-place St. Ignace this week to have a shot at an NMFC Legacy title share.
On the move Cadillac 28, Petoskey 19 The Vikings (4-2) finished their outright title run in the Big North Conference and now finish their regular season against nonleague teams that are a combined 16-2. Roscommon 43, Manton 0 The Bucks (3-3) have guaranteed their best season since 2018 with three straight wins during which they’ve outscored their opponents by a combined 145-6. Traverse City Central 62, Midland Dow 26 The Trojans (2-4) earned their first win since Week 1, but could make a run at returning to the playoffs by winning out as the four teams they’ve lost to are a combined 21-3.
Southeast & Border
HEADLINER Whitmore Lake 24, Sterling Heights Parkway Christian 15 The Trojans (5-1) clinched their second championship over four seasons in the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference and continued a five-game winning streak. Whitmore Lake is giving up just 15 points per game and allowed a high of just 20 in the Week 1 loss.
Watch list Dexter 21, Ann Arbor Huron 14 While technically two other teams still have a chance, the Southeastern Conference Red title looks like it’s coming down to Dexter (6-0) and Saline. The Dreadnaughts escaped with this close win over the River Rats (3-3) to avenge last year’s seven-point loss.
On the move Napoleon 14, Grass Lake 6 The Pirates (6-0) pulled to within one more win of clinching a share of the Cascades Conference title, but must avenge one of their two 2021 league losses over the next two weeks to do so. Tecumseh 69, Jackson 46 Winner will take all in the SEC White this week as Tecumseh (6-0) avenged last year’s loss to Jackson (3-3) to earn the chance to play Chelsea for the outright league title. Michigan Center 40, Manchester 14 The Cardinals (2-4) have worked through three close losses this fall and with this win over the Flying Dutchmen (4-2) kept their playoff hopes alive.
HEADLINER Battle Creek Central 29, Portage Central 15 The Bearcats couldn’t be in a better position as they pursue the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference championship. Their only loss came nonleague in overtime in Week 1, and Battle Creek Central’s next two SMAC opponents are both winless in league play – with league co-leader St. Joseph the opponent in the regular-season finale. See below for more from FOX 17.
— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) October 1, 2022
Watch list Union City 32, Addison 22 This was a nonleague win for Union City (5-1) but came against the second-place team from the Cascades Conference. Union City could end up seeing the Cascades champion in a Week 9 crossover if the Chargers can finish off a Big 8 Conference title run. Their final two league games are against teams with one combined league win.
On the move Edwardsburg 58, Paw Paw 36 The Eddies (5-1) found their traditional scoring touch with a season-high points total, although Paw Paw (3-3) also put up the most points Edwardsburg has allowed. St. Joseph 62, Portage Northern 49 The Bears (5-1) kept up their end of that SMAC tie for first as they await third-place Stevensville Lakeshore this week. Benton Harbor 14, Niles Brandywine 0 The Tigers (3-3) kept their Lakeland Conference title hopes alive and also put a dent in the same for Brandywine (4-2); league leader Buchanan sees both to finish the league schedule over the next two weeks.
HEADLINER Bark River-Harris 36, Manistique 21 The Broncos (4-2) bounced back from back-to-back defeats with this win to set up a winner-take-call Week 9 matchup with Ishpeming in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Iron championship. Both are 2-0 in league play. The Broncos should also continue to get a nice bump in playoff points from those losses to West PAC Copper contenders Iron Mountain and Houghton.
Watch list Ishpeming Westwood 34, Hancock 6 After opening with three straight losses – including two two-pointers – Westwood is even at 3-3 and only four spots outside the Division 6 playoff field.
On the move Iron Mountain 35, Calumet 7 The Mountaineers (5-1) avenged last season’s loss to Calumet (3-3) with more lockdown defense. Make that only 40 points given up this season, and only 21 over the last five games. St. Ignace 20, Maple City Glen Lake 7 The Saints’ story keeps getting better as they sit alone atop the NMFC Legacy thanks to another impressive defensive stand. St. Ignace (5-1) has given up 59 points this season, and 40 came in its lone loss to Gladstone. Kingsford 51, Detroit Old Redford 6 The Flivvers (4-2) are No. 13 in Division 5 playoff points after a big win over an Old Redford team that is slated to make the Division 6 field currently at 4-2.
HEADLINER Grand Rapids South Christian 36, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 34 The Sailors earned their first win over GRCC (5-1) since 2014, in doing so ending the Cougars’ winning streak at 41 games – the fifth-longest in MHSAA football history. South Christian quarterback Jake DeHaan was among stars, with his late 82-yard TD run helping to seal the win. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.
This was game of the week for good reason! This one was unreal. South Christian serves GR Catholic Central a 36-34 loss. The first for the Cougs in 42 games. @sailorsports @SCsailorFB https://t.co/wJ4xHjUjf6 pic.twitter.com/g7FXUYz0On
— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) October 1, 2022
Watch list Whitehall 42, Muskegon Oakridge 8 The Vikings (6-0) made a mighty statement in the West Michigan Conference Lakes, moving into first place alone with this win over a former co-leader and formerly undefeated Oakridge (5-1).
On the move Muskegon Mona Shores 34, Zeeland West 6 These Sailors (5-1) moved into first alone in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green by sending Zeeland West (5-1) into a three-way tie for second. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 14, Lowell 7 The Rangers (6-0) held onto the top spot alone in the O-K White, a game ahead of Byron Center and now two ahead of the Red Arrows (4-2). Muskegon Catholic Central 16, Schoolcraft 12 The Crusaders (4-2) are on a three-game winning streak with this victory over Schoolcraft (4-2). All but one MCC game this season has been decided by eight points or fewer.
HEADLINER Colon 25, Climax-Scotts 20 The Magi had defeated Climax-Scotts by an average of nearly 41 points per game during their first four 8-player meetings – but had to hold off the Panthers (5-1) this time. In doing so, Colon (6-0) earned a share of the Southern Central Athletic Association – A championship. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.
Watch list Alcona 50, Indian River Inland Lakes 40 The Tigers have found their footing in 8-player football, and then some. After going 5-4 in their inaugural season last fall, Alcona (6-0) has surpassed that win total and is averaging 60 points per game – already outscoring last year’s team as well. This win was the Tigers’ most impressive, as Inland Lakes (4-2) is the favorite in the Ski Valley Conference.
On the move Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 35, Martin 19 The Mustangs (6-0) handed Martin (5-1) its first regular-season loss on the field since 2018, when the Clippers were still playing the 11-player format. Merrill 52, Morrice 12 The Vandals (6-0) are the team to chase in the Central Michigan 8-Man Football Conference after handing Morrice (5-1) its lone loss, and scoring their second-most points this fall in the process. Munising 54, Pickford 0 Make the reigning champ Mustangs (6-0) the favorites again in the Great Lakes Eight Conference East after they avenged last season’s 40-36 loss to the Panthers (4-2).
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PHOTOS (Top) A Breckenridge ball carrier is pulled down by a Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart tackler during the Huskies’ 20-12 win this past weekend. (Middle) A Beal City defender wraps up a Pine River ball carrier during the Aggies’ 49-6 victory. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)
Separated by 527 travel miles – whether over Mackinac Bridge or around Lake Michigan, the Novara family celebrated nearly parallel football successes this fall.
At Portland, John Novara completed his 25th season as head coach leading the Raiders to a 12-1 record – their best since finishing Division 5 runner-up in 2018, and a second-straight Capital Area Activities Conference White championship on the way to reaching the Division 4 Semifinals.
At Kingsford, fifth-year coach Mark Novara led the Flivvers to a 10-2 record – their best since posting the same in 2004. Kingsford shared the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper title and won a Division 5 District title, its first District championship since 2009.
John Novara graduated from Iron Mountain in 1989, and younger brother Mark graduated from Kingsford in 1993.
Similarly parallel, both teams were quarterbacked by Novaras. Dominic Novara directed the Raiders’ attack, and cousin Nic Novara led the Flivvers. Both are juniors. (Mark Novara was a Division III All-American at quarterback at Lakeland College in Wisconsin.)
One more connection: Portland athletic director Kevin Veale quarterbacked the Iron Mountain teams with John Novara as tight end long before they worked together downstate. Veale’s nephew Garrett Veale was a standout two-way lineman for Mark Novara and Kingsford this fall.
Small gesture, memorable connection
Dante DeGrazia’s senior season was sadly short-lived this fall, as he suffered a season-ending injury during the first half of South Lyon East’s opening game against White Lake Lakeland at Michigan Stadium.
But an official provided a memory the DeGrazias will not forget.
Chris Curtis had begun his 16th season as an official earlier that day at U-M, and stuck around to watch the Lakes Valley Conference matchup. A month later, he was officiating the East/Warren Mott game, and made sure to check in with DeGrazia – a small gesture, but a meaningful one as well and another reminder of the interconnectedness of communities within educational athletics.
“When he heard my son wasn't able to play anymore, needed surgery and that he was a senior, he offered him kindness and a hug on the field,” Dante’s mother Dana DeGrazia wrote to East athletic director Greg Michaels. “As a parent whose son is going through a rough time dealing with losing his senior season, hearing this story from Dante means a lot to me and the support that was given to him and I wanted to reach out and tell him thank you.”
PHOTOS (Top) Kingsford football coach Mark Novara, far left, quarterback Nic Novara and Portland coach (and uncle) John Novara celebrate the Flivvers' District title. (Middle) South Lyon East's Dante DeGrazia (33) and official Chris Curtis meet for a quick hug during East's Week 5 game. (Photos courtesy of the Portland football program and DeGrazia family, respectively.)