1st & Goal: 2022 Week 7 Preview
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
October 7, 2022
League title pursuits will continue all over the state this weekend as we begin the final third of the 2022 regular season.
But for those no longer in a championship race, or interested in what else lies ahead, every week of results makes the data even stronger as we prepare to announce the field and matchups for the MHSAA Playoffs at 6 p.m. Oct. 23 on Bally Sports Detroit.
The place to track how things are shaping up for the postseason is the MHSAA’s Playoff Point Summary page, where data can be sorted by division for both 11 and 8-player formats. The calculations update in near-real time as results are reported throughout the weekend.
Below are some of the matchups that could make things jump a little more over the next three days as we continue to settle into October.
Bay & Thumb
North Branch (6-0) at Armada (5-1)
The Blue Water Area Conference race shuffled last week with Armada defeating Croswell-Lexington, sending the Pioneers out of a tie for first with North Branch and into a tie for second with the Tigers. Now North Branch gets Armada this week and Croswell-Lexington next, needing to defeat one to clinch at least a share of the title – and after losing to both last season, including 34-28 to the Tigers. Armada is scoring 31 points per game and was one of only two opponents to put up more than 30 on North Branch last season – making this likely the best test so far for a Broncos defense giving up only six points per game this fall.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Bad Axe (5-1) at Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (6-0), Bay City Western (4-2) at Midland (5-1), Lake Fenton (3-3) at Goodrich (5-1), Fenton (4-2) at Linden (5-1).
Carleton Airport (5-1) at Riverview (6-0)
Riverview has won 25 straight regular-season games, including 20 consecutive in the Huron League – with both streaks going back to 2019. The Pirates can clinch a third-straight league title with a win in this matchup (or claim the outright championship with a win plus a New Boston Huron loss). Riverview also owns a nine-game winning streak against Airport – but with one more win this fall, Airport will tie its winningest season since 2011, and the Jets already have avenged two 2021 defeats.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Walled Lake Western (5-1) at Waterford Mott (5-1), River Rouge (4-1) at Allen Park (4-2), Detroit U-D Jesuit (3-3) at Detroit Country Day (4-1), Utica Eisenhower (5-1) at Macomb Dakota (6-0).
Lake Odessa Lakewood (5-1) at Olivet (5-1)
These two will wrap up their ninth seasons in the Greater Lansing Activities Conference with a winner-take-all championship matchup, as both are heading to the Capital Area Activities Conference next fall. Olivet owns a 6-2 edge in their GLAC matchups, and six of those meetings decided league titles. The Eagles have won five straight, with Lakewood the only other team to win the GLAC in this sport. Olivet hasn’t given up double-digit points in a game since Week 2 and got past Pewamo-Westphalia last week 20-7, while Lakewood is riding two straight shutouts.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Lapeer (6-0) at Grand Ledge (5-1), Parma Western (4-2) at Hastings (5-1), Big Rapids (4-2) at Howard City Tri County (6-0), Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (6-0) at Ithaca (5-1).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Boyne City (6-0) at Elk Rapids (5-1)
Elk Rapids has won as many games this fall as the last three seasons combined and have an opportunity to win a league championship for the first time since claiming the Lake Michigan Conference title in 2010. The Elks are a game behind Boyne City because of a Week 4 loss to Charlevoix, but breaking a nine-game losing streak against the Ramblers would give all three a single defeat in the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders with a game left for Boyne City and the Rayders. That said, the Ramblers haven’t had a game closer than 15 points this season and haven’t allowed Elk Rapids to score in their last two meetings.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY St. Ignace (5-1) at East Jordan (3-3), Roscommon (3-3) at Lake City (4-2), Kingsford (4-2) at Petoskey (2-4). SATURDAY Sault Ste. Marie (4-2) at Traverse City St. Francis (6-0).
Southeast & Border
Tecumseh (6-0) at Chelsea (5-1)
Chelsea has won 22 straight Southeastern Conference White games, going back to 2018 and including the last three league titles with this matchup providing the opportunity to add a fourth outright. The defense has been outstanding again, giving up just under 10 points per game, and the reloaded offense has averaged 40 points per game over its last three. Tecumseh is another team enjoying long-awaited success, with all of its wins by at least 23 points and its victory total already its highest since 2013. That’s also the last season Tecumseh defeated the Bulldogs.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Dundee (5-1) at Hillsdale (3-3), Temperance Bedford (4-2) at Saline (6-0), Addison (4-2) at Grass Lake (3-3), Michigan Center (2-4) at Napoleon (6-0).
Lawton (5-1) at Schoolcraft (4-2)
Big points totals the last three weeks have Lawton averaging 40 per game for the season just in time for what might end up the deciding game in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley. A win would clinch a share of the title for the Blue Devils, while Schoolcraft has played only one league game but would be in position to accomplish at least the same. The Eagles are continuing their bounce-back from their three-win 2021 campaign, and the defense was especially impressive in holding Centreville to two points in Week 2 and Muskegon Catholic Central to only 16 a week ago.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY St. Joseph (5-1) at Stevensville Lakeshore (3-3), Buchanan (5-1) at Niles Brandywine (4-2), Three Rivers (4-2) at Sturgis (4-2), Decatur (4-2) at Delton Kellogg (4-2).
Negaunee (6-0) at Gladstone (5-1)
Last week’s Gladstone loss to Durand, 28-24, took only a bit of the luster off this matchup of the top two teams in the Upper Peninsula this season (with Iron Mountain a strong honorable mention on that list). The Braves have clinched a share of the Great Northern Conference title and their best record since at least 2017, but even while finishing 4-6 last year they gave Negaunee a challenge before falling 31-30 during the regular season and 42-28 in a playoff rematch. The Miners have a tougher road ahead as they look to wrap up the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper title, but there are plenty of signs they too have improved on a team that went 8-3 in 2021. They are scoring more and giving up about the same number of points as at this point last season, with this their toughest test since defeating the Mountaineers 19-14 in their season opener.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Ishpeming Westwood (3-3) at L'Anse (3-3), Houghton (5-1) at Calumet (3-3), Marquette (2-4) at Menominee (4-2), Tomahawk, Wis. (3-4) at Ishpeming (3-3).
Ravenna (5-1) at North Muskegon (5-1)
With the expansion and split of the West Michigan Conference, these two are the contenders for the first Rivers division championship. Both are undefeated in league play, with Ravenna a win ahead at 4-0 and able to clinch a share of the title with another victory tonight. Ravenna gave challenges to annual favorites Muskegon Oakridge and Montague during their time together in the previously one-division WMC. This is newer ground but also a deserved opportunity for North Muskegon, which despite finishing in the middle of the former WMC has made the playoffs five straight years thanks to the added bonus of that tough competition.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Kent City (6-0) at Reed City (5-1), Ludington (5-1) at Whitehall (6-0), Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (5-1) at Zeeland West (5-1), Grand Rapids West Catholic (6-0) at Fruitport (4-2).
Au Gres-Sims (5-1) at Alcona (6-0)
Alcona and Rogers City are both undefeated and lined up to face each other in Week 8 for the North Star League Big Dipper title. But Au Gres-Sims, tied for first in the Little Dipper, can muddy things up if it can continue a high-scoring surge that began after a Week 2 loss to the Hurons. The Wolverines have scored at least 50 points in all four games since, and put up 72 in a 40-point win over Alcona last year. But this is a much-improved Tigers team, and only two opponents have scored more than 14 points against them this fall.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Concord (4-2) at Marcellus (4-2), Cedarville (5-1) at Rudyard (4-2). SATURDAY Mesick (5-1) at Brown City (5-1), New Haven Merritt Academy (4-2) at Peck (5-1).
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PHOTO A Muskegon Catholic Central defender makes a stop during last week's 16-12 win over Schoolcraft. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)
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.)