1st & Goal: 2022 Week 9 Preview
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
October 21, 2022
It’s not over yet.
Don’t look too far ahead to Sunday’s playoff selection when there’s plenty to behold during this weekend’s football regular-season finales.
For starters, 37 teams are pursuing perfect finishes – and three games feature undefeated teams facing off. Additionally, Detroit Central, Negaunee and Bridgman moved to 9-0 with wins Thursday night.
A handful of league titles are still to be decided – including two by those matchups of unbeaten opponents.
And if last season’s first run using the enhanced strength-of-schedule format for playoff selection ends up the norm, we could see 15 changes in the playoff field between Thursday and the end of Saturday night. Last season, teams ranked Nos. 39 and 38 in playoff-point average heading into Week 9 were among those able to make the top 32 in their 11-player divisions, while 8-player saw teams sitting Nos. 18 and 17 move up into the top 16.
Don’t forget: We’ll unveil the full playoff field and all brackets during the “Sunday Selection Show” at 6 p.m. Sunday on Bally Sports Detroit.
Bay & Thumb
Davison (7-1) at Lapeer (7-1)
For the third time in five seasons but first since 2019, a Saginaw Valley League championship is coming down to these two – this time in the SVL South, as the winner takes the title outright. These two share an intriguing mutual opponent; Davison defeated Clarkston in its season opener, and the Lightning fell to the Wolves last week. But much can change over two months, and the key point instead may be how Davison’s offense – averaging 47 points per game – does against a Lapeer defense giving up 26 per contest. Lapeer scores just over 39 points per game as well, so this one could see a lot of scores put on the board – not too different from the Lightning’s 38-35 win over the Cardinals last season.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Freeland (7-1) at Croswell-Lexington (6-2), Millington (7-1) at Flint Beecher (4-3), Gladwin (8-0) at Standish Sterling (7-0), Romeo (6-2) at Grand Blanc (4-4).
Brownstown Woodhaven (6-2) at Gibraltar Carlson (7-1)
These two and Trenton are tied for the Downriver League lead, with the winner of this matchup guaranteed a share of the title and the Trojans needing to defeat Wyandotte Roosevelt for another share. It’s a similar situation to last year, when Woodhaven entered the Week 9 matchup undefeated but Carlson was able to force a shared title (also with Allen Park) thanks to a 28-14 win. The Warriors haven’t given up more than 26 points to anyone this season, so something will have to give as the Marauders have scored at least 27 in every game.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Detroit Cass Tech (5-3) at Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (3-4), River Rouge (5-2) at Southfield Arts & Technology (6-2), Grosse Pointe South (5-3) at Grosse Pointe North (8-0). SATURDAY Madison Heights Bishop Foley (8-0) vs. Marine City Cardinal Mooney (7-1) at Ford Field.
Belleville (8-0) at Brighton (8-0), Saturday
After turning back undefeated Livonia Franklin last week to clinch the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East title, Belleville will put its 19-game winning streak on the line against another unbeaten for the overall KLAA championship. This will be these teams’ first meeting since Brighton won a 2019 Semifinal matchup. Their strengths this time match up well. The Tigers are averaging 53 points per game despite scoring only 49 and 42 the last two weeks, respectively. Brighton has allowed only 81 points all season. Belleville is No. 1 in Division 1 playoff-point average, and Brighton is tied for No. 3.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Hopkins (5-3) at Belding (7-1), Marine City (7-1) at Durand (8-0), Grand Ledge (6-2) at East Lansing (6-2), Ithaca (7-1) at Shepherd (6-2).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Detroit Country Day (5-2) at Traverse City St. Francis (8-0)
The Gladiators should have a really great idea what they do best heading into the playoffs after dominating Lawton last week and facing Division 5 contender Country Day this week. St. Francis sits atop Division 7 in playoff-point average heading into the weekend, guaranteeing three home playoff games, and will still get a nice bonus win or lose. Country Day will be seeking a bounce back after a Week 8 loss to Brother Rice, and is seeking a third win over a league champion after previously downing Detroit U-D Jesuit and Warren Michigan Collegiate.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Elk Rapids (6-2) at Frankfort (7-1), Ogemaw Heights (6-2) at Lake City (5-3), Traverse City West (2-6) at Traverse City Central (4-4), Charlevoix (7-1) at Maple City Glen Lake (3-5).
Southeast & Border
Clinton (8-0) at Hudson (8-0)
Clinton is in its third season since returning to the Lenawee County Athletic Association and finds itself with a golden opportunity in addition to the chance to claim its first title since coming back from the Tri-County Conference. Hudson is riding a 22-game winning streak – the longest active streak in the state – and sits No. 3 in Division 7 playoff-point average after winning Division 8 a year ago. By the numbers, the Redwolves have scored about two points more and given up a little more than two points fewer against the other six teams in the league this fall. Hudson won last year’s meeting 36-28.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Dexter (8-0) at Chelsea (5-3), Addison (4-4) at Jonesville (4-4), Manchester (5-3) at Reading (6-2), Battle Creek Harper Creek (3-5) at Jackson Lumen Christi (5-3).
St. Joseph (7-1) at Battle Creek Central (7-1)
This has been lining up as the potential deciding game in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference for a few weeks, and both teams made good on their ends to make it happen. St. Joseph has won the last two meetings, but this is Central’s best team since at least 2018, and with another win will tie its most in a season since 2004. Neither team has lost since Week 1. The Bearcats are 3-1 in games decided by one score, so they will be ready if crunch time presents itself again. But St. Joseph also won its only similarly close game and has an impressive victory over Hudsonville Unity Christian to bolster its SMAC run.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Portland (7-1) at Berrien Springs (6-1), Centreville (6-2) at Buchanan (7-1), Napoleon (8-0) at Union City (7-1), Sturgis (5-3) at Edwardsburg (7-1).
Benzie Central (3-5) at Sault Ste. Marie (5-3)
Sault Ste. Marie is one of four teams with a 5-3 record sitting outside the Division 3 playoff field heading into this weekend. The Blue Devils broke a three-game losing streak last week and will need those three opponents to continue harvesting bonus points while they look to take care of what they can control against the Huskies. Benzie has bounced back since starting the season 0-3 and sits No. 25 in Division 7 playoff-point average thanks in part to losses to some of the same powerhouse teams as Sault Ste. Marie has faced.
Keep an eye on these THURSDAY Bark River-Harris 28, Ishpeming 20; Negaunee 44, Ishpeming Westwood 0. FRIDAY Menominee (4-4) at Kingsford (6-2), Calumet (5-3) at L’Anse (4-4).
Rockford (8-0) at Caledonia (8-0)
This is a dream Week 9 showdown, with the top two teams in the most prominent league on the west side of the state facing off with a perfect regular season and Ottawa-Kent Conference Red outright title on the line. Rockford’s 17-14 win in Week 7 of last year ended up being the title decider. Don’t expect Caledonia’s fifth shutout of this season tonight, but the Fighting Scots’ defense has given up more than 14 points only once. Rockford will counter with an offense scoring 40 points per game that put up 31 against a similarly-strong Muskegon Mona Shores defense in a Week 2 win.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Muskegon Mona Shores (7-1) at Muskegon (6-2), Grand Rapids South Christian (8-0) at Ada Forest Hills Eastern (6-2), Hudsonville Unity Christian (5-3) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (7-1), Byron Center (6-2) at Grand Rapids Christian (3-5).
Crystal Falls Forest Park (7-1) Powers North Central (8-0)
The Jets have won a record 32 straight 8-player games, and 40 straight during the regular season. But prior to the streak, Forest Park was one of few to have success against North Central, and the Trojans will try to find some again against a team that has outscored its seven opponents (one win was a forfeit) by a combined 448-17. Forest Park’s only loss was by two to Norway, which fell to North Central last week by a much more significant margin.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Tekonsha (7-1) at Colon (8-0), Peck (7-1) at Deckerville (5-3), Farwell (7-1) at Marion (8-0), Au Gres-Sims (7-1) at Posen (7-1).
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PHOTO Davison, on offense, and Grand Blanc match up last week; the Cardinals won 49-14. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)
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.)