1st & Goal: 2022 Week 9 Review

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

October 24, 2022

Every league champion has been crowned. All 144 playoff pairings are set.

MI Student AidThis fall seemed to fly by, but the football regular season is complete. See below for several of the final steps we took to get there across the state during Week 9.

Bay & Thumb

HEADLINER Davison 28, Lapeer 6 The Cardinals (8-1) clinched the outright Saginaw Valley League South championship as this was a winner-take-all matchup. The victory also avenged a 2021 loss to the Lightning (7-2), and Davison’s defense arguably was the star of this show by limiting a Lapeer attack averaging 39 points per game in one of its most impressive performances of the fall. These two could meet again in a Division 1 District Final. Click for more from the Flint Journal.

Watch list Gladwin 35, Standish Sterling 7 The Flying G’s (9-0) won one of three matchups of unbeaten teams this weekend, and in doing so finished their second-straight perfect regular season. Standish-Sterling (7-1) has plenty to boast as well as it takes a combined 17-4 record over the last two seasons into these playoffs.

On the move Croswell-Lexington 41, Freeland 34 The Pioneers (7-2) saw their league title chances dissolve with two losses over the last month, but defeating the No. 12 team in Division 4 playoff-point average in Freeland (7-2) was a solid way to enter the postseason. Essexville Garber 34, Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker 21 The Dukes (6-3) were No. 29 in Division 5 playoff-point average heading into the week but got a four-spot bump in handing Laker (8-1) its only loss. Goodrich 42, Almont 21 The Martians (8-1) will be home throughout the playoffs with this win over Almont (6-3) another solid building block for the postseason.

Greater Detroit

HEADLINER Belleville 42, Brighton 3 Although both teams entered undefeated, few have slowed Belleville over the last few seasons as the Tigers (9-0) ran their winning streak to 20 with this Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship win. Brighton (8-1) had given up only 81 points this season before Belleville scored 42; the Tigers have put up at least 41 in every game this fall. Click for more from the Detroit News.

Watch list Grosse Pointe South 44, Grosse Pointe North 14 With the Norsemen (8-1) eying their first perfect regular season since 1986, the Blue Devils (6-3) swooped in to win their sixth game over their last seven this fall and fifth in a row over their rivals.

On the move Detroit Cass Tech 33, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 14 The Technicians (6-3) were able to hold on to the No. 29 spot in Division 1 playoff-point average with their fifth-straight win. Southfield Arts & Technology 28, River Rouge 21 The Warriors (7-2) rebounded from a Week 8 loss to West Bloomfield with a win over a River Rouge team that while 5-3 is much better than that record as all three defeats were by seven points or fewer. Gibraltar Carlson 38, Brownstown Woodhaven 18 Carlson (8-1) is a co-champion in the Downriver League for the second-straight season, with Trenton after the Trojans (8-1) defeated Southgate Anderson.


HEADLINER Grand Ledge 45, East Lansing 30 The Comets (7-2) were considered emerging entering this season, but they finished the regular season as co-champions in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue. The surge seemed to start with a Week 6 win over DeWitt and carried through with this victory over the Trojans (6-3), who were in first place before falling in their final two games to Grand Ledge and the other co-champion, Holt. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Watch list Belding 36, Hopkins 14 The Black Knights (8-1) finished a perfect run through the Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver and also ended a five-game regular-season losing streak against Hopkins (5-4), which would have shared the title with a win. (Belding did win a playoff game over Hopkins in 2020 after losing the regular-season meeting.)

On the move Lansing Catholic 42, Pewamo-Westphalia 7 The Cougars sat 3-5 with their string of 13 straight playoff appearances potentially on the verge of ending before they posted their most impressive win in downing the Pirates (5-4). Durand 48, Marine City 28 During an undefeated run of impressive performances, Durand (9-0) may have saved the best for last in this win over the Macomb Area Conference Silver champion Mariners (7-2). Mount Pleasant 28, Linden 21 The Oilers (8-1) won another matchup of league champions, as the Eagles (5-4) suffered their second one-score defeat over the last three weeks.

A Davison ball carrier follows his blocker during Friday's win over Lapeer.

Northern Lower Peninsula

HEADLINER Traverse City St. Francis 45, Detroit Country Day 20 The Gladiators may be favorites in the Division 7 playoffs and certainly are mathematically so as the closed the regular season 9-0 and with a playoff-points average nearly 4.7 points higher than the field. This defeat over a Country Day team (5-3) in line to host both District rounds in Division 5 was among six wins over teams that finished the regular season with winning records. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Watch list Ogemaw Heights 35, Lake City 7 Ogemaw Heights’ six-game winning streak got a nice boost from this big win over the also-playoff bound Trojans (5-4). The Falcons (7-2) also surpassed the six wins they’d totaled over the last two seasons combined.

On the move Gaylord 28, Clare 7 The Blue Devils (6-3) entered Week 9 as the No. 32 team on the Division 3 playoff-point list, but were able to bump up a few spots thanks to this win over playoff-bound Clare (5-4). Frankfort 36, Elk Rapids 14 The Panthers (8-1) tied their most wins since 2017 with their sixth-straight this fall. Elk Rapids (6-3) is headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 2018, despite the defeat. Traverse City Central 14, Traverse City West 13 Even with West (2-7) finishing below .500 for the first time since 2015, this rivalry game remained must-see as Central (5-4) won for the fourth-straight season but with this matching the one-score deciders the teams waged from 2013-18.

Southeast & Border

HEADLINER Clinton 32, Hudson 26 The Redwolves (9-0) made one of the loudest statements of the weekend, not only clinching the Lenawee Country Athletic Association championship for the first time since 2000 but ending Hudson’s state-best 22-game winning streak. The perfect regular season was Clinton’s second in four years (and first since 2019), while Hudson heads to the playoffs at 8-1. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.

Watch list Dexter 45, Chelsea 0 The Dreadnaughts (9-0) finished atop the Division 2 playoff-point average list by more than four points after defeating Chelsea (5-4) for the first time since 1995.

On the move Napoleon 15, Union City 0 After missing out on the playoffs last season despite a 6-3 record, Napoleon has left no doubt this fall with this win in a Cascades/Big 8 crossover of champions giving the Pirates (9-0) their first perfect regular season since 2002. Union City (7-2) lost for the first time since Week 1. Ida 17, Dundee 12 The Bluestreaks (4-5) needed a strong finish to make the playoffs, and edging Dundee (6-3) gave them the boost. Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 41, Ecorse 22 St. Mary (4-5) similarly needed to close on a high note to make the playoffs, and got it by handing Ecorse (8-1) its only loss.

Southwest Corridor

HEADLINER St. Joseph 47, Battle Creek Central 29 This winner-take-all Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference matchup went to the Bears (8-1), who earned their first championship since sharing the title in 2015. St. Joseph turned in one of its best offensive performances while scoring the most points the Bearcats (7-2) have given up in a game this season. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.

Watch list Buchanan 36, Centreville 28 The Bucks (8-1) have gotten a lot of attention in this space lately, with good reason, as they added to their league title with a win over the Southwest 10 Conference champion Bulldogs (6-3).

On the move Constantine 37, Benton Harbor 20 The Falcons (8-1) capped a regular season that saw their only loss by two to Hudson in Week 2, and they enter the Division 6 playoffs No. 6 in playoff-point average. Portage Northern 35, Mattawan 21 The Huskies (6-3) closed on a three-game winning streak to return to the playoffs after missing last season. Plainwell 29, Paw Paw 23 The Trojans (4-5) missed the playoffs but ended with something to build on, stopping a four-game losing streak with this win over the playoff-bound Red Wolves (4-5). Three of Plainwell’s losses were by seven points or fewer.

A Cass City ball carrier prepares to take on a Beal City defender.

Upper Peninsula

HEADLINER Bark River-Harris 28, Ishpeming 20 The Broncos helped open the weekend Thursday by clinching the last league title up for grabs in the Upper Peninsula. Downing the Hematites not only gave the Broncos the outright Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Iron championship, but put them at 7-2 to conclude their winningest regular season since 2015. Ishpeming’s loss was its third by eight points or fewer, but it still qualified in Division 8 at 4-5. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

Watch list Menominee 42, Kingsford 41 Arguably the most exciting game above the Bridge this season saw the Maroons hold off a final charge by the Flivvers. Menominee (5-4) in doing so solidified its spot in the Division 6 field, while Kingsford (6-3) qualified as No. 12 in Division 5.

On the move Calumet 41, L'Anse 22 The Copper Kings (6-3) were out of contention in the West-PAC Copper but closed with three straight wins to make the playoffs for the 18th time in 19 seasons. L’Anse also advanced for the first time (not counting all-in 2020) since 2013. Sault Ste. Marie 20, Benzie Central 14 (OT) The Blue Devils (6-3) just missed the playoffs for the second-straight season but came back from a midseason three-game losing streak to finish above .500 for the fifth-straight year. St. Ignace 54, Harbor Springs 14 The Saints capped their turnaround regular season at 7-2, their best record since 2016, and as outright champions in the Northern Michigan Football Conference Legacy.

West Michigan

HEADLINER Rockford 38, Caledonia 15 Another winner-take-all decided the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red championship, with the Rams clinching their fourth straight with their third-straight undefeated regular season while sending the Fighting Scots to 8-1. Rockford built a sizable first-half lead in part by locking down a Caledonia offense that entered the game averaging nearly 46 points per. These two could see each other again in a Division 1 District Final. Click for more from FOX 17.

Watch list Muskegon 55, Muskegon Mona Shores 35 The Big Reds (7-2) seemed to fall out of the statewide conversation after a two-point loss to Zeeland West put them at 3-2. But they need to be talked up again after this big win over Mona Shores (7-2) gave them a share of the O-K Green title and vaulted them to No. 6 in Division 3 playoff-point average. Shores sits No. 9 in Division 2 playoff-point average.

On the move Fruitport 52, Holland Christian 21 The Trojans (7-2) clinched a share of the O-K Blue title and continued to build on their best record since 2012. Reed City 16, Cadillac 8 (OT) The Coyotes (8-1) are riding substantial momentum into the playoffs as the No. 3 team in Division 6 playoff-point average. Grand Rapids West Catholic 39, Hudsonville Unity Christian 18 West Catholic is the No. 1 team on that Division 6 list and the other half of the O-K Blue co-championship after downing last season’s Division 4 runner-up Unity (5-4).


HEADLINER Au Gres-Sims 42, Posen 24 The Wolverines finished up an outright championship run in the North Star League Little Dipper, sending Posen (7-2) into second place with its lone league loss. Au Gres-Sims (8-1) has won seven straight games (including a forfeit in Week 8), and held a Posen offense averaging 45 points per game to nearly half that. Click for more from WBKB.

Watch list Deckerville 62, Peck 60 (4 OT) The Eagles (6-3) finished third in the North Central Thumb League Stars but vaulted into the postseason with this win over the Stripes champion Pirates (7-2). The teams hadn’t faced each other since 2019, but Deckerville has won their last seven meetings.

On the move Stephenson 50 Norway 40 This was notable for several reasons – the Eagles secured a spot in the playoff field, they did so against a Norway team (6-3) that’s been considered among the best in 8-player Division 1, and at 6-3 as well Stephenson has its most wins since 2017. Powers North Central 42, Crystal Falls Forest Park 0 The Jets (9-0) finished another Great Lakes Eight Conference West title with their 33rd straight win, and could see Forest Park (7-2) again in a Regional Final. Bridgman 35, Martin 34 The Bees finished their second-straight perfect regular season after moving to 8-player four years ago, with this win over Division 1 contender Martin (7-2) among their most impressive victories of the run.

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PHOTOS Negaunee's Kai Lacar (10) finds a hole and sprints for another Miners touchdown in the second quarter of last week's win over Ishpeming Westwood. (Middle) A Davison ball carrier follows his blocker during Friday's win over Lapeer. (Below) A Cass City ball carrier prepares to take on a Beal City defender. (Photos by Cara Kamps, Terry Lyons and High School Sports Scene, respectively.)

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:

8-Player Football

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.)