1st & Goal: 2023 Playoff Week 1 Review

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

October 30, 2023

The first weekend of MHSAA Football Playoffs sees the initial field of 288 teams cut in half, with 144 moving on either to District Finals in 11-player or Regional Finals in the 8-player divisions.

MI Student AidBut it’s a milestone weekend for many as well.

Football is the one MHSAA Tournament team sport requiring contenders to qualify for the postseason. That’s an accomplishment in itself, of course.

But making it then also opens the door for more – and so while we listed plenty of highlights below for championship hopefuls moving on, we also included plenty of context on what those that advanced and some that did not also achieved by making it this far.

11-Player Division 1

HEADLINER Grandville 22, Hudsonville 21 Only two Division 1 playoff games were decided by fewer than 21 points, and Grandville (8-2) came back from two touchdowns down to finish a season sweep of the Eagles (5-5) after previously defeating them 44-37 in Week 5. The win earned the Bulldogs a rematch with Rockford. Click for more from Michigan Sports Radio.

District Digest Macomb Dakota 10, St. Clair Shores Lakeview 7 This was Division 1’s only other close game, and Dakota (8-2) earned the opportunity to play for a third-straight District title while Lakeview closed 7-3. West Bloomfield 42, Rochester Adams 14 The Lakers (8-2) finished a season sweep of their Oakland Activities Association Red rival after Adams (6-4) swept them in 2021 and won last year’s lone meeting. Detroit Cass Tech 35, Westland John Glenn 14 The Technicians (7-3) went on the road and ended John Glenn’s most successful season since 2009 at 7-3.

11-Player Division 2

HEADLINER White Lake Lakeland 28, Milford 21 Lakeland (7-3) edged Lakes Valley Conference rival Milford (6-4) by seven points for the second week in a row, this time with the last-second heroics of Trevor Tschudin creating one of the first round’s most memorable highlights. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

District Digest Birmingham Seaholm 56, Birmingham Groves 49 Seaholm quarterback Colton Kinnie was among the stars as the Maples also held off Groves for the second week in a row after also winning by seven, 21-14, in Week 9. Midland Dow 14, Midland 7 This Week 9 rematch also saw the same winner but by a much closer score as Dow (6-4) had defeated the Chemics (5-5) 29-9 the first time around. Gibraltar Carlson 42, Livonia Churchill 35 Carlson (9-1) withstood a significant challenge from Churchill, which finished 4-6 and doubled its win total from 2022.

Petoskey's Seth Marek (0) catches a pass from quarterback Joseph McCarthy that he takes into the end zone.

11-Player Division 3

HEADLINER Coopersville 14, East Grand Rapids 13 Coopersville (8-2) hasn’t received enough statewide buzz for its success this season, but this one should gain the Broncos some notice. The win gave them eight for the first time since 2007 as they’ve added to their total now for the third straight season, and Coopersville’s only losses this fall were by a point to Spring Lake and three to undefeated Grand Rapids West Catholic, both during the first half of September. This one over the Pioneers (7-3) was clinched with a two-point conversion try stop. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

District Digest Stevensville Lakeshore 20, St. Joseph 15 After falling to St. Joseph (6-4) in Week 7, 35-0, Lakeshore (6-4) bounced way back and also ended a three-game losing streak in advancing. DeWitt 56, Fenton 28 DeWitt (7-2) defeated Flint Metro League Stripes champion Fenton (6-4) and earned a rematch with Week 2 opponent Mason. Auburn Hills Avondale 34, Holly 24 Avondale (9-1) is enjoining its winningest season since 2012 and earned its first playoff victory since that year. The Bronchos (6-4) completed their winningest season since 2011.

11-Player Division 4

HEADLINER Harper Woods 20, Croswell-Lexington 13 Harper Woods (7-3) ended the regular season with the highest playoff-points average in Division 4, but Croswell-Lexington (7-3) entered this game’s fourth quarter with the lead before the Pioneers scored to move ahead for good. The playoff victory was Harper Woods’ first since 2019 as it continues an impressive rebound from finishing 3-6 a year ago. See below for more from the D Zone.

District Digest Hastings 30, Charlotte 28 The Saxons (8-2) held on to defeat the Orioles (6-4) for the third-straight playoffs and sixth consecutive season overall. Big Rapids 27, Spring Lake 20 (OT) Big Rapids moved to 9-1, reaching nine wins for the first time since 2009 by getting past Spring Lake (7-3) in overtime. Chelsea 49, Tecumseh 35 Chelsea moved to 9-1 as its offense responded repeatedly before pulling away just a bit at the end of finish a season sweep of Tecumseh (5-5).

11-Player Division 5

HEADLINER Muskegon Oakridge 13, Belding 7 Oakridge (7-3) ran its winning streak this fall to four with a playoff win over Belding for the second-straight season. The Eagles handed Belding (8-2) its first loss since Week 2 by stopping an offense that averaged 44 points per game entering the weekend and hadn’t scored fewer than 38 since that previous defeat. Click for more from CatchMark SportsNet.

District Digest Detroit Southeastern 38, Detroit Denby 20 Southeastern (7-3) had tied for second in the Detroit Public School League Blue and over the last two weeks handed Ecorse its only regular-season loss and then downed PSL Gold champion Denby (8-2). Birch Run 37, Saginaw Swan Valley 15 Birch Run (6-4) earned its first playoff win since 2010 and guaranteed its winningest season since 2014 in avenging a 14-10 Week 8 loss to the Vikings (5-5). Corunna 45, Flint Hamady 7 Corunna (10-0) won the only first-round matchup of undefeated teams as a defense that’s given up only 5.9 points per game this fall continued to dominate against the Hawks (8-1) – who hadn’t given up a point since Week 6.

11-Player Division 6

HEADLINER Hart 44, Kent City 22 After reaching the playoffs for the first time (not counting COVID-shortened 2020), Hart now has its first playoff win as well as the Pirates (9-1) put up 44 or more points for the fourth straight game. Connor Edwards ran for 204 yards and three touchdowns in helping to end Kent City’s eighth-straight winning season at 7-3. Click for more from CatchMark SportsNet.

District Digest Midland Bullock Creek 22, Clare 19 Bullock Creek (7-3) has followed up two straight sub-.500 seasons with its winningest since 2007, throwing for the game-clinching touchdown during the final minute to get past Clare (7-3). Lansing Catholic 35, Michigan Center 34 Lansing Catholic (4-6) was one of only three three-win teams to reach the playoffs, and the Cougars made it count in upsetting Michigan Center (7-3) to make it seven consecutive seasons with at least one postseason win. Detroit Edison 22, Detroit Old Redford 0 Edison (7-3) secured the winningest season in program history by ending Old Redford’s winningest season all-time at 8-2.

11-Player Division 7

HEADLINER North Muskegon 27, Union City 14 The West Michigan Conference Rivers champion Norsemen (10-0) claimed this matchup of league title winners, ending the season for Big 8 Conference champ Union City (6-4). North Muskegon also reached double-digit victories for the first time since 1986. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

District Digest Charlevoix 31, Traverse City St. Francis 7 Charlevoix (9-1) avenged its lone loss, 41-40 to St. Francis (4-5) in the season opener, and the nine wins are the program’s most since going undefeated in 1977, according to Michigan-Football.com. Bath 16, Laingsburg 14 Bath (7-3) guaranteed its winningest season since 2000 by avenging a 17-6 Week 6 loss to the Wolfpack (4-6). Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 10, Detroit Loyola 7 (OT) Drew Harris drilled a game-winning field goal to add to SMCC’s combined 17-6 record in the playoffs over the last seven seasons. Loyola finished 4-6, an improvement of three wins from a year ago.

11-Player Division 8

HEADLINER Ithaca 28, Fowler 27 These two traded scores to the end before Ithaca (10-0) stopped a two-point conversion try during the final minutes to remain undefeated and also reach double-digit wins for the second-straight season. Both offenses scored the most the opposing defenses had given up this fall, as Ithaca still has allowed only 7.3 ppg and Fowler finished having given up just 8.1. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.

District Digest Hudson 40, Addison 0 This was another of the weekend’s stunners as Hudson (8-2) bounced back from two straight losses to hand Addison (9-1) its only defeat. Ishpeming 20, East Jordan 6 After starting this season 1-3, Ishpeming (7-3) long ago guaranteed its first winning season since 2019, and with this victory ended East Jordan’s winningest season since 1999 at 8-2. Allen Park Cabrini 35, Sterling Heights Parkway Christian 27 Cabrini (5-5) was 2-7 just a year ago but has won three straight games this month and in this one avenged a 50-21 Week 2 loss to Parkway (7-3).

A collection of Martin defenders wrap up a Marcellus ball carrier.

8-Player Division 1

HEADLINER Gobles 50, Mendon 14 Gobles’ first 8-player playoff win in its fourth season since switching formats was one to remember, as the Tigers (8-2) avenged last year’s 36-6 regular-season loss to Mendon and also ended the season for the 2022 Division 2 runner-up Hornets (7-3). Gobles earned a rematch with last season’s Division 1 champion, Martin, after defeating the Clippers 53-16 in Week 4. Click for more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Regional Roundup Indian River Inland Lakes 22, Alcona 6 This matchup of league champions went to the Ski Valley Conference’s Inland Lakes (9-1), which held the North Star League Big Dipper’s Alcona (8-2) to well below its average of 51.4 ppg heading into the weekend. Martin 44, Marcellus 18 The Clippers (8-2) are undefeated since that Gobles loss and earned the rematch by winning this rematch with Marcellus after also downing the Wildcats (7-3) in Week 8. Marcellus capped its winningest season since 1998. Kingston 46, Merrill 6 Kingston (8-2) ended the season for the 2022 Division 1 runner-up Vandals (8-2), coming back off a Week 9 loss to earn its first playoff victory since 2019.

8-Player Division 2

HEADLINER Powers North Central 54, Posen 20 The three-time reigning Division 2 champion isn’t done yet. Despite suffering its first defeats this fall since 2019, North Central (8-2) is off to another big playoff start after hitting the road and dealing Posen (8-1) its only loss to reach the Regional Finals for the fifth-straight season. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

Regional Roundup Marion 64, Bay City All Saints 14 Another matchup of league champions saw West Michigan D League title winner Marion (9-0) remain undefeated by downing the North Central Thumb League Stripes’ All Saints (7-3). Lake Linden-Hubbell 27, Crystal Falls Forest Park 6 In a repeat of 2022, Lake Linden-Hubbell (7-3) won the playoff rematch with Forest Park (7-3) after falling during the regular season, this time avenging a 36-28 defeat. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 34, Au Gres-Sims 0 Au Gres-Sims (7-3) averaged 50 points per game this season, but Sacred Heart’s defense lowered its average allowed to 16.4 with its second shutout of the fall as the Irish moved to 9-1.

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PHOTOS (Top) Clarkston's Desman Stephans II dives for the end zone during his team's 33-10 Division 1 playoff win over Romeo. (Middle) Petoskey's Seth Marek (0) catches a pass from quarterback Joseph McCarthy that he takes into the end zone. (Below) A collection of Martin defenders wrap up a Marcellus ball carrier. (Top photo by Chris Mudd/National Photo Scout. Middle photo by Cara Kamps. Below photo by Gary Shook.) 

Ubly Offense, Kicker Pile Up Record Book Listings During Championship Run

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

April 12, 2024

Ubly finished a combined 27-1 over the last two seasons, following up a Division 8 runner-up run in 2022 with its first MHSAA Finals championship this past November. And the Bearcats stacked plenty of record book performances along the way.

Individually, senior Brett Mueller made the single-season extra point list again this past season with 76 in 81 tries, and he set the MHSAA career record with 220 extra points over 232 attempts, 40 games and three seasons. He has signed with Saginaw Valley State.

As a team, Ubly was added to the record book 13 times for achievements over the last two years, most notably in the rushing game. The Bearcats topped 5,200 total yards both seasons, and also made the rush yardage list twice including with a sixth-best 5,148 in 2022. Their 90 touchdowns in 2022 rank seventh all-time, and their 85 this past fall tied for 13th, and they tied the record with 10 rushing touchdowns in a 2022 win over Reese and set another record with 84 rushing touchdowns total that season.

See below for more recent record book additions in 11-player football, and click the heading to see the record book in full:

11-Player Football

Dundee’s Ben Miller has a pair of basketball record book entries, and he’s also been added in football for scoring seven touchdowns in his team’s 72-36 win over Erie Mason on Oct. 20, 2017. A senior that season, he ran for five scores and caught two touchdowns passes.

Nearly four decades later, Howard City Tri County’s Mike Wagoner has reached the record book for his work on defense in 1985. A junior that season, Wagoner returned three interceptions for touchdowns – 65, 55 and 35 yards – which would have been second on the list at the time and remains tied for third-most for one season.

Jaxon Lippert tops the list of 21 who have returned kickoffs 99 yards. Lippert, now a senior at Walled Lake Western, joined the list against Davison during his junior season.

A handful of records from Warren De La Salle Collegiate’s recent run of Ford Field teams and also one from decades ago were added. Jake Badalamenti was added three times for kickoff returns between 96-99 yards, one as a junior in 2016 and two as a senior the following fall, and Marty Wyzlic was added for his 95-yarder in 1976. Mason Muragin is the new leader for tackles for loss in a career with 71 over three seasons, and he also was added to the single-season list with 31 as a junior in 2021, as was Will Beasley for 38 as a junior in 2020. Wayne Wright was added for his 16 sacks over nine games as a senior in 1984, and Josh Cox was added for his 100-yard interception return as a senior in 2012. Muragin plays at Illinois, Beesley plays at Princeton, Cox played at Central Michigan, and Badalamenti played baseball at Wayne State.

Pinckney junior Nolan Carruthers caught 16 passes during a 13-7 loss to Jackson on Sept. 15, good to tie for ninth-most in one game and breaking the Livingston County record of 14 by Hartland’s Greg Matthyssen in 2007 – a listing that also was added.

Ethan Wissner did some major lifting, or rather carrying, during Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker’s 28-14 District Final win over Montrose in 2022. The then-senior ran 42 times to make the record book, for 289 yards and three touchdowns. He’s continuing at Siena Heights.

Senior quarterback Andrew Schuster and junior receiver DeShaun Lanier formed a game-changing pass-catch combo this past season for Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, with Schuster finishing his career with nine record book listings and Lanier totaling six with a season to play. Schuster most notably was added for 212 completions on 301 attempts for 2,766 yards and 28 touchdowns this season, and 321 completions and 4,199 career yards over two years and 22 games. Lanier was added in part for 73 receptions for 1,132 yards and 15 TDs this fall. Junior kicker Juliano Haddad also earned impressive mentions with 10 field goals and 50 extra points – and he’ll carry a streak of 35 straight extra points into next fall. Schuster has committed to Grand Valley State.

Fulton’s Evan Barton has been added to the single-game touchdowns list after catching four scoring passes Sept. 8, 2017, against Potterville. He was a senior that season.

Saginaw Heritage’s Braylon Isom completed his career this past fall as arguably the most accomplished receiver in MHSAA history. His name is listed in the record book eight times, with career records of 3,837 receiving yards and 52 touchdowns over 34 games and four seasons, and with a single-season record 26 touchdowns this past fall over 12 games. His 91 career receptions rank fifth, and he’s also listed for 82 catches and 1,617 yards (seventh-most) as a senior and 1,428 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. He will continue at Miami (Ohio).

Evart’s 24-8 run over the last three seasons has been its most successful of the MHSAA playoff era, and senior quarterback Preston Wallace has played an enormous part. He finished his 33-game career in the fall – he came up for one game as a freshman – on record book lists twice for single-season passing yards and touchdowns and on career lists for 662 attempts, 421 completions, 6,955 yards and 88 passing touchdowns over those 32 games and three seasons. The yardage ranks 15th all-time, and the touchdowns are tied for sixth-most for one career.  

The 2005 Midland Bullock Creek team was added for scoring 547 points over 12 games. The Lancers finished 11-1, their only loss in a Division 5 Regional Final.

PHOTO Ubly's Seth Maurer (30) carries the ball during the Division 8 championship win over Ottawa Lake Whiteford in November.