1st & Goal: 2023 Playoff Week 2 Review

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

November 6, 2023

This weekend’s 8-Player Regional Finals and 11-Player District Finals featured more rematches from the regular season that crop up when the best teams must face off again but with the winner moving on and the loser this time putting away the pads until next fall.

MI Student AidAnd as we see just about every season, those matchups during the second week of this MHSAA Playoffs showed how much can change between the first meeting to the last – even if, in some cases, only a few weeks have passed between those two games.

8-player alone featured five rematches (of eight games total) – and three were won by the team that lost the first time, Martin enjoying the greatest reversal in flipping a 37-point defeat. The 11-player series saw its share of rematches as well – with a classic nearly stealing the thunder of another massive showdown in Division 1.

Of course, several individuals stood out over the weekend’s 72 games – but a couple require special recognition. Braylon Isom tied and reset the 11-player career receiving touchdowns record with his 49th and 50th in Saginaw Heritage’s 35-13 win over Midland Dow in Division 1. About a 1½-hour drive east, in Division 8, Ubly kicker Brett Mueller set the career extra points record with five more for 209 total as his team downed Harbor Beach 35-14.

See below for more of the most notable as we neared the halfway point of this postseason:

11-Player Division 1

HEADLINER Belleville 65, Saline 14 The growing legends of Belleville and quarterback Bryce Underwood added another chapter with the team’s 36th-straight win. Underwood was nearly perfect throwing the ball as the Tigers (11-0) also held Saline (9-2) to well below its 45 points-per-game average heading into the day. Click for more from the Ann Arbor News.

District Digest Clarkston 38, Lake Orion 37 Clarkston (6-5) dealt Lake Orion (10-1) the latter’s only loss of the season, doing so by avenging a 42-21 defeat by the Dragons in Week 7 and this time coming back from two touchdowns down with five minutes to play. Southfield Arts & Technology 36, Detroit Cass Tech 25 The Warriors (10-1) claimed their first District title since 2016, adding to a 29-27 win over Cass Tech from Week 1 and avenging last season’s District Final loss to the Technicians (7-4). Northville 24, Detroit Catholic Central 17 This also was a rematch of a 2022 District Final, with Northville (10-1) avenging last season’s 42-17 loss to the Shamrocks (8-3) to earn a rematch this week with Belleville. The Tigers dealt the Mustangs their only defeat this fall, in Week 9.

11-Player Division 2

HEADLINER Byron Center 31, Caledonia 28 A back-and-forth game during the second half went Byron Center’s way permanently on the final play as the Bulldogs (10-1) scored the go-ahead touchdown to clinch their first District title since 2016. Caledonia ended 8-3 and are a combined 30-7 over the last three seasons after reaching the Division 1 Final a year ago. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

District Digest Muskegon 42, Muskegon Mona Shores 28 The Big Reds (9-2) secured their 11th District championship over the last 12 seasons, adding to a Week 4 win over the rival Sailors (7-4). Roseville 24, Grosse Pointe South 17 A program that won its first District title in 2021 now has its second in three seasons, Roseville (8-3) earning it by avenging a 16-7 Week 5 loss to the eventual MAC White champion.  Grosse Pointe South (9-2) capped its winningest season since 1987. Waterford Mott 34, Birmingham Seaholm 21 Mott (9-2) tied its school record for wins, per Michigan-Football.com, by also claiming a second District title in program history and second over the last three seasons. Seaholm finished 9-2, continuing a rise from 1-8 two seasons ago.

11-Player Division 3

HEADLINER Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 45, Mount Pleasant 21 Forest Hills Central (10-1) took a massive step as it continues to build on last season’s Division 2 runner-up finish, as these two ended the regular season fourth and second, respectively, in Division 3 playoff-point average. The Oilers finished 9-2, their only other loss in their season opener. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.

District Digest Zeeland West 46, Coopersville 32 After ending the regular season with three close losses, West (8-3) has bounced back with a repeat District championship and two of its five highest-scoring games this fall. Coopersville (8-3) ended its winningest season since 2007, and its three defeats were by a combined 18 points. Walled Lake Western 50, Auburn Hills Avondale 22 In clinching its first District title since 2019, Western (10-1) earned a rematch with the lone opponent it lost to this season, Mason. Avondale finished 9-2, its best since 2012. River Rouge 49, Riverview 27 The Panthers (7-4) ran their winning streak to six games with their first District title since 2020, and earned a rematch with Detroit Martin Luther King, which ended Rouge’s season in a playoff opener a year ago. Riverview saw an eight-game winning streak come to an end in finishing 9-2.

11-Player Division 4

HEADLINER Big Rapids 28, Whitehall 27 A final-seconds field-goal attempt block earned Big Rapids its first District title since 2003, as the Cardinals (10-1) also reached double-digit wins for the first time since that season. Whitehall (10-1) had entered the playoffs as one of only two undefeated teams in Division 4. Click for more from the Big Rapids Pioneer.

District Digest Niles 42, Paw Paw 13 Niles followed up its 56-18 Week 9 win over Paw Paw (9-2) that clinched the Wolverine Conference title with this victory to earn the Vikings (10-1) their first District championship. Haslett 30, Chelsea 22 The Vikings (8-3) went on the road and held on through the final play to clinch their first District title since 2005. Chelsea finished 9-2, nearly doubling its wins from a 5-5 run a year ago. Goodrich 21, Freeland 20 The reigning Division 4 runner-up followed up last season’s 10-9 District Final win over Freeland (9-2) as Easton Phipps scored the go-ahead touchdown for Goodrich (10-1) with 1:46 to play.

11-Player Division 5

HEADLINER Corunna 28, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 17 Corunna (11-0) downed an unbeaten opponent for the second-straight week, and in doing so set a program record for wins as Jaden Edington starred again on both sides of the ball. Notre Dame (9-1) had defeated its opponents by an average score of 54-10. Click for more from the Owosso Argus-Press.

District Digest Macomb Lutheran North 32, Marine City 30 Just 3-6 a year ago, Lutheran North (9-2) also set a program record for wins this weekend in winning its first District championship on a last-minute field goal. Marine City finished 9-2, its only other defeat coming in its season opener. Kingsford 19, Ogemaw Heights 14 Kingsford (10-1) finished its road trip with its first District championship since 2009 and after reaching 10 wins for the first time since 2004. Ogemaw Heights also finished 9-2, with its only other defeat coming in Week 1. Detroit Southeastern 26, Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard 22 Southeastern’s most recent District title had come in 2018, in Division 8, and the Jungaleers improved to 8-3 after an 0-2 start this fall. Father Gabriel Richard finished 8-3, up from 3-6 a year ago and its first winning record since 2017.

11-Player Division 6

HEADLINER Gladstone 28, Negaunee 14 Gladstone (9-2) won a District title and reached nine wins both for the second-straight season, and also avenged last year’s 18-12 Regional loss to Negaunee as the Miners went on to finish Division 6 runner-up. Negaunee’s only other losses this fall were to Iron Mountain in Week 9 and Gladstone 42-14 to start the league schedule in Week 2. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

District Digest Midland Bullock Creek 49, Chesaning 22 The Lancers (8-3) won their first District championship since 2005 and equaled their most wins since 2007, and after winning four games each of the last three seasons. Chesaning finished 9-2, its winningest run since 2001. Almont 40, Warren Michigan Collegiate 38 (OT) Almont (10-1) delivered Michigan Collegiate its lone loss after the Cougars (10-1) had come back from an early deficit in seeking what would have been a fourth-straight District title. The Pirates had fallen to Collegiate in their only other meeting, a 2021 District Final. Detroit Edison 32, Ecorse 6 Edison (8-3) continued its record-setting season with its first District championship, continuing to bounce back from last year’s 2-7 finish. Ecorse finished 8-2, reaching that win total for the third-straight season.

11-Player Division 7

HEADLINER North Muskegon 27, Lawton 24 North Muskegon (11-0) trailed by three points heading into the fourth quarter, but found the end zone one more time to clinch its first District championship since 2006 and tie the program record for wins set in 1981 and also tied in 1986. Lawton finished 9-2 and is a combined 31-6 over the last three seasons. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

District Digest Millington 21, Cass City 20 The Cardinals (11-0) repeated as District champions, scoring the game-tying touchdown and connecting on the winning extra point with 1:52 to play. Cass City finished 8-3, a solid jump after back-to-back 5-5 seasons. Jackson Lumen Christi 26, Napoleon 0 These two collided in the playoffs for the second straight season, and Lumen Christi (10-1) followed last year’s Semifinal win by ending Napoleon’s season this time at 9-2. Menominee 50, Charlevoix 14 Menominee’s best season since 2017 continued in a big way as the Maroons improved to 9-2 and ended Charlevoix’s winningest season since 1977 also at 9-2.

11-Player Division 8

HEADLINER Ithaca 29, New Lothrop 28 Joe Dawe’s field goal with eight seconds to play sent Ithaca past New Lothrop (9-2) for a second-straight District championship after winning one in Division 7 a year ago. After not playing a single-digit game during the regular season, the Yellowjackets (11-0) have won both of their playoff games by a point. New Lothrop’s only other defeat this fall came by five, in Week 2 to Chesaning. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.

District Digest Ubly 35, Harbor Beach 14 Ubly (11-0) claimed a fifth-straight District title and added to its 56-20 win over Harbor Beach (9-2) in Week 4. Ottawa Lake Whiteford 24, Hudson 14 Whiteford’s closest game since early September netted the Bobcats (11-0) their third District title in a row, and after Hudson (8-3) had won their last playoff meeting in a 2021 Semifinal. Clarkston Everest Collegiate 19, Marine City Cardinal Mooney 14 These two have met in league play and District Finals the last two seasons, and Everest (9-2) has won their last three matchups adding this to a 21-7 victory in Week 6. Cardinal Mooney ended 6-5 after bouncing back from an 0-2 start.

8-Player Division 1

HEADLINER Indian River Inland Lakes 40, St. Ignace 36 Inland Lakes (10-1) reached double-digit wins for the second time in three seasons and clinched a Regional title by avenging its lone loss of this fall. These two continued to match up about as closely as possible, with the Bulldogs claiming this meeting after St. Ignace won 30-28 in Week 4. The Saints ended their first season of 8-player at 9-2. Click for more from the Cheboygan Daily Tribune.

Regional Roundup Pickford 34, Norway 16 This was a rematch of Pickford’s 40-18 win in Week 7 and this time sent the Panthers (10-1) back to Semifinals for the first time since winning Division 2 in 2019. Norway’s 8-3 finish was its best since 2017. Kingston 26, Brown City 0 The Cardinals (9-2) have posted two of the most notable playoff victories to kick off any division, this one clinching a Regional title for the first time since 2019 but also avenging a 38-20 Week 3 loss to previously-undefeated Brown City (10-1). Martin 28, Gobles 6 Reigning Division 1 champion Martin (9-2) hurdled a major obstacle in Gobles (8-3), avenging a 53-16 loss to the Tigers from Week 4.

Freeland defenders attempt to gauge Goodrich's next move during Friday's Martians win.

8-Player Division 2

HEADLINER Adrian Lenawee Christian 56, Climax-Scotts 16 The dominance Lenawee Christian (11-0) is exhibiting this fall may eclipse its work from its undefeated championship seasons of 2020 and 2021. The Cougars opened up a 13-point lead by halftime and then extended it for their ninth win of at least 40 points this fall. Climax-Scotts (10-1) posted its best record in five seasons of 8-player. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Regional Roundup Lake Linden-Hubbell 37, Powers North Central 18 There will be a new Division 2 champion as Lake Linden-Hubbell (8-3) ended North Central’s three-year run in this elimination game. The win also finished a season sweep of the Jets (8-3), as the Lakes won their Week 5 meeting 28-25. Deckerville 34, Portland St. Patrick 32 Deckerville (9-2) built a lead early and held on late to clinch a first Regional title since 2017 and end the Shamrocks’ run at 9-2 – a mighty bounce-back from 3-6 in 2022. Marion 48, Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 6 Marion (10-0) claimed a fourth-straight Regional championship and will enter the Semifinals undefeated for the second-straight year, this win ending the strongest of Sacred Heart’s six seasons of 8-player at 9-2 – double the success of finishing 4-5 a year ago.

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PHOTOS (Top) Martin's Haylen Buell charges into an opening during his team's win over Gobles. (Middle) Freeland defenders attempt to gauge Goodrich's next move during Friday's Martians win. (Top photo by Gary Shook; middle photo by Terry Lyons.)

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.