After two weeks of high anticipation to begin this football season, we’ve moved into the grind as several leagues begin play this weekend and contenders hope to take the first steps toward potentially celebrating a local championship next month.
It’s also not too late to bounce back from a tough start. Of 288 Michigan varsity teams that opened with losses during Week 1, 129 rebounded to win in Week 2. We’ll likely see many more find their footing over the next two days.
Here’s a look at some of the matchups that may end up mattering most as this season rumbles on:
Bay & Thumb
Goodrich (2-0) at Lake Fenton (2-0)
With impressive wins over Frankenmuth and Linden over the last two weeks, Goodrich is off to an even more notable start than last season when it finished Division 4 runner-up. This one kicks off Flint Metro League Stars play with a rematch of the Martians’ only close league game from a year ago – they edged Lake Fenton 14-7 to lock up the outright title. The Blue Devils have outscored their first two opponents this season by a combined 93-6 as they look to rebound from last year’s 3-6 finish.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Croswell-Lexington (2-0) at Armada (1-1), Freeland (2-0) at Essexville Garber (2-0), Saginaw Heritage (2-0) at Grand Blanc (1-1), Bad Axe (1-1) at Harbor Beach (2-0).
Detroit Pershing (2-0) at Detroit Denby (2-0)
With Cass Tech, Martin Luther King and lately Central getting most of the pub, Denby’s success over the last decade often isn’t noted enough; the Tars have nine winning seasons and eight playoff appearances over the last 10 years. They’ve also shut out their first two opponents this fall as they begin Detroit Public School League Gold play. Pershing, meanwhile, is 2-0 for the first time since 2012 and last week defeated Madison Heights Bishop Foley to avenge a 41-point loss in 2022.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Rochester Adams (2-0) at Clarkston (0-2), New Lothrop (1-1) at Clarkston Everest Collegiate (1-1), Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (1-1) at Utica Eisenhower (2-0). SATURDAY Detroit Country Day (1-1) at Warren Michigan Collegiate (2-0).
Pewamo-Westphalia (1-1) at Laingsburg (2-0)
The Wolfpack’s drive this season certainly must be substantial after just missing the playoffs last year despite a 6-3 record. Paced by senior Jack Borgman, Laingsburg opened by avenging last season’s loss to Durand and will now seek to defeat the Pirates for the first time since 2009 after missing by just seven points a year ago. P-W bounced back from a three-point loss to North Muskegon in its opener to shut out Bath last week.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Northville (2-0) at Brighton (1-1), Lansing Catholic (1-1) at Charlotte (2-0), Grand Ledge (2-0) at Holt (1-1), Olivet (0-2) at Lansing Sexton (2-0).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Marquette (1-1) at Gaylord (2-0), Saturday
League realignments over the last few years have led to some different trips for teams in the northern half of the Lower Peninsula – see Traverse City Central welcoming Davison in the Saginaw Valley League this weekend and this Marquette drive along with Sault Ste. Marie’s to Cadillac in the newest version of the Big North Conference. Gaylord is 2-0 for the second-straight season, but last year saw that momentum paused with a 17-14 Week 3 loss to Marquette. Marquette is coming off a 49-0 win over Alpena after falling to the Wildcats by two a year ago.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Frankfort (2-0) at Benzie Central (1-1), Sault Ste. Marie (2-0) at Cadillac (1-1), Boyne City (2-0) at Charlevoix (1-1), Davison (2-0) at Traverse City Central (1-1).
Southeast & Border
Carleton Airport (2-0) at Flat Rock (2-0)
The Huron League and Carleton Airport headlines this section of the state for the second week in a row, this time after the Jets avenged their 2022 loss to league champion Riverview with a 48-27 win. Flat Rock gave Airport a mighty challenge last season as well, with the Jets prevailing only 21-19 but the Rams going on to finish 8-4 – their winningest since 1976. Flat Rock is off to another solid start with victories over Dundee and Grosse Ile, both playoff teams as well in 2022.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Leslie (2-0) at Addison (2-0), Temperance Bedford (1-1) at Dexter (0-2), Hillsdale (1-1) at Hudson (2-0), Clinton (1-1) at Ida (1-1).
Kalamazoo Central (1-0) at St. Joseph (1-1)
The Maroon Giants celebrated their first win in two seasons last week, downing 2022 playoff qualifier Sturgis 47-34 to break an 11-game losing streak. St. Joseph won this matchup big a year ago and has taken 12 straight since Central’s most recent victory in the series in 2004. However, the Bears are seeking to gain momentum to start September; they were shut out by Niles in their opener and didn’t get to play last week after receiving a forfeit win from Detroit Henry Ford.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY White Pigeon (2-0) at Decatur (1-1), Constantine (1-1) at Lawton (2-0), Jackson Lumen Christi (2-0) at Richland Gull Lake (2-0), SATURDAY Kalamazoo United (2-0) at Schoolcraft (2-0).
Gladstone (2-0) at Kingsford (2-0)
Gladstone has opened with a pair of wins over Marquette and Negaunee that puts the Braves back in the discussion for best in the Upper Peninsula. But this week they face another challenger – one that’s also familiar but under changed circumstances. Gladstone and Kingsford were past Great Northern Conference football foes who both moved to the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper this fall, and the Flivvers actually had won 23 straight in this series before Gladstone’s 34-20 victory last season. Kingsford has yet to give up a point.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Houghton (0-2) at Hancock (1-1), Iron Mountain (2-0) at Ishpeming (1-1), Calumet (1-1) at Negaunee (1-1), Ishpeming Westwood (0-2) at Menominee (2-0).
Lowell (2-0) at East Grand Rapids (2-0)
For most of the 2000s, this was one of the spotlight games every season not only in the Grand Rapids area, but often statewide. The buzz has cooled some the last few years but could be building again. Lowell posted its first winning season last fall since 2017. East Grand Rapids is seeking its first since 2020 and last week downed reigning Division 4 champion Grand Rapids South Christian 23-21. The Pioneers edged the Red Arrows 15-14 a year ago.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Grand Rapids West Catholic (2-0) at Coopersville (2-0), Manistee (2-0) at Muskegon Oakridge (1-1), Wayland (2-0) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1-1), Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (2-0) at Muskegon Mona Shores (1-1).
Bridgman (2-0) at Martin (2-0)
This is a rematch of one of the most memorable 8-player games from last season, as Bridgman’s 35-34 win in Week 9 finished off its second-straight perfect season. The Bees’ enrollment is too high for the team to qualify for the 8-player playoffs, however, and Martin went on to finish 11-2 and an overpowering Division 1 champion after winning all of its playoff games by at least 34 points. This season has started similarly as the Clippers have outscored their first two opponents by a combined 117-6 and Bridgman has put up 90 points over its first two games. This meeting takes on extra meaning as well as a switch put these two in the same division of the Southwest Michigan 8-Man Football League this fall.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY St. Ignace (2-0) at Alcona (2-0), Kingston (2-0) at Brown City (2-0), Newberry (2-0) at Rudyard (2-0). SATURDAY Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (2-0) at Portland St. Patrick (2-0).
Second Half’s weekly “1st & Goal” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and X (Twitter) @mistudentaid.
PHOTO Harper Woods pulled away from Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 34-21 in Week 1. (Photo by Olivia B. Photography.)
Jhace Massey ♦ Gladwin
Senior ♦ Football
Massey, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound starting receiver for the reigning Division 5 champion, moved to quarterback after the team’s starter and top backup were injured against rival Clare on Friday. He went on to run 18 times for 183 yards and three touchdowns, throw for 61 yards and two scores and snag a fourth-quarter interception to help land the Flying Gs a 44-28 victory after they’d trailed 21-3.
The win put Gladwin in first place alone in the Jack Pine Conference halfway through the league schedule. The Flying Gs entered the game ranked No. 4 in Division 5 by the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association, and Clare was ranked No. 8 in Division 6. Although football has become his favorite sport, Massey also is a top contributor on the basketball team and ran primarily the 100 and 200 meters and on relays during track season in the spring.
@mhsaasports POW: Jhace Massey #football #quarterback #gladwin #letsgo #touchdown #interception #part1 #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA
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MHSAA.com's "Performance of the Week" features are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
Past 2023-24 Honorees
(Top photo by Mike Kolleth. Headshot provided by the Gladwin football program.)