This weekend’s statewide football schedule didn’t include many of the matchups we circle every fall knowing they’ll be difference-makers by the time we get to the end of October.
Instead, Week 3 seemed to provide an opportunity to expect the unexpected – and indeed it was full of surprises.
We won’t call anything an upset this early in the season, but there were results we didn’t anticipate. We also watched losing streaks of 38 and 17 games come to an end, another contender for top team in the Upper Peninsula rise and a resurgent power next door to Grand Rapids continue its return to the elite. And those were just the start.
Bay & Thumb
HEADLINER Grand Blanc 53, Saginaw Heritage 33 The Hawks (2-1) rightfully are generating some buzz coming off their much-improved 2022 and solid start this fall. But Grand Blanc, after falling 41-13 to Grandville in its opener, clearly has found its footing going over 50 points both of the last two weeks with quarterback Jake Morrow running for three touchdowns and throwing for three more this time. Click for more from WJRT.
#HighlightZone: New stadium, same ole Bobcats🐾🔴⚫️
For the 2nd game in a row @GrandBlancFB scores over 50 points!
— Brandon Green🍀 (@BGreenReports) September 9, 2023
Watch list Croswell-Lexington 53, Armada 28 After tying for third in the Blue Water Area Conference last season, Croswell-Lexington (3-0) is among those setting the early pace after this win over last year’s co-champion Tigers (1-2). The Pioneer trailed 14-0 during the second quarter and 14-13 at halftime.
On the move Goodrich 34, Lake Fenton 15 The Martians (3-0) made it two straight over the Blue Devils (2-1) as Flint Metro League play got underway. Freeland 51, Essexville Garber 14 The Falcons are off to their fourth 3-0 start over the last five seasons and have won all four matchups with the Dukes (2-1) since they’ve been in the same Tri-Valley Conference division. Pinconning 23, Harrison 14 The Spartans (1-2) broke a 17-game losing streak going back to Week 3 of 2021, also avenging a 48-13 defeat last season to the Hornets (1-2).
HEADLINER Clarkston 28, Rochester Adams 7 The Wolves may have put to rest notions they might be heading for a down season after an 0-2 start. After sharing the Oakland Activities Association Red championship with Adams and West Bloomfield last season – and also defeating the Highlanders by three in a Division 1 Regional Final – Clarkston joined West Bloomfield and Lake Orion this time among winners in OAA openers. The Wolves also should continue to benefit in playoff points from those first two losses, as both opponents remain undefeated. Click for more from the Oakland Press.
Watch list St. Clair Shores Lakeview 37, Roseville 33 Roseville (2-1) and its impressive start had been among the top stories of the first few weeks, and may continue to be moving forward as well. But Lakeview (2-1) is one of the top stories of this week after avenging last year’s 53-10 loss to the Panthers to open the Macomb Area Conference White schedule.
On the move Flat Rock 33, Carleton Airport 21 A week ago Airport (2-1) looked like the Huron League favorite after defeating reigning champ Riverview, but it might be Flat Rock (3-0) with its meeting with Riverview coming up in Week 5. Dearborn Divine Child 26, Milford 23 The Falcons (2-1) should continue to benefit from a season-opening loss to still-undefeated Parma Western and will get another nice boost as Milford was ranked No. 4 in Division 2 heading into the weekend. Bryce Young tossed to Tyler Eby with 29 seconds to play for the game-winner. Warren Michigan Collegiate 26, Detroit Country Day 20 While finishing a combined 21-5 over the last two seasons, Michigan Collegiate also took a loss both years from Country Day – but moved to 3-0 this time while handing the Yellowjackets (1-2) their second one-score defeat of the fall.
HEADLINER Pewamo-Westphalia 26, Laingsburg 7 The Pirates (2-1) have rebounded nicely from a three-point opening loss to still-undefeated North Muskegon, as they’ve opened Central Michigan Athletic Conference play 2-0 and still given up only 24 points total over three games. This win ran P-W’s streak against the Wolfpack (2-1) to 14 straight. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
Watch list Charlotte 35, Lansing Catholic 33 The Orioles (3-0) are coming off their best season since 2004, and the offense that averaged 33 points per game in getting them to 9-2 last fall is churning at 42 points per game through the first three.
On the move New Lothrop 26, Clarkston Everest Collegiate 15 While a Week 2 loss to league opponent Chesaning stung, the Hornets do have an impressive pair of wins over teams in their playoff division with Everest having made the Division 8 Semifinals last season. Grand Ledge 41, Holt 13 The Comets avenged a 14-6 loss to Holt from a year ago that eventually led to Grand Ledge and the Rams sharing the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title. Beal City 48, McBain 7 The Aggies (3-0) are pursuing a potential fourth-straight Highland Conference title and put McBain (2-1) a game back with the other two co-leaders coming up over the next three weeks.
Northern Lower Peninsula
HEADLINER Ogemaw Heights 56, Traverse City St. Francis 17 The Falcons (2-1) have been rising in a hurry over the last 13 months, and they are halfway to a possible Northern Michigan Football League Legends title with one of the annually more difficult obstacles out of the way. The reigning-champ Gladiators (1-2) had won their three recent matchups all by at least 21 points, including 42-19 last season. Click for more from the Bay City Times.
Watch list Charlevoix 26, Boyne City 13 The Rayders (2-1) appear the team to chase in the NMFL Leaders after handing Boyne City (2-1) its lone loss to avenge last year’s 42-14 defeat – which eventually clinched the league title for the Ramblers as Charlevoix ended up second.
On the move Manistee 20, Muskegon Oakridge 15 Bring on the Mariners (3-0) as the latest entrant into the West Michigan Conference Lakes race after they avenged last season’s 46-19 loss to always-contending Oakridge (1-2). Frankfort 27, Benzie Central 20 The NMFL Legacy-leading Panthers (3-0) picked up a nice nonleague win with two conference contests up next, but also notable is Benzie is 1-2 but with two losses by seven points or fewer as the Huskies look to challenge in the Leaders as well. Cadillac 14, Sault Ste. Marie 7 The Vikings (2-1) are 2-0 in Big North Conference play after a second seven-point win over a new league member from the old Great Northern Conference. The 14 points were the first given up by the Blue Devils (2-1).
Southeast & Border
HEADLINER Jackson 50, Tecumseh 49 (OT) The Vikings (2-1) returned a kickoff for a touchdown to tie the score with 1:29 left in regulation, and after Tecumseh took the lead first in overtime came back to score and convert a 2-point conversion to win this Southeastern Conference White opener over the reigning champion. These two have combined for 85, 115 and now 99 points over their last three meetings. Click for more from JTV.
On the move Dexter 44, Temperance Bedford 0 The Dreadnaughts (1-2) were replacing some major star power this fall and faced an opening three games against teams that won at least eight last season. They bounced back from two losses to shut out the Kicking Mules (1-2), who were 8-3 in 2022.
On the move Grass Lake 40, Jonesville 32 The Warriors are 3-0 for the first time since 2020 and already halfway to last season’s 10-game scoring output after reaching 40 for the second time in three games. Addison 58, Leslie 14 The Panthers (3-0) have reached 50 points all three games this season and this time put up a number against a Leslie defense that had given up a combined 20 points over its opening two wins. Adrian 38, Ypsilanti Lincoln 30 The Maples are 3-0 for the first time since 2010 and are on pace for their highest offensive output since that season.
HEADLINER Constantine 22, Lawton 10 Days after Lawton earned one of Week 2’s headlining victories over Traverse City St. Francis, Constantine bounced back from a Week 2 loss to make headlines as well. While the Falcons also had won last year’s meeting 47-21, the rematch was at Lawton – and the Blue Devils hadn’t lost at home since 2018. Click for more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.
— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) September 9, 2023
Watch list Parchment 36, Galesburg-Augusta 14 Jalen Kampen ran for a touchdown and threw for three more as Parchment reached 3-0 for the first time since 2011 and avenged last season’s 40-0 loss to the Rams.
On the move Edwardsburg 28, Plainwell 0 After opening with two losses against tough nonleague teams, the Eddies (1-2) broke away against one of their most familiar rivals – and after winning last year’s matchup with the Trojans (1-2) only 25-21. Stevensville Lakeshore 33, Mattawan 26 The Lancers (2-1) have bounced back nicely from a tough opening loss to Zeeland West as they look to bounce back from last year’s 3-6 finish. Schoolcraft 33, Kalamazoo United 14 The Eagles head into this week’s rivalry game with Constantine at 3-0 for the second-straight season and this time coming off a big-time comeback as they entered the fourth quarter against the Titans (2-1) down 14-7.
HEADLINER Kingsford 35, Gladstone 12 Make that Kingsford as the possible top team in the Upper Peninsula this fall. A week after Gladstone moved to the front of the conversation with a win over Negaunee, the Flivvers avenged last season’s 34-20 loss to the Braves by putting up the most points Gladstone had given up since 2021. Kingsford gets Negaunee next with an opportunity to create a notable early lead in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.
Our high school football Game of the Week lived up to the hype last night, with Kingsford pulling away from Gladstone in the second half and coming out on top, 35-12.
Here's how it went down: pic.twitter.com/3KixsQPKlq
— Kevin McNulty (@kevinmcnultyTV6) September 10, 2023
Watch list Negaunee 20, Calumet 13 The Miners (2-1) bounced back from that Gladstone loss with this solid win against another regular at the top of the Copper standings.
On the move Iron Mountain 40, Ishpeming 6 As noted in previous weeks, the Mountaineers will be rivaling whichever Copper team emerges in that argument over the UP’s best, and they’ve outscored their first three opponents now by a combined 136-12. Houghton 28, Hancock 14 These two will meet again in Week 9, and the Gremlins now will bring a two-game winning streak into the neighborly rematch. West Iron County 22, L’Anse 0 The Wykons had managed to play only two games both of the last two seasons, but they’ve played all three this fall, with this their first win on the field since the 2020 regular-season finale.
HEADLINER East Grand Rapids 42, Lowell 14 The Pioneers (3-0) will have to keep proving it in an Ottawa-Kent Conference White that includes also-undefeated Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, Northview and Byron Center among six teams total at 2-1 or better. But one more win will tie EGR’s best showing since 2020, and their work so far definitely ranks with their best since reaching the Division 3 Regional Finals that fall. Lowell (2-1) also should continue to play a major role as this league race unfolds. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Lowell and East Grand Rapids were both undefeated coming into tonight's meeting. The Pioneers beat the Red Arrows on their home field. Rhea Thorton has a recap from gaslight village. https://t.co/FO5FYiBjBw pic.twitter.com/gsm2yQtOzT
— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) September 9, 2023
Watch list Grand Rapids West Catholic 17, Coopersville 14 The Falcons (3-0) passed this major test to start O-K Blue play and with Hudsonville Unity Christian and Spring Lake coming up. Coopersville is 2-1 and sees those two also over the next two weeks.
On the move Allegan 21, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix 14 The Tigers (3-0) have won no more than three games since 2011, and that was last fall – but they’ve equaled that total already this season. Hudsonville 17, East Kentwood 14 The Eagles (3-0) also have equaled their win total from a year ago and have the potential for much more coming off a second-straight victory over a 2022 playoff qualifier. Spring Lake 34, Hudsonville Unity Christian 28 The Lakers (3-0) are in the same conversation after last season’s 3-6 finish, and they’ve won all three of their games by scores of 34-28 – and all against teams that made the playoffs last fall.
HEADLINER Bridgman 14, Martin 12 This has the looks of a rivalry in the making. After three Martin wins from 2018-20, the Bees have won the last two seasons – last year by a point and now this time by two to take a key first step in the Southwest Michigan 8-Man Football League White. This was the league opener for both; Bridgman is 3-0 overall and Martin fell to 2-1.
Watch list Brown City 38, Kingston 20 The Green Devils (3-0) ended Kingston’s regular-season winning streak at 12 in what likely will be a key matchup when the North Central Thumb League Stars race eventually shakes out.
On the move Caseville 38, Kinde North Huron 12 The Eagles (1-2) ended a 38-game losing streak dating to 2018, while North Huron fell to 0-3 this fall. Akron-Fairgrove 36, Peck 28 The Vikings (2-1) downed the Pirates (1-2) for the first time since 1993 after a stretch of 17 defeats. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 21, Portland St. Patrick 20 Sacred Heart closed last season with a win over the Shamrocks, and at 3-0 this fall the Irish are one win away from equaling their 2022 total.
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) @mistu9dentaid.
PHOTOS (Top) St. Clair Shores Lakeview's Keonte Woolf (6) pulls away from a Roseville defender Friday. (Middle) Iron Mountain's Alex Jayne prepares to pull in a pass from quarterback Ian Marttila that he'll run into the end zone. (Top photo Chris Mudd/National Photo Scout. Middle photo by Cara Kamps.)
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.)