1st & Goal: 2023 Week 4 Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 15, 2023

As we rumble into Week 4, the various rankings from media and the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association have begun weighing in on which contenders they view to be in the best in every division.

MI Student AidWe include those MHSFCA rankings on our “Rankings” page, but check out as well the MHSAA’s metric for measuring success – the playoff points page – which factors wins and losses, but also strength of schedule, and with those points used to select the playoff field and seed brackets for the opening rounds of both the 11 and 8-player tournaments.

Those numbers update in real time as results are reported – and there surely will be shifts this weekend thanks to several of the matchups detailed below.

If you don’t attend a game in person, make sure to tune in on MHSAA.tv and check the MHSAA Scores page for the latest. (Games below are Friday unless noted.)

Bay & Thumb

Harbor Beach (3-0) at Ubly (3-0)

Ubly is pushing toward a decade as one of the elite small-school 11-player teams in the state, coming off last season’s Division 8 runner-up finish and led by fourth-year quarterback Evan Peruski who also the team to Ford Field to cap the 2020 season. The Bearcats have won 24 straight regular-season games and two straight over Harbor Beach, including 42-0 a year ago. Before Ubly’s recent rise, the Pirates were the team to chase both from the Greater Thumb Conference East and among Division 8 contenders from that part of the state. They meet this time after deciding the last two GTC East titles and having both opened with three wins against playoff teams from last season.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Frankenmuth (2-1) at Birch Run (3-0), Bay City Western (2-1) at Midland Dow (2-1), Almont (3-0) at North Branch (2-1), Davison (3-0) at Saginaw Heritage (2-1).

Greater Detroit

Detroit Cass Tech (1-2) at Detroit Martin Luther King (1-2)

Although West Bloomfield/Lake Orion would be the game any other week, history gives this matchup top billing at least heading into Friday. Look past the records; King’s losses are to championship contenders in Ohio and Indiana, and Cass Tech’s came to another Division 1 contender in Southfield Arts & Technology and arguably the top team from New Jersey. Throw in last year’s series – King won the first meeting 28-23 on the way to clinching a division title, and Cass four weeks later won the Detroit Public School League final 28-14 – and it matters less that many of the top contributors this fall are filling those spots for the first time.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY West Bloomfield (3-0) at Lake Orion (3-0), Warren Michigan Collegiate (3-0) at Romulus Summit Academy North (3-0), Macomb Dakota (3-0) at Sterling Heights Stevenson (2-1), Canton (2-1) at Northville (3-0).

Mid-Michigan

East Lansing (1-2) at DeWitt (1-1)

East Lansing’s 36-30 win over DeWitt last season kicked off a wild ride through the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue that actually didn’t end with either of them winning or sharing the league title for the first time since 2017. But they’re expected to be back in the mix again and well-tested already this season. DeWitt didn’t have a game last week but came back to defeat Haslett in its opener and lost to arguably the Lansing area’s best in Mason in Week 2, while East Lansing came back big against Okemos last week after opening losses to Portage Central and Hudsonville.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Gladwin (3-0) at Clare (2-1), Montrose (3-0) at Ovid-Elsie (2-1), Williamston (2-1) at Mason (3-0), Charlotte (3-0) at Lansing Sexton (3-0).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Beal City (3-0) at Houghton Lake (3-0)

Beal City is pursuing a third-straight Highland Conference title and hasn’t lost a league game since 2020, and hasn’t been tested a ton this fall giving up only 21 points total with its closest call a 32-14 win over Ravenna in the season opener. Houghton Lake is climbing from a much different place; the Bobcats were 1-8 last season and 2-7 the year before, but have outscored their three opponents this fall by a combined 98-19 – those 98 points one more than they scored all 2022. Two of those wins also avenged losses from last season.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY East Jordan (3-0) at Charlevoix (2-1), Kingsley (2-1) at Boyne City (2-1), Johannesburg-Lewiston (2-1) at Frankfort (3-0), Petoskey (2-1) at Gaylord (3-0).

Southeast & Border

Manchester (3-0) at Napoleon (3-0)

Manchester is coming off its best season since 2015 and has continued the surge with all three wins this fall over opponents that finished 6-3 or better in 2022. Next comes an even bigger test, as Napoleon won the Cascades Conference last season and defeated the Flying Dutchmen 30-25 in league play and 42-13 in a Division 7 District Final. The Cascades split into two divisions beginning this fall, and these two are in the East as this opens the league schedule for both.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Grass Lake (3-0) at East Jackson (2-1), Tecumseh (1-2) at Adrian (3-0), Detroit U-D Jesuit (3-0) at Jackson Lumen Christi (3-0), Richland Gull Lake (2-1) at Parma Western (3-0).

Southwest Corridor

Schoolcraft (3-0) at Constantine (2-1)

After these longtime rivals had to cancel their 2021 game, the series restarted last fall with Constantine emerging 56-22 to break a seven-game Eagles winning streak in the matchup. The Falcons have to be riding high as well after last week’s 22-10 win over Lawton. But Schoolcraft should provide another challenge, especially defensively, as the Eagles have given up only 34 points so far and all of those to 2022 playoff teams Centreville and Kalamazoo United in double-digit victories over the last two weeks.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Saugatuck (3-0) at Union City (3-0), South Haven (2-1) at Lawton (2-1), Dowagiac (2-1) at Parchment (3-0), Portage Northern (3-0) at Kalamazoo Central (1-1).

Upper Peninsula

Kingsford (3-0) at Negaunee (2-1)

A top performance would add another big night to the impressive start of the season for Kingsford – but the Flivvers surely are being cautious despite their early success. They’re rivaling Iron Mountain as the top story in U.P. 11-player football after last week’s 35-12 win over Gladstone – which had defeated Negaunee in Week 2. But the Miners did bounce back last week to get past Calumet, and they likely need a win to keep repeat hopes alive in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper as Kingsford and Menominee have moved to the top of the standings early.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Menominee (3-0) at Calumet (1-2), Escanaba (1-2) at Sault Ste. Marie (2-1), Hancock (1-2) at Gladstone (2-1), Iron Mountain (3-0) at Gwinn (1-2).

West Michigan

Caledonia (3-0) at Rockford (3-0)

This has been one of the state’s most anticipated matchups after one of the most memorable series of 2022. Rockford defeated Caledonia 38-15 in Week 9 to clinch the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red title outright, while handing the Fighting Scots their first loss. Caledonia won the rematch in a Division 1 District Final two weeks later, 14-13, handing the Rams their only loss while taking a massive step on a run that ended with a runner-up finish at Ford Field. The teams are in different playoff divisions this time – Caledonia will play in Division 2 – but the league title may be up for grabs and some of the most important contributors from last season are again leading the way.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Muskegon (1-2) at Muskegon Mona Shores (2-1), Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (3-0) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (2-1), Hamilton (3-0) at Allendale (3-0), Whitehall (3-0) at Montague (2-1).

8-Player

St. Ignace (3-0) at Indian River Inland Lakes (3-0)

St. Ignace’s 7-3 finish in 11-player football last fall was its best since 2016, and the Saints have carried that momentum into this season and a new format, topping 40 points all three games and giving up a combined 36 points. After gaining a forfeit Week 1, Inland Lakes has defeated two teams that won seven games last season – Lake Linden-Hubbell and Central Lake – and will provide St. Ignace another test, especially defensively, on a schedule filled with them. The Bulldogs scored 54 and 44 points, respectively, in those wins.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Ontonagon (3-0) at Powers North Central (3-0), Martin (2-1) at Gobles (3-0), Carson City-Crystal (3-0) at Merrill (3-0), Rudyard (3-0) at Pickford (3-0).

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PHOTO A Rockford receiver attempts to pull in a pass while covered closely during the Rams' opening-night win over Muskegon. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)

Record-Setting Viney Gained Lifelong Confidence at Marine City

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

July 17, 2024

Olivia Viney didn’t have to look far for inspiration while taking on the challenge of applying to veterinary school.

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosThe 2015 Marine City graduate and record-setting placekicker simply drew from her own experience as a high school athlete.

“It just really taught me that I could do hard things,” Viney said. “I was very involved when I was in school. I did soccer, theater, travel soccer and then football. Especially with football, I learned that if I put my mind to it, I can do it. That helped me to excel in undergrad. When it came time to get accepted to vet school, it was like, ‘This is what I have to do,’ and I did it. That was very confidence-building. It taught me that I really can do hard things.”

Viney, who graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2019 and Michigan State Veterinary School in 2023, is now working as an associate veterinarian at Deporre Veterinary Hospital in West Bloomfield. 

Accomplishing her goals is nothing new to Viney, and not at all a surprise to those who watched her come through the Mariners athletic program.

“She was very serious, she was focused and she was dialed in,” said Dave Frendt, who coached Viney in both football and soccer at Marine City. “She knew what she wanted to accomplish, and she set out to do that. She was a fierce competitor and very driven. She was a good leader in that way where she was kind of feisty, but the team would follow that.”

Viney was an all-state soccer player for the Mariners, leading them to a pair of District titles and a Macomb Area Conference Gold title during her four years as a varsity player. It’s the sport she grew up playing, but the one she was most known for after graduation was football. American football.

The 5-foot-1-ish center attacking midfielder found herself in the MHSAA football record book after hitting all seven of her extra point attempts in the Mariners’ 2013 Division 4 Final victory against Grand Rapids South Christian.

“I think it makes sense,” she said. “There were lots of great soccer players, even that I played with. Great players that had gone through school, so I don’t think it’s weird that people remember me for that. When I talk with people, they’ll connect the dots – ‘Oh, you played football.’

“I was more accomplished as a soccer player and had more accolades. But I’m prouder of my football accomplishments, because it was really setting a pathway for girls that wanted to get into that. It’s so much more common now, or accepted. Even though it’s been almost 11 years since we won at Ford Field, I’m so proud of high school Olivia and what she did, the courage she had. She wasn’t scared of anything.”

Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. Viney joined Marine City’s football program as a sophomore, playing on the junior varsity squad. While she was there only to kick, she was all in when it came to practicing.

“Coach (Joe) Fregetto made me do tackling drills and drills in the mud – I really did earn my spot on the team,” Viney said. “I think it was mostly because he didn’t know what to do with me, so I guess just do everything that the guys do.”

She handled varsity kicking duties the next two years, setting the school record in 2013 for most extra points made during a single season – a record that still stands. Former Mariners coach Ron Glodich said that Viney actually never missed an extra point that season, as the four failed attempts were never even kicked.

It was her performance in the Division 4 Final that gained her statewide acclaim, as she hit 7 of 7 attempts, tying a record for most extra points made in a Finals game. It stood until a pair of kickers hit eight in 2022.

One record that never will be broken, however, is Viney becoming the first female to score a point at the Finals.

“Everything was so surreal, I was so nervous,” Viney said. “One of my most vivid memories was that day, or maybe the day before, Coach Glodich said, ‘Just so you know, when you get to the field, the goal posts are two feet narrower on each side. But that doesn’t matter if you kick it in the middle.’

“We got there and watched the team before us so we could get used to it, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re so narrow.’ … Seeing myself up on the big screen was kind of almost a little embarrassing, because I knew people were talking about me being the girl. But once we were in the game, it was a lot like any other game. I was just waiting for my turn to go on the field and do my job.”

Viney later was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” – ironically, right below current U.S. Women’s National Team forward Mallory Pugh – but she wasn’t looked at any differently by her teammates, and she wouldn’t have wanted to be.

“That team was all about sacrifice for the team,” Frendt said. “For them to realize, ‘None of us can do what she does, so we better embrace it, because no one else can do it.’ They really made her feel like part of the team. They wanted to protect her, too. But she was tough. She wasn’t going to take anything.”

Viney went to SVSU to study biology and played for its club soccer team. During her time there, she volunteered at an animal shelter and made the decision she wanted to help animals in her career. She works in general practice at Deporre, and would eventually like to work in shelter medicine.

She and her husband Matt, who were married in May, live with their three dogs. She’s not far from home, and in the spring of 2023 she visited Frendt’s college and career readiness class to speak with students at her alma mater. Her presentation and the attention to detail and hard work she put into it, Frendt said, blew his students away. Not that it surprised him.

“That’s poured into her life after sports,” he said of her work ethic. “She just kept plugging away. She’s awesome.”

July 11: High School 'Hoop Squad' Close to Heart as Hughes Continues Coaching Climb - Read
July 10: 
Nightingale Embarking on 1st Season as College Football Head Coach - Read
June 28:
 E-TC's Witt Bulldozing Path from Small Town to Football's Biggest Stage - Read

PHOTOS (Top) Marine City’s Olivia Viney kicks at the 2013 11-Player Football Finals, also during her spring soccer season, and cares for one of her patients as an associate veterinarian. (Middle) Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. (Photos courtesy of Olivia Viney.)