1st & Goal: 2023 Week 4 Review

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 18, 2023

We're just a few days past the fourth week of this high school football season. A few of Michigan's high school leagues have yet to even begin play.

MI Student AidBut for several others, we already are getting ideas of which teams might be celebrating championships when the regular season is done – and we're likely to look back at Week 4 as playing a big part.

Several conference favorites and other early impressers met over the weekend, and a number of standings shifters are highlighted below: 

Bay & Thumb

HEADLINER Gladwin 44, Clare 28 The Flying Gs (4-0) took over first place alone in the Jack Pine Conference, but only after flipping this game during the final 25 minutes. Clare took a 21-3 lead with 1:07 left in the first half – but Gladwin responded with a touchdown pass with 29 seconds left before the break, and then Jhace Massey threw another after an onside kick to get the margin to just five points by halftime. Clare (2-2) pushed the lead back to 12 to start the second half, but Gladwin then scored 28 unanswered points, and Massey finished with those two passing touchdowns and three more running the ball. Click for more from MI Sports Now.

Watch list Almont 29, North Branch 22 Almont (4-0) gave up just its first points of this season in starting the heart of the Blue Water Area Conference schedule with this win over the reigning co-champion Broncos (2-2), and with the other co-champion Armada and current co-leader Croswell-Lexington up over the next two weeks, respectively.

On the move Ubly 56, Harbor Beach 20 Ubly (4-0) stands alone atop the Greater Thumb Conference East standings after scoring its season high to get past the Pirates (3-1). Montrose 29, Ovid-Elsie 22 Montrose (4-0) will play Chesaning for first in the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference this week now having defeated reigning champion Durand and the reigning runner-up Marauders (2-2). Midland Bullock Creek 28, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 0 Bullock Creek (2-2) is seeking its first winning season since 2019 and avenged a 14-13 loss to MLS from last year to get back to even this fall with both losses so far by only seven points apiece.

Greater Detroit

HEADLINER Lake Orion 17, West Bloomfield 13 Lake Orion (4-0) is off to its best start since finishing 9-2 in 2019, its four wins equaling last year’s total and the team’s most since that last winning season. The Dragons went ahead for good with 1:24 to play, giving them their first win in the annual matchup since 2013. Lake Orion’s defense came up especially big, holding the Lakers (3-1) to their fewest points in a regular season game since also scoring 13 in the 2018 finale. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

Watch list Detroit Cass Tech 14, Detroit Martin Luther King 7 The result of this matchup generally means a Detroit Public School League division title for the winner, and Cass Tech is among three teams without a loss early in the PSL Blue after De’Mari Hendrix put them ahead to stay with a score during the final minute.

On the move Southfield Arts & Technology 42, Birmingham Groves 35 The Warriors (4-0), No. 8 in the Division 1 coaches poll, got the weekend rolling with a Thursday night win over Division 2 No. 5 Groves (2-2). Novi 39, Brighton 21 Novi avenged last season’s 41-6 loss to the Bulldogs (1-3) and is 3-1 for the first time since 2013. Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 40, Detroit Country Day 0 NDP (4-0) avenged last season’s 35-19 District Final loss to Country Day (1-3) while winning its third-straight game by 40 or more points this fall.


HEADLINER East Lansing 40, DeWitt 34 East Lansing (2-2) scored first and then held off a second-half Panthers comeback attempt to remain one of three teams undefeated in Capital Area Activities Conference Blue play. The Trojans also ran their winning streak over DeWitt (1-2) to two in adding to last season’s 36-30 win, as this has become one of the annual must-see games in the Lansing area. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Watch list Lansing Sexton 28, Charlotte 0 By moving to 4-0, Sexton has equaled last season’s win total and all but guaranteed its best finish since its most recent winning season in 2017. The J-Dubbs shut down a Charlotte offense that averaged 42 points per game during the Orioles’ 3-0 start.

On the move Mason 37, Williamston 12 Mason (4-0) just keeps churning, this time extending a winning streak over Williamston (2-2) to four after the last two matchups between them had been decided by eight points or fewer. Belding 49, Comstock Park 21 Belding (3-1) has run its Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver winning streak to eight with all but one of those victories by double digits as it seeks to repeat as champion. Beal City 50, Houghton Lake 8 Beal City is winning its games by an average score of 47-7 after this one over a much-improved Bobcats team that sits 3-1.

Northern Lower Peninsula

HEADLINER Charlevoix 50, East Jordan 6 Charlevoix (3-1) has handed the first loss this season to its last two opponents, and East Jordan (3-1) very well could go on to contend in the Northern Michigan Football Conference Legacy. This provided the Rayders with more momentum as they head into this week’s matchup with Benzie Central that could eventually decide the NMFC Leaders title. Click for more from the Petoskey News-Review.

Watch list Kingsley 64, Boyne City 13 Kingsley (3-1) is averaging just under 50 points per game after putting up a season high against the Ramblers (2-2), another contender in the NMFC Leaders.

On the move Frankfort 55, Johannesburg-Lewiston 0 Frankfort (4-0) earned its second-straight shutout of the Cardinals (2-2), but the Panthers’ defense has shined all season giving up just under 11 ppg. Traverse City St. Francis 28, Grayling 22 The young Gladiators (2-2) might be finding their stride after two straight losses, settling in against a Grayling team that’s 2-2 and had topped 30 points in all of its first three games. Gaylord 9, Petoskey 0 An impressive defensive stand put Gaylord (4-0) in position to play Cadillac this week for sole possession of first place in the Big North Conference, with Petoskey (2-2) among those hoping to stay in the race with another chance or two coming up to impact it.

Traverse City West defenders pursue a Grand Blanc ball carrier during the Bobcats' 43-7 win.

Southeast & Border

HEADLINER Jackson Lumen Christi 28, Detroit U-D Jesuit 6 Lumen Christi’s first game as part of the Detroit Catholic League saw the Titans (4-0) give up their first points of the season, and only six in adding to the impressiveness of this victory over last year’s CHSL AA champion Cubs (3-1). Click for more from the Jackson Citizen Patriot.

On the move Napoleon 42, Manchester 21 The Pirates took an important first step as they seek to repeat as league champions, this time of the new Cascades Conference East. Manchester (3-1) had given up only 29 points total over its first three games, but Napoleon (4-0) upped its early scoring average to 42 ppg and its regular-season winning streak to 14.

On the move Adrian 29, Tecumseh 7 Adrian is 4-0 for the first time since 2010 and hadn’t defeated Tecumseh (1-3) since 2011. Grass Lake 42, East Jackson 8 Grass Lake (4-0) also is undefeated at the top of the Cascades Conference East, with Napoleon up next. Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard 34, Riverview Gabriel Richard 6 AAGR avenged last season’s 11-point loss to RGR (1-3) to move to 4-0 – giving the Fighting Irish one more win than all of last season and guaranteeing their best finish since 2019.

Southwest Corridor

HEADLINER Constantine 27, Schoolcraft 21 Constantine (3-1) twice led by double digits and held on to run their winning streak against the Eagles (3-1) to two. The Falcons will start Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore play this week on the best-possible note, especially key as all six league teams area 2-2 or better heading into the league schedule. Click for more from the Three Rivers Commercial-News.

Watch list Dowagiac 39, Parchment 14 Dowagiac has had a mostly rough last three seasons, going a combined 5-20, but head into Lakeland Conference play this week with more wins than all of the last two seasons combined and after handing Parchment (3-1) its lone defeat.  

On the move Benton Harbor 34, Buchanan 27 Benton Harbor (2-2) opened Lakeland play with its third-straight game decided by seven points or fewer, but this one a win over the reigning league champion Bucks (2-2). Watervliet 18, Coloma 16 These two played for the 111th time – ranking 11th among Michigan high school rivalry games – and after the rivalry took a break the last two years. Paw Paw 40, Vicksburg 17 A testament to their tough schedule, the Red Wolves (4-0) made the playoffs last season at 4-5 – and all four of their wins so far this fall are over 2022 playoff teams.

Upper Peninsula

HEADLINER Negaunee 13, Kingsford 12 The Miners started the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper schedule a win down, losing to Gladstone two weeks ago. But the reigning champs are right back in the mix after handing Kingsford a narrow defeat in the teams’ first meeting since 1994. The Flivvers (3-1) had reached 34 points in all three of their wins before Negaunee slowed them down. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.

Watch list Menominee 44, Calumet 0 With Gladstone, Negaunee and Kingsford handing each other defeats, Menominee (4-0) sits on the top of the Copper standings with those three coming up, but also having given up only six points this season with three shutouts.

On the move Houghton 34, Ishpeming Westwood 16 After two losses to open the fall, Houghton (2-2) has bounced back with two wins and gets Menominee next. Sault Ste. Marie 21, Escanaba 7 The Blue Devils (3-1) met a slightly more familiar opponent in their second game as part of the Big North Conference, adding a second win in two seasons over Escanaba (1-3). Manistique 52, West Iron County 0 After taking an eight-point loss to Ishpeming in Week 2, Manistique has two straight wins (and two straight shutouts) to get to 2-2 – after winning two games total in 2022 and 2021.

West Michigan

HEADLINER Rockford 42, Caledonia 16 The Rams (4-0) hurdled perhaps their toughest obstacle early as they pursue a fifth-straight Ottawa-Kent Conference Red title. Rockford’s defense shut down a Caledonia attack that averaged 42 points per game over its first three, and in doing so also avenged last year’s one-point District Final loss to the eventual Division 1 runner-up Fighting Scots (3-1). Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Watch list Muskegon 42, Muskegon Mona Shores 21 The Big Reds (2-2) ran their streak in another of the state’s most competitive rivalries to three straight wins, with M’Khi Guy throwing two touchdown passes and running for another score against the Sailors (2-2).

On the move Allendale 61, Hamilton 38 The Falcons (4-0) are another team on the rise, with their four wins equaling their totals of both of the last two seasons and this victory the only loss for a Hamilton team that at 3-1 has already bested its 2022 finish. Saugatuck 15, Union City 14 The Trailblazers won just two games last season but are 4-0 for the first time since 2016 and with this win over the reigning Big 8 Conference champ Chargers (3-1) their most impressive. Big Rapids 25, Reed City 14 The Cardinals (3-1) earned their first win over Reed City (1-3) since 2009, and in doing so stayed in a tie atop the Central State Activities Association Gold.


HEADLINER Carson City-Crystal 45, Merrill 30 Carson City-Crystal (4-0) made its move to 8-player football this season coming off five straight 11-player playoff seasons. The Eagles’ first three wins this fall came against teams that are a combined 1-11, but this one over the reigning Division 1 runner-up Vandals (3-1) tells plenty about how quickly they are advancing in the new format. Click for more from the Greenville Daily News.

Watch list Gobles 53, Martin 16 The Tigers (4-0) have absolutely dominated this season, outscoring their opponents by a combined 237-24 – and that includes this win over reigning Division 1 champion Martin (2-2), which had won the last two meetings with Gobles by a combined 110-6.

On the move Brown City 46, Deckerville 28 The Green Devils (4-0) are in their second season of 8-player and first as part of the North Central Thumb League Stars – and they are tied for first after handing annual contender Deckerville (3-1) its only defeat. Pickford 44, Rudyard 42 By nearly the closest of margins, Pickford (4-0) ended a two-game losing streak to Rudyard (3-1) and after falling 34-6 last season. St. Ignace 30, Indian River Inland Lakes 28 The Saints (4-0) just keep climbing as well, with Inland Lakes (3-1) the third team they’ve handed a first loss this season.

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.

PHOTOS (Top) Negaunee's Kai Lacar gets a few yards before being tackled by Kingsford's Wyatt Scott (24) and Caleb Kleist (30). (Middle) Traverse City West defenders pursue a Grand Blanc ball carrier during the Bobcats' 43-7 win. (Top photo by Cara Kamps. Middle photo by Terry Lyons.)

Performance of the Week: Gladwin's Jhace Massey

September 22, 2023

Jhace MasseyJhace 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

@mhsaasports 🏈 POW: Jhace Massey #tiktalk #questiontime #part2 #mcdonalds #gymclass #stephcurry30 #tacotuesday #thumbsup #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

Sept. 15: Kaylee Draper, Sturgis swimming - Report
Sept. 8:
Owen Jackson, Traverse City St. Francis tennis - Report
Sept. 1:
Rachel Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country - Report

(Top photo by Mike Kolleth. Headshot provided by the Gladwin football program.)