1st & Goal: 2023 Week 8 Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

October 11, 2023

Only two regular-season games remain for the majority of Michigan’s high school football teams, but thousands of players and coaches will be striving this weekend to extend their time on the field this fall.

MI Student AidAnd it may take only one more winning performance to do so.

Just last weekend, 19 teams moved into the possible playoff field of 288 as one of the top 32 in 11-player divisions or 16 in 8-player divisions based on playoff-point average.

Among those 256 11-player teams – qualifiers if the regular season had ended after last weekend – Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central jumped 13 spots to No. 9 in Division 7, Oak Park moved up nine spots to No. 29 in Division 2 and Hastings jumped eight spots to No. 11 in Division 4, while several more hopefuls earned upward movement of seven or six positions. Overall, only the potential qualifier list in 8-player Division 2 remained unchanged from Week 6.

To keep an eye on those possibilities as results come in, load the Playoff Point Summary page at MHSAA.com.

Below are this week’s most intriguing matchups across the state, many still determining league champions and most factoring into which teams will continue to play after the regular season is done. All games are Friday unless noted. 

Bay & Thumb

Davison (7-0) at Grand Blanc (5-2) - WATCH

This will be the first time since 2020 that these rivals will decide a league championship, with Grand Blanc the outright Saginaw Valley League Red title winner with a victory and Davison facing one more game against Lapeer next week but able to claim a share if it comes out on top this weekend. The Cardinals are 6-1 against the Bobcats – including two playoff wins – since they began playing in the same division of the SVL in 2018, and Davison won 49-14 and then 27-0 a year ago. After a five-point win over Division 2 powerhouse Warren De La Salle College in Week 1, Davison has prevailed in all of its games by at least two touchdowns. But the Bobcats’ defeats have come against a pair of ranked opponents, Grandville and East Lansing, who are a combined 11-3 – and Grand Blanc posted an impressive 44-26 win over Lapeer two weeks ago.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Ubly (7-0) at Cass City (6-1) - WATCH, North Branch (4-3) at Croswell-Lexington (6-1) - WATCH, Beaverton (5-2) at Gladwin (6-1), Lapeer (5-2) at Midland (4-3) - WATCH.

Greater Detroit

Detroit Cass Tech (5-2) vs. Detroit Martin Luther King (4-3) at Ford Field

The first meeting between these two Sept. 15 was an opportunity to see how rearranged lineups matched up with each other, and Cass Tech won 14-7. Now that those new players and other players in new places have nearly a full regular season behind them, this Detroit Public School League Blue championship game could settle into another titanic faceoff. Cass Tech hasn’t given up a point since King scored those seven a month ago, and King hasn’t given up more than six in a game since Cass put up those 14. Keep this in mind as well: In the four seasons Cass and King have met twice over the last decade, only last year – when the Technicians avenged a 28-23 loss with a 28-14 win four weeks later – has the same team not won both.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Allen Park (7-0) at Gibraltar Carlson (6-1) - WATCH, Mason (7-0) at Walled Lake Western (7-0) - WATCH, Southfield Arts & Technology (7-0) at West Bloomfield (5-2) - WATCH, Northville (7-0) at Novi (6-1) - WATCH.


Portland (7-0) at Lansing Sexton (7-0) - WATCH

The first meeting between these two Sept. 15 was an opportunity to see how rearranged lineups matched up with each other, and Cass Tech won 14-7. Now that those new players and other players in new places have nearly a full regular season behind them, this Detroit Public School League Blue championship game could settle into another titanic faceoff. Cass Tech hasn’t given up a point since King scored those seven a month ago, and King hasn’t given up more than six in a game since Cass put up those 14. Keep this in mind as well: In the four seasons Cass and King have met twice over the last decade, only last year – when the Technicians avenged a 28-23 loss with a 28-14 win four weeks later – has the same team not won both.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Fowler (6-1) at Laingsburg (4-3) - WATCH, DeWitt (4-2) at Lansing Everett (4-3) - WATCH, Midland Dow (4-3) at Mount Pleasant (6-1). SATURDAY Fenton (6-1) at Corunna (7-0) - WATCH.

Northern Lower Peninsula

Frankfort (6-1) at East Jordan (6-1) - WATCH

This league championship matchup has seemed destined for a while, with only a pair of nonleague detours keeping these teams from perfection heading into this weekend, and this will be the second time in three seasons these two will meet to decide a title winner. East Jordan’s last three seasons together have amounted to the program’s best string of success in two decades, and only two six-point losses – including one to Frankfort – kept the Red Devils’ from repeating as the Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends champion last season. Their only loss this fall was to NMFC Leaders champ Charlevoix. Frankfort is coming off a nonleague loss to another likely Division 8 contender in Fowler, but will try to bounce back to clinch its first league title since 2016. After falling in the title matchup to East Jordan 22-18 in 2021, the Panthers also finished league runner-up last fall.  

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Jackson Lumen Christi (7-0) at Gaylord (7-0) - WATCH, Evart (5-2) at Houghton Lake (4-3) - WATCH, Benzie Central (4-3) at Maple City Glen Lake (4-3) - WATCH. SATURDAY Marquette (4-2) at Cadillac (4-3) - WATCH.

Southeast & Border

Dundee (4-3) at Hudson (7-0) - WATCH

Hudson can meet Clinton next week for a winner-take-all in the Lenawee County Athletic Association, but Dundee definitely can switch things up as well with success tonight. Although the Tigers have won their last three meetings with the Vikings, Dundee also is pushing for a third-straight playoff appearance and already has scored more points this fall than they did over 11 games in 2021 and 10 games last season. The Vikings' offense will get its toughest test, however, as Hudson has given up only 50 points this season and none since Week 5. Still, the Tigers must be sure to not look ahead to next week's opponent, as Clinton is the only team that has defeated Hudson in LCAA play over the last three seasons. 

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Michigan Center (5-2) at Manchester (6-1) - WATCH, Trenton (4-3) at Chelsea (6-1) - WATCH, Belding (6-1) at Jackson (4-3) - WATCH, Milan (3-4) at Carleton Airport (6-1).

Southwest Corridor

Constantine (6-1) at South Haven (5-2) - WATCH

Only a few seasons ago, South Haven ended a 29-game losing streak, and just last season the Rams finished 2-7. This weekend they’ll play for a share of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore championship, entering this matchup off three league wins all by at least 28 points. Of course, Constantine is a major obstacle standing in the way. The Falcons’ three league wins are all by 20 or more points, and they’ve won 19 straight Lakeshore games going back to 2019 – when they still shared the league championship. South Haven will have a chance to put into practice lessons learned in losses to tough opponents – Lawton is a likely Division 7 contender and Ada Forest Hills Eastern is strong in Division 4 – and Constantine bounced back from its lone loss to Benton Harbor to defeat Lawton the following week in starting a five-game winning streak.   

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Portage Northern (6-1) at Stevensville Lakeshore (5-2) - WATCH, Kalamazoo United (4-3) at Allegan (4-3) - WATCH, Ottawa Lake Whiteford (7-0) at Union City (6-1) - WATCH, Dowagiac (4-3) at Buchanan (4-3) - WATCH.

Upper Peninsula

Menominee (6-1) at Kingsford (6-1) - WATCH

The winner of this game will claim a Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper championship – either shared or outright – while the loser will finish either tied for second or solo in third, depending on what a third co-leader, Negaunee, does at Houghton this weekend. Kingsford’s only defeat this fall was 13-12 to the Miners in Week 4, and Menominee is hoping to rebound quickly after falling to Negaunee 47-20 last week. The Flivvers and Maroons have played memorable matchups the last two seasons, Kingsford winning 34-27 in 2021 and Menominee avenging 42-41 to close the 2022 regular season. Kingsford still has given up only 25 points this fall, with five shutouts, and Menominee has four shutouts and had given up only 32 points before last week.  

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Manistique (4-3) at Bark River-Harris (4-3) - WATCH, Gladstone (5-2) at Calumet (3-4) - WATCH, Petoskey (4-3) at Sault Ste. Marie (5-2) - WATCH, Negaunee (6-1) at Houghton (2-5) - WATCH.

West Michigan

Rockford (7-0) at Grandville (6-1)

Rockford has won 24 straight Ottawa-Kent Conference Red games, but this won’t be the first time the Rams and Grandville have squared off for the league title – in fact, it will be the fourth time over the last 10 years, and Rockford still won the Red championship in 2019 despite the Bulldogs handing them their most recent league loss that fall. Grandville started this season playing back-to-back games against the teams vying tonight for the Saginaw Valley League Red title, defeating Grand Blanc and falling to Davison, and the Bulldogs also have earned close yet impressive wins over Hudsonville and last week Caledonia. Rockford followed its opening 20 and 23-point wins over Muskegon and Mona Shores, respectively, with more of the same in league play – and hasn’t played a single-digit regular-season game since Week 2 of last fall.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Grand Rapids South Christian (6-1) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (6-1) - WATCH, East Grand Rapids (6-1) at Byron Center (6-1), Lawton (6-1) at Saugatuck (7-0) - WATCH, Zeeland West (6-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (5-2).


Pittsford (7-0) at Adrian Lenawee Christian (7-0) - WATCH

The winner takes all in the Southern Central Athletic Association East. The familiarity between these two goes back more than a decade, and with Lenawee No. 1 and Pittsford tied at No. 3 on the Division 2 playoff-points average list, this could be just the first round this season. Pittsford, not surprisingly, has found itself back in a championship mix; the Wildcats were among the state’s top small-school 11-player programs for decades before making the switch to 8-player last fall. That first run ended at 5-4 and the Wildcats just missing the playoffs, but they’ve found their stride this fall, especially on defense where they gave up a high of 16 points in the season opener and no more than eight in a game since. Lenawee Christian brings the challenge of an offense that scores 57 ppg and put 73 up against Mendon two weeks ago and 56 on Pittsford in their 2022 meeting.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Marion (6-0) at Brethren (5-2) - WATCH, Pickford (7-0) at Newberry (6-1), Rogers City (4-3) at Alcona (6-1) - WATCH, Mayville (5-2) at Kingston (6-1) - WATCH.

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 A pair of Muskegon defenders make a tackle against Holland this season.  (Photo by Tim Reilly.)

Football Title Reflects Kingsley's Current Success, Recalls Loved Ones Passed

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

December 1, 2023

Kingsley football fans have become pretty familiar with VIP parking for home games over the last couple of seasons.

Northern Lower PeninsulaThey may just start looking for a Kingsley VIP lot at Ford Field. The Stags just captured the MHSAA Division 6 championship trophy with a 38-24 victory over Almont, their second Finals championship and first since 2005.

The road to the Finals started with Kingsley hosting two playoff games, allowing great use of the VIP Parking of Trina’s Touchdown Club. The lot is adjacent to the school’s Rodes Field and provided in loving memory of Katrina “Trina” Kay Schueller, who passed away Oct. 21, 2021, at Munson Medical Center.

Those playoff games filling Trina’s Touchdown Club’s parking lot featured wins over Mason County Central 61-12 and Manistee 37-18, and 51-27 over Gladstone in the Regional Final. Kingsley then traveled down the road and defeated Reed City 37-7 in the Semifinal.

There may not have been designated VIP parking in Cadillac and Ford Field for the Stags’ followers, but there were a lot of VIPs at both stadiums with Schueller on their minds. Pretty much everyone with an affiliation with the highly-successful program or familiarity with the community’s struggles have become VIPs to the Kingsley coaching staff and many others.

Most certainly among the VIPs are head coach Tim Wooer, assistant coach Conner Schueller, his brother Carter Schueller, and his father Mike Schueller.

Conner was set to play the biggest regular-season game of his career the day after his mom passed. It was the regular-season finale against rival Traverse City St. Francis.  

Wooer vividly remembers the moments leading up to that matchup, noting how difficult it was for Conner. But his then-fullback and now-assistant coach demonstrated amazing strength and maturity he stills exhibits today.

Stags assistant coach Conner Schueller watches from the sideline during an Almont run back.“He’s in his senior football season, and his mom is in the hospital for four weeks — he’s balancing that playing football and going to school,” Wooer recalled. “And then she passes, and he has the strength to come back to school and deliver the news to our team.

“I am sobbing watching this kid, and I’m just amazed,” Wooer continued. “The next night is Parents Night, and he’s on the field with his dad and brother without his mom.”

Conner still played, making a 4th-down goal line tackle to prevent a St. Francis touchdown. The Gladiators won the game, but Conner won the day, conquering much just to dress for the game. 

The Stags went on to playoff wins over Kingsford 28-10 and Clare 32-6. They bowed out with a 33-18 Regional loss to Frankenmuth.

Conner’s junior year of 2020 had been cut short as the Kingsley was forced to forfeit its District Final to Reed City because several players and coaching staff tested positive for COVID-19. The Stags had Ford Field in their minds that season too after playoff wins over 38-13 Standish-Sterling 38-13 and Gladwin 63-16.

Conner, who celebrated his 20th birthday at Saturday’s Final, remembers his playing days and the challenges presented him.

“At the time it was ‘she’s not there,’ especially my senior year she wasn’t there to watch me and finish it out, but I know she’s watching above,” he said. “We were about to go play Reed City my junior year for Regionals, and everyone got sick and it ended our season unfortunately.”

Those challenges were on his mind at Ford Field, and running through his mind when he saw his brother and father in the stands. Carter, now a senior at Kingsley, had been unable to play football due to injuries.  

“I thought about my brother – he unfortunately didn’t play this year due to his injuries, and I don’t really blame him for that,” Conner said.  “I thought about him as well because it was just me and my dad and my brother now.

“It was very emotional,” Conner continued.  “I got a glimpse of him in the strands.”

Carter also was filled with gratitude for the coaching staff for welcoming and mentoring him. He had become keenly aware of the amount of time coaches spend away from family at practices and going through film.

In addition to his family, Conner was thinking about many others in the Kingsley community – and other senior classes like his that didn’t get the chance to celebrate a championship.

He also was thinking about Justin Hansen, a 2003 graduate of Kingsley. Hansen was a captain on the 2002 conference championship team. He went on to become a special-operations Marine sergeant and was killed in action July 24, 2012, while deployed in Afghanistan. Hansen was on patrol as part of an operation in search of a high-value target when his team was hit with small arms fire. 

Kingsley coach Tim Wooer, in red, prepares to present the championship trophy to his team including Schueller, far right.On Saturday, Wooer was wearing a red T-shirt with the letters “USA” on the front and the name “Hansen” on the back. It also featured the number 54, Hansen’s in high school.

Wooer, who turned 54 in July, wore the shirt in Hansen’s memory knowing Hansen would be on the veteran coach’s mind and symbolizing Hansen’s presence with the team at Ford Field.

Wooer wants to make sure Hanson is never forgotten and reminds the soldier’s family the entire community remains behind them.  

“I believe it is part of our job as a community to show our love to this family and help in any way possible to help them get through this process,” Wooers said. “After the funeral, we all went about life.

“We certainly still think about Justin and feel the pain,” he continued.  “But nothing like a family does.”

Hansen’s tragic passing led to the creation of the annual Patriot Game in Traverse City in 2012 while Wooer was coaching Traverse City West. The game features crosstown rivals West and Traverse City Central every year and strives to honor veterans, first responders, active duty military, and area heroes who died while serving their country.

Saturday’s win over Almont left Wooer emotionally exhausted after all the preparations to do it right for the senior class, the school, the Kingsley community, the Schueller family and Hansen. Collectively, they’ve really become more like a family to the Stags coaching staff and many, many others.

“In terms of emotions, there is no doubt Justin was on my mind throughout the game,” Wooer said. “Trina and Conner have been – those are two huge pieces.

“And, a lot of my thoughts are with the seniors,” he continued. “You want to win the game, but also it is your last time with them.”

Wooer has learned a lot from his former players and coaches over the years. He’s become close friends with many of them, going back to his early days of coaching as a student-teacher at Elk Rapids. He also coached at Farewell and Traverse City West, the latter from 2008-2017 after a first tenure at Kingsley. He returned to Kingsley in 2018.

Schueller is among several former players and coaches who have been on Wooer’s coaching staffs over the years. Several continue today.

“I could give you lots of other stories about kids I have had,” Wooer said. “There comes this transition where they turn into such amazing men, you catch yourself every once in a while saying, ‘I want to be like him.’

Trina’s Touchdown Club welcomes members to the VIP lot adjacent to the Kingsley stadium. “You get this huge smile on your face because you’re so proud of them, just like a mother or father would,” Wooer continued. “A coach always looks at his players like they’re part of his family.”

In addition to Conner, current assistants with long-term relationships with Wooer are Tom Kaleita, Kyle Smith, Ryan Zenner, Dan Goethals, Josh Merchant, Jordan Bradford, Steve Klinge, Connor Schueller, Mike Arlt, Larry Mikowski, Bobby Howell, Rob Whims and Jason Morrow.

This year’s seniors were Jon Pearson, Eli Graves, Skylar Workman, Gavyn Merchant, Max Goethals, Evan Trafford, Bode Bielas, Grant Kolbusz, James Person, Caleb Bott, Trenton Peacock, Noah Scribner and Gavin Dear. They and the coaching staff will be the center of attention as the community celebrates the football team at 7 p.m. this evening in the high school gymnasium.

The seniors probably won’t need VIP parking tonight. But if it would help, Conner would surely make arrangements to utilize Trina’s Touchdown Club. He’d have to add a shuttle though as Rodes Field is about a mile away from the school.

“It feels amazing — I don’t think it really hit any one yet, but I am sure it will,” Conner said. “After we won, it is truly something – it is something else I can’t explain. 

“The seniors finally won it the way they were supposed to,” he continued. “It was a good class of seniors.”

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Kingsley students support their classmates during Saturday’s Division 6 Final at Ford Field. (2) Stags assistant coach Conner Schueller watches from the sideline during an Almont run back. (3) Kingsley coach Tim Wooer, in red, prepares to present the championship trophy to his team including Schueller, far right. (4) Trina’s Touchdown Club welcomes members to the VIP lot adjacent to the Kingsley stadium. (Ford Field photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos; touchdown club photo courtesy of the Kingsley football program.)