1st & Goal: 2023 Week 9 Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

October 18, 2023

Memories are guaranteed to be made this weekend.

MI Student AidOnly 288 teams qualify for the MHSAA Football Playoffs. And while the great majority have secured spots in the field to be announced Sunday, there’s still opportunity for last-minute movement this weekend; in 2021, 15 teams joined the field during Week 9, and last season that total was 14. 

That also brings us to some potential history being made.

Perry may be on the verge of making the playoffs for the first time. The Ramblers enter the weekend 5-3, playing Bath (also 5-3) and sitting No. 25 on the Division 7 playoff-points average list. Hart also is playing to secure a first playoff berth and sits 7-1 in Division 6, hosting Ravenna (3-5). 

Detroit University Prep Science & Math and Jackson Northwest are seeking the same, but likely will need help. University Prep is 5-3 and No. 37 on the Division 3 playoff-points average list, while Northwest is 4-4 and No. 38. The top 32 qualify in each 11-player division, and the top 16 qualify in both divisions of 8-player.

By the end of Saturday night, the field will be known – follow all of the playoff-point average movement in real-time on the Playoff Point Summary page.

How those teams are assigned to Districts and Regionals, and who plays who, will be announced at 6 p.m. Sunday on Bally Sports Detroit Extra. Tune in via your cable provider or the BSD website. Pairings will then be posted to MHSAA.com at 7 p.m., with dates, times and locations for all games added Monday.

(All games below are Friday unless noted.)

Bay & Thumb

Frankenmuth (7-1) at Gladwin (7-1)

This rematch of last season’s Division 5 championship game – won by Gladwin 10-7 on a field goal with two seconds to play – seems a fitting way to roll into these playoffs. Both continued league title streaks this fall, Gladwin with its third-straight in the Jack Pine Conference and Frankenmuth clinching its 12th-in a row in the Tri-Valley Conference. Both have losses against MHSAA championship contenders – Gladwin 56-21 to undefeated Division 5 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep and Frankenmuth 14-8 in its opener to 2022 Division 4 runner-up Goodrich. Both are putting up more than 40 points a game this fall with several new contributors, and depending on how the lines are drawn they could see each other a second time; Frankenmuth is No. 8 in Division 5 playoff-point average, and Gladwin is No. 14.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Ogemaw Heights (7-1) at Almont (8-0) - WATCH, Lapeer (5-3) at Davison (8-0), Port Huron (7-1) at Marysville (6-2), Croswell-Lexington (7-1) at Freeland (7-1) - WATCH.

Greater Detroit

Northville (8-0) at Belleville (8-0) - WATCH

The overall Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship is on the line, along with perfect regular seasons for both and Belleville’s 33-game winning streak. Five of eight teams in the KLAA East are .500 or better heading into this weekend, and Belleville outscored all of its conference opponents by a combined 345-18 over the last seven weeks. Northville, champion of the KLAA West, is the Tigers’ next challenger and another good one – the Mustangs are actually No. 2 in Division 1 playoff-point average, while Belleville is No. 6. Keep in mind, this again could be just the first round between these two over the next few weeks.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Birmingham Groves (6-2) at Birmingham Seaholm (7-1) - WATCH, Grosse Pointe North (6-2) at Grosse Pointe South (7-1), Detroit Denby (8-0) at Warren De La Salle Collegiate (6-2). SATURDAY Detroit Cass Tech (6-2) vs. Toledo Central Catholic (9-0) at Ford Field


East Lansing (6-2) at Grand Ledge (6-2) - WATCH

The Capital Area Activities Conference Blue is one of few with title possibilities remaining, as East Lansing clinched a guaranteed share against Holt last week but Grand Ledge and DeWitt are both just one game back with this one (and DeWitt’s against Lansing Waverly) to play. East Lansing had won four straight over its longtime rival before the Comets prevailed 45-30 last season. After opening 0-2 against opponents that remain a combined 12-4, East Lansing has churned to 42 points per game over its last six games while giving up just 70 points total during that time. The Comets’ league loss came to DeWitt, 41-38 in Week 6, and they fell to Lapeer as well a week later before rebounding against Okemos to set up this title-share opportunity.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Goodrich (7-1) at Williamston (6-2), McBain (5-3) at Fowler (7-1) - WATCH, Harbor Beach (7-1) at Beal City (8-0) - WATCH, Berrien Springs (5-2) at Portland (8-0).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Traverse City Central (4-4) at Traverse City West (3-5) - WATCH

The annual Patriot Game between these neighbors at their shared Thirlby Field will no doubt have the same festive feel this weekend, but with different factors in play. Both are among three teams tied for second in the Saginaw Valley League Blue that’s already been clinched by Mount Pleasant, and instead both are battling for some level of playoff opportunity – Central is No. 29 in Division 2 playoff-point average, and West may only be able to play spoiler sitting at No. 41. Central last missed the playoffs in 2013, but has won this rivalry matchup four straight seasons although only 14-13 a year ago. West saw a similar run of postseason success end a year ago and has improved by a win this season – and adding one more no doubt would give the Titans something to build on for 2024.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Elk Rapids (4-4) at East Jordan (5-3) - WATCH, Grayling (5-3) at Lake City (6-2), Clare (6-2) at Petoskey (5-3) - WATCH. SATURDAY Muskegon Catholic Central (5-3) at Traverse City St. Francis (3-4) - WATCH.

Southeast & Border

Addison (8-0) at Napoleon (8-0)

It's tough to rank any game above Saline/Lake Orion below, but these two also are undefeated and meeting for the overall Cascades Conference championship in the first season after the league split into divisions. These teams have split their last six meetings – Napoleon winning 36-18 last year to finish off an outright Cascades title – and both soundly defeated their three mutual opponents on the way here. This will provide one last strong test heading into what surely will be tough playoff brackets for both. Napoleon is tied for No. 2 in Division 7 playoff-point average, but No. 1 Jackson Lumen Christi and No. 5 Clinton could be opponents soon. Addison is No. 7 in Division 8 playoff-point average with No. 1 Ottawa Lake Whiteford and No. 6 Hudson possibly down the road.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Hudson (7-1) at Clinton (7-1) - WATCH, Chelsea (7-1) at Dexter (6-2), Lake Orion (8-0) at Saline (8-0) - WATCH. SATURDAY Battle Creek Harper Creek (6-2) vs. Jackson Lumen Christi (7-1) at Ford Field.

Southwest Corridor

Paw Paw (8-0) at Niles (7-1) - WATCH

From a trophy perspective, this might be the most significant 11-player game in the state this weekend – a winner-take-all for the Wolverine Conference championship. Along the way, they’ve guaranteed an end to Edwardsburg’s league title reign at nine straight – including the last seven in the combined Wolverine after the league previously was split into divisions – and both contenders have left no doubt they are the elite in the league this fall. After opening with a 55-0 win over St. Joseph and then taking its lone loss to Stevensville Lakeshore, 15-14, Niles has outscored its other six Wolverine opponents by a combined 335-37, with three straight shutouts heading into this matchup. Paw Paw hasn’t had a game closer than three touchdowns all season and has outscored its other league opponents by a combined 227-53.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Union City (6-2) at Buchanan (5-3) - WATCH, Hastings (6-2) at Battle Creek Pennfield (4-4), South Haven (5-3) at Kalamazoo United (5-3), Stevensville Lakeshore (5-3) at Portage Central (7-1).

Upper Peninsula

Iron Mountain (8-0) at Negaunee (7-1), Thursday - WATCH

This matchup of Western Peninsula Athletic Conference powers kicks off Week 9 in a big way Thursday, as Iron Mountain dominated in winning the Iron championship and Negaunee came back from a Week 2 loss to claim a share in the Copper. Iron Mountain played in the Copper most recently, until this season, and the league matchups between these two were decided by three points twice and two points once – all Iron Mountain wins – before Negaunee claimed last year’s 19-14. The Miners this time are coming off a 13-6 win over Houghton – which the Mountaineers defeated 56-6 in the opener two months ago – and they’ve had no other common opponent. But what they do have in common are playing styles, as both have dominating defenses and potent run games.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Menominee (6-2) at Bark River-Harris (5-3) - WATCH, Gaylord (8-0) at Sault Ste. Marie (5-3) - WATCH, Saginaw Nouvel (3-5) at Manistique (4-4) - WATCH, Kingsford (7-1) at Marquette (5-2) - WATCH.

West Michigan

Hudsonville (5-3) at Rockford (8-0) - WATCH

The Ottawa-Kent Conference Red will be the last of the O-K divisions to fully crown its champion, as Rockford earned a share of the title last week with a 34-13 win over second-place Grandville but needs to down Hudsonville as well to clinch outright. That result over the Bulldogs was Rockford’s closest in league play this season and no opponent league or nonleague has gotten closer than 20 points. But Hudsonville can shake things up and showed the ability with its Week 2 win over East Lansing and narrow loss to Grandville in Week 5. Rockford has won the last eight meetings between this pair, but Hudsonville played the Rams to 42-31 a year ago despite finishing only 3-6. In fact, one more win would assure the Eagles their best record since at least 2019. Rockford sits first in Division 1 playoff-point average, guaranteeing three home playoff games if that position is maintained, while Hudsonville is slotting No. 24 and should benefit playing this game win or lose.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Coopersville (6-2) at Allendale (6-2), East Grand Rapids (6-2) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (6-2) - WATCH, Montague (4-4) at Muskegon Oakridge (5-3) - WATCH, Schoolcraft (6-2) at Saugatuck (7-1) - WATCH.


Indian River Inland Lakes (7-1) at Gaylord St. Mary (6-2), Saturday

This is also a winner-take-all as these two sit tied for first in the Ski Valley Conference. Inland Lakes has won the league title both seasons as part of it for 8-player football, including last year thanks to a 44-40 win over St. Mary on the way to the Snowbirds finishing second. All of that alone makes this big, but the St. Mary’s season also is on the line. Inland Lakes sits No. 8 in 8-player Division 1 playoff-point average, but St. Mary is No. 18, just outside the qualifying field after losing last week to Rudyard, which sits No. 16. Neither team has missed the playoffs since switching to the 8-player format, St. Mary in 2019 and Inland Lakes in 2020.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Posen (7-0) at Au Gres-Sims (7-1) - WATCH, Bay City All Saints (7-1) at Brown City (8-0) - WATCH, St. Ignace (7-1) at Pickford (8-0) - WATCH, Climax-Scotts (8-0) at Pittsford (7-1) - WATCH.

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PHOTO Ortonville Brandon and Goodrich face off Oct. 6 during a downpour. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)

Ubly Offense, Kicker Pile Up Record Book Listings During Championship Run

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

April 12, 2024

Ubly finished a combined 27-1 over the last two seasons, following up a Division 8 runner-up run in 2022 with its first MHSAA Finals championship this past November. And the Bearcats stacked plenty of record book performances along the way.

Individually, senior Brett Mueller made the single-season extra point list again this past season with 76 in 81 tries, and he set the MHSAA career record with 220 extra points over 232 attempts, 40 games and three seasons. He has signed with Saginaw Valley State.

As a team, Ubly was added to the record book 13 times for achievements over the last two years, most notably in the rushing game. The Bearcats topped 5,200 total yards both seasons, and also made the rush yardage list twice including with a sixth-best 5,148 in 2022. Their 90 touchdowns in 2022 rank seventh all-time, and their 85 this past fall tied for 13th, and they tied the record with 10 rushing touchdowns in a 2022 win over Reese and set another record with 84 rushing touchdowns total that season.

See below for more recent record book additions in 11-player football, and click the heading to see the record book in full:

11-Player Football

Dundee’s Ben Miller has a pair of basketball record book entries, and he’s also been added in football for scoring seven touchdowns in his team’s 72-36 win over Erie Mason on Oct. 20, 2017. A senior that season, he ran for five scores and caught two touchdowns passes.

Nearly four decades later, Howard City Tri County’s Mike Wagoner has reached the record book for his work on defense in 1985. A junior that season, Wagoner returned three interceptions for touchdowns – 65, 55 and 35 yards – which would have been second on the list at the time and remains tied for third-most for one season.

Jaxon Lippert tops the list of 21 who have returned kickoffs 99 yards. Lippert, now a senior at Walled Lake Western, joined the list against Davison during his junior season.

A handful of records from Warren De La Salle Collegiate’s recent run of Ford Field teams and also one from decades ago were added. Jake Badalamenti was added three times for kickoff returns between 96-99 yards, one as a junior in 2016 and two as a senior the following fall, and Marty Wyzlic was added for his 95-yarder in 1976. Mason Muragin is the new leader for tackles for loss in a career with 71 over three seasons, and he also was added to the single-season list with 31 as a junior in 2021, as was Will Beasley for 38 as a junior in 2020. Wayne Wright was added for his 16 sacks over nine games as a senior in 1984, and Josh Cox was added for his 100-yard interception return as a senior in 2012. Muragin plays at Illinois, Beesley plays at Princeton, Cox played at Central Michigan, and Badalamenti played baseball at Wayne State.

Pinckney junior Nolan Carruthers caught 16 passes during a 13-7 loss to Jackson on Sept. 15, good to tie for ninth-most in one game and breaking the Livingston County record of 14 by Hartland’s Greg Matthyssen in 2007 – a listing that also was added.

Ethan Wissner did some major lifting, or rather carrying, during Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker’s 28-14 District Final win over Montrose in 2022. The then-senior ran 42 times to make the record book, for 289 yards and three touchdowns. He’s continuing at Siena Heights.

Senior quarterback Andrew Schuster and junior receiver DeShaun Lanier formed a game-changing pass-catch combo this past season for Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, with Schuster finishing his career with nine record book listings and Lanier totaling six with a season to play. Schuster most notably was added for 212 completions on 301 attempts for 2,766 yards and 28 touchdowns this season, and 321 completions and 4,199 career yards over two years and 22 games. Lanier was added in part for 73 receptions for 1,132 yards and 15 TDs this fall. Junior kicker Juliano Haddad also earned impressive mentions with 10 field goals and 50 extra points – and he’ll carry a streak of 35 straight extra points into next fall. Schuster has committed to Grand Valley State.

Fulton’s Evan Barton has been added to the single-game touchdowns list after catching four scoring passes Sept. 8, 2017, against Potterville. He was a senior that season.

Saginaw Heritage’s Braylon Isom completed his career this past fall as arguably the most accomplished receiver in MHSAA history. His name is listed in the record book eight times, with career records of 3,837 receiving yards and 52 touchdowns over 34 games and four seasons, and with a single-season record 26 touchdowns this past fall over 12 games. His 91 career receptions rank fifth, and he’s also listed for 82 catches and 1,617 yards (seventh-most) as a senior and 1,428 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. He will continue at Miami (Ohio).

Evart’s 24-8 run over the last three seasons has been its most successful of the MHSAA playoff era, and senior quarterback Preston Wallace has played an enormous part. He finished his 33-game career in the fall – he came up for one game as a freshman – on record book lists twice for single-season passing yards and touchdowns and on career lists for 662 attempts, 421 completions, 6,955 yards and 88 passing touchdowns over those 32 games and three seasons. The yardage ranks 15th all-time, and the touchdowns are tied for sixth-most for one career.  

The 2005 Midland Bullock Creek team was added for scoring 547 points over 12 games. The Lancers finished 11-1, their only loss in a Division 5 Regional Final.

PHOTO Ubly's Seth Maurer (30) carries the ball during the Division 8 championship win over Ottawa Lake Whiteford in November.