1st & Goal: Playoff Week 1 in Review
November 2, 2020
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
This already-unusual 2020 football season introduced the first nearly all-in football playoffs this weekend with plenty of new in terms of format – but also a lot of the unpredictability we expect from this time of year.
For the first time, with fields doubled, 11-player teams were placed in eight-team Districts and 8-player teams in eight-team Regionals. And going by seeds, 35 games were upsets, including two by No. 8 seeds over No. 1s, four by seven seeds over No. 2s and 13 by six seeds over No. 3s.
There also were 66 rematches of regular-season games – with 13 different winners the second time around.
Below is a glance at results that intrigued the most from this first playoff week. Historical context is based in part on data at Michigan-football.com.
HEADLINER Rochester Adams 39, Rochester 7 Their Week 1 game didn’t happen, of course, and Rochester (6-1) went on to its first perfect regular season since 1993. But Adams (3-4) ran its winning streak over its rival to 23 with its best scoring output of the season. Click for more from the Oakland Press.
District Digest Novi 41, Brighton 27 Their opening night meeting was canceled, with the Bulldogs (4-3) getting the forfeit win. Before that, Brighton had won seven of their last eight matchups with the Wildcats (3-4) – with Novi’s win during that string coming in the 2016 playoffs. Grand Blanc 28, Lake Orion 14 The Bobcats (6-1) claimed their first playoff win since 2012, guaranteeing their best record since 2017 and in three fewer games than both of the last two seasons. Dearborn 20, Monroe 15 The Pioneers (3-4) joined Novi among No. 6 seeds that upset No. 3s, giving up their fewest points since the season opener. Monroe did finish 4-3, a win better than 2019. Romeo 20, New Baltimore Anchor Bay 6 Romeo was another No. 6 seed to prevail, but Anchor Bay (4-3) still had plenty to celebrate this fall with a three-win improvement and league title.
HEADLINER Oak Park 35, Grosse Pointe South 27 The Knights (1-6) couldn’t have picked a better moment to have their best of the season, winning their first game and scoring nearly half of their points for this fall in front of a FOX Sports Detroit audience. Oak Park was the eighth seed in the District and had put up only 45 points heading into the game. Grosse Pointe South (4-3) finished its season with two of its losses by eight points or fewer. Click for more from the Detroit Free Press and see highlights below from FSD.
Tonight's Game of the Week was STELLAR. Oak Park & Grosse Pointe South traded blows with the Knights defeating the Blue Devils 35-27. We hear from Knights QB James Burnley, WR Kyshaun Jackson, & Head Coach Greg Carter PLUS more reaction from Shep & Devin! #FWIM2020 pic.twitter.com/lu0XZJhoDo
— FOX Sports Detroit (@FOXSportsDet) October 31, 2020
District Digest Lowell 35, Byron Center 28 The Red Arrows (4-3) avenged a 14-point Week 7 loss to the Bulldogs (5-2), who went on to share the Ottawa-Kent Conference White title. Lowell also broke its three-game losing streak to close the regular season. Swartz Creek 28, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 6 The Dragons (5-2) added to a big turnaround season with their first playoff win. Dexter 56, Ypsilanti Lincoln 28 The Dreadnaughts (5-2) also earned their first playoff victory after near-misses the last two seasons. Ypsilanti Community 21, Dearborn Heights Crestwood 7 The Grizzlies (4-3) earned their first playoff victory as well and guaranteed at least their second-best season in eight as a program.
HEADLINER Battle Creek Harper Creek 30, Parma Western 13 Their annual regular-season meeting was scheduled for Week 3, but Harper Creek (5-2) had to wait until the playoffs to break a recent two-game losing streak to the Panthers (4-3). The Beavers are now two wins better than both of the last two seasons. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.
District Digest Lansing Waverly 39, St. Johns 7 With their first playoff win, the Warriors (4-3) also guaranteed their best finish since at least 2012. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 38, Pinckney 14 It’s not rare for a Catholic League Central team to have a so-so record after a highly-competitive regular season and come out strong in the playoffs, and St. Mary’s (2-3) is the latest example with this win over the Pirates (4-3). River Rouge 21, Gibraltar Carlson 0 The reigning Division 3 champion Panthers (5-1) picked up their fifth shutout of the season, halting a Marauders offense that had averaged nearly 34 points per game as the team went 4-2 during the regular season. Allen Park 18, Trenton 7 The Jaguars (5-2) made it three straight seasons with playoff wins over the league rival Trojans (3-4).
HEADLINER Ada Forest Hills Eastern 42, Allendale 0 The Hawks (4-3) missed the playoffs the last four seasons and hadn’t finished with a winning record since 2015. But they’ll finish at least .500 this fall thanks to their second shutout over the last four weeks, against an Allendale team that did open this season 3-0 before a tough final month. See highlights below from FOX 17.
Five-seed Forest Hills Eastern shuts out four-seed Allendale to advance in the Division 4 playoffs. https://t.co/ysUjsQZsMG
— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) October 31, 2020
District Digest Coopersville 26, Sparta 14 The Broncos (3-4) earned their first playoff win since 2007 as another No. 6 seed winner. Vicksburg 17, Plainwell 12 These teams didn’t get to play their Wolverine Conference game this fall, but Vicksburg (5-2) handed Plainwell (3-3) its only loss this season on the field. Madison Heights Lamphere 43, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood 0 The Rams (7-0) earned their first playoff win since 2009, continuing their best run since at least that fall. Croswell-Lexington 40, Imlay City 26 The Pioneers (6-1) tied their winningest season since 2012 with their second victory this fall over Imlay City (4-3).
HEADLINER Belding 32, Hopkins 18 The Black Knights’ surge continued as they’ve gone on to outscore three opponents by a combined 140-21 since losing to Hopkins by six in Week 7. That first-meeting win earned the Vikings (5-2) the O-K Silver championship, but this rematch allowed Belding (6-1) to move on in one of the strongest Districts in the state, regardless of division. Click for more from the Greenville Daily News.
VIDEO: Check out the highlights of the Hopkins at Belding football game from this afternoon. Courtesy: WXMI-TV#StateChamps X @MHSAA pic.twitter.com/6h92cUrPrT
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) November 1, 2020
District Digest Kingsford 13, Ogemaw Heights 6 The Flivvers (4-2) improved to 4-1 on the field, reducing their points-allowed average this fall to 12.4 per game. Howard City Tri County 33, Central Montcalm 7 All four Vikings losses this season have come by seven points or fewer, and this avenged a 7-0 defeat to the Hornets (4-3) in Week 7. Olivet 20, Hillsdale 17 The Eagles (6-1) emerged with a solid win in another strong top-to-bottom District, as the No. 6-seeded Hornets finished 4-3. Richmond 38, Macomb Lutheran North 7 Add the Blue Devils (3-4) as well to the No. 6 seeds that won over the weekend as they upset Lutheran North (4-3).
HEADLINER Clare 41, Kent City 6 The Pioneers moved to 7-0 by winning this matchup of league champions and added to a defensive effort that’s allowed just 8.6 points per game. Kent City (5-2) had averaged nearly 31 points per game entering the weekend. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun and see below for highlights from MI Sports Now.
Clare opened its stay in the Division 6 postseason with a 41-6 win over Kent City on Friday.https://t.co/paJ0NqYtYk pic.twitter.com/utMYr00j3Z
— MISportsNow (@MISportsNow) October 31, 2020
District Digest Negaunee 28, Gladstone 14 The Miners’ two losses on the field this season were by a combined four points, and with this win they avenged the first. Harrison 22, Sanford Meridian 14 Harrison (5-2) also avenged a loss after falling to Meridian (4-3) by 20 points in Week 6. Parchment 42, Coloma 40 The Panthers (3-4) started 0-4, with that fourth defeat by 11 to Coloma (4-3) in Week 7. Adrian Madison 34, Quincy 30 The Trojans (6-1) tied their most wins in a season since 2009 with their first ever in the playoffs.
HEADLINER Evart 23, Houghton Lake 18 The Wildcats’ first playoff win since 2012 guaranteed its winningest season since 2016 and earned Evart (5-2) a rematch with Highland Conference champion McBain. Evart has won five straight since losing the first McBain game in Week 5. Houghton Lake finished 4-3, with two of those losses to the Wildcats. Click for more from the Cadillac News.
District Digest Madison Heights Bishop Foley 27, Madison Heights Madison 24 After beating Madison 34-2 in Week 9, Bishop Foley (6-1) had to rally to move on in the rematch a week later. Detroit Central 26, Detroit Community 22 The Trail Blazers (5-2) bounced back from two straight losses, while Community ended a season that saw three of its last four losses come by eight points or fewer. Bad Axe 19, Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker 12 Laker (4-3) made this rematch closer than Bad Axe’s 21-point win two weeks ago, but the Hatchets (5-2) were able to get to five wins for the first time since 2014. Cass City 36, Reese 26 The Rockets had come a long way since Cass City’s 42-3 win in Week 5, but the Red Hawks (7-0) held on despite giving up a point shy of half their season total.
HEADLINER Gwinn 24, East Jordan 20 The Modeltowners earned their first playoff victory since 1999, improving to 4-3 after winning just a game a year ago – another wonderful tribute to late coach Dion Brown, who died unexpectedly in January. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
District Digest Unionville-Sebewaing 57, Marlette 14 The Patriots (5-2) are 12 points over two games from being undefeated and went over 50 points for the second time this fall. Detroit Leadership 8, Melvindale Academy of Business & Tech 6 The Cougars (4-3) earned the first playoff win in their five years as a program. Bark River-Harris 54, St. Ignace 20 The Broncos (4-2) opened this fall with two losses but haven’t lost since, in this win putting up one-third of their points for the entire season. Saranac 14, Potterville 0 After not winning since opening night, Saranac picked up its first playoff victory since 2011.
HEADLINER Indian River Inland Lakes 34, Munising 22 After two straight winless seasons in 11-player, and three over its final four, Inland Lakes improved to 6-1 this fall by ending Munising’s first 8-player season at 4-3. This also was Inland Lakes’ first win in the playoffs since 1995. Click for more from the Cheboygan News.
Regional Roundup Merrill 66, Deckerville 22 The Vandals (6-1) opened their first 8-player playoffs with their highest-scoring game of the season, ending Deckerville’s season at 4-3. Gaylord St. Mary 86, Central Lake 54 By combining for 140 points, these teams earned a record book entry for fourth-highest scoring game in MHSAA 8-player history. Mesick 34, Vestaburg 0 The Bulldogs (5-2) won their first playoff game ever with their first shutout since last season. Mayville 48, Genesee 20 The Wildcats’ best season since at least the 1980s will continue as they earned a matchup with also-undefeated Adrian Lenawee Christian this week.
HEADLINER Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 59, Burr Oak 18 The Bobcats (5-2) have to celebrate a season during which they tied their most wins since 1974. But the Defenders’ offense remains potent scoring nearly 43 points per game despite the team being only 3-4. And note, all four of those defeats came to teams in Division 1 or too large for the 8-player playoffs. Click for more from JoeInsider.com.
Regional Roundup Lake Linden-Hubbell 48, Crystal Falls Forest Park 8 The Lakes (4-3) have gotten on the field for only five games, but they’ve made them count including with this big win over old rival Forest Park (4-2). Peck 30, Ashley 0 After losing 30-22 to the Bears (3-4) in Week 9, Peck (4-3) came back big a week later in the rematch. Colon 52, Climax-Scotts 14 The Magi (6-1) may have suffered a loss this season after a perfect 2019, but that hasn’t meant they’re done – especially considering that defeat came to Division 1 Lenawee Christian. Waldron 30, Tekonsha 6 The Spartans (5-2) nearly reversed a 28-point loss to Tekonsha (4-3) only three weeks ago.
PHOTO: Marquette's Kameron Karp (23) is able to get by Muskegon Reeths-Puffer's Caden Brainard (8) but is taken down by Landon Mechem (32) at the 4-yard line during their Saturday matchup. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)
Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
May 26, 2023
Mendon’s run to the Division 2 Final last fall included some of the strongest rushing performances over the history of 8-player football.
The Hornets ran for 4,317 yards, second-most all-time, on the second-most attempts (520) and with a record-setting 682 yards Oct. 14 against Marcellus. Mendon also set the record for total offense with 692 total in that game, and made the single-season touchdowns list with 76 including 66 rushing (also second on that list).
Junior Jack McCaw made the single-season scoring list with 212 points, most coming on 29 touchdowns, and Evan Lukeman made the single-game rushing list with 401 yards against Marcellus. Mendon’s defense also earned praise, twice making the fewest-first-downs-allowed list with a low of three.
See below for more recent additions to the 8-player portion of the football record book:
Athens’ Landon Bennett earned a pair of record book entries after reaching the end zone seven times during his team’s 72-0 win over Burr Oak on Sept. 8. His seven scores are tied for third-most in 8-player history and included three rushing, three on punt returns and one on an interception return. The three punt return touchdowns are a record. Bennett is a junior.
On the night Powers North Central broke its 8-player record for consecutive wins, claiming its 28th straight, senior Luke Gorzinski tied Jets great Jason Whitens for the record for interception touchdowns in a game with two, scoring on returns during the second and fourth quarters. Gorzinski has signed with Michigan Tech, and North Central’s winning streak is 37 games and counting.
A pair of Atlanta offensive playmakers and a top defensive lineman earned a total of seven entries in the record book for achievements last fall. Senior quarterback Tyler Currie threw for 30 touchdowns over eight games, and also made the records for six touchdowns and 419 passing yards against Whittemore-Prescott on Sept. 23; the passing yards are second-most for one 8-player game. Sophomore Landon Galea was added for 263 yards and five of those touchdowns against the Cardinals, and also for 1,418 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns over nine games. Junior teammate Tucker Kendrick made the tackles for loss list with five against Hillman on Oct. 6.
Adrian Lenawee Christian senior Brady McKelvey became the first to make the career extra points list in 8-player football this past fall. He bettered his previous single-season record making 64 of 66 extra-point attempts over 11 games and finishing his two-year varsity career with 123 extra points in 127 tries.
Sam McKissack reached the record book showcasing multiple skills for Crystal Falls Forest Park during the 2021 season – twice for rushing attempts in a game including with a record 59 against Ontonagon that Sept. 10, and then with a record 70-yard punt Oct. 30, 2021, against Lake Linden-Hubbell. Teammate Devon Basirico also made the record book with six fumble recoveries over 11 games that season. As a team, Forest Park was added twice for single-game rushing attempts – including 73 total in that Ontonagon game – and for 424 rushes over 11 games for the season. McKissack and Basirico are seniors this spring.
Nikolaus Lewis tied for eighth-most rushing touchdowns in an 8-player game when he reached the end zone six times for Carsonville-Port Sanilac in its win over Caseville on Oct. 7. He’s a senior this spring.
Bridgman has won 24 straight games over the last three seasons, and an exceptional offense – and exceptional offensive star – have played major roles. The Bees were added for 658 total yards in a win over Lawrence last season, that total ranking third all-time, and also 613 yards in a win over Eau Claire. Those included totals of 575 and 547 rushing yards, respectively, and Bridgman was added for 3,598 rushing yards (sixth on the list), 59 rushing touchdowns (fourth) and 76 total touchdowns (seventh). Senior Reid Haskins capped his four-year, 32-game varsity career with 13 record book entries, including for 254 points last season over nine games (tied for fifth all-time) and a record 620 career points, 41 touchdowns last season (fifth) and a record 95 for his career, 2,344 rushing yards last season (third) and a record 5,206 for his career, and 41 rushing touchdowns last season (third) and a record 94 for his career. Senior teammate Tanner Peters made the records three times including for 50 extra points last season (fourth) and 99 over 26 games and three seasons (second on the career list).
Mio's Austin Fox rewrote the 8-player passing record book this past fall, with his 621 yards in a game against Whittemore-Prescott setting a single-game record as he totaled four of the five-highest passing yardage totals. He also set a record with 3,516 over nine games for the season, another record with 289 passing attempts over those nine games and a third record for nine touchdown passes in that game against the Cardinals. His 41 touchdown passes total rank fourth. Teammates Gage Long and Nathan Hurst also earned several record book entries on the receiving end of those passes. Long’s 297 receiving yards against Whittemore-Prescott were tied for third most, and Hurst’s 266 against Alcona rank eighth. Long set a single-season record with 1,739 receiving yards, with Hurst sixth all-time at 1,321, and Long’s 14 receptions against the Cardinals and 70 for the season also rank second on those respective lists. Hurst set a record for longest 8-player kickoff return with a 99-yarder against St. Helen Charlton Heston. All three are seniors.
Peck was one of the first MHSAA 8-player champions, claiming the title in 2013, and Cody Abrego one of the state’s first 8-player stars. The Pirates were added to the MHSAA record book 52 times, and Abrego 14 times individually. Among the most notable entries for the 2015 graduate were for 462 points scored over his two-season career (ranking sixth all-time), 74 career touchdowns (sixth), 2,202 rushing yards in 2013 (fifth) and 35 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (sixth). Current senior Caleb Lentner was one of the stars statewide this past season, and he was added eight times including for 50 points scored in a game (ranking second), 272 points for a season last fall (fifth), eight touchdowns in a game (tied for second), 42 touchdowns in a season (fifth), an 8-player record of 2,694 rushing yards from last season, and 38 rushing touchdowns also last fall (fourth). Others to make the individual lists were Nathan Robar, Caleb Dudley, Steven VanConant, Kyle Abrego and Nathan Neihaus, Dudley for a record 20 career interceptions over two seasons and VanConant for a record 12 tackles for loss in a 2022 game and 36 tackles for loss for the season last fall. The Pirates also are all over the 8-player team record book, including for a record 97 touchdowns in 2013, a record 5,895 yards of total offense that season, 528 carries, 4,346 rushing yards and 73 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (all ranking second); and 24 interceptions in 2014, which ranks second on that list.
Senior quarterback JR Hildebrand was one of the most dynamic players in 8-player football in the fall in leading Martin to the Division 1 title. He had one of his most exciting nights in a playoff opener against Tekonsha, making the single-game touchdown pass list with six in a 68-6 victory.
PHOTO Mendon’s Jack McCaw (21) eludes a tackle during the 8-Player Division 2 Final in November at Northern Michigan University. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)