1st & Goal: Playoff Week 4 Preview

January 8, 2021

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

There are a lot of ways to describe what Michigan’s football contenders will restart Saturday, and how it will be talked about for years and perhaps generations to come.

But at the end of it all, it’s pretty simple: It’s great to be talking about the football playoffs again.

Consider this as much a catching-up as a preview of the 8-Player Semifinals and glances at many of the most intriguing 11-Player Regional Finals, all to be played Saturday. Be sure to also take advantage of the opportunity to quickly find your stride this weekend by tuning in, with every game to be streamed live thanks to a variety of sources – Click for the list of broadcasts.

Visit the MHSAA Football Playoff Home for the entire schedule for this weekend, scores as they come in and what’s next as we follow these long-awaited final few weeks of the season.


Division 1

Martin (8-1) vs. Adrian Lenawee Christian (9-0) at Adrian College

Two seasons ago the Clippers stormed through a perfect regular season in their first of 8-player, and this season Lenawee Christian followed the same plan. The Cougars are averaging 200 yards rushing per game on more than nine yards per carry, with Jameson Chesser averaging better than 10 yards per carry on the way to 1,055 total. Martin’s only loss was a forfeit, and also led by a 1,000 rusher in Gabe Meyers, who is averaging 11.7 per carry for a team rolling up 300 yards per game on the ground.

NOTE: Suttons Bay will advance with Indian River Inland Lakes forfeit.

Division 2

Marion (8-1) vs. Powers North Central (9-0) at Northern Michigan University’s Superior Dome

North Central is playing to reach the championship game for the first time since claiming back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016, and the Jets are paced by an excellent defense and multi-threat quarterback Luke Gorzinski – he leads the team in rushing (791 yards, 16 touchdowns) and has thrown for 1,105 yards and 17 scores. Marion’s only loss came in its season opener to Mesick on the way to the program’s first Semifinal since 1992. The Eagles also mix tough defense with dynamic quarterback play, with Mason Salisbury piling up 1,260 yards and 19 TDs rushing and 614 and 10 scores passing.

Kinde North Huron (8-1) vs. Portland St. Patrick (9-0) at Portland High School

Portland St. Patrick has been as close as anyone to winning a championship lately, with this its fourth-straight Semifinal and fifth of the last nine seasons. The Shamrocks defeated reigning Division 1 champion Colon 44-34 to advance to this round this time. This is North Huron’s second Semifinal appearance in four seasons after the Warriors fell to St. Patrick in a 2017 meeting to reach the championship game. North Huron’s only loss this fall was to a Mayville team that fell to Lenawee Christian in the Division 1 Regional Finals.


Division 1

Detroit Cass Tech (9-0) at Belleville (9-0)

Five of eight teams remaining in Division 1 are undefeated, and this is one of two matchups of unbeaten teams. The Tigers have won two straight Regional titles, while the Technicians are seeking their first since 2017 but have won eight over the last decade. Yet despite their shared elite success over the last five seasons especially, this will be their first matchup at least in modern history. Belleville will see how its offense, averaging 51 points per game, stacks up against a Cass Tech defense giving up slightly more than seven.

Other Regional Finals: Saline (8-1) at Rockford (7-0), Detroit Catholic Central (9-0) vs. Davison (9-0) at Lapeer, Romeo (5-4) at West Bloomfield (8-1).

Division 2

Muskegon Mona Shores (9-0) at East Lansing (8-0)

The reigning Division 2 champion Sailors must hit the road as they seek their third consecutive Regional championship. They went into the pause with two straight one-score wins and take on a Trojans team that has given up more than one score in a game only once. East Lansing’s wins all have come by double digits, but its offense must play a big role again as Shores will present the impressive defense its toughest challenge this season.

Other Regional Finals: North Farmington (7-2) vs. Traverse City Central (8-1) at Thirlby Field, Oak Park (4-5) at Livonia Churchill (6-2), Warren De La Salle Collegiate (5-4) at Warren Mott (7-1).

Division 3

River Rouge (7-1) at Detroit Martin Luther King (6-3)

These two matched up for one of the most memorable playoff games of 2018, as King won 7-6 in a Division 3 opener on the way to claiming the championship in that division a month later. King moved to Division 2 last season and fell to Mona Shores in the Final, while Rouge claimed the Division 3 title. As they meet again, the Panthers are hoping to find their November momentum; after losing the East Lansing in Week 5 they ran off four straight shutouts at the front end of a dominating run. King may be their toughest challenge again, having lost only to Shores and twice to Cass Tech.

Other Regional Finals: East Grand Rapids (6-3) at Muskegon (8-1), Flint Kearsley (6-3) at Chelsea (9-0). DeWitt will advance with Stevensville Lakeshore forfeit.

Division 4

Grand Rapids South Christian (8-1) at Edwardsburg (8-0)

The only loss between these two this season was South Christian’s one-point defeat versus Division 5 contender Grand Rapids Catholic Central. Otherwise, neither has faced a single-score game – the Eddies are giving up just a single score per game, on average. Before playing in Division 3 last season, Edwardsburg won Division 4 in 2018 and was runner-up in 2017. But the Sailors may be the team remaining in Division 4 best equipped to match the Eddies’ high-powered attack; the last time South Christian was this potent on offense, it won the 2014 Division 4 title.

Other Regional Finals: Ada Forest Hills Eastern (6-3) vs. Cadillac (6-2) at Traverse City's Thirlby Field, Milan (8-1) vs. Williamston (8-1) at Lansing Catholic, Detroit Country Day (6-2) vs. North Branch (9-0) at Lapeer High School.

Division 5

Marine City (8-1) at Frankenmuth (9-0)

The Eagles have been looking to break through with three Regional titles over the last four seasons, and the they outscored their first three playoffs opponents by a combined 139-26. That included a 28-0 District Final win over Almont, last season’s Division 5 runner-up. Marine City opened the postseason similarly, outscoring its first three opponents by a combined 121-28 – and that only loss was a forfeit taken Week 9.

Other Regional Finals: Muskegon Oakridge (7-2) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (8-0), Grosse Ile (6-3) at Lansing Catholic (7-2). Freeland will advance with Reed City forfeit.

Division 6

Montrose (8-1) at Montague (9-0)

After missing a trip to Ford Field by a one-point loss in last year’s Semifinal, Montague has steamrolled through the majority of this season – only Whitehall in Week 8 (34-31) has given the Wildcats a close game. Montrose’s consistency, meanwhile, deserves more attention – the Rams are picking back up their 11th-straight winning season and hoping for a second Regional title in three seasons. The lone loss this fall was to rival New Lothrop, still rolling in Division 7.

Other Regional Finals: Negaunee (6-3) at Grayling (6-3), Michigan Center (6-1) at Constantine (8-1), Clinton (8-1) vs. Warren Michigan Collegiate (9-0) at Madison Heights Bishop Foley.

Division 7

Cass City (9-0) vs. Ithaca (9-0) at Brighton’s Legacy Center

Ithaca has had to navigate one of the most uneven playoff runs of an uneven season all around, with two of its three wins so far coming by forfeit. But the other was a 41-0 victory over Ravenna, and the Yellowjackets have put up an average of 49 points per game, an improvement of 17 ppg from a year ago. Cass City’s run-up to this game was more eventful, as it eliminated previously-undefeated Sandusky and then Hemlock in successive District games. Doing the same this week to Ithaca would put the Red Hawks in the Semifinals for the second-straight season.

Other Regional Finals: New Lothrop (8-0) vs. Detroit Loyola (8-1) at Madison Heights Bishop Foley, Jackson Lumen Christi (5-4) vs. Schoolcraft (8-1) at Portage Central. Traverse City St. Francis will advance with Oscoda forfeit.

Division 8

Johannesburg-Lewiston (9-0) vs. Iron Mountain (8-1) at Northern Michigan University’s Superior Dome

Viewing from the statewide lens, this might be one of the most intriguing matchups of the weekend. The Cardinals went into the pause with a 28-21 win over 2019 Division 8 runner-up Beal City, their only game closer than 30 points. Because of forfeits, Iron Mountain has played only three games on the field – but two of those three were double-digit District Semifinal and Final wins. The Mountaineers are playing to make the Semifinals for the second-straight season as well.

Other Regional Finals: Carson City-Crystal (6-1) at Ubly (7-2), Sand Creek (8-1) vs. Centreville (8-0) at Portage Central, Petersburg Summerfield (4-5) vs. Clarkston Everest Collegiate (9-0) at Legacy Center.

PHOTOS: Championship contenders East Lansing, on defense, and River Rouge met Sept. 25, with the Trojans winning 21-6. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.) 

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.