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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
MHSAA, MHSFCA to Provide Spring Evaluation Camps for College Football Hopefuls
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 27, 2023
The Michigan High School Athletic Association, in partnership with the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA), will be hosting first-ever Spring Evaluation Camps to provide athletes with aspirations of playing college football opportunities to show their skills and abilities to college coaches at one of five locations.
The one-day camps will take place between May 15-18 at Jenison High School, DeWitt High School, Jackson High School, Brighton High School and Detroit Country Day High School. The MHSAA’s involvement will allow for the opportunity for Division I college coaches to attend, and representatives from college football programs at all levels are expected.
Athletes who will be juniors or seniors in Fall 2023 may register to participate via a link on the Football page.
“This is an attempt by the MHSAA to help our athletes get exposure during the spring evaluation period in a way that does not intrude on spring sports,” said Brad Bush, an MHSAA assistant director and past high school and college football coach. “We are working with the MHSFCA to help put together a first-class experience for the athletes and college coaches.”
Cost is $20 per player, and each registrant will receive a shirt to wear based on the athlete’s graduation year and registration number so college coaches in attendance can monitor their camp performance. College coaches also will receive registration information for each athlete in attendance.
All athletes must have a coach from the athlete’s school staff present at the camp, and that coach must be a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.
MHSFCA executive director Andrew Pratley called the Spring Evaluation Camps a tremendous opportunity for high school athletes in Michigan.
“We are very excited with the partnership with the MHSAA that allows our kids the opportunity to wear a helmet and do drills in front of college coaches in the spring at a minimal cost,” Pratley said. “College coaches are thrilled, and it's a unique opportunity to have the rules waived by the MHSAA at these events only in order to showcase the tremendous talent all over the great state of Michigan.”
The Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) has been devoted to the promotion of high school football since its inception in March 1972. The MHSFCA has more than 2,500 members and provides several educational and development opportunities for members and their athletes, including an annual coaching clinic, an annual leadership conference for coaches and potential team captains, and the annual summer East-West All-Star Game for graduated seniors. Additionally, the MHSFCA’s Leadership Development Alliance is in its third year of training coaches and offering veteran members of the association as mentors.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.