1st & Goal: Playoff Week 4 in Review

January 10, 2021

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Every chance to compete is an opportunity to accomplish something never achieved before.

The return of MHSAA football Saturday loudly reminded us how much we’ve been missing those moments.

Among four 8-Player Semifinals winners, one earned the championship game trip for the first time and two more will get another chance at claiming a first title. Stories were unfolding as well all over the 11-Player Regional Finals as the sun seemed to shine extra brightly on teams playing the first January football games in Michigan high school history.

Below is a glance at all of those games, with highlights from those that especially jumped off the page. Keep up-to-date by visiting the MHSAA Football Playoff Home and watch many of this weekend’s games on demand on MHSAA.tv.


Division 1

SEMIFINAL Adrian Lenawee Christian 47, Martin 12 The Cougars (10-0) will play for a championship for the first time after yet another big win – Lenawee Christian’s average margin of victory this season is 50 points. Martin (8-2), which was making its first Semifinal appearance since 1987, is a combined 18-3 over two seasons of 8-player. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.

SEMIFINAL Suttons Bay 1, Indian River Inland Lakes 0 The reigning Division 1 runner-up Norseman advanced to the championship game due to an Inland Lakes forfeit.

Division 2

SEMIFINAL Powers North Central 50, Marion 2 The Jets (10-0) launched to a 36-0 first-quarter lead to get back to the championship round for the first time since 2016. North Central has given up only 24 points total over four playoff games. Marion finished its winningest season since 1992 at 8-2. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.

SEMIFINAL Portland St. Patrick 34, Kinde North Huron 12 The Shamrocks (10-0) will play in the championship round for the third time in four seasons and second straight. This was the third time in those four seasons these two met in the playoffs. North Huron finished 8-1, its best since 2017. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.


Division 1

HEADLINER Davison 20, Detroit Catholic Central 7 Davison quarterback Brendan Sullivan (now at Northwestern) is one of the most high-profile seniors who has moved on to college football, and it’s fair to say most expected that to be an additional boost for Detroit Catholic Central (9-1). But the reigning Division 1 champion Cardinals (10-0) instead enjoyed an incredible breakout performance by new quarterback Dion Brown Jr. plus a defensive effort that held the Shamrocks 22 points below their season average. Click for more from the Flint Journal.

Regional Roundup Belleville 43, Detroit Cass Tech 16 This was arguably the most high-profile Division 1 game heading into the weekend, and the Tigers (10-0) put up their most impressive victory of what’s now a fourth-straight double-digit win season, holding Cass Tech (9-1) to 25 points below its average. Rockford 40, Saline 17 The Rams (8-0) are headed to the Semifinals for the first time since 2012 after locking up a Saline offense that averaged 40 points per game during an 8-1 start. West Bloomfield 52, Romeo 14 The Lakers (9-1) clinched their first Regional title since 2017 with a third-straight scoring output of 50 points or more thanks in part to four Donovan Edwards touchdowns. Romeo (5-5) still has much to celebrate after entering the postseason 2-4.

Division 2

HEADLINER Muskegon Mona Shores 24, East Lansing 21 The reigning Division 2 champion Sailors (10-0) advanced by connecting on a 25-yard field goal as time expired. The Regional championship was Shores’ third straight. East Lansing (9-1) meanwhile came back to tie in the fourth quarter before falling short; the Trojans also had come up just three points short in its most recent previous Regional run in 2017.  Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Regional Roundup Oak Park 30, Livonia Churchill 23 The long break didn’t derail Oak Park’s dream postseason, as the Knights improved to 5-5 after entering the postseason 1-5 with only a forfeit win. Churchill (6-3) reached the Regional Finals for the second-straight season. Traverse City Central 50, North Farmington 22 The Trojans (9-1) are headed to the Semifinals for the first time since 1988, which came before the old Traverse City High split into Central and West. North Farmington (7-3) saw the end of its deepest tournament run since 1978. Warren De La Salle Collegiate 45, Warren Mott 3 The Pilots (6-4) entered the playoffs 2-4 and have outscored its four postseason opponents on average 44-6. Mott (8-2) can celebrate its winningest season since 2013, which came despite the abbreviated schedule.

Division 3

HEADLINER River Rouge 33, Detroit Martin Luther King 30 The reigning champion Panthers (13-1) won another classic matchup with King, which had won their 2018 playoff meeting by a point. Like Mona Shores in Division 2, River Rouge clinched its Regional title with a late field goal. King (6-4) had won five straight Regional titles. Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.

Regional Roundup Muskegon 24, East Grand Rapids 0 The Big Reds (9-1) claimed a fifth-consecutive Regional title with their first shutout of the season, stopping the Pioneers (6-4) who had entered averaging 31 points per game. This was the third straight season Muskegon defeated EGR in the playoffs, and second straight in this round. Chelsea 38, Flint Kearsley 22 The Bulldogs (10-0) secured a third-straight Regional title and third-straight double-digit win season, while ending the deepest postseason run for the Hornets (6-4) since 1998. DeWitt 1, Stevensville Lakeshore 0 The Panthers advanced to the Semifinals as Lakeshore withdrew from the tournament.

Division 4

HEADLINER Cadillac 27, Ada Forest Hills Eastern 23 Less than 24 hours after Cadillac had to move its home game to Traverse City, the Vikings (7-2) came back to win its first Regional title in six tries. Forest Hills Eastern (6-4), playing for its first Regional title since 2015, led by 14 points at halftime. The Hawks did complete their best season since that 2015 run, with two more wins than a season ago. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Regional Roundup Edwardsburg 47, Grand Rapids South Christian 7 The Eddies (9-0) marched to their fourth Regional title in five seasons, continuing a streak of scoring at least 43 points in every game this season. South Christian (8-2) closed its winningest campaign since 2014. Williamston 38, Milan 21 The Hornets (9-1) won their second Regional title in three seasons with their second-highest scoring output of this one to get past Milan (8-2) as it played in a Regional Final for the second-straight season. Detroit Country Day 38, North Branch 0 The reigning Division 4 runner-up Yellowjackets (7-2) slowed a North Branch offense that was averaging 43 points per game during its first run to the Regional Finals. The Broncos finished 9-1, their winningest season since 2006.

Division 5

HEADLINER Frankenmuth 31, Marine City 7 The Eagles scored 24 unanswered points during the second half to clinch a third Regional title in five seasons and first since 2017. Frankenmuth (10-0) was able to get its running game going to break away, while the defense held Marine City (8-2) to 33 points below its average. Click for more from the Saginaw News.

Regional Roundup Grand Rapids Catholic Central 58, Muskegon Oakridge 7 Last season’s Division 4 champion, the Cougars (9-0) are in Division 5 for the first time and won their fifth straight Regional title. The loss was the second for Oakridge (7-3) to a team still undefeated this season. Lansing Catholic 28, Grosse Ile 5 The reigning Division 5 champion Cougars (8-2) pulled within two wins of a repeat with their third single-digit defensive performance of the playoffs and with Grosse Ile (6-4) averaging 33 points per game entering the afternoon. Freeland 1, Reed City 0 The Falcons advanced with a forfeit win.

Division 6

HEADLINER Clinton 13, Warren Michigan Collegiate 12 Defense dominated this matchup, especially during a scoreless second half. In the end, Clinton (9-1) held on for its second-straight win by three or fewer points and first Regional title since 2015. Michigan Collegiate (9-1) completed its fifth straight season with two or fewer losses, keyed by a defense that gave up only 3.1 points per game. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.

Regional Roundup Grayling 56, Negaunee 26 After two straight three-win seasons, Grayling (7-3) is headed to the Semifinals for the first time after getting past the Miners (6-4). The Vikings found success against a Negaunee defense that had given up only 47 points total over its first three playoff games. Montague 41, Montrose 16 The Wildcats (10-0) reached 10 wins for the fourth-straight season with their third-straight Regional title, as the Rams (8-2) ended in this round for the second-straight season. Constantine 33, Michigan Center 14 The Falcons (9-1) ran their winning streak to nine and now have their winningest season since 2012 and first Regional title since that fall after downing Michigan Center (6-2), which also hadn’t lost since its season opener. The Cardinals can still celebrate bouncing back from their 4-5 finish in 2019.

Division 7

HEADLINER Cass City 50, Ithaca 24 Both entered undefeated, and Cass City (10-0) is moving on to the Semifinals for a second-straight season after getting more than a 100 yards rushing from a pair of backs and two touchdowns rushing and a third passing from quarterback Bryce Fernald. Despite the shortened schedule, Ithaca (9-1) finished with its winningest season in three, improving on eight victories in both 2018 and 2019. Click for more from the Bay City Times.

Regional Roundup Schoolcraft 29, Jackson Lumen Christi 22 In its third-straight trip to the Regional Finals, Schoolcraft (9-1) broke through for its first win in this round since 2001. In the process, the Eagles ended Lumen Christi’s season at 5-5, bringing to a close a streak of 31 consecutive with winning records. New Lothrop 41, Detroit Loyola 7 After missing the Semifinals by a one-point Regional loss last season, New Lothrop is headed back thanks to its sixth single-digit defensive effort of this run. Loyola (8-2) did finish its winningest season since 2016, two victories better than in 2019. Traverse City St. Francis 1, Oscoda 0 The Gladiators advanced after Oscoda withdrew from the tournament.

Division 8

HEADLINER Johannesburg-Lewiston 7, Iron Mountain 6 The Cardinals (10-0) journeyed to the Superior Dome and held on after scoring their lone points during the final minutes of the first half. Iron Mountain (8-2) had gone for two on its touchdown early in the second quarter, but was unable to convert a two-point try. The Regional title was Johannesburg-Lewiston’s first since 1998. Click for more from the Gaylord Herald Times.

Regional Roundup Ubly 36, Carson City-Crystal 6 The Bearcats missed making it to Ford Field a year ago by a one-point Semifinal defeat, and they’ve earned another chance with another impressive defensive effort – they’ve given up a combined 28 points over four playoff games. Carson City-Crystal (6-2) finished its deepest playoff run since 1999. Centreville 8, Sand Creek 0 The Bulldogs (9-0) put up their sixth shutout of the season, this one to earn their first Regional championship. Sand Creek (8-2) completed its deepest playoff run since 2007. Clarkston Everest Collegiate 35, Petersburg Summerfield 0 The Mountaineers (10-0) won their first Regional title, in the process reaching double-digit wins for the first time in the program’s eight-season history. Summerfield (4-6) entered the playoffs just 1-5 but reached the Regional Finals for the first time since 2011.

PHOTO: Muskegon, on offense, returned to the field Saturday with a Division 3 Regional Final win over East Grand Rapids. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)

1st & Goal: 2023 Week 6 Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 28, 2023

Five showdowns of undefeated teams highlight this week's Michigan high school statewide schedule as we begin our second-half buildup toward the end of the regular season. 

MI Student AidFour shoud heavily impact league championship races, and the fifth merely will tell us how two more of the top 8-player teams in the entire state stack up among the elite.

If you're not watching in person, check out most of the matchups highlighted below, and several others, on MHSAA.tv. Check in as well with the MHSAA Scores page for all of them as they come in. (Games below are Friday unless noted.)

Bay & Thumb

Croswell-Lexington (5-0) at Almont (5-0) - Watch

Just past halfway through the Blue Water Area Conference schedule, half the teams are 3-1 or 4-0 in league play – with these the co-leaders. Croswell-Lexington hasn’t played a game closer than 19 points this fall, but did lose last year’s meeting with Almont 37-26. The Raiders, meanwhile, have won the last two weeks by seven and one point, respectively – but opened the season with three straight shutouts as the stifling defense they’ve become known for has given up only 34 points total.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Lapeer (4-1) at Grand Blanc (3-2) - Watch, Linden (4-1) at Fenton (4-1) - Watch, Birch Run (4-1) at Freeland (5-0) - Watch, Madison Heights Lamphere (4-1) at Marine City (4-1).

Greater Detroit

Westland John Glenn (5-0) at Belleville (5-0) - Watch

Belleville’s 42-3 victory over Livonia Franklin last week was the team’s 30th straight, and the Tigers now own the state’s longest active winning streak with Powers North Central’s coming to an end at 41 on the same night. Belleville’s next challenger is John Glenn, which under second-year coach Jason Mensing has as many victories this fall as the last two combined and has nearly guaranteed its first winning season since 2014. Mensing guided his former team Ottawa Lake Whiteford through several memorable moments, and this will be the Rockets’ biggest so far under his leadership.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Gibraltar Carlson (4-1) at Trenton (4-1) - Watch, Romeo (3-2) at Macomb Dakota (4-1) - Watch, Lake Orion (5-0) at Rochester Adams (3-2) - Watch, Marine City Cardinal Mooney (3-2) at Clarkston Everest Collegiate (3-2) - Watch.


Goodrich (5-0) at Corunna (5-0) - Watch

The winner of this matchup clinches a share of the Flint Metro League Stars championship, similar to last season when Goodrich won the league and Corunna was second thanks to the Martians’ 42-7 win in their Week 5 matchup. Both arguably have been even better this fall. Goodrich has handed the only losses this season to Frankenmuth and Linden, and Corunna has given up only 31 points this season and no more than 17 in a game while scoring at least 38 every time out.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Evart (4-1) at Beal City (5-0) - Watch, Grand Ledge (5-0) at DeWitt (2-2) - Watch, Fowler (5-0) at Pewamo-Westphalia (4-1) - Watch, Montrose (4-1) at New Lothrop (4-1) - Watch.

Northern Lower Peninsula

Charlevoix (4-1) at Elk Rapids (2-3)

There’s more riding here than the initial glance my indicate. Charlevoix, with a win, would clinch a share of the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders title – its first since 2020 and after finishing second to Boyne City both of the past two seasons. The Rayders haven’t had a game closer than 13 points since falling to Traverse City St. Francis by one in their season opener. Elk Rapids got off to a tough start but has won two straight – both in shutouts – and is looking for its first win over Charlevoix since 2018.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Grayling (3-2) at Kingsley (4-1) - Watch, McBain (4-1) at Lake City (3-2), Ludington (3-2) at Manistee (4-1) - Watch, Cadillac (3-2) at Petoskey (3-2) - Watch.

Southeast & Border

Jackson (4-1) at Adrian (4-1) - Watch

Jackson has a chance to set up a Week 7 winner-take-all matchup with Chelsea for the Southeastern Conference White championship – a nice jump after finishing third last season. The Vikings haven’t defeated Chelsea since 2018 but lost by a respectable 17-0 last fall. But they can’t overlook Adrian, still enjoying its best season since 2016 despite falling to Chelsea 28-18 last week. The Maples would love to hand Jackson a loss tonight and cheer for the Vikings next week with a title share possible.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Michigan Center (4-1) at Grass Lake (4-1) - Watch, Flat Rock (4-1) at Milan (3-2) - Watch, Ann Arbor Huron (3-2) at Saline (5-0) - Watch, Hudson (5-0) at Blissfield (3-2) - Watch.

Southwest Corridor

Parma Western (5-0) at Battle Creek Harper Creek (4-1)

We’re halfway through the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference schedule, and this has emerged as an important matchup with Parma Western tied with Hastings for first and Harper Creek only a game back after falling to the Saxons 34-6 last week. The Beavers struggled to 3-6 a year ago but already have avenged 2022 losses to Battle Creek Lakeview, Battle Creek Central and Marshall – and Western defeated them 34-0 last season before Harper Creek went 2-1 to finish the fall. Western’s defense is a notable strength again, giving up only 37 points total this season despite taking on Dearborn Divine Child and Detroit Country Day over the first two weeks.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Paw Paw (5-0) at Edwardsburg (3-2) - Watch, Constantine (4-1) at Allegan (4-1) - Watch, St. Joseph (3-2) at Portage Northern (5-0) - Watch, Muskegon Catholic Central (3-2) at Schoolcraft (4-1) - Watch.

Upper Peninsula

Gladstone (4-1) at Menominee (5-0)

This is the first of three games that will tell a lot about Menominee’s season as the Maroons enter this stretch alone atop the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper at 4-0 but with Gladstone, Week 7 opponent Negaunee and Week 8 opponent Kingsford all 3-1 in league play. While this is a new conference for the Maroons this season, they have plenty of history with Gladstone as both came from the Great Northern Conference – and Menominee had won three straight in the series before Gladstone’s 28-6 victory last fall. Gladstone’s lone defeat this year came Week 3 to Kingsford, 35-12.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Maple City Glen Lake (3-2) at Sault Ste. Marie (3-2) - Watch, Manistique (3-2) at Iron Mountain (5-0) - Watch, Marquette (2-2) at Escanaba (1-4) - Watch, Houghton (2-3) at Calumet (1-4) - Watch.

West Michigan

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (4-1) at East Grand Rapids (5-0)

We’ve been watching East Grand Rapids’ rejuvenation this fall with this among games circled for special attention, and Forest Hills Central’s 15-14 loss to Byron Center last week hardly lessens the intrigue. The Rangers are still among favorites statewide in Division 3, ranked No. 2, and East Grand Rapids is right behind them this week at No. 3 (while Byron Center is No. 2 in Division 2). The Ottawa-Kent Conference White title won’t be decided with this matchup, but it surely will be impacted – and the Rangers have defeated EGR all three times they’ve met since the Pioneers rejoined the division in 2020.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Allendale (5-0) at Spring Lake (4-1), Lowell (4-1) at Byron Center (5-0), Caledonia (4-1) at Hudsonville (4-1) - Watch, Zeeland East (4-1) at Muskegon (3-2).


Mendon (5-0) at Adrian Lenawee Christian (5-0) - Watch

Movement on the overall 8-player enrollment list have made this a matchup we’ll see just this once this fall, as Mendon – last year’s Division 2 runner-up – has moved to Division 1 and is ranked No. 2, while Lenawee Christian is top-ranked in Division 2 after winning Division 1 titles in 2020 and 2021 and reaching a Regional Final last year. Still, many 8-player eyes will be watching. The Cougars have given up just 32 points this season and no more than 12 in a game, and that defense should be part of the key matchup within the matchup because Mendon is scoring 52 per contest and coming off an 80-point performance.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Carson City-Crystal (5-0) at Coleman (4-1) - Watch, Brown City (5-0) at Mayville (5-0) - Watch, St. Ignace (5-0) at Newberry (4-1), Norway (4-1) at Ontonagon (4-1) - Watch.

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PHOTO Muskegon Catholic Central and Orchard View players reach to get a hand on the ball during their meeting this season. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)