1st & Goal: Week 4 in Review
September 22, 2020
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
High school football returned to communities all over Michigan this past weekend. Everything from mask requirements to spectator limits made games look different.
But by the end of Saturday, much more felt closer to normal as nearly 600 teams took the field.
We’re still running a little behind, but catching up quickly with our “Week 4” review briefly detailing some of the results that could end up mattering most as we quickly roll through this abbreviated regular season.
We again split the state into regions and 8-player, with links to coverage and available video highlights included if tweeted by statewide media.
Bay & Thumb
HEADLINER Frankenmuth 41, Freeland 3 Both won nine games last season and would be part of the Tri-Valley Conference Central together again this fall, but that division was split into two smaller ones for the abbreviated schedule. The Eagles got off to a fast start rolling up 312 yards rushing and holding the Falcons to only 144 yards total. Click for more from the Saginaw News.
Watch list Harbor Beach 16 Ubly 14 Harbor Beach claimed last year’s Greater Thumb Conference East title by a win over Ubly, and finds itself quickly leading the way again thanks to a late go-ahead 2-point conversion.
Remember this one Beaverton 6, Sanford Meridian 0 The Beavers started their Jack Pine Conference repeat campaign by defeating another major challenger in Meridian – and Beaverton doesn’t play last year’s runner-up Clare this season as that game previously had been scheduled for Week 3.
More shoutouts Linden 35, Flushing 21 The Eagles are coming off two straight 4-5 finishes, both of which began with losses to Flushing. Davison 48, Flint Powers Catholic 0 These teams combined for 22 wins last season, but Davison won the matchup this weekend by this score for the second straight year.
HEADLINER Detroit Cass Tech 34, Detroit Martin Luther King 26 It’s tough to think of a better season start for the Technicians than avenging last year’s 47-7 loss to their biggest rival. But this might just be round one again this fall. These two very well could meet in the Detroit Public School League championship game in four weeks. Click for more from the Detroit News and see highlights below from State Champs Sports Network.
VIDEO: Check out the highlights of the Detroit King (@DetKingFootball) at Cass Tech (@Detroit_CTFB) football game from Saturday afternoon.
Brought to you by @LTUAthletics pic.twitter.com/ft01PSpn8l
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) September 20, 2020
Watch list Macomb Dakota 29, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 20 Dakota already had avenged last season’s 27-21 loss to eventual Macomb Area Conference Red champion Chippewa Valley, defeating the Big Reds 34-13 in a playoff opener. But this win makes the Cougars possible league favorites.
Remember this one Armada 24, Richmond 23 The Tigers are playing for their first winning season since 2012, and breaking a nine-game losing streak against Richmond is a great way to start.
More shoutouts West Bloomfield 39, Oak Park 0 These two Oakland Activities Association 2019 division champions are playing in the same OAA Red this fall. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 28, Walled Lake Western 7 The Eaglets opened with an impressive win over a Western team that fell a one-point loss to the eventual champion short from playing at Ford Field in 2019.
HEADLINER DeWitt 37, Portland 3 After Portland’s 29-27 win in this matchup was one of the most memorable games in the Lansing area for 2019, DeWitt made one of the loudest impressions statewide to start 2020. Both programs have averaged double-digit wins over the last five seasons. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
VIDEO: Check out the highlights of the DeWitt (@DeWitt_Panthers) vs. Portland football game from Friday night.
Brought to you by @MHSAA pic.twitter.com/NPy2H299lr
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) September 20, 2020
Watch list Williamston 22, Fowlerville 6 Both were among four teams from the Capital Area Activities Conference Red to make the playoffs last season, and Williamston likely jumps in among the league title contenders with this win.
Remember this one Grand Ledge 34, St. Johns 17 The Comets won just two games a year ago, but opened with a win over a 2019 playoff team.
More shoutouts Saranac 35, Fulton 6 Saranac is halfway to last year’s win total after avenging a 29-point loss to the Pirates. Ithaca 47, Saginaw Nouvel 27 This was a major win for the Yellowjackets as both 2019 playoff teams are now part of the same division of the TVC West.
Northern Lower Peninsula
HEADLINER Traverse City Central 53, Traverse City West 13 This was the largest margin of victory in this rivalry game ever, after West split off from the former Traverse City High School in 1997. The Trojans have won two straight in the series. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Watch list McBain 30, Lake City 0 The Ramblers had lost five straight to Lake City, but look immediately like a contender in the Highland Conference.
Remember this one Charlevoix 58, Frankfort 14 The Red Rayders enjoyed one of the state’s most impressive turnarounds last season, and the momentum seems to be continuing as they scored their most points in a game since 2014.
More shoutouts East Jordan 14, Elk Rapids 6 The Red Devils had lost 12 straight to the Elks and hadn’t won a season opener since 2016. Harbor Springs 49, St. Ignace 0 These two were both playoff teams last season, when Harbor Springs won their matchup only 16-0.
HEADLINER Sturgis 25, Three Rivers 21 The Trojans have won just one game each of the last two seasons, but former star quarterback Chance Stewart has them off to a great start in 2020. This win in his head coaching debut was the program’s first over Three Rivers since 2015, the last time Sturgis finished a season with a winning record. Click for more including video from JoeInsider.com.
Watch list Schoolcraft 49, Constantine 14 The Eagles ran their winning streak to eight over rival Constantine, but both still have league title hopes in separate divisions after sharing a championship a year ago while playing in the same Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore.
Remember this one Battle Creek Pennfield 26, Battle Creek Harper Creek 20 Two good signs: The Panthers matched last season’s win total in the season debut and with their second win in seven tries against Harper Creek since the two joined the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference together.
More shoutouts Portage Northern 15, Stevensville Lakeshore 12 This has turned into one of the state’s closest annual matchups with now nine of their last 10 matchups decided by eight points or fewer; Northern has won three straight over the Lancers. Mendon 26, White Pigeon 24 The Hornets avenged last season’s two-point loss, especially key in a Southwest 10 Conference that’s down to just five 11-player teams.
Southeast & Border
HEADLINER Adrian Madison 42, Ottawa Lake Whiteford 24 The Trojans, seeking their first winning season since 2009, couldn’t have started better than with their first victory over Whiteford since 1980. The Bobcats had won last year’s matchup 42-14. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.
Watch list Jackson Lumen Christi 28, Marshall 27 This was arguably the most exciting nail-biter of this week’s openers, with the Titans coming back to score the game-winning points during the final minutes.
Remember this one Hillsdale 28, Hudson 21 For the third time in five seasons, this one was decided by eight points or fewer, as the reigning Lenawee County Athletic Association champion ran its league winning streak to nine.
More shoutouts Chelsea 35, Dexter 12 The Bulldogs retained their streak in this rivalry after a much closer win a year ago. Erie Mason 54, Petersburg Summerfield 21 A capable scorer in 2019 that struggled defensively, Erie Mason opened its tenure in the Tri-County Conference giving up its fewest points in a game since Week 2 of 2016.
HEADLINER Sault Ste. Marie 14, Traverse City St. Francis 7 Many eyes likely were caught by this Blue Devils win, with St. Francis coming off a trip to last year’s Regional Finals and averaging nearly 11 wins per season over the last five. But Sault Ste. Marie quietly has been building toward an attention grabber like this one, going 7-4 a year ago and winning a Division 4 playoff game. Click for more from The Sault Evening News.
Watch list Marquette 41, Menominee 18 This first meeting of two this fall didn’t count toward the Great Northern Conference standings but did send a pretty strong message as Marquette looks to win a third-straight title.
Remember this one Kingsford 17, Calumet 16 The Flivvers moved ahead to stay with 4:35 to play, handing Calumet only its second regular-season loss since 2017.
More shoutouts Houghton 3, Bark River-Harris 0 The Gremlins won their season opener for the first time since 2016 and after earning only two victories all of last season. Negaunee 39, Manistique 8 After just edging the Emeralds by two in 2019, Negaunee was able to stretch the margin this weekend.
HEADLINER Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 21, Grand Rapids Christian 13 Forest Hills Central, which finished second last season in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White, welcomed reigning O-K Gold champion Grand Rapids Christian back into the league after four seasons away. The Rangers should again be White contenders, especially with reigning champion Cedar Springs among teams that moved to a new-look Gold this fall.
Check out the highlights of the Forest Hills Central (@fhcrangerball) vs. Grand Rapids Christian football game from Friday night. Video Courtesy: WXMI
Brought to you by @MHSAA pic.twitter.com/wbeW5OMPMe
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) September 19, 2020
Watch list Kent City 14, Morley Stanwood 0 The Eagles avenged the loss that decided the Central State Activities Association Silver title in favor of Morley Stanwood a year ago.
Remember this one Rockford 16, Jenison 13 (OT) The Rams are reigning champs in the O-K Red but got an immediate challenge from new league member Jenison, which formerly played in the O-K Black.
More shoutouts Hopkins 43, Muskegon Orchard View 0 The Vikings enjoyed an impressive start against an Orchard View program that was undefeated last regular season. Hudsonville 21, East Kentwood 13 East Kentwood had dismantled what was left of Hudsonville’s league title hopes last season – and the Eagles also broke a three-game losing streak to the Falcons with this avenging.
HEADLINER Vestaburg 28, Onekama 6 After going 0-9 in its final season of 11-player two years ago, Vestaburg improved substantially to 5-3 with the move to 8-player in 2019. But this weekend’s opening win certainly has been its most impressive post-switch, as the Portagers are just two years removed from finishing 8-Player Division 2 runner-up and went 7-4 last fall. Click for more from the Greenville Daily News.
Watch list Posen 52, Mio 22 The Thunderbolts’ undefeated league title run last season included a 20-point win over Posen, but the Vikings opened this fall by earning an upper hand in the North Star League’s first-year 8-player standings.
Remember this one Deckerville 58, New Haven Merritt Academy 17 These two reigning North Central Thumb League division champs are in the same division this fall, and Deckerville made an early statement.
More shoutouts North Adams-Jerome 14, Battle Creek St. Philip 12 The Rams beat the Tigers for the first time in four recent tries and after falling 41-0 last season. Genesee 54, Kingston 28 The Wolves more than flipped last year’s score after losing 52-30 to Kingston in 2019.
PHOTO: Marquette’s Justin Jurmu tries to pull in a pass from quarterback Austin Ridl, with Menominee’s Brady Waara trailing. (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.)