1st & Goal: Week 6 in Review

October 6, 2020

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

There’s no pretending this football season hasn’t been a little different, for obvious reasons.

But every week seems to reintroduce something familiar – and looking at the statewide scoreboard after Week 6, it was the “first time since the last time” list.

If that’s a theme, Jonesville, Ann Arbor Huron, Centreville and Brimley are among the stars with accomplishments this week they hadn’t enjoyed in a while. Details are below as we take a glance again at the scores that jumped off the page most from the weekend’s action.

Bay & Thumb

HEADLINER Grand Blanc 34, Lapeer 16 The Bobcats (2-1) had lost both regular-season and playoff games to Lapeer the last two seasons, last year by 34 and 28 points, respectively. But they handed the Lightning (2-1) only its second defeat during the regular season over the last three seasons. Click below for more from WJRT.

Watch list North Branch 27, Croswell-Lexington 20 The Broncos (3-0) handed the Pioneers (2-1) their first loss, a week after avenging last year’s loss to Almont. Up next is Richmond, the only other team that defeated North Branch during the 2019 regular season.

Remember this one Hemlock 48, Midland Bullock Creek 32 The Huskies (3-0) still see Millington, and Millington still faces Bullock Creek (1-2), and it’s likely some combination of those results determines the Tri-Valley Conference West I champion.

More shoutouts Sanford Meridian 28, Harrison 8 The Mustangs (3-0) kept themselves in the hunt for the Jack Pine Conference championship, with Meridian, Harrison (2-1) and Beaverton all trailing league leader Clare by a win. Goodrich 42, Lake Fenton 27 The Martians (2-1) did the same in the Flint Metro League Stars, holding on just a game back of league leader Ortonville Brandon after delivering Lake Fenton (2-1) its first defeat.

Greater Detroit

HEADLINER Clarkston 24, West Bloomfield 21 (OT) The Wolves showed they’re absolutely back after coming all the way back from a 21-7 deficit to edge the rival Lakers (2-1) in overtime. Clarkston (3-0) sits alone atop the Oakland Activities Association Red standings with as many wins as it earned all of last season. Click for more from the Oakland Press and see highlights below from State Champs Sports Network.

Watch list Canton 21, Brighton 20 Canton is off to its first 3-0 start since 2015 and leads the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West after edging the reigning Division 1 runner-up Bulldogs (1-2).

Remember this one Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 42, Sterling Heights Stevenson 27 In the loaded six-team Macomb Area Conference Red, reigning champion Chippewa Valley (2-1) stopped previously-surging Stevenson (2-1) to create a four-way tie atop the standings.

More shoutouts Detroit Catholic Central 14, Warren De La Salle Collegiate 10 The Shamrocks (3-0) clinched a share of the Detroit Catholic League Central title, avenging last season’s 14-3 loss to the Pilots (1-2). Auburn Hills Oakland Christian 21, Whitmore Lake 7 The Lancers (3-0) sit atop the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference after finishing second to Whitmore Lake (1-2) a year ago.


HEADLINER Portland 21, Lansing Catholic 7 The Raiders (2-1) saw an overall six-game winning streak against Lansing Catholic end in last season’s District Final as the Cougars went on to win Division 5. But Portland ran its regular-season winning streak against Lansing Catholic (2-1) to six in a matchup that put the Raiders in solid position to win the Capital Area Activities Conference White title. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal and see highlights below from WLNS.

Watch list New Lothrop 44, Montrose 15 The Hornets (3-0) appear the team to beat again in the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference after improving on last year’s win over reigning league runner-up Montrose (2-1) – although Durand also is unbeaten and will have a say.

Remember this one Fowlerville 17, Holt 14 Morgyn Muck’s 44-yard last-minute go-ahead field goals surely won’t be forgotten soon by the Gladiators (2-1).

More shoutouts East Lansing 17, Lansing Waverly 0 The Trojans have produced outstanding receivers before him, but Andrel Anthony Jr. is resetting all the school’s receiving records, including for career yardage in this win. Lake Odessa Lakewood 43, Stockbridge 26 The Vikings (2-1) set themselves up to face Olivet this week with a share of the Greater Lansing Activities Conference title on the line.  

Northern Lower Peninsula

HEADLINER Kingsley 36, Traverse City St. Francis 23 The Stags (3-0) took a major step toward repeating as Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends champions, as St. Francis (1-2) annually finishes among the top two in the division. Owen Graves piled up 287 yards rushing and scored four times for Kingsley. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Watch list Manistee 42, Harbor Springs 20 Manistee (3-0) tuned up well for this week’s Lakes 8 Athletic Conference decider against Muskegon Catholic Central, handing Harbor Springs (2-1) its first defeat.

Remember this one Traverse City Central 41, Cadillac 17 The first-place Trojans (3-0) now own wins over the two teams tied for second in the Big North Conference, Cadillac (2-1) and Traverse City West.

More shoutouts Evart 29, Houghton Lake 22 The Wildcats (1-2) celebrated their first win, knocking Houghton Lake (2-1) out of a tie for first in the Highland Conference. East Jordan 30, St. Ignace 6 The Red Devils (2-1) had lost all four previous meetings to the Saints since they joined the NMFC Legacy together. 

Southeast & Border 

HEADLINER Jonesville 44, Reading 18 There are plenty of impressive numbers coming off the weekend’s most surprising score. Jonesville (2-1) hadn’t beaten Reading since 2014, having lost the last two meetings with the Rangers by a combined 112-0. Reading (2-1) hadn’t lost a Big 8 Conference game since 2016, and only one other regular-season game over the last three seasons. This sets Jonesville up to compete with Week 9 opponent Homer for this year’s league title – although Reading faces Homer first in Week 8. Click for more from the Hillsdale Daily News.

Watch list Blissfield 28, Clinton 14 The Royals (3-0) are alone atop the Lenawee County Athletic Association with wins over two of three second-place teams and the third, Brooklyn Columbia Central, not on the shortened schedule.    

Remember this one Ann Arbor Huron 18, Ann Arbor Pioneer 8 The Hurons (1-1) broke an 18-game losing streak to rival Pioneer (0-2) that went back to 2002.

More shoutouts Sand Creek 50, Ottawa Lake Whiteford 14 The Aggies’ first win over Whiteford since 2011 kept Sand Creek (3-0) tied for first in the Tri-County Conference. Chelsea 42, Schoolcraft 21 Scheduled after two other cancelations, this last-minute matchup pitted teams both often among the highly-ranked in their divisions.

Southwest Corridor

HEADLINER Centreville 36, Cassopolis 7 The Bulldogs (3-0) not only scored their first points on Cassopolis since 2015, they defeated the Rangers (2-1) for the first time in 10 recent meetings. Cassopolis also hadn’t lost a league game since 2017. Centreville will play co-leader Mendon this week for a share of the Southwest 10 Conference championship. Click for more from JoeInsider.com.

Watch list Buchanan 31, Berrien Springs 15 The Bucks (3-0) have equaled last year’s win total and with another victory will guarantee their best finish since 2016. Buchanan had lost the last three Berrien Springs matchups by a combined 127-0.

Remember this one Constantine 55, Watervliet 6 The Falcons (2-1) locked up a Watervliet offense that had scored a combined 107 points in two wins to start the fall.

More shoutouts Paw Paw 49, Sturgis 0 The Trojans (2-1) have put themselves back in the football conversation in the Wolverine Conference, but Paw Paw (3-0) made sure the title talk still centers on itself and Week 9 opponent Edwardsburg. Kalamazoo United 44, Parchment 6 The Titans (3-0) remain in position to challenge for a third-straight Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore title.

Upper Peninsula

HEADLINER Gladstone 28, Sault Ste. Marie 26 The has been a whirlwind start for Gladstone, which didn’t play in the opening “Week 4” and then defeated Negaunee by two Week 5 on just a few days of prep. And now, this past weekend, the Braves (2-0) edged a Sault Ste. Marie team (2-1) that appeared to be the U.P.’s best after its first two victories. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

Watch list Marquette 10, Kingsford 0 The Redmen (2-1) ran their winning streak over Kingsford (2-1) to three and sit in good position to win the Great Northern Conference, with Menominee – which Marquette beat by 23 in Week 4 – up next. 

Remember this one Negaunee 29, L’Anse 6 The Miners (2-1) bounced right back after a two-point loss to Gladstone two weeks ago.

More shoutouts Manistique 12, Bessemer 0 The Emeralds (1-2) picked up their first win of the season with their first defensive shutout since 2012. Bark River-Harris 43, Norway 12 The Broncos (1-2) also earned their first victory, putting up a big number after scoring a combined six points over the first two weeks.

West Michigan 

HEADLINER Grand Rapids Catholic Central 42, Cedar Springs 28 The rebuilt Ottawa-Kent Conference this fall placed GRCC – coming off five straight league titles, most recently in the Blue – in the Gold with two-time reigning White champion Cedar Springs (2-1). Undefeated Grand Rapids South Christian still must face both, but the league race appears down to those three and with the Cougars and Sailors tied for the lead. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Watch list Byron Center 35, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 14 The Bulldogs (3-0), along with Lowell, have emerged as the frontrunners in the O-K White, with Forest Hills Central (2-1) and East Grand Rapids one game behind.

Remember this one Grand Rapids Union 59, Wyoming 57 Union’s 45-game losing streak, going back to 2015, came to an end in a game with so many points scored it will be included in the MHSAA record book at the end of the season.

More shoutouts Zeeland West 34, Zeeland East 14 With a third-straight win over the Chix (2-1), the Dux (3-0) moved into first place in the O-K Green with Muskegon Mona Shores. Grandville 21, Hudsonville 17 The Bulldogs (3-0) share the lead in the O-K Red with Rockford after breaking a two-game losing streak against the Eagles (2-1).


HEADLINER Gaylord St. Mary 54, Whittemore-Prescott 18 The Snowbirds (3-0) topped 50 points for the third time in three games, this time against a first-year 8-player program that had given up a combined 44 points over its first two weeks. St. Mary is averaging 55 points per game and certainly provided the Cardinals (2-1) their toughest 8-player challenge so far. Click for more from the Iosco County News-Herald.

Watch list Adrian Lenawee Christian 55, Climax-Scotts 8 Lenawee Christian continued its impressive start in 8-player, handing former 11-player foe Climax-Scotts (2-1) its first defeat of the fall and improving its scoring margin for the season to 141-14.

Remember this one New Buffalo 28, Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 26 The Bison (3-0) have gone from contributing players to Bridgman as part of a cooperative team in 2018 to winning one game in its first season of 8-player a year ago, to putting together one of the strongest starts of 2020.

More shoutouts Brimley 42, Engadine 30 The Bays (1-2) broke a 15-game losing streak against Engadine and after falling 66-8 in last year’s meeting. Cedarville 32, Rapid River 20 The Trojans (2-1) had lost their three most recent games with Rapid River (2-1) by eight or fewer points each time.

PHOTO: Negaunee's Lukas Nelson (25) finds a brief opening Friday before L'Anse closes it up. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)

Constantine Football All-Stater, Wrestling Champ Aiming for Grand Finale

By Scott Hassinger
Special for MHSAA.com

April 30, 2024

CONSTANTINE – Bennett VandenBerg has earned many accolades over the last four years as a three-sport athlete at Constantine.

Southwest CorridorBut the awards aren't what the 6-foot-3, 240-pound standout will remember most when reflecting on his memories as an all-state football player, state champion wrestler and record-breaking throwing specialist on the Falcons' track & field squad.

"I'll remember how I represented our school and pushed myself to be the best I could be in each sport that I played," said VandenBerg, who has earned 12 varsity letters.

VandenBerg has evolved into one of the most accomplished athletes in the state this school year as a senior, especially standing out among those from smaller communities.

This past fall he was named first-team Division 5-6 all-state at defensive end in football before winning the Division 3 Individual Finals wrestling title at 285 pounds in early March at Ford Field.

VandenBerg's final goal is to win the discus title at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals on Saturday, June 1, in Kent City to end his Constantine career all-state in all three sports.

He broke the school record in the discus his junior year with a throw of 158 feet, 1 inch; the previous mark of 156-6 had been held by Doug Polasek since 1986. VandenBerg has eclipsed his school record twice this spring, most recently with a personal-best toss of 170-9 in a Southwestern Athletic Conference double dual meet with Schoolcraft and Kalamazoo Christian. He ranks No. 4 statewide in the event regardless of enrollment division. Lawton junior Mason Mayne at 175-4 is the only Division 3 competitor with a better throw than VandenBerg.

"It's really cool to have your name up on the school record board, but I'd like to make that mark more untouchable before I'm done," VandenBerg said. "My goal is to be a state discus champion. I've put in the necessary work for it. It would be nice to end my career that way."

Kyle Rimer, Constantine's veteran boys track & field coach, is most impressed with VandenBerg's leadership and presence in working with the Falcons' younger athletes.

VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. "Bennett loves to compete. Ever since he was a freshman, we've also had him on our 400-meter relay team. That's something he really enjoys doing. He's not just a thrower, but a good overall athlete with lots of drive,” Rimer said. “There's a lot of individuality in track & field, but I think he does a great job of leading the younger kids. He has the drive, accountability and technique to achieve his goal of being a state champion in his throwing events.”

VandenBerg is already a two-time Finals placer in the discus, earning sixth as a junior and seventh his sophomore year. He admits being a little disappointed with his distance at the 2023 state meet.

"In that particular event (discus) you need lots of focus and determination because there are a ton of tiny things you can mess up on that affect your throw. To become better you need to be consistent, show up every day and be willing to put in the work," VandenBerg said. "Right now I'm working on my speed in the circle and quickness in my follow-through."

VandenBerg also has been pleased with his improvement this spring in the shot put. He's increased his distance by over five feet and hopes to break the school record in that event as well. John Kampars (1967) holds Constantine's shot put record at 54-8¼, and VandenBerg's personal best is 48-10 in a double-dual meet this season against Parchment and Centreville.

"Shot put is a difficult event. You need power, but your form has to be top-notch – otherwise it's tough to move that 12-pound ball," VandenBerg said. "I would love to qualify for state in both the discus and shot put and be all-state in each. That would be amazing if I could be a state champion in either of those events."

VandenBerg has put in extra work in the offseason with special instruction from Bill Griffey of Next Throw in Plainwell, along with working with Constantine assistant track & field and head football coach Shawn Griffith.

"Bennett puts a lot of time into working on his throwing. He spends a lot of time in the weight room, and he's a bigger kid who is not afraid to be coached and listens to what other people tell him," Griffith said. "We're excited to see what he can do now that we've had warmer weather recently."

VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft.VandenBerg's motivation this spring follows a tremendous wrestling season that saw him finish 54-0 and capture the 285 championship with a 3-0 win in the title match over Reed City junior Wyatt Spalo.

"I gained 20 pounds of muscle and did everything you need to do to become a better athlete to wrestle the heavyweight division. Winning the title was overwhelming. It was everything I ever wanted, and the first 20 minutes after winning it was relief, especially after losing in the Finals as a junior. I just went into that last match and wrestled smart and confident," VandenBerg said. "My speed and strength gave me an advantage over the bigger heavyweights I faced this year."

Vandenberg, 188-22 with 104 career pins, became the 10th Finals champion in Constantine wrestling history and the first to achieve the feat since Kevin Watkins won a 152-pound crown in 2000.

VandenBerg competed at 189 as a freshman and sophomore. He was a Regional qualifier as a freshman and finished sixth in Division 3 as a sophomore before ending his junior campaign as the Finals runner-up at 215. 

"Bennett is a competitor who hates to lose, and if he does he learns from it. He had a lot of good practice partners on the team his first three years, and he wasn't going to be denied after losing in the Finals as a junior," said Constantine wrestling coach Dale Davidhizar Jr.

VandenBerg played on Constantine's varsity football team for four years. He got a lot of extra playing time as a freshman when Constantine reached the Division 6 Semifinals during in the COVID-shortened season. He led the Falcons in rushing as a sophomore before switching to tight end as a junior. Out of necessity, VandenBerg returned to lead Constantine in rushing and scoring again as a senior.

"Bennett learned a great deal from the older guys on the team his first three varsity seasons. He learned leadership qualities and is a very unselfish kid who is willing to do what's best for his team," Griffith said.

VandenBerg is most proud of Constantine winning a District crown last fall, especially after his senior class went 0-5-1 as eighth graders. VandenBerg posted 164 solo tackles at defensive end during his final high school season and was Constantine's main offensive weapon with 1,354 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing on 186 carries.

"Winning Districts as seniors in football was a special moment. As eighth graders, we weren't exactly the most athletic team, but we put in the work as we got older to become successful," VandenBerg said.

VandenBerg has been invited to play for the West team at the annual Michigan High School Football Coaches Association's East-West All-Star Game this summer.

College coaches have shown interest in VandenBerg in all three sports, especially football and wrestling. VandenBerg, who carries a cumulative GPA of 3.989 and scored 1110 on his SAT, is weighing his options in athletics but knows he wants to study either ecology or forestry in college.

"I love being outdoors and doing what I love to do," VandenBerg said.

Scott HassingerScott Hassinger is a contributing sportswriter for Leader Publications and previously served as the sports editor for the Three Rivers Commercial-News from 1994-2022. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Constantine’s Bennett VandenBerg competes in the discus during a home meet his junior season. (Middle) VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. (Below) VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft. (Photos by Brandon Watson/Sturgis Journal.)