By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The sun sets a little earlier as we move toward mid-October – this year allowing Friday Night Lights to shine as an even more present reminder that teams are enjoying an opportunity to play during an otherwise topsy-turvy fall.
This weekend begins the second half of the shortened regular season, and 2020’s storylines are beginning to take shape – with a number of league title contenders hoping to write in key details over the next two days.
Below is a look at games of particular note in every corner of Michigan – not including a handful played Thursday night, including key southwestern matchups between Centreville and Mendon and Kalamazoo United and Watervliet. Find scores for those and the schedule as we know it, and then results this weekend as they’re reported – via the MHSAA Score Center.
This week’s broadcast schedule includes 55 varsity football games on MHSAA.tv; click the link for listings.
Bay & Thumb
Port Huron Northern (2-0) at Port Huron (3-0)
The last three meetings between these neighbors were decided by six, three and seven points, and this could be a similar classic with the Macomb Area Conference Blue title on the line. The Huskies are riding a three-game regular-season winning streak in the series, but have played just two games this season and won both by seven or fewer points. They’ll have to contend with a Port Huron defense that has given up only a combined 35 points over three wins and won a playoff rematch with Northern in 2019.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Saginaw Swan Valley (2-1) at Freeland (2-1), Clare (3-0) at Gladwin (2-1), Cass City (3-0) at Unionville-Sebewaing (2-1), Richmond (1-2) at North Branch (3-0).
Clarkston (3-0) at Lake Orion (2-0)
The Wolves are coming into this matchup off a come-from-behind overtime win over West Bloomfield, avenging a 2019 loss. Clarkston can avenge another tonight after falling to the Dragons 55-21 a year ago. Because of various cancelations, the Oakland Activities Association Red schedule has become unbalanced – but a Clarkston win would put it at 4-0 in the league, while a Lake Orion win would seem to give the Dragons a one-game edge on the other challengers with West Bloomfield still coming up Week 9.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Orchard Lake St. Mary's (1-2) at Detroit Catholic Central (3-0), Grosse Pointe South (2-1) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (2-1), Milan (2-1) at New Boston Huron (3-0). SATURDAY DeWitt (3-0) at Warren De La Salle Collegiate (1-2).
Hopkins (3-0) at Belding (3-0)
The Ottawa-Kent Conference circles into Ionia County with Belding, and the Black Knights have an opportunity to bring a league title east with a win tonight clinching at least a share of the Silver championship. Hopkins has won the teams’ last two meetings, including last season’s 32-6. Defense could make this one much closer as the Vikings have given up 10 points over three games and Belding has allowed only 29.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Fowlerville (2-1) at Mason (3-0), Lake Odessa Lakewood (2-1) at Olivet (3-0), Northville (2-1) at Hartland (2-1). SATURDAY Breckenridge (2-1) at Carson City-Crystal (1-0).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Muskegon Catholic Central (3-0) at Manistee (3-0)
Tonight’s winner clinches a share of the Lakes 8 Athletic Conference championship. The Crusaders are seeking their first since 2017 and enter this title decider having outscored their first three opponents by a combined 110-18. MCC also defeated Manistee 49-0 a year ago, but the Chippewas have been on a roll in 2020 – they’ve already equaled their 2019 win total and got a nice nonleague boost downing Harbor Springs 47-20 a week ago.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Frankfort (1-2) at Harbor Springs (2-1), Traverse City West (2-1) at Gaylord (1-2), Cadillac (2-1) at Petoskey (1-2), Evart (1-2) at Lake City (1-2).
Southeast & Border
Marshall (1-2) at Parma Western (3-0)
This should be a much better matchup than records would indicate. Western is off to an excellent start, with most notably its opening-night win over Hastings looking better and better with every Saxons victory. But Marshall isn’t a down-and-out 1-2 team – the Redhawks lost to reigning Interstate 8 Athletic Conference champion Jackson Lumen Christi by just a point, then to 2019 runner-up Coldwater by eight before getting on the board with last week’s big win over Jackson Northwest. The Panthers have won the last two meetings, but last year in a close one 14-13.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Hillsdale (2-1) at Brooklyn Columbia Central (2-1), Britton Deerfield (1-2) at Erie Mason (3-0), Riverview Gabriel Richard (3-0) at Manchester (2-1), Springport (1-0) at Reading (2-1).
Paw Paw (3-0) at Vicksburg (2-1)
The Red Wolves have opened by outscoring their first three opponents by a combined 136-7. But these next three weeks will provide a greater measuring stick after the team finished 10-2 last season and 8-3 the year before. First up is Vicksburg, which hasn’t given up a point since falling to reigning Wolverine Conference champion Edwardsburg in the season opener. Then comes Detroit Country Day before Paw Paw finishes the regular season against the Eddies in what could decide the league title – although Vicksburg can still have a say by coming up big tonight.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY St. Joseph (3-0) at Stevensville Lakeshore (2-1), Comstock (2-1) at Buchanan (3-0), Delton Kellogg (1-2) at Saugatuck (2-1), Coldwater (3-0) at Battle Creek Harper Creek (1-2).
Gladstone (2-0) at Kingsford (2-1)
The Braves have been one of the most intriguing stories of this abbreviated season, for reasons covered a few times on this site over the last two weeks. And Gladstone would seem like the league favorite as it begins Great Northern Conference play tonight – but up first is Kingsford, which owns a 21-game winning streak in the series. Kingsford fell to Marquette 10-0 last week, but could shake things up among the Upper Peninsula’s best by running that streak to 22 tonight.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Marquette (2-1) at Menominee (2-1), Benzie Central (2-1) at Sault Ste. Marie (2-1), Ishpeming Westwood (2-1) at L'Anse (1-2), Negaunee (2-1) at Bessemer Gogebic (0-2).
Byron Center (3-0) at Lowell (3-0)
This is the kind of game the Red Arrows surely have been looking forward to for a few seasons as they’ve built back up into league contenders. The O-K White title could eventually come down to this matchup, as new league member Byron Center – last year’s Green champ – is riding a 13-game regular-season winning streak and coming off a major success last week against Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central. Lowell has proven itself with a win over East Grand Rapids – and another tonight would be a major step toward a possible first league title since 2016.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Grand Rapids South Christian (3-0) at Cedar Springs (2-1), Newaygo (2-1) at Reed City (3-0), Muskegon (2-1) at Zeeland East (2-1), Jenison (2-1) at East Kentwood (1-2).
Mayville (3-0) at Deckerville (3-0)
The Eagles have won 18 straight regular-season games and five straight league championships, but this matchup starts a challenging 2020 run. Mayville tonight, Genesee next week and Morrice in Week 9 all are still undefeated (Genesee plays Morrice this weekend). Mayville has been overshadowed a bit but quietly is coming off three straight playoff seasons and is averaging 62 points per game this fall as it looks to take the next step
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Morrice (3-0) at Genesee (3-0), Pellston (3-0) at Gaylord St. Mary (3-0), Munising (3-0) at Stephenson (3-0), New Buffalo (3-0) at Bridgman (2-1).
PHOTO by Robert Batzloff.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)