By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Yes, it’s true. We’re days from mid-October, with only two regular-season football games remaining, celebrating league champions and starting to look forward to the MHSAA Playoffs.
All of that has seemed to come on quickly this fall, but Week 7 provided us even more of what we’re used to enjoying every year.
In front of larger crowds at many stadiums, we watched the most unusual fall in a century continue to take shape – starting with a major southwestern matchup Thursday night and concluding Saturday with a few more indicators of what might be on the way as this season’s best contenders continue to rise.
Bay & Thumb
HEADLINER Port Huron 20, Port Huron Northern 7 The Big Reds (4-0) added on to last year’s playoff-opener win over Northern by breaking a three-game regular-season losing streak versus the Huskies (2-1). In doing so, Port Huron clinched a share of the Macomb Area Conference Blue championship and can finish an outright run this week against winless Sterling Heights. Click for more from the Port Huron Times Herald.
Watch list North Branch 56, Richmond 7 This is two weeks straight for the Broncos (4-0), who have avenged both of their regular-season losses from last year and sit alone atop the Blue Water Area Conference standings.
Remember this one Freeland 21, Saginaw Swan Valley 14 The Falcons (3-1) broke a four-game losing streak against the Vikings (2-2) and in doing so clinched a share of the Tri-Valley Conference Central title.
More shoutouts Reese 23, Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port 20 The Rockets (1-3) made their first win count, upsetting Laker (3-1) and toppling it from a first-place tie in the Greater Thumb Conference West. Cass City 28, Unionville-Sebewaing 24 The Red Hawks, who don’t play Laker during this abbreviated season, were beneficiaries of that Reese upset and now sit atop the West together with only Bad Axe thanks also to this close win over USA (2-2).
HEADLINER Grosse Pointe South 21, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 17 Joining one of the toughest leagues in the state hasn’t fazed newcomer Grosse Pointe South (3-1) this fall, as it showed against reigning champ Chippewa Valley (2-2). The Blue Devils find themselves tied with Macomb Dakota and Sterling Heights Stevenson for first place, and with Stevenson up next. Click for more from MLive-Detroit and see highlights below from State Champs Sports Network.
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) October 10, 2020
Watch list Clarkston 31, Lake Orion 7 The Wolves (4-0) continued their bounce back this fall by clinching a share of the Oakland Activities Association Red title while dealing the Dragons (2-1) their first defeat.
Remember this one Birmingham Seaholm 35, Birmingham Groves 28 Make that two in a row in this rivalry for Seaholm (3-1) after breaking a former seven-game losing streak to Groves (2-2) during last season’s playoffs.
More shoutouts Detroit Catholic Central 27, Orchard Lake St. Mary's 10 The Shamrocks (4-0) capped a perfect run through the Detroit Catholic League Central, holding their three league opponents to a combined 32 points. Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 23, Rochester Adams 10 The Cougars (4-0) defeated Adams (1-3) for the first time since 2014 and in doing so clinched a share of the OAA White championship.
HEADLINER Mason 42, Fowlerville 14 The Bulldogs (4-0) ran their regular-season winning streak to 15 and set up a Week 9 winner-takes-all with also-undefeated Williamston for the Capital Area Activities Conference Red championship. Mason put up its most points in a game this season and has now held its four opponents to a combined 43. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
Watch list Olivet 30, Lake Odessa Lakewood 6 The Eagles (4-0) extended their Greater Lansing Activities Conference winning streak to 18 while clinching a share of the league title – and with unbeaten Williamston up next for an intriguing nonleague matchup.
Remember this one DeWitt 43, Warren De La Salle Collegiate 3 The Panthers (4-0) already were off to another strong local start, but defeating the Pilots (1-3) on the road no doubt drew plenty of statewide eyes.
More shoutouts Breckenridge 29, Carson City-Crystal 7 The Huskies (3-1) are 5-for-5 in the Mid-State Activities Conference, this win clinching their fifth title in five seasons playing in the league. Durand 20, Chesaning 14 The Railroaders (4-0) not only are off to their best start since 2016, but this was their first margin of victory smaller than 21 this fall.
Northern Lower Peninsula
HEADLINER Traverse City Central 57, Alpena 0 The Trojans (4-0) earned a share of a repeat championship in the Big North Conference, and how they’ve rumbled through league competition the last few years has been exceptional. Central has won 13 straight league games, going back nearly three full league seasons, and with the last 11 consecutive wins all by at least 24 points. Click for more from MI Sports Now.
Watch list Evart 34, Lake City 21 After opening 0-2, Evart (2-2) has won two weeks over opponents that last season outscored the Wildcats by a combined 64-12.
Remember this one Harbor Springs 57, Frankfort 22 The Rams (3-1) set themselves up to play Johannesburg-Lewiston in Week 9 for the Northern Michigan Football Conference Legacy title.
More shoutouts Oscoda 58, Blanchard Montabella 0 That the Owls are 4-0 isn’t super stunning coming off last year’s league title, but that they’ve yet to give up a point is impressive no matter the circumstances. East Jordan 48, Alcona 22 The Red Devils (3-1), counting the end of 2019, have won six of their last eight games.
Southeast & Border
HEADLINER Milan 24, New Boston Huron 7 A Week 5 loss to current leader Riverview has Milan (3-1) still trailing in the Huron League by a game with one to play. But the Big Reds hung on to a shared title hope by handing New Boston Huron (3-1) its first defeat. Click for more from the Monroe News.
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) October 10, 2020
Watch list Hillsdale 22, Brooklyn Columbia Central 21 Blissfield leads the Lenawee County Athletic Association, but Hillsdale (3-1) is tied with Week 9 opponent Clinton for second place as both hope for a Royals stumble.
Remember this one Michigan Center 36, Grass Lake 28 After two weeks off, Michigan Center (1-1) shook up the Cascades Conference standings, pulling Grass Lake (3-1) out of a tie for first place.
More shoutouts Adrian Madison 39, Morenci 22 The Trojans’ next two opponents are a combined 1-7, and if Madison gets to 5-1 it would guarantee its winningest season since 2009. Erie Mason 52, Britton Deerfield 12 The Eagles (4-0) won to set up a Tri-County Conference title match for this week with also-undefeated Sand Creek.
HEADLINER Centreville 36, Mendon 0 The Bulldogs are well into a third season of impressive football after struggles through most of the last decade, and this might be one of the biggest wins in recent memory. Centreville traveled to Mendon and emerged in the matchup of unbeatens with a share of the Southwest 10 Conference championship and a second shutout in four games this fall. Click for more from the Sturgis Journal.
VIDEO: Check out the highlights of the Centreville at Mendon football game from Thursday night. Courtesy: WXMI-TV
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) October 9, 2020
Watch list Battle Creek Harper Creek 28, Coldwater 7 This puts Harper Creek at only 1-2 in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference, but dropped Coldwater into a mix of six teams that has one or two league defeats.
Remember this one Marshall 41, Parma Western 27 Having lost to two other league contenders close, Marshall (2-2) caused some I8AC juggling as well with this win over former lone league leader Western (3-1).
More shoutouts Buchanan 42, Comstock 7 The Bucks (4-0) inched closer to a possible Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference title, now needing to win one of their final two regular-season games to clinch a share. Battle Creek Pennfield 28, Jackson Lumen Christi 20 The Panthers (2-2) hadn’t gotten within 15 points of Lumen Christi (2-2) during their first six meetings as part of the I8AC together.
HEADLINER Kingsford 30, Gladstone 28 Getting a read on the Upper Peninsula pecking order is getting pretty difficult this fall, as Marquette, Sault Ste. Marie and Gladstone all have taken turns as the possible leader. Kingsford (3-1) is at least in the growing mix now coming off this close win – which also gave the Braves (2-1) three two-point games in three tries this season. Click for more from RRN Sports.
Watch list Sault Ste. Marie 34, Benzie Central 13 The Blue Devils (3-1) bounced back from their two-point Week 6 loss to Gladstone by sending Benzie Central to 2-2.
Remember this one Marquette 44, Menominee 26 That’s two Marquette wins over the rival Maroons (2-2) over four weeks, this one giving Marquette (3-1) a share of the Great Northern Conference title.
More shoutouts Gwinn 14, Norway 12 The Modeltowners (2-2) avenged a 28-20 loss from a year ago. Ishpeming Westwood 55, L'Anse 15 The Patriots (3-1) gave up a forfeit to open the season but haven’t lost since.
HEADLINER Byron Center 36, Lowell 22 The Bulldogs (4-0) became the lone leaders atop a strong Ottawa-Kent Conference White, adding a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to hold off the Red Arrows in another matchup of previously-undefeated teams. Lowell (3-1) pulled within seven late before Byron Center added one more score. See highlights below from WZZM.
13 On Your Sidelines: Lowell vs. Byron Center https://t.co/cjxExC0yIb
— 13 On Your Side (@wzzm13) October 11, 2020
Watch list Muskegon Catholic Central 40, Manistee 0 The Crusaders (4-0) clinched a share of the Lakes 8 Athletic Conference championship in dominating fashion, shutting out Manistee (3-1) for the second-straight season.
Remember this one Reed City 70, Newaygo 40 This one will reach the record book as offense reigned and Reed City (4-0) held on to its lead in the Central State Activities Association Gold.
More shoutouts Grand Rapids South Christian 32, Cedar Springs 14 The Sailors (4-0) join Week 9 opponent Grand Rapids Catholic Central alone atop the O-K Gold as both have claimed wins over Cedar Springs (2-2). Hopkins 34, Belding 28 The Vikings (4-0) are leaders alone in the O-K White after handing Belding (3-1) its lone defeat.
HEADLINER Mayville 58, Deckerville 54 As noted in Friday’s preview, Mayville has seemed like a program on the verge of this level of win. The Wildcats (4-0) not only avenged last season’s 44-12 loss to the Eagles (3-1) but they ended Deckerville’s 18-game regular-season winning streak while staying tied for first in the North Central Thumb League Stars. Click for more from the Huron Daily Tribune.
Watch list Pellston 34, Gaylord St. Mary 28 While the Ski Valley Conference standings will be unbalanced because of the abbreviated schedule, Pellston (4-0) absolutely has earned its status as at least a co-champion by finishing its league slate with an impressive win over the Snowbirds (3-1).
Remember this one Bridgman 34, New Buffalo 20 Five teams in the Southwestern Michigan 8-man Football League have one conference loss, with Bridgman (3-1) handing New Buffalo (3-1) its first.
More shoutouts Morrice 56, Genesee 14 As the NCTL Stars reshuffled in part because of Mayville/Deckerville over the weekend, the Orioles (4-0) joined Mayville among undefeated teams in the league by handing Genesee (3-1) its first defeat. Munising 28, Stephenson 14 The Eagles (3-1) don’t lose a step in their Great Lakes Eight West race, but Munising (4-0) impressed again in remaining undefeated.
PHOTO: Fremont earned its first win this season in Week 6, defeating Remus Chippewa Hills 42-26. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
SOUTHFIELD — Normally, having students come up and say they won’t be in school the next day might have a school administrator seething and ready to reserve seats in the detention room.
But if there ever was a time to allow it, this was the moment.
Following a 36-32 upset of Belleville that stunned many around the state in the MHSAA Division 1 Football Final on Nov. 26, Southfield Arts & Technology senior quarterback Isaiah Marshall said he and other players made it known, “Don’t expect us in school on Monday.”
After all, the game was played and ended late on a Sunday night, the team achieved something nobody else in the community had done, and there were celebrations that needed to begin.
And for the record, the players were back in school Tuesday.
Whether it’s been in school or outside the halls of Southfield A&T, it’s been a week of historic celebrations and congratulations after the Warriors captured the first MHSAA Finals championship in school history.
Marshall said that remained the case when he attended the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis on Saturday.
“Everywhere I go, there is someone congratulating me,” he said.
Over their final decades before the schools merged in 2016, Southfield High School and Southfield-Lathrup High School had plenty of talented teams with numerous players who went on to play big-time college football and even in the NFL.
But none of those good teams was able to advance to a state championship game, let alone win it all.
“There was a lot of people that texted me and talked to me and said they graduated from the 1980s,” said Marshall, pointing out that one former player who reached out was Nic Jones, currently a member of the Kansas City Chiefs who graduated from Southfield High. “There were a lot of older people that used to go to Southfield that told me that they couldn’t do the job. They were proud of us that we could do it for them.”
Marshall said that after the game was over Sunday, he and other teammates congregated at his house at 3 a.m. to watch a replay of the game.
It was only the first time this week the replay was watched.
“We watched it that day and the day after,” Marshall said. “I think we’ve been watching it the whole week.”
A parade Saturday will start at noon at the building that housed the old Southfield-Lathrup and finish at the current school, which was the home of Southfield High before the merger. A&T then will host a celebration in the school gymnasium from 1:15-2:30 p.m.
Players will certainly soak it all in while they can, because it won’t be long before they split up.
Marshall will soon sign to play in college for Kansas and will be enrolling early there. He plans to take his last final exams at Southfield A&T next week and head to Lawrence the first week of January.
Teammate Jalen Todd will do the same as he is also committed to Kansas, while Tashi Braceful will enroll early at Toledo.
But long after this year, it’s a group that won’t be forgotten in the community, or the state after it pulled off the upset of a Belleville team that was riding a 38-game winning streak and was two-time reigning Division 1 champion.
No doubt, future reunions should be memorable and festive.
Even Marshall admitted his still rubs his eyes in amazement over what his team did.
“Yes, I still do,” he said.
Keith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties
PHOTOS (Top) Southfield A&T players enjoy the first moments after their Division 1 championship win at Ford Field. (Middle) The A&T band plays during a break in the action. (Below) Fans celebrate in the stands during the victory over Belleville. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)