By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Even with a shortened regular season, football teams across Michigan are equaling past accomplishments or at least making better on their performances of a year ago.
Many of our notes this week highlight the crowning, at least partially in some cases, of a league champion. But those other little successes – like surpassing last season’s win total, or ending a losing streak – also make every week memorable, with many more teams seeing the fruits of work and patience during an otherwise unpredictable fall.
Below is our look at many who found reasons to celebrate during Week 8.
Bay & Thumb
HEADLINER Hemlock 12, Millington 6 Defense reigned as Hemlock (5-0) clinched the Tri-Valley Conference West championship – its first league title since 2012. Millington (4-1) continued to shine defensively, with its average points given up per game rising just a few tenths to 10.6 this season. But Hemlock’s defense was a score stronger, lowering its average points allowed this fall to 14.6 per game. Click for more from the Saginaw News and see highlights below from WJRT.
One play after picking off Millington, Hemlock's @Corbinlarkin21 cashes in with an 83-yard TD to lead the Huskies to their first league title since 2012 and take home our Highlight of the Night! @MIHemlock_High https://t.co/KBSGbraJ1D
— ABC12WJRT (@ABC12WJRT) October 17, 2020
Watch list Marine City 24, Marysville 21 The Mariners (5-0) finished a perfect run through the Macomb Area Conference Silver for the second-straight season, while extending their winning streak over Marysville (4-1) to four.
Remember this one Harbor Beach 42, Marlette 20 The Pirates (3-2) will finish second in the Greater Thumb Conference East but made sure only Sandusky will finish first by handing the Red Raiders (3-2) their only league loss of an abbreviated schedule.
More shoutouts Almont 28, Richmond 25 (OT) For the first time in a long time, these two aren’t really in the mix in the Blue Water Area Conference – but the rivalry remains notable as Almont (2-1) extended its winning streak to four. Bad Axe 26, Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker 6 With Bad Axe (4-1) and Cass City not facing off this season – that game was among those canceled early on – this win cemented a shared GTC East championship for both.
HEADLINER Sterling Heights Stevenson 42, Grosse Pointe South 35 At the end of one of the most intriguing league races of this shortened season, Sterling Heights Stevenson finished tied for first with Macomb Dakota, thanks to this win that sent Grosse Pointe South (3-2) into third place. The Titans (4-1) continued a rise that began with last season’s run to the Division 1 Semifinals after they had finished only 1-4 in the Red last fall. Click for more from the Macomb Daily.
Watch list Detroit Cass Tech 41, Detroit Martin Luther King 19 After defeating King (3-2) by eight in their season opener, the Technicians (5-0) more than doubled that during this Detroit Public School League 1-2 championship game – a great sign with the postseason approaching.
Remember this one Clarkston Everest Collegiate 41, Royal Oak Shrine 7 This was the third time in five seasons these two decided the Detroit Catholic League Intersectional 2 championship, and the Mountaineers (5-0) are a win away from a second-straight undefeated regular season.
More shoutouts Dearborn Heights Crestwood 21, Garden City 12 After a down 2019, Crestwood (5-0) clinched its second Western Wayne Athletic Conference championship in three seasons. Canton 49, Hartland 28 The Chiefs (5-0) clinched the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West title outright and can finish a perfect league run against reigning champ Plymouth.
HEADLINER Mount Pleasant 21, Midland Dow 0 The Oilers (4-1) threw a wrench into an anticipated Saginaw Valley League Blue championship decider this week between Dow and Midland High. Mount Pleasant earned itself a chance at a shared championship instead, if the Chargers (4-1) are able to hand the Chemics their first loss Friday. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.
Watch list Holt 26, Portage Northern 0 The weekend’s biggest upset statewide saw the Rams (2-2) shut down Portage Northern (4-1), not only handing the Huskies their first defeat but holding them scoreless for the first time since 2014.
Remember this one Pewamo-Westphalia 30, Fowler 7 Although the Central Michigan Athletic Conference decided to not award a league champion because of the shortened schedule, the Pirates (5-0) still ran their league winning streak to 39 and run against Fowler (4-1) to six straight since the Eagles handed them that last CMAC loss in 2014.
More shoutouts New Lothrop 49, Durand 6 The Hornets (5-0) clinched another Mid-Michigan Activities Conference title by handing Durand (4-1) its first defeat. Williamston 17, Olivet 6 The Hornets (5-0) prepped for their Capital Area Activities Conference Red decider this week by handing Olivet (4-1) its first loss.
Northern Lower Peninsula
HEADLINER McBain 23, Beal City 19 The Ramblers (5-0) locked up their first Highland Conference title since 2015 with their fourth-straight win over the Aggies (4-1), who also entered the evening unbeaten. McBain is one of 11 undefeated teams left in Division 7. See below for highlights from MI Sports Now.
— MISportsNow (@MISportsNow) October 17, 2020
Watch list Kingsley 40, Sault Ste. Marie 6 With a game to play, the Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends has belonged firmly to the Stags (5-0), who clinched a second-straight title by handing second-place Sault Ste. Marie (3-2) its first league loss.
Remember this one Traverse City West 45, Cadillac 27 These teams finished second and third, respectively, in the Big North Conference, and West (4-1) continued its string of four-straight 40-plus point offensive efforts since losing to eventual champion Traverse City Central in the season opener.
More shoutouts Traverse City St. Francis 35, Ogemaw Heights 14 The Gladiators (3-2) continued to establish solid footing in advance of the Division 7 playoffs with a win over Division 5 Ogemaw Heights (3-2). Maple City Glen Lake 18, Benzie Central 0 The Lakers (4-1) posted their second shutout of the season and are giving up only 6.6 points per game.
Southeast & Border
HEADLINER Erie Mason 56, Sand Creek 38 The Eagles’ offense continued to roll as they clinched a share of the Tri-County Conference championship, their first league title since 2003, while handing Sand Creek (4-1) its first defeat. Erie Mason (5-0) now also has as many wins as the last four seasons combined – and with 282 points, needs 48 more to equal how many it scored over nine games a year ago. The Eagles are averaging 56.4 per game. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.
Watch list Reading 26, Homer 19 The Rangers (4-1) losing to Jonesville in Week 6 was no reason to write them off, as they’ve bounced back to hand Homer (4-1) its first loss. Reading no doubt will root for Homer to take down Jonesville this week to set up a shared Big 8 Conference title.
Remember this one Blissfield 42, Ida 40 The Royals (5-0) earned a share of the Lenawee County Athletic Association title, but only after holding off the Bluestreaks (2-3) after they were tied with less than nine minutes to play.
More shoutouts Michigan Center 42, Manchester 7 The Cardinals (2-1) got one game in this fall before having to take two weeks off, but they’ve won both matchups since returning to the field. Adrian Madison 46, Pittsford 6 The Trojans improved to 4-1, equaling their win total from last season and setting them up for a possible fifth victory – which would give Madison its winningest finish since 2009.
HEADLINER Schoolcraft 45, Lawton 14 The Eagles (4-1) clinched a share of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley title, to go with their shared SAC Lakeshore championship from last season, and by defeating the Valley’s 2019 champ. Schoolcraft shut down a Lawton offense that averaged 42.5 points per game during its 4-0 start. Click for more from the Kalamazoo Gazette and see highlights below from FOX 17.
At Schoolcraft: https://t.co/OMviWXNKoB
— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) October 17, 2020
Watch list Constantine 43, Kalamazoo United 28 Last season these two and Schoolcraft shared the Lakeshore title, and this win over the formerly co-leading Titans (4-1) guaranteed the Falcons (4-1) will do at least the same again.
Remember this one Stevensville Lakeshore 13, Battle Creek Lakeview 7 Although the Southwestern Athletic Conference also isn’t awarding a league champion this season, this was a display of the strength among the league’s teams as Lakeshore (4-1) handed Lakeview (4-1) its first defeat.
More shoutouts Battle Creek Harper Creek 50, Marshall 27 The Beavers (3-2) have picked up two straight impressive victories and with one more would have their winningest season since 2017. Coloma 24, Watervliet 16 The Comets (4-1) put themselves in position to force a shared Lakeshore title with Constantine up this week.
HEADLINER Marquette 27, Escanaba 6 To say the Great Northern Conference has navigated twists and turns this fall would be an understatement. But at the end of the league schedule, Marquette (4-1) is champion for the second straight season, and Escanaba (0-2) was able to get back on the field for the first time this year. Click for more from the Marquette Mining Journal.
Watch list Menominee 41, Gladstone 0 Two losses to Marquette have Menominee at 3-2, but in the Maroons’ two wins on the field they’ve averaged 41.5 points.
Remember this one Houghton 15, Negaunee 13 The Gremlins (2-1) have been forced to miss multiple games as well, but on this night were able to break a recent two-game losing streak to the Miners (3-2) and avenge last season’s 35-0 defeat.
More shoutouts West Iron County 20, Gwinn 14 (OT) The Wykons (5-0) held Gwinn (2-3) scoreless in overtime and then scored on their ensuing set of downs to remain undefeated. Calumet 34, Hancock 18 The Copper Kings (2-2) tuned up for what could be an intriguing regular-season finale this week with Marquette.
HEADLINER Montague 34, Whitehall 31 (2OT) A double-overtime field goal won this game for Montague in one of the state’s longest- running rivalries, giving the Wildcats a 64-48-2 advantage since they began playing in 1921 – and more importantly, a share of another West Michigan Conference championship. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.
Blitz Game of the Week: Montague 34, Whitehall 31 https://t.co/e4F95tAKoi
— FOX 17 (@FOX17) October 17, 2020
Watch list Grand Rapids Catholic Central 28, Ada Forest Hills Eastern 3 The Cougars (5-0) set themselves up to face Grand Rapids South Christian this week for the outright Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold title.
Remember this one Muskegon 15, Zeeland West 14 The Big Reds (4-1) came back from a 14-0 deficit to knock Zeeland West (4-1) out of a tie for first place (with Mona Shores) in the O-K Green.
More shoutouts Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 35, Lowell 22 the Huskies opened 0-2 but have won three straight to equal their win totals of each of the last two seasons. Grand Rapids West Catholic 34, Allendale 12 The Falcons (4-1) held on to second place in the O-K Blue and will now cheer for Allendale (3-2) to defeat league leader Hudsonville Unity Christian this week.
HEADLINER Portland St. Patrick 26, Merrill 22 Both should have championship aspirations, as St. Patrick (5-0) entered this game No. 2 in Division 2 based on playoff-point average, and Merrill (4-1) was tied for No. 2 in Division 1. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
Watch list Morrice 57, Kingston 0 The Orioles (5-0) moved into the No. 2 spot alone in Division 1 playoff-point average and have yet to score fewer than 52 points in a game this season while allowing 34 total over five games.
Remember this one Kinde-North Huron 36, Peck 6 The Warriors clinched their second league title in four seasons, this time in the North Central Thumb League Stripes, while improving their scoring margin to a combined 222-12 this fall.
More shoutouts Cedarville 32, Munising 8 The Trojans moved to 4-1 by handing Munising (4-1) its first defeat and locking down an offense formerly averaging 34.5 points per game. Deckerville 56, Genesee 36 The Eagles (4-1) bounced right back from the Week 7 loss to Mayville with another 50-point performance.
PHOTO: Battle Creek Pennfield takes the field at the start of a 49-7 win over Jackson Northwest on Friday. (Photo by Scott Mapes.)
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.)