1st & Goal: Week 8 In Review
October 20, 2020
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.
McBain recorded its fourth straight win over Beal City and captured the Highland Conference championship with a 23-19 win Friday.https://t.co/0f89oD6qGp pic.twitter.com/8zfmQd6BNc
— 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.)
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.)