1st & Goal: Week 9 Preview
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
October 22, 2020
Over the next 72 hours, endings will be followed by new beginnings for just about every high school football team in Michigan.
Today and Saturday, the great majority will kick off for the final time this shortened regular season. On Sunday, for the first time, nearly all will be able to begin preparing for the start of this fall's MHSAA Playoffs.
Pairings in 11 and 8-player will be posted to the MHSAA Website during early afternoon Sunday. In the meantime, more than 270 games will be played to help determine those postseason matchups, with more than 60 available to watch on MHSAA.tv; click the link for listings
Below are some of the games you may want to check out in your corner of the state. Find the full schedule and then results this weekend as they’re reported via the MHSAA Score Center.
Bay & Thumb
Midland Dow (4-1) at Midland (5-0)
Dow’s loss last week to Mount Pleasant rubbed some of the luster off this week’s neighborly meet-up with the Chemics. But this could still significantly impact the Saginaw Valley League Blue championship, as Midland is the only team without a league loss – but a Dow win would leave three one-loss teams (along with the Oilers) at the top of the standings. Dow won this matchup 42-7 last season, breaking a three-game losing streak to its rival.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Ortonville Brandon (5-0) at Fenton (5-0), Saline (5-0) at Grand Blanc (4-1), Davison (5-0) at Lapeer (3-2), Clare (5-0) at Sanford Meridian (4-1).
Detroit Loyola (5-0) at Detroit Catholic Central (5-0), Saturday
These teams both have won MHSAA Finals championship over the last 11 seasons, but this Detroit Catholic League Bishop Championship game will pit them against each other for the first time. This is likely a matter of significant difference in enrollment size – the Shamrocks are a Division 1 playoff team, and the Bulldogs will play in Division 7. But they are undefeated champions of the two divisions of largest schools in the league, DCC in the Central and Loyola in the AA, and their past successes no doubt will make this a much-anticipated matchup.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Livonia Churchill (4-1) at Belleville (5-0), Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (4-1) at Detroit Country Day (3-1), Marine City (5-0) at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (4-1). SATURDAY Clarkston Everest Collegiate (5-0) vs. Riverview Gabriel Richard (5-0) at Detroit Catholic Central.
Mason (5-0) at Williamston (5-0)
The Bulldogs are attempting to finish a second-straight perfect run through the Capital Area Activities Conference Red. But they’re up against a Williamston team off to its best start since 2014, which is saying something extra given the Hornets’ annual success. This will match strength on strength; Williamston has given up 45 points total (nine per game), while Mason is averaging nearly 38 per contest. The Bulldogs won last year’s meeting 20-9.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Stevensville Lakeshore (4-1) at DeWitt (5-0), Pewamo-Westphalia (5-0) at Lansing Catholic (3-2), Holt (2-2) at Grand Ledge (3-2), Stockbridge (2-3) at Olivet (4-1).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Charlevoix (5-0) at Maple City Glen Lake (4-1)
The Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders and Legacy championships are up for grabs this weekend, and we’ll focus on the Leaders as the only loss between these two contenders was Glen Lake’s by five to unbeaten Clarkston Everest Collegiate. Glen Lake has won 12 straight league games and three straight championships, and defeated the Red Rayders 42-18 last season when they also met with the title on the line. But a dominant Charlevoix defense could give Glen Lake trouble this time; the Rayders haven’t given up a point over their last two games and only 42 total this fall.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Johannesburg-Lewiston (5-0) at Harbor Springs (3-2), Oscoda (5-0) at Houghton Lake (4-1), East Jordan (3-2) at Frankfort (2-3). SATURDAY Jackson Lumen Christi (2-3) at Traverse City St. Francis (3-2).
Southeast & Border
Addison (5-0) at Grass Lake (4-1)
The Panthers quietly have put themselves in position to clinch a second-straight Cascades Conference championship, outscoring their three league opponents so far by a combined 169-28. Grass Lake trails Addison by a game, thanks to a Week 7 loss to Michigan Center, and also will be looking to avenge last season’s 20-16 defeat that decided the Cascades title.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Chelsea (5-0) at Monroe (4-1), Clinton (4-1) at Hillsdale (4-1), Homer (4-1) and Jonesville (4-1), Brownstown Woodhaven (4-1) at Temperance Bedford (3-2).
Paw Paw (4-1) at Edwardsburg (5-0)
The Wolverine Conference isn’t awarding a championship this season because of the abbreviated schedule, but if it was the title would be coming down to these two again. Paw Paw’s only loss was last week to Detroit Country Day; otherwise the Wolves have again dominated, outscoring their four Wolverine opponents by an average of 48-9. The Eddies, who defeated Paw Paw to claim the league title last year, have yet to be held under 52 points or allow more than 16.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY St. Joseph (4-1) at Battle Creek Lakeview (4-1), Schoolcraft (4-1) at Delton Kellogg (3-2), Saugatuck (3-2) at Lawton (4-1), Portage Northern (4-1) a Kalamazoo Central (2-3).
Marquette (4-1) at Calumet (2-2)
At the end of an unpredictable six weeks in the Upper Peninsula, this could be a much more intriguing game than the records might indicate. These teams recently have been among the best above the Bridge, but in substantially different playoff brackets – Marquette will play in Division 3 and Calumet in Division 6 next weekend. The Copper Kings have played only three games on the field, winning two and losing the third to Kingsford by just a point. Marquette defeated Kingsford 10-0 and also has just one close loss, early to Sault Ste. Marie.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Escanaba (0-2) at Gladstone (2-2), Bark River-Harris (2-2) at L'Anse (1-4), Iron Mountain (5-0) at Manistique (1-3), Gwinn (2-3) at Bessemer (0-4).
Grand Rapids Catholic Central (5-0) at Grand Rapids South Christian (5-0)
These two were frequent league or playoff foes until 2016, when GRCC moved for a few seasons into the Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue. This fall the Cougars moved back into the Gold, and they’ll face the Sailors with the championship on the line. Most notably, both have wins over Cedar Springs, and defensively they’ve given up nearly the same number of points – although GRCC is scoring eight more per game, on average.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Grandville (5-0) at Rockford (3-0), Hudsonville Unity Christian (5-0) at Allendale (3-2), Whitehall (4-1) at Muskegon Oakridge (4-1). SATURDAY Detroit Martin Luther King (3-2) at Muskegon Mona Shores (5-0).
Portland St. Patrick (5-0) at Burr Oak (5-0)
Shortened schedule or not, Burr Oak has a lot to celebrate. The Bobcats have guaranteed a winning season, their second straight and something of a rarity for many year before that. Burr Oak has won all of its games by at least 32 points. But defeating annual power St. Patrick – and by doing so avenging last year's playoff loss – would be the best victory yet.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Morrice (5-0) at Deckerville (4-1), Mayville (5-0) at Kinde North Huron (5-0), Cedarville (4-1) at Rudyard (3-2). SATURDAY Indian River Inland Lakes (5-0) at Merrill (4-1).
PHOTO: Midland pulled away from Saginaw Heritage for a 42-20 win on Sept. 25. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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.)