DCC's Mach Builds Legacy Sure to Live On
By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half
March 20, 2017
NOVI – Tom Mach’s impact on the Detroit Catholic Central football program didn’t end with his retirement Feb. 9.
The aftershocks will be felt for years to come.
Mach and C.C. football have become synonymous over the past 41 seasons. The double tight end, three-back backfield, sometimes lined up in the T-formation, is the offense we’ve been accustomed to watching game after game, year after year, so much so that it’s become a blue thread woven through the fabric that is high school football in this state.
But times change. Coaches move on, and new ones are hired.
Mach, 69, had been contemplating retirement for some time and the reasons to do so gathered momentum after the Shamrocks lost to Detroit Cass Tech, 49-20, in the Division 1 Final in November.
“You’re not as inspired as you used to be,” Mach said. “I’ve gone back a couple of times on my decision. It wasn’t an easy decision. It was real hard. I prayed real hard that God would tell me what to do. It’s stressful. People count on you. I finally said to myself that you have the confidence that the next guy would carry on with what we did here.
“My first meeting with the players (at C.C.) was in 1976. I remember writing the speech. I thought of that. The 41 years and all of the things that came in between.”
When Mach wrote his last speech he incorporated what C.C. football meant to him and to the players he coached. He tried to reassure the players that the program, and what it is today, will remain so the next day and the day after that.
“The actual doing it was hard,” he said. “It was the hardest speech I’ve ever done.”
Mach was hired in 1976 after gaining experience as an assistant coach at Southgate Aquinas. He never thought administrators at C.C. would hire him. In his mind, why would they? He had no experience as a head coach, and he thought the experience of going through the hiring process would benefit him when he applied somewhere else. To Mach’s surprise, he was hired.
C.C. went 8-1 in Mach’s first season. He said that success was crucial for him and his staff to win over the players and administration. Had C.C. finished below .500, the future might have been different for him. As it was, the players warmed up to his way of coaching, and three years later the Shamrocks won the Class A title, the first of 10 under Mach.
“The first thing I thought of when I got hired was, how am I going to fair against guys like (Birmingham Brother Rice coach) Al Fracassa? If I make it five years, I’ll be happy,” Mach recalled. “What was good for me, the team I inherited was talented. I had written a book on football and my philosophy but there are always questions. I was thankful for that (initial success). Once that happened, the next group would buy into it. I did the same thing. I have a good group of guys coming back. I wanted to leave a good legacy for the next guy. Having that good start made people believe in my philosophy.
“We did it. We never changed anything. We proved it in the way we handled things, and the kids bought into it. We did it the right way.”
Last weeks, DCC did hire that “next guy” – Shamrocks defensive coordinator Dan Anderson, who was promoted to take over the program after working 20 years under the longtime mentor.
But the initial shock of not being the person in charge will take time to sink in for Mach. What he will lean on to make this transition as smooth as possible are his family and friends.
Mach fought with this decision, but what made him make it at this time was his family, notably his wife, Lynn. His wife had knee replacement on Jan. 10, and on April 4 she is scheduled to have the other knee replaced. Whether it’s hip replacement, knee replacement or any similar type of surgery, the process is painstaking, and the person going through it must have someone close to assist in the process.
Being that person, Mach knew this would take time away from coaching his team in the offseason had he chosen to stay. Lynn had physical therapy sessions three days a week, and the other four Mach would assist with the therapy at home.
In the end, it would have been too difficult to do both.
“I have to be her coach,” he said. “After (the knee replacement) I was with her two weeks, every day. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. Fourteen days. But we did it.”
Mach said Lynn is recovering well and is anxious to have the other one done.
The Machs will spend much of their free time at the summer home just south of Gaylord. Though not a fisherman or hunter, Mach does enjoy the outdoors. Snowshoeing is one hobby he enjoys as well as taking walks, often long walks.
To add to his activities, Mach has a brother who lives in Williamsburg, just outside of Traverse City, and his sister lives near Gaylord.
They will enjoy the peacefulness that place provides, but they’ll remain residents in southeast Michigan. Their two sons, Mike and Joe, both assistant coaches in the football program, live in the Detroit area. The Machs have one granddaughter with another grandchild on the way.
“(Lynn) won’t move anywhere,” Mach said. “We have friends here. This is our home.
“It’s always great when I’m up there, and it’s always tough to leave. Now we’ll have more time to go there and won’t be in such a hurry to leave.”
Mach said he’ll remain in contact with Catholic Central and the people who have been so much a part of his life over the years. He’ll go to games and root for the Shamrocks from his seat in the stands.
To give back to the sport, Mach said he will consider speaking at clinics or schools if asked. He mentioned that Ferris State University and Royal Oak Shrine have made contact with him on such matters.
Mach’s resume is as impressive as any coach. His teams won 10 MHSAA Finals titles and seven other times reached championship games. Those numbers are staggering. In 41 seasons when a Tom Mach-coached team began practice in August, more than 41 percent of the time it would reach the last game of the season.
He also ends third on the list of career coaching victories. His record is 370-94. Only Fracassa (Brother Rice, Shrine) with 430 and John Herrington at Farmington Hills Harrison (425) have more.
But Mach was never keen on talking about his accomplishments. For him, success was measured by the development of his players – physically, mentally and spiritually – and the respect they showed for the game.
“Throughout my life, I’ve been lucky,” he said. “It was a hard decision when you work with people so long. The school is great. The people are great. They all inspired me. It’s the people I’ll miss. You become a coach because you love it.
“I love C.C. I want them to do well. I want them to make sure the kids here have every opportunity to win.”
Tom Markowski is a columnist and directs website coverage for the State Champs! Sports Network. He previously covered primarily high school sports for the The Detroit News from 1984-2014, focusing on the Detroit area and contributing to statewide coverage of football and basketball. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.
PHOTO: Detroit Catholic Central retiring football coach Tom Mach led his team to one last MHSAA Division 1 Final in the fall, against Detroit Cass Tech at Ford Field.
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.)