Division 5 Final: Powers Up
December 20, 2011
DETROIT – The final night of September was cold, wet and especially disappointing for Flint Powers Catholic.
Chargers coach Bob Buckel sensed that frustration as the bus rolled to to a stop after 6-0 loss and then silent ride home from Davison. Powers already was 2-3 heading into that game and needing to win out to guarantee a playoff spot. Now at 2-4, perfection the rest of the way was absolutely necessary to catch even the slimmest of shots at a postseason berth.
The last eight games became unofficial playoff games for the Chargers. And they won them all.
Unranked and the underdog, Powers downed No. 1 Lansing Catholic in record-setting fashion Saturday, 56-26 to claim the MHSAA Division 5 championship at Ford Field.
“We knew that we had to win out. Nobody shied to that competition,” Powers senior lineman Danny O’Brien said. “We really got after it.”
And especially Saturday. The 56 points tied Saginaw Nouvel’s from the Division 7 Final earlier in the day as the new MHSAA Finals record. They also were the most points Powers has ever scored, beginning with its first season in 1970.
Lansing Catholic senior quarterback Cooper Rush was named Division 5-6 Player of the Year earlier this week by The Associated Press, and his name can be found all over the MHSAA record book. He added 291 yards and three touchdowns passing, and another score rushing to his impressive three-year varsity career totals.
But Saturday it was Powers junior quarterback Garrett Pougnet who played his name into history.
Rewind 12 weeks ago. Lansing Catholic (13-1) beat Powers 37-17. Pougnet struggled, completing just 6 of 20 passes and running for 67 yards and a score.
His performance in the Final was one of the many differences in the rematch. This time, Pougnet was 12 of 15 passing for 258 yards and four touchdowns, and also ran 14 times for 159 yards and two scores. His 413 yards of total offense were second in MHSAA Finals history and just 13 off the record.
Buckel listed the other differences this time around: Heading into the teams’ Sept. 2 meeting, Powers (10-4) was coming off a big loss to Saginaw Nouvel and two players were out with concussions. Two more defensive backs were still playing on the junior varsity. And, of course, he used a few different formations in the rematch.
“I just said, when we get the ball, we’re going to be very aggressive,” Buckel said. “We had a play we put in this week called Ford Field. It didn’t work either time. But we just wanted to be aggressive because we really thought we might need to score 50 points to beat them, because nobody has slowed them down.”
Rush finished this season with 4,005 passing yards, good for second in the MHSAA record book for one season, and 48 passing touchdowns, which tops that list. This time, senior Connor Bartlett was the main recipient with 11 catches for 189 yards and two scores. Senior Matt Macksood also caught a touchdown pass, and finished this season with 95 catches (second for one season) for 1,590 yards (fifth) and 22 touchdowns (tied for second).
“We moved the ball pretty good when we had it on offense. We just didn’t have it. I think they scored just about every time they had the ball,” Lansing Catholic coach Jim Ahern said. “The big difference in the games where we came back – we came back from 21 down against Portland, which was a very good football team – was we got some defensive stops. We just didn’t get them tonight.”
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.)