Drive for Detroit: 11-Player Finals Preview

November 22, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Each day of this weekend's MHSAA 11-Player Football Finals at Ford Field will have its own distinct theme.

Friday features the only first-time football finalist this season, Ottawa Lake Whiteford in Division 8, plus three teams seeking their first championships since the 1990s: Walled Lake Western in Division 2, Detroit Country Day in Division 4 and Maple City Glen Lake in Division 6.

Saturday, meanwhile, will be rematch day. The Division 1, 3 and 5 Finals are rematches of championship games from earlier this decade, and Division 7 finalists Detroit Loyola and Pewamo-Westphalia met in a Semifinal a year ago.  

See below for a look at all of the finalists taking the field this weekend, powered by MI Student Aid. Tickets cost $10 and are good for all four games on one day. Click for a full schedule.

The first three Friday games will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit’s primary channel (check cable/satellite box listings for your specific channel) with the Division 4 game available live on and on FOX Sports GO! for tablet and handheld users. Saturday's first two games will air live on Fox Sports Detroit, with the third on Fox Sports Detroit-PLUS. As with the Division 4 game, the Division 3 game will be available live online only, but both will be aired on Fox Sports Detroit on Sunday; the Division 4 game will air at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Division 3 game at 9 p.m. Audio broadcasts will be available on the MHSAA Network website.

Rankings below were voted upon by The Associated Press’ media panel. Statistics are current unless noted; those with a "*" are only through Regional Finals.

Division 1

13-0, No. 1
Coach: Thomas Wilcher, 19th season (197-51)
League finish: First in Detroit Public School League East Division 1.
Finals history: Division 1 champion 2012, 2011; runner-up 2015.
Best wins: 32-28 over No. 3 Utica Eisenhower in the Semifinal, 43-42 over No. 4 Saline in the Regional Final, 24-7 over No. 7 Dearborn in the District Final, 35-7 over No. 8 Dearborn Fordson in the Pre-District, 31-18 and 41-20 over Division 2 No. 3 Detroit Martin Luther King.
Players to watch: RB/DB Donovan Johnson, 5-8/175 sr. (1,007 yards/16 TDs rushing); QB Rodney Hall, 6-2/210 sr. (2,315 yards/23 TDs passing); WR/FS Donovan Peoples-Jones, 6-2/190, sr. (982 yards/16 TDs receiving); OT/DT Jordan Reid, 6-5/295 jr.; DB/RB Jaylen Kelly-Powell, 6-0/200 sr.
Outlook: Not that anyone was doubting it before, but it’s tough to argue with Cass Tech’s ranking after its body of work in the playoffs – with Saturday’s comeback win over Eisenhower just the latest of an impressive run. Hall, Peoples-Jones and Kelly-Powell were stars on last year’s team too and Johnson and senior Tim Cheatem are back as the top runners after the Technicians – without Hall because of an injury – fell to Romeo in last season’s Division 1 Final. Kelly-Powell is committed to sign with Michigan, Hall with Northern Illinois and Reid with Michigan State, and both Peoples-Jones and Johnson are making decisions with a number of offers from elite college programs.

13-0, No. 2
Coach: Tom Mach, 41st season (373-96)
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Central.
Finals history: Ten MHSAA titles (most recent 2009), six runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 28-14 over No. 6 Grandville in the Regional Final, 28-21 over Division 2 No. 10 Birmingham Brother Rice, 28-7 and 17-14 over Division 3 No. 10 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
Players to watch: RB/DB Nicholas Capatina, 5-9/180, sr. (1,035 yards/13 TDs); QB/DB Austin Brown, 6-0/180, soph. (1,314 yards/14 TDs); FB/LB Cameron Ryan, 6-0/220, jr. (833 yards/15 TDs rushing); FB/LB Isaac Darkangelo, 6-1/230, jr.; RB/LB Matt Young, 6-1/220, jr.
Outlook: The Shamrocks get to renew their postseason rivalry with Cass Tech after going 1-2 against the Technicians during two championship game and one Semifinal meeting from 2011-13. DCC can control the tempo by controlling the ground game – see last week’s 17-0 win over reigning Division 1 champion Romeo – but additionally hasn’t given up more than 21 points in a game this season while also defeating some strong out-of-state competition including Toledo Whitmer (29-7) and Cleveland St. Ignatius (28-21). The Shamrocks run behind a line averaging 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds and can deploy some skilled receiving threats in seniors Chris Jakubik and Jack Morris. 

Division 2

11-2, No. 3
Coach: Ty Spencer, first season (11-2)
League finish: Second in Detroit Public School League East Division 1.
Finals history: Division 2 champion 2015 and 2007, two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 14-7 over No. 5 Birmingham Groves in the Semifinal, 21-7 over No. 7 Temperance Bedford in the Regional Final, 39-0 over No. 10 Southfield Arts & Technology.
Players to watch: RB Kevin Willis, 5-8/165 sr. (1,003 yards/13 TDs rushing*); WR/DB Ambry Thomas, 5-11/175, sr.; (885 yards/13 TDs); QB Dequan Finn, 6-0/165, soph. (2,175 yards/34 TDs); DB/FL Jae’Veyon Morton, 5-9/165, jr. (592 yards/13 TDs receiving*).  
Outlook: Last season’s champion is back in the Final with a few different players in key positions, but also returning standouts Willis and Thomas. King’s only losses this fall were twice to Division 1 finalist Detroit Cass Tech; Cass Tech and also-PSL rival Detroit East English were the only teams to put up more than 14 points on the Crusaders this season. Thomas is one of the most highly-recruited players in the state and also has scored on interception, kick and punt returns this season. Former defensive coordinator Spencer has led the return effort, taking over after the tragic death of coach Dale Harvel in July. 

12-1, No. 2
Coach: Mike Zdebski, 19th season (153-56)
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association North and Lakes.  
Finals history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 1999), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 37-34 over No. 1 Lowell in the Semifinal, 61-21 over Fenton in the Regional Final, 37-7 over Brighton.
Players to watch: WR/DB Cody White, 6-3/205 sr. (547 yards/8 TDs rushing, 694 yards/9 TDs receiving, 638 yards/9 TDs passing); WR/DB Kameron Ford, 5-10/165, sr. (1,097 yards/13 TDs receiving); TB/LB Jalen Marshall, 5-10/225 sr. (881 yards/17 TDs rushing); QB Johnny Tracy, 6-3/205 sr. (2,125 yards/23 TDs passing).
Outlook: Zdebski brings Walled Lake Western back to the Finals after leading the Warriors to a championship back in his second season and also a 12-1 record a year ago. White – a rushing/receiving/passing threat headed to Michigan State – is the player most know, but he’s hardly the only offensive threat. Senior defensive back Jack Dodge paces the defense with 120 tackles and seven interceptions; total, Western has taken advantage of 30 turnovers this fall. 

Division 3

9-4, No. 10
Coach: George Porritt, 28th season (254-71)
League finish: Second in Detroit Catholic League Central.
Finals history: Seven MHSAA titles (most recent 2015), six runner-up finishes. 

Best wins: 35-28 over No. 6 DeWitt in the Regional Final, 21-0 over Division 2 No. 10 Birmingham Brother Rice, 35-14 over Division 7 No. 5 Detroit Loyola.
Players to watch:  RB/DE Kyren Cunningham, 6-1/220, jr. (1,967 yards/22 TDs rushing); RB/LB RaShawn Allen, 5-9/200, jr. (943 yards/16 TDs); LB/RB Josh Ross, 6-1/225, sr.; DB/WR Richard Bowens, 6-1/190, sr.
Outlook: St. Mary’s is playing for its third straight Division 3 title and the second time against Muskegon during this run after downing the Big Reds 7-0 in the 2014 Final. The Eaglets’ offensive playmakers are mostly juniors; joining Cunningham and Allen in the backfield, junior quarterback Caden Prieskorn (6-6/215) has thrown for more than 1,000 yards. The defense is stacked with talented seniors; Ross will sign with Michigan, Bowens has committed to play at Iowa State, defensive back Shermond Dabney is headed to Bowling Green and nose guard Ralph Holley and linebacker Dwayne Chapman to Western Michigan. The Eaglets have given up more than 17 points only three times.

12-1, No. 1
Coach: Shane Fairfield, 12th season (73-17)
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Black.
Finals history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2008), three runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 49-14 and 62-7 (Regional Final) over No. 5 Byron Center, 19-8 over No. 2 Edwardsburg in the Semifinal, 28-10 over East Grand Rapids in the District Final.
Players to watch: QB Kalil Pimpleton, 5-7/160 sr. (1,456 yards/21 TDs rushing, 714 yards/14 TDs passing, 229 yards/2 TDs receiving); QB La’Darius Jefferson, 6-2/210, jr. (865 yards/17 TDs rushing, 863 yards/9 TDs passing); WR/FS Jacorey Sullivan, 6-3/205, sr. (553 yards/7 TDs receiving); LB/RB Andrew Ward, 6-1/210, sr.
Outlook: As noted above, this is a rematch of the 2014 Final, and a little bit of a rebound for the Big Reds after they fell to Lowell in a Division 2 Regional Final a year ago. The quarterback tandem of Pimpleton and Jefferson should be one of the most entertaining offensive duos of the weekend; Pimpleton will play next at Virginia Tech. Ward also has major conference Division I offers and leads a defense that has given up 39 points over four playoff games and more than 15 only once, in a three-point Week 2 loss to Lincolnshire Stevenson of Illinois.

Division 4

13-0, No. 1
Coach: Dan MacLean, 19th season (148-68)
League finish: Does not play in a conference.
Finals history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 1999), five runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 20-14 over No. 2 River Rouge in the Semifinal, 45-7 over No. 4 Marysville in the District Final, 21-20 over Division 2 No. 7 Temperance Bedford.
Players to watch: RB/DB Chris Bergin, 5-11/200 sr. (626 yards/11 TDs rushing); QB/WR/DB Steve Mann, 6-0/195, sr. (713 yards/6 TDs passing, 281 yards/4 TDs receiving); QB/DB Jalen Graham, 6-2/185, soph. (407 yards/7 TDs passing); LB Kolin Demens, 6-2/200 jr.
Outlook: Country Day has played in three Finals over the last decade, in 2007, 2008 and 2012, and is back after falling in Semifinals the last two seasons. The Yellowjackets set a school record with 470 points with some incredible balance; although no player’s stats jump off the page, both Mann and Graham have had success at quarterback, while Bergin leads five with at least 200 yards rushing and four players have caught 10 or more passes. The defense gets more attention; aside from giving up 21 and 20 to Division 2 Detroit U-D Jesuit and Temperance Bedford, respectively, Country Day has held the rest to 14 or fewer points. Senior linebacker Adam Fakih leads with 98 tackles.

12-1, No. 5
Coach: Todd Kolster, fifth season (49-10)
League finish: Tied for first in O-K Blue
Finals history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2010), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 31-3 over No. 8 Hudsonville Unity Christian in the Semifinal, 34-0 over Escanaba in the Regional Final, 27-6 over East Grand Rapids, 35-20 and 38-7 (District Final) over Allendale.
Players to watch: QB Jack Bowen, 5-10/165 jr. (2,329 yards/24 TDs passing*); TB Nolan Fugate, 6-0/200 jr. (1,637/14 TDs rushing); WR/DB Michael Brown, 6-0/200, sr. (1,090 yards/11 TDs receiving*); WR/DB Antonio Strong, 6-0/180, sr. (1,050 yards/11 TDs receiving*).
Outlook: GRCC advanced past the District round for the first time since 2010 with its highest-scoring offense since that season and a defense that has given up a combined 10 points over the last five weeks. The lone loss was to Division 5 finalist Grand Rapids West Catholic in Week 8, and in that game the Cougars allowed only 20 points. A key has been forcing turnovers; GRCC had 24 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries head into the Semifinal. 

Division 5

11-2, No. 6
Coach: Joe Hyland, first season (11-2)
League finish: Tied for first in O-K Blue.
Finals history: Four MHSAA titles (most recent 2015), two runner-up finishes. 
Best wins: 10-7 over No. 1 Portland in the District Final, 28-7 over No. 4 Lansing Catholic in the Pre-District, 30-13 over Division 6 No. 5 Jackson Lumen Christi, 20-3 over Division 4 No. 5 Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
Players to watch: RB/QB/DB David Fox, 6-2/215 sr. (689 yards/8 TDs rushing, 1,286 yards/17 TDs passing*); QB Gaetano Vallone, 5-10/170, jr. (889 yards/7 TDs passing*); WR/DB Sam Neville, 6-3/205, sr. (854 yards/13 TDs receiving*); WR/DB Alex Fortier, 5-8/150 jr. (574 yards/9 TDs rushing*)
Outlook: The Falcons have a new coach but the same result as they’ll play in their fifth straight Final while seeking their fourth straight Division 5 championship. Hyland brought a successful past that included leading a playoff program in South Carolina, and he has guided West Catholic through all road games (including a neutral-field Semifinal) on the way to Detroit. Fox and Vallone were the stars of last year’s victory over River Rouge, and Fox at defensive back also helps linebackers Nathaniel Mitchell and Chris Markules pace a defense that has given up 20 points total during the playoffs. 

12-1, No. 5
 Joe Noha, fifth season (59-6)

League finish:
 First in Great Northern U.P. Conference

Finals history:
 Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2007), one runner-up finish.

Best wins: 
23-20 over No. 7 Frankenmuth in the Semifinal, 40-14 over No. 8 Reed City in the Regional Final, 28-14 over Escanaba.

Players to watch:
 WB/DB Ethan Mileski, 6-2/180, jr. (658 yards/5 TDs rushing, 1,250 yards/15 TDs passing); FB/LB Sam Larson, 5-11/185, sr. (766 yards/17 TDs rushing); WB/DB Marcus McKenney, 6-0/170 sr. (385 yards/4 TDs rushing, 499 yards/4 TDs receiving); TB/DB Keifer Rasner, 5-10/190, sr. (1,372 yards/20 TDs rushing, 410 yards/3 TDs passing).

 Menominee is back at Ford Field for the first time since 2013, earning a rematch of that Division 5 Final loss to West Catholic. The run has been impressive, including a late comeback win last week over Frankenmuth, and especially because all-state running back Rasner has missed the last few games with an injury. Larson and Mileski have picked up the slack, Larson with more than 300 yards rushing over the last two games and Mileski with more than 500 yards of total offense as the team downed the Eagles and Reed City.

Division 6

11-2, No. 5
Coach: Herb Brogan, 37th season (336-83)
League finish: Tied for first in Interstate 8 Athletic Conference.
Finals history:
 Eight MHSAA titles (most recent 2009), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 27-7 over No. 3 Millington in the Semifinal, 37-34 OT over No. 2 Schoolcraft in the District Final, 21-20 OT over Coldwater.
Players to watch:
 RB Bo Bell, 5-9/170 sr. (2,428 yards/32 TDs rushing); WR/FS Jake Lathers, 5-11/175, sr. (593 yards/4 TDs receiving*); QB Troy Kutcha, 6-1/170 jr. (1,374 yards/10 TDs passing); FB/LB Kyle Minder, 5-11/200 jr. (457 yards/8 TDs rushing*).
 Lumen Christi will make its first trip to the Finals since that last championship run after eliminating two of the favorites along the way. Bell has carried a heavy load especially during the playoffs, and carried it well, while Kutcha adds a threat in the air to keep defenses honest. Minder is joined on defense by talented linebackers Alex Lasky and Luke Stanton, while end Karim Harris and tackle Grant Smith provide further power up front.

11-2, No. 6
 Jerry Angers, eighth season (50-32)
League finish:
 Second in Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders.
Finals history:
 Class DD champion 1994, Class DD runner-up 1996.
Best wins: 
14-0 over No. 4 Calumet in the Regional Final, 36-12 over No. 8 Roscommon in the District Final, 34-20 over Leroy Pine River in the Semifinal.
Players to watch:
 RB/LB Nick Apsey, 6-1/200 jr. (791 yards/13 TDs rushing, 610 yards/10 TDs receiving); QB Cade Peterson, 6-4/190, jr. (1,953 yards/20 TDs passing, 664 yards/7 TDs rushing); WR/DB Jared Jackson, 5-11/160, sr. (455 yards/3 TDs receiving); RB/LB Duke Angers, 6-1/230, sr. (255 yards/3 TDs rushing).
 Glen Lake has broken the 10-win plateau for the first time since 2001 and won their most games since that last Finals run. Fewer teams at this stage have better losses; Glen Lake fell to Frankfort and Traverse City St. Francis, which both finished with only one loss this fall. Only those two and Pine River last week have scored more than 14 points against a defense keyed by Angers in the middle.  

Division 7

11-2, No. 5
 John Callahan, seventh season (77-14)
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League AA
Finals history: Division 7 champion 2014, runner-up 2013 and 2012.
Best wins: 36-13 over No. 6 Hudson in the Regional Final, 46-7 over No. 8 Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett in the District Final, 34-24 over Dearborn Divine Child.
Players to watch: QB/DB Price Watkins, 6-0/175, sr. (1,060 yards/9 TDs rushing, 817 yards/9 TDs passing); RB/LB Malcolm Mayes, 6-1/207, sr. (1,240 yards/14 TDs rushing); RB/LB D’Anthony Robinson, 5-10/210 soph. (1,298 yards/19 TDs rushing); LB/OL Kailen Abrams, 6-2/220 sr.
Outlook: Loyola no doubt has been looking forward to this rematch after falling to P-W 30-0 in a Semifinal last season. And the Bulldogs have beaten four league champions during this playoff run. But they are in a bit of a tough spot; Loyola's success this decade mostly has come as a result of a highly-productive running game, and three players have gone over 1,000 yards rushing this season. But the Detroit News has reported that Mayes and Robinson will be out with injuries Saturday. The good news is this team also can throw; Watkins has an all-state receiver in 6-foot-4 senior Hunter Harris (618 yards/7 TDs receiving).

Record/rank: 13-0, No. 2
 Jeremy Miller, fourth season (46-6)

League finish:
 First in Central Michigan Athletic Conference.

Finals history:
 Division 7 runner-up 2015 and 2011.

Best wins: 
17-14 over No. 1 Traverse City St. Francis in the Regional Final, 25-19 over No. 3 Saugatuck in the District Final, 34-16 over No. 4 Ubly in the Semifinal, 40-7 over Division 6 No. 10 Laingsburg.
Players to watch: RB/LB Jared Smith, 6-0/205, sr. (2,528 yards/38 TDs rushing); WR/DB Mason Schneider, 5-11/160, sr.; OT/DT Dominic Spitzley, 6-3/260, sr.; OL/LB Devon Pung, 5-11/200, sr.
Outlook: P-W was 3 minutes and 53 seconds from its first MHSAA title last season before falling to Ishpeming 22-16, and many of 2015's top contributors are back for another shot – including the second-leading rusher in MHSAA history. Smith has run for 8,140 yards over a four-season varsity career and is only 291 shy of the career record set by East Grand Rapids’ Kevin Grady from 2001-04. Defenses will focus on Smith – but he has a veteran line in front of him and a pair of quarterbacks in senior Ryan Smith and junior Jimmy Lehman who bring different looks on that side of the ball. Senior Nathan Smith joins Pung and Schneider as all-state honorees leading a defense that hasn’t given up more than 20 points in a game and 103 overall.

Division 8

13-0, No. 5
Jason Mensing, fifth season (47-12)
League finish: 
First in Tri-County Conference.
Finals history: 
Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 
40-21 over Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary in the Semifinal, 38-18 over No. 2 Climax-Scotts in the Regional Final, 30-26 and 44-21 (District Final) over Morenci.
Players to watch: 
QB/FS Thomas Eitniear, 5-10/160, jr. (920 yards/9 TDs passing, 796 yards/7 TDs rushing); RB/LB Jesse Kiefer, 5-9/165, sr. (1,240 yards/30 TDs rushing rushing, 287 yards/5 TDs receiving); WB/LB Conner Hoogendoorn, 5-11/175 sr. (953 yards/16 TDs rushing); OT/DT Lucas Tesznar, 6-5/250, jr.
This is Whiteford’s first trip to the Finals after its second straight – and second-ever – Semifinal appearance. Kiefer, an all-state honorable mention, is the school’s career record-holder for rushing yards, points and total offense, while Eitniear has started every game of the two Semifinal runs at quarterback. He also was an all-state honorable mention and Tesznar made the first team as Whiteford has scored nearly 100 points more than last season’s record total. The Bobcats have had only two single-digit games this fall, winning their four playoff games by an average of 21 points.  

13-0, No. 1
 Steve Czerwon, fourth season (50-4)
League finish: First in Lakes 8 Conference.
Finals history: 
Eleven MHSAA titles (most recent 2015), three runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 21-6 and 35-0 (Semifinal) over No. 3 St. Ignace, 35-0 over No. 6 Frankfort in the Regional Final, 30-6 over Division 5 No. 9 Muskegon Oakridge.
Players to watch:
RB/LB LaTommy Scott, 5-10/175, sr. (873 yards/8 TDs rushing); LB Andrew Schulte, 5-10/185, sr.; RB/DB Logan Helton, 5-9/175 sr. (817 yards/13 TDs rushing); RB/DB Walker Christoffersen, 5-9/180 sr. (656 yards/11 TDs rushing).
Outlook: MCC has won the last three Division 8 titles and brings back a number of veterans including all three top running backs from last season, when the Crusaders beat Waterford Our Lady 7-0. They did suffer a setback when all-state lineman Adam Benoit was ruled out for the rest of the season with an injury a few weeks ago – but it’s been tough to tell by MCC’s combined 70-0 score over the last two games. Senior quarterback Trenton Bordeaux adds another dimension offensively (589 yards/7 TDs passing) and also is an all-state punter, while all-stater Schulte leads a defense that hasn’t given up a point in three weeks and only 71 overall this fall.

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid. 

PHOTO: Ford Field is again the home of the MHSAA 11-Player Football Finals.

1st & Goal: 2023 Week 6 Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 28, 2023

Five showdowns of undefeated teams highlight this week's Michigan high school statewide schedule as we begin our second-half buildup toward the end of the regular season. 

MI Student AidFour shoud heavily impact league championship races, and the fifth merely will tell us how two more of the top 8-player teams in the entire state stack up among the elite.

If you're not watching in person, check out most of the matchups highlighted below, and several others, on Check in as well with the MHSAA Scores page for all of them as they come in. (Games below are Friday unless noted.)

Bay & Thumb

Croswell-Lexington (5-0) at Almont (5-0) - Watch

Just past halfway through the Blue Water Area Conference schedule, half the teams are 3-1 or 4-0 in league play – with these the co-leaders. Croswell-Lexington hasn’t played a game closer than 19 points this fall, but did lose last year’s meeting with Almont 37-26. The Raiders, meanwhile, have won the last two weeks by seven and one point, respectively – but opened the season with three straight shutouts as the stifling defense they’ve become known for has given up only 34 points total.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Lapeer (4-1) at Grand Blanc (3-2) - Watch, Linden (4-1) at Fenton (4-1) - Watch, Birch Run (4-1) at Freeland (5-0) - Watch, Madison Heights Lamphere (4-1) at Marine City (4-1).

Greater Detroit

Westland John Glenn (5-0) at Belleville (5-0) - Watch

Belleville’s 42-3 victory over Livonia Franklin last week was the team’s 30th straight, and the Tigers now own the state’s longest active winning streak with Powers North Central’s coming to an end at 41 on the same night. Belleville’s next challenger is John Glenn, which under second-year coach Jason Mensing has as many victories this fall as the last two combined and has nearly guaranteed its first winning season since 2014. Mensing guided his former team Ottawa Lake Whiteford through several memorable moments, and this will be the Rockets’ biggest so far under his leadership.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Gibraltar Carlson (4-1) at Trenton (4-1) - Watch, Romeo (3-2) at Macomb Dakota (4-1) - Watch, Lake Orion (5-0) at Rochester Adams (3-2) - Watch, Marine City Cardinal Mooney (3-2) at Clarkston Everest Collegiate (3-2) - Watch.


Goodrich (5-0) at Corunna (5-0) - Watch

The winner of this matchup clinches a share of the Flint Metro League Stars championship, similar to last season when Goodrich won the league and Corunna was second thanks to the Martians’ 42-7 win in their Week 5 matchup. Both arguably have been even better this fall. Goodrich has handed the only losses this season to Frankenmuth and Linden, and Corunna has given up only 31 points this season and no more than 17 in a game while scoring at least 38 every time out.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Evart (4-1) at Beal City (5-0) - Watch, Grand Ledge (5-0) at DeWitt (2-2) - Watch, Fowler (5-0) at Pewamo-Westphalia (4-1) - Watch, Montrose (4-1) at New Lothrop (4-1) - Watch.

Northern Lower Peninsula

Charlevoix (4-1) at Elk Rapids (2-3)

There’s more riding here than the initial glance my indicate. Charlevoix, with a win, would clinch a share of the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders title – its first since 2020 and after finishing second to Boyne City both of the past two seasons. The Rayders haven’t had a game closer than 13 points since falling to Traverse City St. Francis by one in their season opener. Elk Rapids got off to a tough start but has won two straight – both in shutouts – and is looking for its first win over Charlevoix since 2018.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Grayling (3-2) at Kingsley (4-1) - Watch, McBain (4-1) at Lake City (3-2), Ludington (3-2) at Manistee (4-1) - Watch, Cadillac (3-2) at Petoskey (3-2) - Watch.

Southeast & Border

Jackson (4-1) at Adrian (4-1) - Watch

Jackson has a chance to set up a Week 7 winner-take-all matchup with Chelsea for the Southeastern Conference White championship – a nice jump after finishing third last season. The Vikings haven’t defeated Chelsea since 2018 but lost by a respectable 17-0 last fall. But they can’t overlook Adrian, still enjoying its best season since 2016 despite falling to Chelsea 28-18 last week. The Maples would love to hand Jackson a loss tonight and cheer for the Vikings next week with a title share possible.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Michigan Center (4-1) at Grass Lake (4-1) - Watch, Flat Rock (4-1) at Milan (3-2) - Watch, Ann Arbor Huron (3-2) at Saline (5-0) - Watch, Hudson (5-0) at Blissfield (3-2) - Watch.

Southwest Corridor

Parma Western (5-0) at Battle Creek Harper Creek (4-1)

We’re halfway through the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference schedule, and this has emerged as an important matchup with Parma Western tied with Hastings for first and Harper Creek only a game back after falling to the Saxons 34-6 last week. The Beavers struggled to 3-6 a year ago but already have avenged 2022 losses to Battle Creek Lakeview, Battle Creek Central and Marshall – and Western defeated them 34-0 last season before Harper Creek went 2-1 to finish the fall. Western’s defense is a notable strength again, giving up only 37 points total this season despite taking on Dearborn Divine Child and Detroit Country Day over the first two weeks.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Paw Paw (5-0) at Edwardsburg (3-2) - Watch, Constantine (4-1) at Allegan (4-1) - Watch, St. Joseph (3-2) at Portage Northern (5-0) - Watch, Muskegon Catholic Central (3-2) at Schoolcraft (4-1) - Watch.

Upper Peninsula

Gladstone (4-1) at Menominee (5-0)

This is the first of three games that will tell a lot about Menominee’s season as the Maroons enter this stretch alone atop the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper at 4-0 but with Gladstone, Week 7 opponent Negaunee and Week 8 opponent Kingsford all 3-1 in league play. While this is a new conference for the Maroons this season, they have plenty of history with Gladstone as both came from the Great Northern Conference – and Menominee had won three straight in the series before Gladstone’s 28-6 victory last fall. Gladstone’s lone defeat this year came Week 3 to Kingsford, 35-12.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Maple City Glen Lake (3-2) at Sault Ste. Marie (3-2) - Watch, Manistique (3-2) at Iron Mountain (5-0) - Watch, Marquette (2-2) at Escanaba (1-4) - Watch, Houghton (2-3) at Calumet (1-4) - Watch.

West Michigan

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (4-1) at East Grand Rapids (5-0)

We’ve been watching East Grand Rapids’ rejuvenation this fall with this among games circled for special attention, and Forest Hills Central’s 15-14 loss to Byron Center last week hardly lessens the intrigue. The Rangers are still among favorites statewide in Division 3, ranked No. 2, and East Grand Rapids is right behind them this week at No. 3 (while Byron Center is No. 2 in Division 2). The Ottawa-Kent Conference White title won’t be decided with this matchup, but it surely will be impacted – and the Rangers have defeated EGR all three times they’ve met since the Pioneers rejoined the division in 2020.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Allendale (5-0) at Spring Lake (4-1), Lowell (4-1) at Byron Center (5-0), Caledonia (4-1) at Hudsonville (4-1) - Watch, Zeeland East (4-1) at Muskegon (3-2).


Mendon (5-0) at Adrian Lenawee Christian (5-0) - Watch

Movement on the overall 8-player enrollment list have made this a matchup we’ll see just this once this fall, as Mendon – last year’s Division 2 runner-up – has moved to Division 1 and is ranked No. 2, while Lenawee Christian is top-ranked in Division 2 after winning Division 1 titles in 2020 and 2021 and reaching a Regional Final last year. Still, many 8-player eyes will be watching. The Cougars have given up just 32 points this season and no more than 12 in a game, and that defense should be part of the key matchup within the matchup because Mendon is scoring 52 per contest and coming off an 80-point performance.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Carson City-Crystal (5-0) at Coleman (4-1) - Watch, Brown City (5-0) at Mayville (5-0) - Watch, St. Ignace (5-0) at Newberry (4-1), Norway (4-1) at Ontonagon (4-1) - Watch.

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PHOTO Muskegon Catholic Central and Orchard View players reach to get a hand on the ball during their meeting this season. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)