Drive for Detroit: Playoff R3 Review

November 14, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

We’ve reached the final two weeks of another Michigan high school football season. Our field of 272 teams four weeks ago is down to only 34. And some of these key games are coming down to every last inch and minute.

Six of nine divisions this weekend saw at least one winner emerge by three or fewer points. Edwardsburg and Chelsea went to overtime. Detroit Cass Tech and Saline entered undefeated and ended only a point apart.

See below for a glance at those two games and all 32 11-player Regional Finals and both 8-player Semifinals, with links to media coverage of notable results in each division. 

Division 1

Detroit Cass Tech 43, Saline 42

It was hard to expect more from a matchup of undefeated Division 1 powers than what these two delivered Friday. Cass Tech (12-0) won an incredible seventh straight Regional championship in part on the running of Donovan Johnson, who gained 285 yards and scored four touchdowns on the ground – which balanced out nicely 241 yards and five running scores by Saline’s Connor Hibbard. The Hornets finished 11-1 for the second straight season after winning a third straight District title. Click for more from the Detroit News.

Other Regional Finals:

Detroit Catholic Central 28, Grandville 14 – This run has made it hard to remember that the Shamrocks (12-0) had a rare down year only two years ago, finishing 4-5; Ottawa-Kent Conference Red co-champion Grandville (10-2) was the latest playoff opponent to not come within two touchdowns of DCC, but did finish with its most wins since 1996.

Romeo 41, Clarkston 7 – The reigning Division 1 champion Bulldogs (9-3) needed a little time to really get rolling this fall, but like DCC they’ve also beaten all three playoff opponents by double digits; Clarkston (9-3) did finish two wins better than a year ago.

Utica Eisenhower 42, Southfield Arts & Technology 7 – The Eagles (12-0) have guaranteed their best record since 2003 with their first Regional title since 2011 after a second-straight five-touchdown win this postseason; Southfield Arts & Technology finished its inaugural season a strong 8-4.

Division 2

Lowell 22, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 19

Lowell’s climb against the Rangers wasn’t as steep as when the Red Arrows came back from a 17-point deficit to win their first meeting in Week 7. But Lowell still needed to score last – on a touchdown run by quarterback David Kruse six seconds into the fourth quarter – get ahead of Forest Hills Central for good. The second straight Regional title gave Lowell (12-0) that many wins for the second straight season as well; Forest Hills Central (9-3) finished off one of the best rebound runs statewide after going 2-7 in both 2014 and 2015. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Other Regional Finals:

Walled Lake Western 61, Fenton 21 – The Warriors (11-1) scored their season high to win a second straight Regional title and end a nine-game winning streak for Flint Metro League champion Fenton (9-3).

Detroit Martin Luther King 21, Temperance Bedford 7 – The reigning Division 2 champion Crusaders (10-2) have beaten all of their playoff opponents this time by at least 14; Bedford (9-3) gave King one of its closest games and finished five wins better than a year ago.

Birmingham Groves 44, Grosse Pointe South 10 – Groves (11-1) earned its first Regional title and attained 11 wins for the first time as well, running for 428 yards led by Ernest Allen’s 157 and Collin Heard’s 101; South (8-4) improved a win from last year and doubled its total from only two years ago.

Division 3

Edwardsburg 42, Chelsea 40 (OT)

The Eddies’ substantial run of success this decade now includes a second Regional title in three seasons and the first 12-win season in program history – and Edwardsburg (12-0) earned them by holding off a comeback by Chelsea and stopping a two-point conversion try in overtime. The Eddies’ last Semifinal appearance, in 2014, came in Division 4. Chelsea (11-1) was Division 3 runner-up last season and finished this two-year run a combined 23-3. Click for more from the South Bend Tribune.

Other Regional Finals:

Muskegon 62, Byron Center 7 – The O-K Black champ Big Reds (9-3) won their fourth Regional title in five seasons while ending the winningest season for O-K Green champ Byron Center (10-2) since 2000.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 35, DeWitt 28 – The Panthers (10-2) led into the third quarter before St. Mary’s (8-4) outscored them 21-7 in the fourth to win a third straight Regional title.

Dearborn Divine Child 28, Allen Park 21 – The Falcons (10-2) continued another of the state’s great comeback seasons, adding a 10th win and Regional title for the first time since 1985 after going 4-5 a year ago; Allen Park (11-1) finished a win better than last season and with its most since 2004 in winning a second straight District title.

Division 4

Detroit Country Day 28, Corunna 13

Country Day won its third straight Regional title and fourth in five seasons by holding the Cavaliers to 133 yards of total offense and getting some key tosses from quarterback Jalen Graham (10 of 15 passing for 123 yards and a touchdown). The Yellowjackets (12-0) jumped out to a 21-7 lead and now have their most wins in a season since 1995. Corunna (9-3) continued its climb from 2-7 two seasons ago to 8-2 last year and this fall its most wins since 2002. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

Other Regional Finals:

River Rouge 57, Adrian 20 – The Panthers (11-1) have won their playoff games by 61, 12 and now 37 points on the way to a second straight Regional title; Adrian finished its rebound season 7-5 after three straight 2-7 seasons and four straight with sub-.500 records.

Grand Rapids Catholic Central 34, Escanaba 0 – The Cougars (11-1) are in their first Semifinal since their championship season of 2010 and with their third shutout in four weeks; Escanaba (9-3) can celebrate another jump in its revival after improving from 5-5 a year ago with its most wins since 1989.

Hudsonville Unity Christian 36, Lake Odessa Lakewood 16 – The Crusaders’ first Regional title came in part on the legs of running back Alec Headley, who averaged 16.1 yards per carry gaining 177 of 424 rush yards total for Unity Christian (10-2); Lakewood’s winningest season ended at 10-2 as well.

Division 5

Frankenmuth 28, Ithaca 20

Frankenmuth (11-1) won its first Regional title since 1997 by handing Ithaca (11-1) only its third loss over the team’s last 100 games and first not in an MHSAA championship game since 2009. The Eagles are 48-8 over their last five seasons but had made only one other Regional Final appearance since their last win at that level of the tournament. Three Frankenmuth runners had at least 99 yards on the ground, led by Kris Roche with 161, as the team came back from a 14-0 deficit. Click for more from the Saginaw News.

Other Regional Finals:

Menominee 40, Reed City 14 – The Maroons (11-1) won their fifth Regional title in seven seasons with a fourth straight game scoring 40 or more points; Reed City (11-1) hadn’t given up 40 in a game since its 2014 Regional Final, but did finish with its most wins in a season ever.  

Grand Rapids West Catholic 40, Berrien Springs 7 – The Falcons (10-2) have survived three road games to also win a seventh straight Regional title, continuing their travels by ending a third straight playoff season for the Shamrocks (8-3).

Algonac 38, Ida 22 – Last season Ida won its first Regional title; this time Algonac (11-1) celebrated its first Regional championship by downing the Bluestreaks (10-2).

Division 6

Leroy Pine River 42, Ravenna 14

The mood had to be a little low for Pine River heading into the playoffs coming off two straight losses, but you’d never be able to tell. The Bucks (9-3) – also just 4-5 last season – won their first Regional title in a big way over Ravenna (9-3), a traditional power but also a nice comeback story coming off a 3-6 finish in 2015. Click for more from the Big Rapids News.

Other Regional Finals:

Maple City Glen Lake 14, Calumet 0 – The Lakers (10-2) reached 10 wins for the first time since 2001 with their first Regional title since 1996, ending the first 10-win season ever for Calumet (10-2), which was coming off its first District title since 2006.

Millington 22, Detroit Central Collegiate 20 – The Cardinals (11-1) came back from a 20-0 halftime deficit to win their first Regional title since 2010 and third since 2009; Central Collegiate (7-5) capped a third straight playoff season with its most wins since 2010.

Jackson Lumen Christi 49, Napoleon 6 – The Titans (10-2) won their first Regional title since 2009 by ending Napoleon’s winningest season since 2002 and longest playoff run ever at 9-3.

Division 7

Pewamo-Westphalia 17, Traverse City St. Francis 14

Arguably the most anticipated game statewide this side of Division 1 saw the reigning Division 7 runner-up Pirates (12-0) overcome a second straight undefeated opponent. The Gladiators (11-1) became the first team to hold P-W running back Jared Smith to fewer than 100 yards since his sophomore season two years ago, but the Pirates’ defense held St. Francis to its fewest points since last year’s Regional Final win over Boyne City. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Other Regional Finals:

Ubly 22, New Lothrop 13 – Make this now the Bearcats’ best season since 2009 as they won their first Regional title and 12 games for the first time since that year; Ubly (12-0) got rushing and receiving touchdowns from Jonathan Brandel as it ended New Lothrop’s seventh straight 10-win season at 10-2.

Cassopolis 51, Concord 14 – The Rangers (11-1) set a program record for wins with their first Regional title by scoring the most points Concord (9-3) had given up since Week 8 of 2014; the Yellowjackets did finish this season with their most wins since 2001.

Detroit Loyola 36, Hudson 13 – The Bulldogs (10-2) attained a sixth straight 10-win season by beating a third league champion in three playoff games; Hudson (10-2) had won a share of the Lenawee County Activities Association title and was making its first Regional Final appearance since 2011.

Division 8

St. Ignace 14, Norway 12

The Saints (11-1) have had only two other close games this season, but secured their second straight Regional title relying on a defense that has given up only 131 points this season and only 38 over three playoff games. Norway, playing for its first Regional title since 2006, also shined defensively holding down a St. Ignace offense averaging 42 points per game heading into the day. The Knights finished 9-3, making a significant jump from 2-7 a year ago. Click for more from the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News.

Other Regional Finals:

Muskegon Catholic Central 35, Frankfort 0 – The reigning Division 8 champion Crusaders (12-2) earned their second straight shutout of the playoffs by holding Frankfort (11-1) scoreless for the first time since 2013.

Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 28, Royal Oak Shrine 7 – The Cardinals (10-2) clinched a third-straight 10-win season and second Regional title in three seasons; Shrine (9-3) did accomplish a nice bounce-back from 4-5 last season to win its first District title since 2008.

Ottawa Lake Whiteford 38, Climax-Scotts 18 – These two have met two straight postseasons as undefeated teams, and Whiteford (12-0) has won both meetings; the Bobcats made up for three turnovers by getting 100-plus yards rushing from both Logan Murphy and Jesse Kiefer and holding Climax-Scotts (11-1) to its fewest points since the teams met in the same round a year ago.  


Powers North Central 62, Pickford 22

The reigning champion Jets (12-0) earned their return to the MHSAA Final with 40 first-half points and 506 total yards while possessing the ball only 14 minutes. Running back Bobby Kleiman gained 123 yards on only eight carries, scoring three time on the ground, and also caught three passes for 98 yards and a score. The Panthers did finish their winningest season since 1991 at 10-2. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.

Deckerville 36, Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 6

The Eagles won a matchup of undefeated teams to set up another this weekend, handing Tri-unity Christian (11-1) its first and only loss of the fall. Deckerville (11-0) was held to its fewest points since Week 1, but still hasn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 12 this season. The Eagles had fallen in Semifinals the last two seasons. Click for more from the Huron Daily Tribune.

PHOTO: Pewamo-Westphalia running back Jared Smith breaks into an opening as Traverse City St. Francis defenders converge. (Click to see more from

Ubly Offense, Kicker Pile Up Record Book Listings During Championship Run

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 12, 2024

Ubly finished a combined 27-1 over the last two seasons, following up a Division 8 runner-up run in 2022 with its first MHSAA Finals championship this past November. And the Bearcats stacked plenty of record book performances along the way.

Individually, senior Brett Mueller made the single-season extra point list again this past season with 76 in 81 tries, and he set the MHSAA career record with 220 extra points over 232 attempts, 40 games and three seasons. He has signed with Saginaw Valley State.

As a team, Ubly was added to the record book 13 times for achievements over the last two years, most notably in the rushing game. The Bearcats topped 5,200 total yards both seasons, and also made the rush yardage list twice including with a sixth-best 5,148 in 2022. Their 90 touchdowns in 2022 rank seventh all-time, and their 85 this past fall tied for 13th, and they tied the record with 10 rushing touchdowns in a 2022 win over Reese and set another record with 84 rushing touchdowns total that season.

See below for more recent record book additions in 11-player football, and click the heading to see the record book in full:

11-Player Football

Dundee’s Ben Miller has a pair of basketball record book entries, and he’s also been added in football for scoring seven touchdowns in his team’s 72-36 win over Erie Mason on Oct. 20, 2017. A senior that season, he ran for five scores and caught two touchdowns passes.

Nearly four decades later, Howard City Tri County’s Mike Wagoner has reached the record book for his work on defense in 1985. A junior that season, Wagoner returned three interceptions for touchdowns – 65, 55 and 35 yards – which would have been second on the list at the time and remains tied for third-most for one season.

Jaxon Lippert tops the list of 21 who have returned kickoffs 99 yards. Lippert, now a senior at Walled Lake Western, joined the list against Davison during his junior season.

A handful of records from Warren De La Salle Collegiate’s recent run of Ford Field teams and also one from decades ago were added. Jake Badalamenti was added three times for kickoff returns between 96-99 yards, one as a junior in 2016 and two as a senior the following fall, and Marty Wyzlic was added for his 95-yarder in 1976. Mason Muragin is the new leader for tackles for loss in a career with 71 over three seasons, and he also was added to the single-season list with 31 as a junior in 2021, as was Will Beasley for 38 as a junior in 2020. Wayne Wright was added for his 16 sacks over nine games as a senior in 1984, and Josh Cox was added for his 100-yard interception return as a senior in 2012. Muragin plays at Illinois, Beesley plays at Princeton, Cox played at Central Michigan, and Badalamenti played baseball at Wayne State.

Pinckney junior Nolan Carruthers caught 16 passes during a 13-7 loss to Jackson on Sept. 15, good to tie for ninth-most in one game and breaking the Livingston County record of 14 by Hartland’s Greg Matthyssen in 2007 – a listing that also was added.

Ethan Wissner did some major lifting, or rather carrying, during Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker’s 28-14 District Final win over Montrose in 2022. The then-senior ran 42 times to make the record book, for 289 yards and three touchdowns. He’s continuing at Siena Heights.

Senior quarterback Andrew Schuster and junior receiver DeShaun Lanier formed a game-changing pass-catch combo this past season for Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, with Schuster finishing his career with nine record book listings and Lanier totaling six with a season to play. Schuster most notably was added for 212 completions on 301 attempts for 2,766 yards and 28 touchdowns this season, and 321 completions and 4,199 career yards over two years and 22 games. Lanier was added in part for 73 receptions for 1,132 yards and 15 TDs this fall. Junior kicker Juliano Haddad also earned impressive mentions with 10 field goals and 50 extra points – and he’ll carry a streak of 35 straight extra points into next fall. Schuster has committed to Grand Valley State.

Fulton’s Evan Barton has been added to the single-game touchdowns list after catching four scoring passes Sept. 8, 2017, against Potterville. He was a senior that season.

Saginaw Heritage’s Braylon Isom completed his career this past fall as arguably the most accomplished receiver in MHSAA history. His name is listed in the record book eight times, with career records of 3,837 receiving yards and 52 touchdowns over 34 games and four seasons, and with a single-season record 26 touchdowns this past fall over 12 games. His 91 career receptions rank fifth, and he’s also listed for 82 catches and 1,617 yards (seventh-most) as a senior and 1,428 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. He will continue at Miami (Ohio).

Evart’s 24-8 run over the last three seasons has been its most successful of the MHSAA playoff era, and senior quarterback Preston Wallace has played an enormous part. He finished his 33-game career in the fall – he came up for one game as a freshman – on record book lists twice for single-season passing yards and touchdowns and on career lists for 662 attempts, 421 completions, 6,955 yards and 88 passing touchdowns over those 32 games and three seasons. The yardage ranks 15th all-time, and the touchdowns are tied for sixth-most for one career.  

The 2005 Midland Bullock Creek team was added for scoring 547 points over 12 games. The Lancers finished 11-1, their only loss in a Division 5 Regional Final.

PHOTO Ubly's Seth Maurer (30) carries the ball during the Division 8 championship win over Ottawa Lake Whiteford in November.