Drive for Detroit: Playoff Week 1 Review

October 30, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A couple massive upsets and an MHSAA record. Not a bad way to kick off the 2017 Football Playoffs.

Those are just a few of the many highlights from this weekend’s first rounds – Pre-District in 11-player and Pre-Regional in 8-player – and we’ve mentioned many more in our “Drive for Detroit” report below powered by MI Student Aid.

Read on for some from each division that especially stuck out from the first of our five-week run. 

11-Player Division 1

Holland West Ottawa 33, Grandville 29

On a night that saw three teams lose Week 9 rematches they won the first time, West Ottawa (9-1) held on to down the Bulldogs (6-4) for the second straight week by scoring the winning points with less than a minute to play. West Ottawa had beaten Grandville 34-18 two weeks ago to claim the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red title outright; now the Panthers take on another league foe in Rockford. Click for more from the Holland Sentinel.

Also noted:

Rockford 36, Grand Ledge 0 – The Rams (7-3) hit the road and won their playoff opener for the 15th straight season, this time over the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue champion Comets (8-2).

Detroit Catholic Central 24, Livonia Stevenson 7 – The Shamrocks (6-4) made the playoffs as an at-large qualifier, but get a chance to win a third straight District title after downing another at-large team in Stevenson (5-5).

Canton 42, Saline 14 – The Chiefs (9-1) avenged last year’s District Final loss to the Hornets (7-2) as these two met in the postseason for the fourth straight.

West Bloomfield 31, Bloomfield Hills 6 – The Lakers’ most recent loss was by four points Week 2 to Bloomfield Hills (6-4), now avenged as West Bloomfield moved to 8-2 on the season.

11-Player Division 2

Flushing 20, Lowell 14

This season got even sweeter for the Raiders as they moved on to the District Final by handing Lowell (6-4) its earliest playoff exit since 1999. Flushing (8-2) now has as many wins as the last two seasons combined; the Raiders finished 4-5 in both 2015 and 2016. They scored with just more than three minutes to play Friday to break a 14-14 tie. Click for more from the Flint Journal.

Also noted:

Traverse City Central 21, Midland 13 – The Trojans (7-3) drove south and came back with a win over the Saginaw Valley League Blue champ Chemics (8-2), earning the opportunity to see rival Traverse City West again this week.

Ypsilanti Lincoln 14, Brownstown Woodhaven 7 – In its fourth playoff game ever, Lincoln (8-2) earned its first playoff victory by ending a seven-game winning streak for the Warriors (7-3).

Birmingham Brother Rice 24, Birmingham Groves 21 (3OT) – This thriller included a blocked field goal attempt to stay alive and made field goal to win, both by the Warriors (7-3), to avenge last year’s playoff loss to Groves (7-3).

Livonia Franklin 35, Walled Lake Western 28 (OT) – The Patriots (8-2) ran their winning streak to six straight by outlasting the reigning Division 2 runner-up Warriors (8-2).

11-Player Division 3

Cedar Springs 41, East Grand Rapids 40

On a night of upsets, this one sent the loudest boom across the state. The Pioneers (9-1), coming off their first perfect regular season since their Division 3 championship year of 2010, trailed throughout the first half before taking a lead early in the second. Cedar Springs (7-3) went ahead again and stopped a two-point conversion attempt after East Grand Rapids’ last score to secure the win. Click for more from WOODTV8.

Also noted:

Zeeland West 42, Zeeland East 27 – For the second time in six years, West (7-3) took a loss from East (9-0) during the regular season (in this case Week 9) but came back to end the previously-undefeated Chix’ playoff run in the first round.

DeWitt 42, Grand Rapids Christian 10 – The Panthers (9-1) also got a revenge win after suffering their only loss this season on opening night to the Eagles (7-3).

Haslett 31, Parma Western 29 – The Vikings (8-2) continued their best season since 2006 thanks to a last-minute field goal by Nate Magnusson; at 6-4, Parma Western did tie its best record since 1986.

Redford Thurston 26, Romulus 0 – A loss in Week 6 to eventual champion Romulus (6-4) cost Thurston the Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue title, but the Eagles (7-3) will get to play for a District championship instead.

11-Player Division 4

Three Rivers 20, Vicksburg 10

In another case of sudden revenge, Three Rivers bounced back from a Week 9 loss to the Bulldogs (7-3) that cost the Wildcats a share of the Wolverine B Conference title. The 20-point swing Friday kept Three Rivers (8-2) alive with its most wins since 2012 and earned it a rematch with Wolverine champ Edwardsburg; the Wildcats beat the Eddies in Week 7. Click for more from

Also noted:

Williamston 34, Lake Fenton 14 – The Hornets (6-4) came back from a seven-point Week 9 loss to the Blue Devils (8-2) with their first playoff wins since 2012.

Wyoming Kelloggsville 49, Wyoming Godwin Heights 7 – After downing their rivals by only one in Week 6, the Rockets (10-0) broke away; Godwin (7-3) should still celebrate its best finish since 1989.

Grand Rapids Catholic Central 32, Hudsonville Unity Christian 26 – The reigning champion Cougars (10-0) survived one of their few scares of the season to eliminate Unity Christian (6-4) in a rematch of last year’s Semifinal.  

Plainwell 24, Grand Rapids South Christian 13 – The Trojans (8-2) reached eight wins for the third time in five years but after going only 4-5 a year ago, ending the season for a South Christian team that improved two wins to 7-3 this fall. 

11-Player Division 5

Frankenmuth 31, Almont 28

A seemingly high number of games enjoyed dramatic finishes to start the playoffs – but this one might have taken the prize. After trailing by 18 heading into the fourth quarter, Almont (7-3) took a 28-24 lead with 16 seconds to play. But Hunter Schluckebier brought back his second kickoff return for a touchdown on the night, this one 84 yards to give the Eagles (10-0) the lead again with two seconds left. Click for more from the Saginaw News.

Also noted:

Grant 28, Newaygo 14 – The Tigers (7-3) equaled their most wins since 2010 by avenging a Week 8 loss to the Lions (7-3), who won the first meeting by 14.

Carrollton 25, Freeland 6 – The best season for Carrollton (7-3) since 2012 got even better with this avenging of a Week 8 loss to the Falcons (6-4), who won the first meeting by 17.

Ida 22, Detroit Denby 20 – The Bluestreaks (8-2) have bounced back from seeing their league title hopes dashed and downed one of the best from the Detroit Public School League in Denby (6-3).

Algonac 20, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard 3 – The Blue Water Area Conference champ Muskrats (9-1) moved to 6-2 in the playoffs over the last three years by ending the best season for the Fighting Irish (7-3) since 2014. 

11-Player Division 6

Maple City Glen Lake 28, Boyne City 7

It was easy to glance at this Division 6 District and anticipate a rematch between Boyne City (9-1) and Traverse City St. Francis, who decided the Northern Michigan Football League Legends championship in Week 9. But reigning Division 6 runner-up Glen Lake (7-2) won the Leaders division this fall after a rough nonleague start and now gets a chance to avenge a Week 2 loss to the Gladiators. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Also noted:

Houghton Lake 20, Harrison 16 – After falling to Harrison (6-4) by two in Week 7, the Bobcats (7-3) came back to ensure their best record since 2005.

Laingsburg 7, Montrose 0 – The Wolfpack (8-2) got to eight wins for the third straight season with the game’s lone points against the Rams (7-3).

Blissfield 13, Napoleon 7 – The Royals (6-4) emerged from third place in the Lenawee County Athletic Association to hand a season-ending loss to Cascades Conference co-champion Napoleon (7-3).

Detroit Central 41, Clinton Township Clintondale 12 – The Trail Blazers (8-2) have their most wins since 2010 and will play for a second straight District title after ending a nice bounce-back season for the Dragons, who went from 4-5 in 2016 to 7-3. 

11-Player Division 7 

St. Louis 13, Beaverton 12

First St. Louis made the playoffs this month for the first time, and now this: The Sharks (6-4) also have their first playoff win and their most victories total in one season since 1995, thanks to a late touchdown that secured this opener. Beaverton (8-2) also enjoyed a historic season, its winningest since 1970. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun

Also noted:

Ishpeming Westwood 30, Elk Rapids 0 – Westwood (9-1) extended its record for wins in a season with this one over Elk Rapids (7-3) its first in the playoffs since 2009; the Elks can celebrate a great run after going a combined 2-15 over 2015-16. 

Reading 21, Union City 20 – Reading (8-2) hung on in a rematch after first defeating Union City (7-3) by 24 in Week 6.

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 45, Addison 28 – St. Mary’s first playoff win since 2014 pushed the Falcons to 6-4 after a 1-3 start; Cascade Conference co-champ Addison (7-3) finished its most successful season since 2007. 

Riverview Gabriel Richard 22, Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest 21 – The Pioneers (9-1) also set a program record for wins while ending a perfect run for Lutheran Northwest (9-1).

11-Player Division 8 

Climax-Scotts 84, Fulton 62

Part of the fun of this record-setting result was watching the score climb. The Pirates (7-3) led 35-34 at halftime, but Climax-Scotts (8-2) took a 62-49 advantage into the fourth quarter. Total, the 146 points set an MHSAA record for a game in which the losing team scored at least 40. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Also noted:

Hillman 15, AuGres-Sims 6 – The Tigers (6-4) opened 0-3 but now have avenged one of those defeats, in the process handing AuGres-Sims (8-1) its only loss.

Harbor Beach 30, Ubly 22 – The Pirates defeated the rival Bearcats (7-3) for the second time in three weeks, moving to 9-1 with an eighth straight victory.

Petersburg-Summerfield 14, Morenci 6 – The Bulldogs (7-3) swung the score 20 points after falling 40-28 to Morenci (6-4) in Week 9.

Clarkston Everest Collegiate 26, Waterford Our Lady 21 – The Mountaineers (8-2) ran their streak against rival Our Lady to four straight after also downing the Lakers (6-3) in Week 7 to clinch the first share of the Detroit Catholic League Intersectional 2 title. 

8-Player Division 1 

Lawrence 24, Camden-Frontier 20

The Cedar Springs win is tough to beat, but this was a massive upset as well. Camden-Frontier (9-1) entered with the second-highest playoff point average in Division 1, and only one opponent had come closer than 26 of catching the Redskins this fall. Lawrence (5-5) was the only team to make the playoffs with a sub-.500 record – but the 2014 champion is moving on. Click for more from the Hillsdale Daily News.

Also noted: 

Cedarville 20, Rudyard 0 – Ten weeks later the result was more or less the same, as Cedarville (8-2) handed Rudyard (7-3) a second loss after they first met opening night.

Suttons Bay 38, Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 24 – After not being able to finish last season’s schedule in 11-player, Suttons Bay (7-3) has found a home and downed Tri-unity (6-4) after it made the Semifinals in 2016.

Morrice 58, Kingston 28 – A month ago, Kingston (7-3) stunned the Orioles (9-1) the week after they handed Deckerville its lone loss; now Morrice gets to see Deckerville again after the two ended up splitting the North Central Thumb League Stars title.

8-Player Division 2

Engadine 38, Rapid River 28

Chalk up a major win for the eastern Upper Peninsula. Engadine (8-2) was surrounded in this Regional by three strong teams from the powerful Western Eight Conference, but now has a chance to come out as the winner after eliminating the WEC champion Rockets (7-3). Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press

Also noted:

Crystal Falls Forest Park 20, Powers North Central 6 – The Trojans (8-2) handed North Central a loss for the second time this season, eliminating the two-time reigning champion after the Jets (6-3) had won five straight.

Bay City All Saints 44, Marion 42 – The Cougars (7-3) bounced back from two straight losses to end the regular season to take down the West Michigan D League champ Eagles (7-2).

Flint International Academy 36, Battle Creek St. Philip 24 – The Phoenix (8-2) earned its first playoff win and sit 14-5 in two seasons as a program; St. Philip finished 5-5, returning to the playoffs after missing a year ago.

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews and reviews 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: Alma and Flint Powers Catholic played into overtime Friday before the Panthers emerged with a 20-14 win in Division 4. (Click to see more from

Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing

By Geoff Kimmerly 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:

8-Player Football

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.)