Drive for Detroit: Playoff Week 2 Preview

November 2, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The first week of the 2017 MHSAA Football Playoffs was one of the most memorable in recent memory with a collection of twists and turns, late-game heroics and bracket-shaking upsets.

Welcome to the encore.

This week, we’ve got one of the state’s most heated rivalries, two meetings of undefeated teams, and plenty of matchups fans have been anticipating to decide District titles in 11-player and Regional championships in the 8-player divisions.

We’d love for you to check out one (or more) of the 72 games being played across the state this weekend. We also have eight being broadcast either on Prep Zone by FOX Sports Detroit or The MHSAA playoff scoreboard page is home to results and next week’s games as they’re determined. The MHSAA Playoffs are sponsored by the Michigan Army National Guard, and “Drive for Detroit” is sponsored by MI Student Aid.

11-Player Division 1

Canton (9-1) at Belleville (10-0), Friday

The Chiefs eliminated one popular championship contender last week in downing Saline 42-12, and now get an opportunity against another of similar regard in the undefeated Tigers. Belleville has tied its most wins ever, with 10 for the first time since 1995, giving up 8.3 points per game. Canton will counter with an offense averaging 42 points per game; the Chiefs haven’t scored fewer than 35 since losing to Muskegon Mona Shores on opening night. 

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Rochester Adams (9-1) at Utica Eisenhower (10-0), West Bloomfield (8-2) at Waterford Mott (9-1), Rockford (7-3) at Holland West Ottawa (9-1), SATURDAY Clarkston (8-2) at Davison (9-1).

11-Player Division 2

Traverse City Central (7-3) vs. Traverse City West (9-1) at Thirlby Field, Friday

One of the state’s best rivalries will write another chapter on the home field they share. West defeated Central 29-27 in their first meeting this season, in Week 3. Central won both of last year’s meetings, by two during the regular season and one in the playoffs as the teams met in the postseason for the first time. Central’s record doesn’t lend it enough credit; since falling to West the first time the Trojans have taken nonleague losses to playoff teams Portage Central and Birmingham Brother Rice, and then stunned Midland 21-13 on the road last week. West has kept churning too, downing Benton Harbor and bouncing back from a Week 9 loss to Coldwater (both opponents also playoff bound) to beat Midland Dow by 30 in their playoff opener.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Muskegon Mona Shores (9-1) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (10-0), Livonia Franklin (8-2) at Livonia Churchill (8-2), Flushing (8-2) at Fenton (9-1), Detroit East English (9-1) at Detroit Martin Luther King (9-1).

11-Player Division 3

Cedar Springs (7-3) at DeWitt (9-1), Friday

Cedar Springs opened the playoffs last week with arguably the biggest upset win in the state, downing undefeated East Grand Rapids at EGR. The Red Hawks won’t sneak up on anyone else. They’ve set a record with 401 points this season and even put up 44 in a loss to Grand Rapids Christian, but will be challenged by a DeWitt defense giving up only 10.3 points per game. The Panthers also lost to Grand Rapids Christian this year, in Week 1, but avenged that loss with a 42-10 victory over the Eagles in their playoff opener. No opponent has gotten within 24 points of DeWitt since Division 1 playoff qualifier Grand Ledge in Week 2.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Stevensville Lakeshore (9-1) at Battle Creek Harper Creek (10-0), Riverview (9-1) at Gibraltar Carlson (9-1), Haslett (8-2) at East Lansing (8-2), Farmington Hills Harrison (7-3) at Warren Woods-Tower (8-2).

11-Player Division 4

Grand Rapids Catholic Central (10-0) at Wyoming Kelloggsville (10-0), Friday

These teams both are averaging nearly 42 points per game behind two of the state’s most powerful rushing attacks. That would seem to point to the other side of the ball; both defenses are giving up a little more than two touchdowns per game. But GRCC’s biggest wins (over Comstock Park and Grand Rapids West Catholic) were in close games where the scores got big, and it could be that kind of back-and-forth offensive display in this one as well with both offenses so loaded.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Three Rivers (8-2) at Edwardsburg (9-1), River Rouge (8-2) at Chelsea (9-1), Alma (8-2) at Escanaba (8-2), SATURDAY Detroit Mumford (7-3) at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood (9-1).

11-Player Division 5

Clare (9-1) at Reed City (9-1), Friday

Reed City quietly has one of the most consistently successful programs in Michigan. One more win and the Coyotes will have 10 for the sixth time in seven seasons, and even as their 18-game regular-season winning streak ended on opening night against Montague – Reed City hasn’t lost since. Clare is similarly consistent, especially in Jack Pine Conference play, and also hasn’t lost since opening night (to Ithaca) to reach nine wins for the first time since 2012. Both have similarly sizable wins against playoff qualifier Remus Chippewa Hills – Clare’s last week to avenge a 2016 playoff loss – indicating this might be a tightly contested matchup.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Menominee (7-3) at Kingsford (8-1), Carrollton (7-3) at Saginaw Swan Valley (9-1), Lansing Catholic (8-2) at Portland (9-1), Marine City (8-2) at Frankenmuth (10-0).

11-Player Division 6

Kent City (10-0) at Montague (10-0), Friday

Few teams this season have as impressive a resume as Montague, which in addition to handing the lone losses to Reed City and Muskegon Catholic Central has six shutouts over its 10 games. The Wildcats now also have a chance to avenge last year’s one-point playoff opener loss to Kent City, which has built a likewise impressive body of work this fall. The 10 wins are a program record, and a District title would be the Eagles’ first in this sport.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Michigan City (9-1) at Jackson Lumen Christi (8-1), Detroit Central (8-2) at Warren Michigan Collegiate (10-0), Houghton Lake (7-3) at Millington (9-1), SATURDAY Maple City Glen Lake (7-2) vs. Traverse City St. Francis (9-1).

11-Player Division 7

Pewamo-Westphalia (9-1) at New Lothrop (10-0), Friday

The Hornets are hoping their annual regular-season success pays off this fall with a first MHSAA Finals trip since 2006. The Hornets are a combined 86-6 since the start of 2010 and only one of those losses came during the regular season – they’ve reached the Semifinals three times this decade but just missed taking that next step again. A game like the Week 1 win over Lake Fenton surely was meant to prepare the Hornets for matchups like this one with the reigning Division 7 champion Pirates, who despite graduating the second-leading rusher in MHSAA history is riding a nine-game winning streak and scoring 43 points per game versus last year’s 46.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Reading (8-2) at Cassopolis (9-1), Riverview Gabriel Richard (9-1) at Madison Heights Madison (10-0), Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (9-1) at Cass City (9-1), SATURDAY Ishpeming Westwood (9-1) at Lake City (10-0).

11-Player Division 8

Muskegon Catholic Central (8-1) at Mendon (10-0), Saturday

This might be the most anticipated small-school matchup in Michigan so far this season – the reigning four-time Division 8 champion against an 11-time MHSAA title winner now revived. The Hornets ran for 415 yards in last week’s 28-12 win over St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic, and that ability to hold onto the ball will be necessary against a Crusaders attack led by dynamic dual threat quarterback Cameron Martinez (see 2H feature Tuesday).

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Norway (9-1) at Iron River West Iron County (9-1), Harbor Beach (9-1) at Saginaw Nouvel (10-0), Climax-Scotts (8-2) at Pittsford (9-1), SATURDAY Frankfort (7-2) at Gaylord St. Mary (10-0).

8-Player Division 1

Morrice (9-1) at Deckerville (9-1), Friday

Morrice broke Deckerville’s 16-game regular-season winning streak with a 33-32 Week 5 win that announced the Orioles as MHSAA championship contenders – even though they were then beaten by Kingsford a week later. Morrice avenged that loss last week and now must avoid falling by the same fate to the reigning Finals runner-up Eagles, who have amped up the offense by scoring 250 of their 496 points this season over the last four weeks.

Other Regional Finals: FRIDAY Cedarville (8-2) at Stephenson (8-2), Suttons Bay (7-3) at Central Lake (10-0), Lawrence (5-5) at Bellevue (9-1).

8-Player Division 2

Onekama (9-1) at Pickford (10-0), Saturday

Perhaps the most impressive part of Pickford’s dominance this season has come on the defensive side of the ball. The Panthers are giving up only 9.6 points per game, which just doesn’t happen much in the wide-open 8-player game – and is half as many points as they gave up while reaching the Semifinals a year ago. Enter Onekama, averaging 51 points per game – only a few behind Pickford’s 56 and against a similarly competitive slate.

Other Regional Finals: FRIDAY Engadine (8-2) at Crystal Falls Forest Park (7-2), Bay City All Saints (7-3) at Kinde-North Huron (9-1), SATURDAY Flint International Academy (8-2) at Portland St. Patrick (9-1).

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: Clare, here against Ithaca in Week 1, will play for a District title tonight against Reed City. (Click to see more from

1st & Goal: 2023 Week 6 Review

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

October 2, 2023

We have our first league champions of the 2023 football season, and setups for several deciding matchups to come over the next week or two.

MI Student AidExplanations of many of those make up most of our “Week 6 Review” – but with playoff selection now just three weeks away, you’ll notice our attention has become focused as well on those races for the 32 qualifying spots in our MHSAA 11-player divisions and top 16s that make the 8-player brackets.

The state rankings mentioned frequently below are Michigan High School Football Coaches Association polls. The playoff-point averages are tracked by the MHSAA and used to determine the postseason fields – and discussion of movement on those lists will be prevalent through the rest of the regular season.

Bay & Thumb

HEADLINER Almont 30, Croswell-Lexington 20 Almont set itself up to clinch a share of the Blue Water Area Conference title this week or next by moving into first place alone in this matchup of co-leaders heading into the weekend. The Division 6 No. 2 Raiders (6-0) also tied their win totals of both of the last two seasons as they made another move toward potentially their best finish since 2019. Croswell-Lexington (5-1), No. 8 in Division 4, will be rooting for Richmond this week and Yale next to deal Almont a loss that would set up a possible shared league title. Click for more from the Port Huron Times Herald.

Watch list Fenton 40, Linden 32 After sharing the Flint Metro League Stripes title with Linden and Swartz Creek last season, Fenton (5-1) clinched a share of this season’s championship and left Linden (4-2) holding out hope for a share if Flushing can upset the Tigers this week.

On the move Chesaning 28, Ovid-Elsie 19 Chesaning (5-1) can clinch a share of the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference title this week or next after stopping Ovid-Elsie (3-3) in its attempt to reset the standings. Marine City 36, Madison Heights Lamphere 13 Marine City (5-1) clinched a share of the Macomb Area Conference Silver championship with one more league game to play, sending Lamphere to 4-2. Grand Blanc 44, Lapeer 26 The Saginaw Valley Red is a two-team race with Grand Blanc (4-2) and Davison the only teams left undefeated in league play, and Lapeer (4-2) joining Saginaw Heritage with a second league loss and tied for third.

Greater Detroit

HEADLINER Macomb Dakota 31, Romeo 19 The Macomb Area Conference Red is one of the most monitored leagues in the state every season because of the powerful Division 1 contenders that traditionally emerge – and four have a chance to emerge as league champion this month. Romeo entered the weekend alone in first, but now four teams are 3-1 in league play with one game to go and co-champions guaranteed with those four teams facing off across two matchups this week. Click for more from the Macomb Daily.

Watch list Gibraltar Carlson 28, Trenton 23 Carlson (5-1) lined itself up to face Allen Park in Week 8 for some piece of the Downriver League title, as those two teams are left as undefeated in league play – although Trenton (4-2) could break things up a bit as the Trojans face Allen Park this week.

On the move Belleville 35, Westland John Glenn 8 Belleville (6-0) and Week 8 opponent Dearborn Fordson remain alone atop the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East after the Tigers dealt John Glenn (5-1) this first loss. Clarkston 44, West Bloomfield 36 After an 0-2 start, Clarkston (4-2) has won four straight and set itself up to face Lake Orion this week for a winner-take-all matchup in the Oakland Activities Association Red. The win also pushed the Wolves from 10 spots behind West Bloomfield (4-2) to three ahead on the Division 1 playoff points list. Detroit Voyageur 34, Detroit Edison 32 The Cougars (4-2) bounced back from a Week 5 loss to deal a second straight to Edison (4-2), which entered the week ranked No. 9 in the Division 6 coaches poll. The win also brought Voyageur back into the Division 6 playoff picture at No. 25 on the playoff points list after it had fallen back to No. 34.


HEADLINER Corunna 35, Goodrich 7 This has to rank at or near the top of the wins Corunna (6-0) has piled up over its recent resurgence, as it not only guaranteed the Cavaliers a share of the Flint Metro League Stars title but also handed the first loss to the No. 2-ranked team in Division 4. Corunna, ranked No. 5 in Division 5, led 28-0 at halftime on the way to its first win over the Martians (5-1) since 2016. Click for more from the Flint Journal.

Watch list Pewamo-Westphalia 27, Fowler 14 After losing its opener to still-undefeated North Muskegon, P-W has won its last five and sits atop the Central Michigan Athletic Conference standings with two league games to play. Fowler (5-1) had defeated the Pirates last season to create a three-way CMAC shared title between those two and Laingsburg.

On the move DeWitt 41, Grand Ledge 38 The last two meetings between these two have come down to seven points or fewer, with last year’s Grand Ledge win helping the Comets (5-1) share the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title and this year’s DeWitt win knocking Grand Ledge out of first place while keeping the Panthers (3-2) in the mix. Beal City 30, Evart 16 The matchup for first place in the Highland Conference went to Beal City (6-0), which can clinch with another win over the next two weeks while second-place Evart (4-2) will need help to get a share. New Lothrop 34, Montrose 8 New Lothrop’s MMAC title hopes dimmed with a Week 2 loss to Chesaning, but the Hornets (5-1) are up to No. 9 in Division 8 playoff-points average with two wins over Division 6 schools and this one over the Division 7 Rams (4-2).

Northern Lower Peninsula

HEADLINER Charlevoix 30, Elk Rapids 7 The Division 7 No. 9 Rayders (5-1) continued to roll through Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders play, clinching a share of the league title with their fifth-straight win overall this season. Charlevoix can finish the championship outright in Week 8 at Tawas, and its final three regular-season opponents are combined 3-15 – making a fourth-straight season reaching eight wins look like a growing possibility. Click for more from the Petoskey News-Review.

Watch list Petoskey 36, Cadillac 21 There’s definitely work to do over the next three weeks for Petoskey (4-2) to make the playoffs, but the Northmen have guaranteed their best finish since 2018 – the last time they’d defeated Cadillac (3-3). They sit No. 23 on the Division 3 playoff points list.

On the move Benzie Central 31, Boyne City 24 The Huskies (3-3) will need Tawas’ help to catch a share of that Leaders title, but in avenging last season’s 51-35 loss to Boyne City (2-4) they’ve moved closer to possibly earning their best finish since 2018. Lake City 28, McBain 22 (2OT) The Trojans (4-2) defeated McBain (4-2) by six points for the second-straight season, this time helping them hold steady at the No. 23 spot on the Division 6 playoff points list. Ogemaw Heights 47, Flint Powers Catholic 9 Ogemaw Heights (5-1) ran its winning streak to five as it heads into this week’s NMFC Legends decider against Kingsley.

Southeast & Border

HEADLINER Michigan Center 32, Grass Lake 27 Michigan Center’s next two weeks will be massive, but the Cardinals earned that billing. By avenging last season’s 36-29 loss to Grass Lake (4-2), Michigan Center (5-1) upped what’s at stake in this week’s matchup with Napoleon as those share the lead in the Cascades Conference East – and with third-place Manchester waiting in Week 3 with its only loss to Napoleon. Click for more from JTV.

Watch list Parma Western 21, Battle Creek Harper Creek 6 The Panthers (6-0) also have set up a matchup of league co-leaders, downing third-place Harper Creek (4-2) on the way to this week’s meeting with Hastings for first in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference.

On the move Jackson Northwest 23, Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard 14 Northwest (3-3) has made massive strides the last two seasons, and this win has to rank up there as AAGR (5-1) had dominated its first five opponents. Adrian 22, Jackson 9 This Adrian win, along with Chelsea’s over Tecumseh, gave Chelsea a share of the Southeastern Conference White title – although if Jackson (4-2) defeats Chelsea this week, those two and possibly Adrian all could share the championship. Saline 43, Ann Arbor Huron 7 Saline (6-0) held onto its one-game lead in the SEC Red and sent Huron (3-3) into a third-place tie. The Hornets finish the league schedule with the seventh and eighth-place teams as they look to claim what would be a ninth Red title over the last decade but after finishing second a year ago.

Southwest Corridor

HEADLINER Constantine 50, Allegan 14 Five of six teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore are .500 or better, and Constantine is leading the way at 5-1 and as one of three contenders that have started league play 2-0. The Division 6 No. 7 Falcons scored their season high in bringing some separation to the league standings by sending Allegan to 4-2. Click for more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Watch list Niles Brandywine 30, Dowagiac 7 Brandywine may be only 2-4, but the Bobcats moved up from No. 46 to 33 on the Division 7 playoff-points list by stunning Division 5 Dowagiac (4-2). Brandywine has another Division 5 opponent next in Benton Harbor.

On the move Berrien Springs 35, Buchanan 14 This win, combined with Brandywine’s over Dowagiac, put Berrien Springs (3-2) alone in first place in the Lakeland Conference – and after a 20-14 loss to Buchanan (3-3) last season cost the Shamrocks the league title. Richland Gull Lake 27, Benton Harbor 16 Gull Lake (4-2) already has bettered its record from a year ago, and with two wins over the next three weeks would post its best finish since 2009. Paw Paw 35, Edwardsburg 0 The Red Wolves (6-0) ended a 15-game losing streak against the rival Eddies (3-3) sending them out of first place in the Wolverine Conference while maintaining a tie for the top spot with Niles.

Negaunee's Ian Engstrom (5) tries to catch a pass just a little bit out of his reach.

Upper Peninsula

HEADLINER Menominee 44, Gladstone 26 One down, two to go as Western Peninsula Athletic Conference leader Menominee began a difficult three-game run against the three teams that entered the weekend tied for second in the league. Following Landan Bardowski among others, the Maroons (6-0) scored the most points Gladstone had given up in a game since 2017 – although Gladstone (4-2) also did some fine work offensively against a Menominee defense that had allowed just six points total over the first five weeks. Click for more from RRN Sports.

Watch list Marquette 38, Escanaba 20 After playing an old rival as part of a new league, Marquette (3-2) is tied for second in the Big North Conference but more notably has equaled last season’s win total and sits among the top 32 on the Division 3 playoff-points list for the second-straight week.

On the move Calumet 17, Houghton 16 The Copper Kings (2-4) broke a three-game losing streak and now have 10 spots to climb to qualify for the Division 6 playoffs, but with some valuable opportunities to do so. Iron Mountain 55, Manistique 14 The Mountaineers (6-0) clinched a share of the West-PAC Iron championship with another big performance; they have won all of their games by at least 40 points. Sault Ste. Marie 50, Maple City Glen Lake 7 Sault Ste. Marie (4-2) bounced back from a Week 5 loss to Marquette to hold steady among the top 32 on the Division 4 playoff-points list, while Glen Lake (3-3) remains among the qualifying group in Division 8.

West Michigan

HEADLINER Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 20, East Grand Rapids 0 There was notable reshuffling in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White over the weekend, as the league has six teams 4-2 or better and four tied for first thanks in part to FHC’s shutout of the Pioneers. The Rangers (5-1), No. 2 in Division 3, now share the top spot with EGR (5-1), Lowell and Byron Center. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Watch list Spring Lake 35, Allendale 28 The O-K Blue has five teams at 4-2 or better, with Grand Rapids West Catholic alone at the top after Spring Lake (5-1) rebounded from a Week 5 loss to GRWC to hand Allendale (5-1) this defeat. But Spring Lake also just became Allendale’s biggest fan – Allendale gets West Catholic this week.

On the move Lowell 38, Byron Center 28 Matching Forest Hills Central, Lowell also fought back into the O-K Blue race as these two join FHC and EGR as 3-1 in the league and 5-1 overall. Muskegon 49, Zeeland East 14 The Big Reds (4-2) have won four straight to start the O-K Green schedule and set up this week’s meeting with co-leader Zeeland West. Impressive as well, Muskegon’s last three opponents, including East, are 4-2. Caledonia 30, Hudsonville 0 Division 2 top-ranked Caledonia (5-1) has followed up its loss to Rockford two weeks ago with two power-packed wins, in this one handing Hudsonville (4-2) its first shutout since 2012.


HEADLINER Adrian Lenawee Christian 73, Mendon 20 Lenawee Christian (6-0) put up 63 of those points in the first half, fully justifying its top ranking in Division 2 – and the Cougars could be considered the top team in all of 8-player as Division 1 top-ranked St. Ignace joined No. 2 Mendon (5-1) in losing for the first time over the weekend. Sam Lutz ran for four touchdowns and threw for four more for the Cougars, while Jack McCaw ran for 210 yards and three scores for Mendon. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.

Watch list Newberry 46, St. Ignace 40 Newberry (5-1) has won a playoff game each of the last three seasons and is hardly an unknown – but St. Ignace (5-1) had won all but one of its games this fall by double digits, making this an even more impressive result.

On the move Brown City 60, Mayville 0 This was another matchup of undefeated teams, and Brown City now sits alone atop the North Central Thumb League Stars with Mayville (5-1) and Kingston a game back. Crystal Falls Forest Park 36, Lake Linden-Hubbell 28 With Lake Linden-Hubbell (3-3) dealing Powers North Central a loss two weeks ago, the Great Lakes Eight Conference West has a different look at the top for the first time in a while with Norway leading the way but Forest Park (5-1) also in the mix if the Knights trip up. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 25, Fulton 18 The Irish (6-0) have a one-game lead on Portland St. Patrick in the Mid-State Activities Conference with this win over Fulton (4-2) joining a Week 3 one-pointer over the Shamrocks as key reasons why.

Second Half’s weekly “1st & Goal” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning 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. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and X (Twitter) @mistudentaid.

PHOTOS (Top) Grand Blanc's Jimmy Lacy (13) applies pressure as Lapeer takes to the air Friday. (Middle) Negaunee's Ian Engstrom (5) tries to catch a pass just a little bit out of his reach. (Top photo by Terry Lyons, middle photo by Cara Kamps.)