Drive for Detroit: Playoffs R2 in Review
November 9, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The second week of the MHSAA football playoffs again was filled with rematches of some of the regular-season’s most touted games.
And the mix of results – close wins, comebacks and victories by the avenged – surely will impact which teams appear in nine championship games later this month.
Below are results that stuck out most as 136 turned into 68.
Saline 27, Ann Arbor Pioneer 23
Pioneer made this rematch of Southeastern Conference Red rivals more like the game it was expected to be Week 6, when Saline (10-0) won 37-21. The Pioneers (7-4) led into the third quarter and early in the fourth, but the reigning Division 1 runner-up earned its second straight District title with a late score and defensive stand. Click for more from AnnArbor.com.
Romeo 34, Lapeer 14 – The Bulldogs (10-1) advanced to a Regional Final for the first time since 1992, with Lapeer receiving its first and only loss in the District Final for the second straight year.
Rockford 21, Hudsonville 13 – The Rams (8-3) downed Hudsonville (7-4) for the second time in three weeks; the first win gave Rockford a share of the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red championship, and this win earned a first District title since 2012.
Grand Ledge 45, Brighton 21 – Grand Ledge (11-0) earned its first District title since 2005 against a Brighton team that at 9-2 won its most games since that same season.
Canton 34, Northville 27 – The Chiefs (9-2) rode a dominating ground game to a second straight District title and handed Northville (10-1) the only loss during a season in which it set a school record for wins.
Muskegon 21, Muskegon Mona Shores 10
The second matchup in four weeks between these rivals was just as entertaining. After falling 21-18 in the first meeting, Muskegon (9-2) scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to take the rematch and end the season for the reigning MHSAA runner-up. Mona Shores (10-1) followed up its best season ever with a second of double-digit victories. Muskegon is trying to get back to Ford Field for the fourth straight season. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.
Walled Lake Western 34, Birmingham Groves 21 – Western (11-0) won this matchup of undefeated teams to get to 11 wins for the first time since 2011, while ending Groves’ winningest season at 10-1.
Livonia Franklin 63, Jackson 35 – After four straight sub-.500 seasons, Franklin (8-3) won its first District title since 2007 and clinched its best record since at least 2005; Jackson (8-3) won its most games since at least 1950 and after five straight finishes below .500.
Berkley 28, Southfield 20 – The first district title for Berkley (9-2) included tying the team record for wins and downing a Southfield team (7-4) that made the Division 2 Semifinals a season ago.
Midland Dow 41, Fenton 14 – The Chargers are 10-1 for the second straight season and headed to a Regional for the first time since 1997 after handing Fenton (9-2) its first loss since opening night.
St. Johns 42, DeWitt 28
Count this as a statewide stunner for the Redwings (8-3), even with their tradition of success as they won their eighth game for the third time in four seasons. St. Johns had dropped six straight to the rival Panthers, including 49-21 only four weeks ago, but jumped to a 28-7 first-quarter lead and rode a mix of rushing and passing to put up the most points DeWitt (9-2) had given up since 2012. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
Mount Pleasant 16, Petoskey 13 – The Oilers (9-2) won their second District title in three seasons after Connor Fiolek drilled a 42-yard field goal with 24 seconds left to push ahead of Petoskey (8-3).
St. Joseph 40, Edwardsburg 28 – The Bears (10-1) continued to fade out memories of last year’s 4-5, adding a District title to a shared league crown in handing Edwardsburg (10-1) its lone loss.
Coldwater 35, Vicksburg 14 – Coldwater’s first playoff win ever two weeks ago now is now a successful pair as the Cardinals (11-0) ended a five-game winning streak by the Bulldogs (8-3).
Chelsea 29, Trenton 16 – These Bulldogs (10-1) won their second straight District title and went over nine wins for the first time since 2007 by ending the best run since 2005 for Trenton (9-2).
Hudsonville Unity Christian 23, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 21
Unity Christian isn’t just a soccer school anymore. The Crusaders improved to 8-3, those wins their most in their 13 seasons of football, and they earned the milestone victory against a program only five seasons removed from its most recent Ford Field trip. GRCC (9-2) improved three wins from a year ago, but was eliminated when Unity Christian’s Connor Hollemans converted a 26-yard field goal with six seconds to play. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Ada Forest Hills Eastern 21, Comstock Park 13 – The Hawks (10-1) added the first District title of their 12-year history by ending a sixth-straight playoff appearance by the Panthers (8-3).
Richmond 17, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 15 – The Blue Devils (10-1) won their second straight District title after holding off a comeback attempt that included two fourth-quarter scores by the Irish (8-3), who bounced back from 3-5 a year ago.
Milan 67, Detroit Denby 44 – Milan (9-2) has put up more points by far than even its double-digit win seasons of the last two decades, and needed them this time to hold off a Denby team (6-5) that scored its most in a game since 2013.
Remus Chippewa Hills 35, Big Rapids 12 – The Warriors (9-2) won their first District title by ending the best season for Big Rapids since 2012 after the Cardinals (7-4) won only one game a year ago.
Lansing Catholic 21, Portland 14
This too turned out more like what was expected the first time these teams matched up this season. Portland downed Lansing Catholic 28-6 in Week 4, but the Cougars followed their star quarterback Tony Poljan this time with just enough big plays to hand the Raiders (10-1) their first and only loss. He ran for two scores and connected on a key long pass to help Lansing Catholic (10-1) to within two more wins of returning to Ford Field after finishing runner-up a year ago. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
Grand Rapids West Catholic 21, Reed City 14 – The Falcons (9-2) won their sixth straight District title with their eighth straight victory, ending the season for Reed City (10-1) for the third time in five years.
Buchanan 35, Berrien Springs 0 – These two played to a two-point win for Buchanan in Week 8, but the Bucks (11-0) must have found what they needed to shut down the Shamrocks (9-2).
River Rouge 42, Detroit University Prep 0 – River Rouge (10-1) has three District titles and three double-digit win totals in four seasons after ending this one for University Prep (7-4).
Ida 39, Dearborn Heights Robichaud 30 – The Bluestreaks’ best season ever continued with their first District title to move to 11-0, while Robichaud (8-3) finished with at least that many wins for the third time in four seasons.
Constantine 49, Watervliet 48
The 17th straight playoff berth for Constantine came at-large with a 5-4 regular-season record, but the Falcons have looked like anything but a team that just got into the postseason. First came a three-point win over previously-undefeated rival Schoolcraft. This week’s one-point win ended the season for another league champion in Watervliet (9-2), which beat Constantine by 21 in Week 6. Click for more from the Sturgis Journal.
Ithaca 42, Sanford Meridian 6 – Ithaca (11-0) still hasn’t let an opponent come within 28 points, including now Jack Pine Conference champion Sanford Meridian (10-1), which posted its best record ever this fall.
Jackson Lumen Christi 45, Manchester 28 – Three losses over the final five games of the regular season haven’t slowed down Lumen Christi (8-3) in the playoffs, as the Titans this week posted an impressive win over the Cascades Conference champion Dutchmen (9-2).
Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 31, Montague 28 – The Mustangs (11-0) are looking like a contender again for the second straight year after handing rejuvenated Montague (10-1) its only loss.
Clinton 43, Madison Heights Madison 20 – Clinton has owned the road, moving to 11-0 with a sound defeat of host Madison (9-2) after beating the reigning champion Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central in the District opener.
Pewamo-Westphalia 38, Saugatuck 28
The Pirates’ fifth straight District championship might have been the toughest to earn against previously-undefeated Saugatuck (10-1). Pewamo-Westphalia (11-0) scored 16 points over the final six minutes to move on. Saugatuck finished with 10 wins for the second time in program history and first since finishing Division 8 runner-up in 2010. Click for more from the Ionia Sentinel-Standard.
McBain 20, Saginaw Nouvel 19 (OT) – The Ramblers (8-3) went for a two-point conversion down one in overtime and extended their best season since 2011 while ending Nouvel’s at 9-2.
Sandusky 7, Cass City 0 – A touchdown on fourth down with less than a minute to play gave Sandusky (11-0) its first District title and continued the Redskins’ best season while ending the best run for Cass City (8-3) since 2005.
Dansville 35, Homer 21 – The Aggies (10-1) have 10 wins and a District title for the first time after defeating Big 8 Conference champion Homer (8-3).
New Lothrop 37, Flint Beecher 7 – The Hornets (11-0) won this unofficial Genesee Area Conference crossover and with it a third straight District title, although Beecher (7-3) did score the first points New Lothrop had given up in four weeks.
Muskegon Catholic Central 48, Beal City 13
The rematch of the 2013 Division 8 Final again went the Crusaders' way, as MCC rushed for 402 yards and five touchdowns to break open a game still close at halftime. Muskegon Catholic Central has scored at least 48 points the last three games after scoring only six points in a Week 8 loss to Detroit Country Day – the two-time reigning champion put up more points than Beal City had given up in a game since 2011. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.
St. Ignace 16, Johannesburg-Lewiston 8 – Although they finished ahead of Johannesburg-Lewiston (9-2) in the Ski Valley Conference, the Saints (10-1) ended up on the road but came away with a fourth District title in five seasons.
Frankfort 28, Onekama 21 – Frankfort (9-2) earned its first District title since 2009 with a quick turnaround after falling to Onekama (9-2) by 13 points only two weeks ago.
Ottawa Lake Whiteford 26, Morenci 6 – After taking a pair of losses from Tri-County Conference rival Morenci (8-3) in 2014, Whiteford (9-2) returned the favors with its second this fall after also winning the Week 7 matchup.
Crystal Falls Forest Park 26, Bark River-Harris 22 – For the second straight week, Forest Park (7-3) avenged a regular-season loss, this time bouncing back from a one-point opening-night defeat to the Broncos (8-3).
Battle Creek St. Philip 58, Lawrence 14
In an odd turn of schedule, St. Philip (11-0) has faced two opponents twice over the last four weeks – Portland St. Patrick in Week 8 and in the Pre-Regional, and then Lawrence in Week 9 and the Regional Final. The first St. Philip-Lawrence meeting came out a three-point St. Philip win, which made this result a little surprising from a score margin point of view. St. Philip had been eliminated the last two seasons by Lawrence (8-3), last year’s eventual champion. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.
Cedarville 22, Posen 20 (OT) – Two points one way went the other this time, as Cedarville (9-2) avenged a 28-26 Week 6 loss to Posen (10-1) to make a second straight Semifinal.
Powers North Central 64, Rapid River 8 – Believe it or not, North Central (11-0) tied its season low in points in ending a fifth-straight winning season for the Rockets (7-4).
Deckerville 40, Morrice 20 – Deckerville (10-1) also avenged a regular-season loss and its only loss this season, a Week 6 four-point defeat to Morrice (9-2).
PHOTO: Muskegon Catholic Central (gold helmets) defeated Beal City in a playoff game for the second time in three seasons. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
May 26, 2023
Mendon’s run to the Division 2 Final last fall included some of the strongest rushing performances over the history of 8-player football.
The Hornets ran for 4,317 yards, second-most all-time, on the second-most attempts (520) and with a record-setting 682 yards Oct. 14 against Marcellus. Mendon also set the record for total offense with 692 total in that game, and made the single-season touchdowns list with 76 including 66 rushing (also second on that list).
Junior Jack McCaw made the single-season scoring list with 212 points, most coming on 29 touchdowns, and Evan Lukeman made the single-game rushing list with 401 yards against Marcellus. Mendon’s defense also earned praise, twice making the fewest-first-downs-allowed list with a low of three.
See below for more recent additions to the 8-player portion of the football record book:
Athens’ Landon Bennett earned a pair of record book entries after reaching the end zone seven times during his team’s 72-0 win over Burr Oak on Sept. 8. His seven scores are tied for third-most in 8-player history and included three rushing, three on punt returns and one on an interception return. The three punt return touchdowns are a record. Bennett is a junior.
On the night Powers North Central broke its 8-player record for consecutive wins, claiming its 28th straight, senior Luke Gorzinski tied Jets great Jason Whitens for the record for interception touchdowns in a game with two, scoring on returns during the second and fourth quarters. Gorzinski has signed with Michigan Tech, and North Central’s winning streak is 37 games and counting.
A pair of Atlanta offensive playmakers and a top defensive lineman earned a total of seven entries in the record book for achievements last fall. Senior quarterback Tyler Currie threw for 30 touchdowns over eight games, and also made the records for six touchdowns and 419 passing yards against Whittemore-Prescott on Sept. 23; the passing yards are second-most for one 8-player game. Sophomore Landon Galea was added for 263 yards and five of those touchdowns against the Cardinals, and also for 1,418 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns over nine games. Junior teammate Tucker Kendrick made the tackles for loss list with five against Hillman on Oct. 6.
Adrian Lenawee Christian senior Brady McKelvey became the first to make the career extra points list in 8-player football this past fall. He bettered his previous single-season record making 64 of 66 extra-point attempts over 11 games and finishing his two-year varsity career with 123 extra points in 127 tries.
Sam McKissack reached the record book showcasing multiple skills for Crystal Falls Forest Park during the 2021 season – twice for rushing attempts in a game including with a record 59 against Ontonagon that Sept. 10, and then with a record 70-yard punt Oct. 30, 2021, against Lake Linden-Hubbell. Teammate Devon Basirico also made the record book with six fumble recoveries over 11 games that season. As a team, Forest Park was added twice for single-game rushing attempts – including 73 total in that Ontonagon game – and for 424 rushes over 11 games for the season. McKissack and Basirico are seniors this spring.
Nikolaus Lewis tied for eighth-most rushing touchdowns in an 8-player game when he reached the end zone six times for Carsonville-Port Sanilac in its win over Caseville on Oct. 7. He’s a senior this spring.
Bridgman has won 24 straight games over the last three seasons, and an exceptional offense – and exceptional offensive star – have played major roles. The Bees were added for 658 total yards in a win over Lawrence last season, that total ranking third all-time, and also 613 yards in a win over Eau Claire. Those included totals of 575 and 547 rushing yards, respectively, and Bridgman was added for 3,598 rushing yards (sixth on the list), 59 rushing touchdowns (fourth) and 76 total touchdowns (seventh). Senior Reid Haskins capped his four-year, 32-game varsity career with 13 record book entries, including for 254 points last season over nine games (tied for fifth all-time) and a record 620 career points, 41 touchdowns last season (fifth) and a record 95 for his career, 2,344 rushing yards last season (third) and a record 5,206 for his career, and 41 rushing touchdowns last season (third) and a record 94 for his career. Senior teammate Tanner Peters made the records three times including for 50 extra points last season (fourth) and 99 over 26 games and three seasons (second on the career list).
Mio's Austin Fox rewrote the 8-player passing record book this past fall, with his 621 yards in a game against Whittemore-Prescott setting a single-game record as he totaled four of the five-highest passing yardage totals. He also set a record with 3,516 over nine games for the season, another record with 289 passing attempts over those nine games and a third record for nine touchdown passes in that game against the Cardinals. His 41 touchdown passes total rank fourth. Teammates Gage Long and Nathan Hurst also earned several record book entries on the receiving end of those passes. Long’s 297 receiving yards against Whittemore-Prescott were tied for third most, and Hurst’s 266 against Alcona rank eighth. Long set a single-season record with 1,739 receiving yards, with Hurst sixth all-time at 1,321, and Long’s 14 receptions against the Cardinals and 70 for the season also rank second on those respective lists. Hurst set a record for longest 8-player kickoff return with a 99-yarder against St. Helen Charlton Heston. All three are seniors.
Peck was one of the first MHSAA 8-player champions, claiming the title in 2013, and Cody Abrego one of the state’s first 8-player stars. The Pirates were added to the MHSAA record book 52 times, and Abrego 14 times individually. Among the most notable entries for the 2015 graduate were for 462 points scored over his two-season career (ranking sixth all-time), 74 career touchdowns (sixth), 2,202 rushing yards in 2013 (fifth) and 35 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (sixth). Current senior Caleb Lentner was one of the stars statewide this past season, and he was added eight times including for 50 points scored in a game (ranking second), 272 points for a season last fall (fifth), eight touchdowns in a game (tied for second), 42 touchdowns in a season (fifth), an 8-player record of 2,694 rushing yards from last season, and 38 rushing touchdowns also last fall (fourth). Others to make the individual lists were Nathan Robar, Caleb Dudley, Steven VanConant, Kyle Abrego and Nathan Neihaus, Dudley for a record 20 career interceptions over two seasons and VanConant for a record 12 tackles for loss in a 2022 game and 36 tackles for loss for the season last fall. The Pirates also are all over the 8-player team record book, including for a record 97 touchdowns in 2013, a record 5,895 yards of total offense that season, 528 carries, 4,346 rushing yards and 73 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (all ranking second); and 24 interceptions in 2014, which ranks second on that list.
Senior quarterback JR Hildebrand was one of the most dynamic players in 8-player football in the fall in leading Martin to the Division 1 title. He had one of his most exciting nights in a playoff opener against Tekonsha, making the single-game touchdown pass list with six in a 68-6 victory.
PHOTO Mendon’s Jack McCaw (21) eludes a tackle during the 8-Player Division 2 Final in November at Northern Michigan University. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)