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.  

Division 1

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.

Also noted:

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.  

Division 2

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.

Also noted:

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.  

Division 3

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.

Also noted:

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). 

Division 4

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.

Also noted:

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. 

Division 5

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.

Also noted:

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. 

Division 6

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.

Also noted:

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. 

Division 7

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.

Also noted:

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. 

Division 8

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.

Also noted:

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).

8-Player

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.

Also noted:

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.)

Record-Setting Viney Gained Lifelong Confidence at Marine City

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

July 17, 2024

Olivia Viney didn’t have to look far for inspiration while taking on the challenge of applying to veterinary school.

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosThe 2015 Marine City graduate and record-setting placekicker simply drew from her own experience as a high school athlete.

“It just really taught me that I could do hard things,” Viney said. “I was very involved when I was in school. I did soccer, theater, travel soccer and then football. Especially with football, I learned that if I put my mind to it, I can do it. That helped me to excel in undergrad. When it came time to get accepted to vet school, it was like, ‘This is what I have to do,’ and I did it. That was very confidence-building. It taught me that I really can do hard things.”

Viney, who graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2019 and Michigan State Veterinary School in 2023, is now working as an associate veterinarian at Deporre Veterinary Hospital in West Bloomfield. 

Accomplishing her goals is nothing new to Viney, and not at all a surprise to those who watched her come through the Mariners athletic program.

“She was very serious, she was focused and she was dialed in,” said Dave Frendt, who coached Viney in both football and soccer at Marine City. “She knew what she wanted to accomplish, and she set out to do that. She was a fierce competitor and very driven. She was a good leader in that way where she was kind of feisty, but the team would follow that.”

Viney was an all-state soccer player for the Mariners, leading them to a pair of District titles and a Macomb Area Conference Gold title during her four years as a varsity player. It’s the sport she grew up playing, but the one she was most known for after graduation was football. American football.

The 5-foot-1-ish center attacking midfielder found herself in the MHSAA football record book after hitting all seven of her extra point attempts in the Mariners’ 2013 Division 4 Final victory against Grand Rapids South Christian.

“I think it makes sense,” she said. “There were lots of great soccer players, even that I played with. Great players that had gone through school, so I don’t think it’s weird that people remember me for that. When I talk with people, they’ll connect the dots – ‘Oh, you played football.’

“I was more accomplished as a soccer player and had more accolades. But I’m prouder of my football accomplishments, because it was really setting a pathway for girls that wanted to get into that. It’s so much more common now, or accepted. Even though it’s been almost 11 years since we won at Ford Field, I’m so proud of high school Olivia and what she did, the courage she had. She wasn’t scared of anything.”

Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. Viney joined Marine City’s football program as a sophomore, playing on the junior varsity squad. While she was there only to kick, she was all in when it came to practicing.

“Coach (Joe) Fregetto made me do tackling drills and drills in the mud – I really did earn my spot on the team,” Viney said. “I think it was mostly because he didn’t know what to do with me, so I guess just do everything that the guys do.”

She handled varsity kicking duties the next two years, setting the school record in 2013 for most extra points made during a single season – a record that still stands. Former Mariners coach Ron Glodich said that Viney actually never missed an extra point that season, as the four failed attempts were never even kicked.

It was her performance in the Division 4 Final that gained her statewide acclaim, as she hit 7 of 7 attempts, tying a record for most extra points made in a Finals game. It stood until a pair of kickers hit eight in 2022.

One record that never will be broken, however, is Viney becoming the first female to score a point at the Finals.

“Everything was so surreal, I was so nervous,” Viney said. “One of my most vivid memories was that day, or maybe the day before, Coach Glodich said, ‘Just so you know, when you get to the field, the goal posts are two feet narrower on each side. But that doesn’t matter if you kick it in the middle.’

“We got there and watched the team before us so we could get used to it, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re so narrow.’ … Seeing myself up on the big screen was kind of almost a little embarrassing, because I knew people were talking about me being the girl. But once we were in the game, it was a lot like any other game. I was just waiting for my turn to go on the field and do my job.”

Viney later was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” – ironically, right below current U.S. Women’s National Team forward Mallory Pugh – but she wasn’t looked at any differently by her teammates, and she wouldn’t have wanted to be.

“That team was all about sacrifice for the team,” Frendt said. “For them to realize, ‘None of us can do what she does, so we better embrace it, because no one else can do it.’ They really made her feel like part of the team. They wanted to protect her, too. But she was tough. She wasn’t going to take anything.”

Viney went to SVSU to study biology and played for its club soccer team. During her time there, she volunteered at an animal shelter and made the decision she wanted to help animals in her career. She works in general practice at Deporre, and would eventually like to work in shelter medicine.

She and her husband Matt, who were married in May, live with their three dogs. She’s not far from home, and in the spring of 2023 she visited Frendt’s college and career readiness class to speak with students at her alma mater. Her presentation and the attention to detail and hard work she put into it, Frendt said, blew his students away. Not that it surprised him.

“That’s poured into her life after sports,” he said of her work ethic. “She just kept plugging away. She’s awesome.”

July 11: High School 'Hoop Squad' Close to Heart as Hughes Continues Coaching Climb - Read
July 10: 
Nightingale Embarking on 1st Season as College Football Head Coach - Read
June 28:
 E-TC's Witt Bulldozing Path from Small Town to Football's Biggest Stage - Read

PHOTOS (Top) Marine City’s Olivia Viney kicks at the 2013 11-Player Football Finals, also during her spring soccer season, and cares for one of her patients as an associate veterinarian. (Middle) Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. (Photos courtesy of Olivia Viney.)