Drive for Detroit: Semifinals in Review

November 25, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

We finally have answers to some of the questions that have been asked all season. 

Four 2012 MHSAA champions earned the opportunity Saturday to play for titles again this weekend. Five teams that finished runners-up at Ford Field last season will get another chance to finish the job. 

We'll have two Finals rematches, in Divisions 2 and 7. And Clarkston and Clinton will play in the season's final games for the first time. 

Read on for a few details from all 16 Semifinals, plus coverage of each from our statewide media. 

Division 1

Clarkston 61, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 26

Clarkston (12-1) has earned its first MHSAA championship game berth in its fourth Semifinal try, thanks in part to 355 yards and six touchdowns rushing from senior running back Ian Eriksen. Flint Carman-Ainsworth finished its best season ever in its first Semifinal and with a final record of 11-2. Click to read more from MLive Detroit.

Detroit Catholic Central 28, Detroit Cass Tech 0

The rematch of the last two Division 1 Finals went the opposite way this time as DCC (11-2) cruised against the two-time reigning champion Technicians. The loss ended an 18-game winning streak for Cass Tech (12-1), which hadn’t been shut out since 2009. Click to read more from the Oakland Press.

Division 2

Muskegon 41, Portage Central 35

Big Reds quarterback Deshaun Thrower was the hero again, scoring with just under a minute remaining to put his team back in the Division 2 Final after Muskegon (12-1) finished runner-up a year ago. Portage Central (12-1) capped its best season since making the Semifinals in 1977 with its best record ever. Click to read more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Birmingham Brother Rice 43, Detroit Martin Luther King 20

Brother Rice has set a school record for points with 450 this season. But its defense was equally key in getting the Warriors (13-0) back to Ford Field as it seeks to win a third straight MHSAA title. King (10-2) had averaged 33 points per game this season and scored fewer than 20 only three times. Click to read more from the Detroit News.

Division 3

Zeeland West 42, Stevensville Lakeshore 7

The Dux’ offense continued to rumble in carrying West back to Ford Field for the second time in three seasons – the Dux will be attempting to add to their Division 4 title won in 2011. But the defense has to be applauded as well after holding Lakeshore (9-4) to its season low points; in fact, it was only the second time West (12-1) held an opponent to fewer than 13 this fall. Click to read more from the Holland Sentinel.

DeWitt 21, St. Clair 20

The Panthers (13-0) are headed back to the MHSAA Finals for the first time since 2004 after ending St. Clair’s longest run in program history. St. Clair (11-2) drove to DeWitt’s 5-yard line during the final minutes but could get no closer to a go-ahead score. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.

Division 4

Grand Rapids South Christian 20, Comstock Park 6

The reigning champion Sailors (12-1) booked a return trip to Detroit by dispatching of Comstock Park (12-1) in a Semifinal for the second straight season. South Christian scored twice in the fourth quarter to earn the final advantage. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Marine City 12, Lansing Sexton 7

Marine City (12-1) is headed to the Finals for the third time in seven years after ending Sexton’s best season. Defense reigned as both held the other to their respective season low points totals. The Big Reds finished 12-1. Click to read more from the Port Huron Times Herald.

Division 5

Menominee 59, Muskegon Oakridge 28

The Maroons (13-0) are one win from their fourth MHSAA title and first since the retirement of legendary coach Ken Hofer two seasons ago. Menominee gave up its most points this season to Oakridge (11-2), but jumped to a 49-0 halftime lead and never looked too far back. Click to read more from the Eagle Herald Extra.

Grand Rapids West Catholic 35, Livonia Clarenceville 0

It’s been brought up plenty over the last month, but West Catholic’s season has come nearly full circle – the Falcons (9-4) are back in the Division 5 Final for the second straight season after losing to Portland by three in last year’s championship game and then barely squeaking into the playoffs this fall. Clarenceville (12-1) did complete its best season since 2001. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Division 6

Ithaca 21, Montrose 20

Never during Ithaca’s 55-game winning streak has an opponent come so close to ending it – in fact, the Rams (12-1) were the first to come within 10 points of the Yellowjackets since the 2011 Regional Final. Ithaca (13-0) also stopped a last-minute drive into its territory to earn a chance to play for a fourth straight MHSAA title. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.

Clinton 49, Shelby 3

Clinton will play for an MHSAA championship for the first time after winning in its first Semifinal appearance since 1990. The Redskins (13-0) scored 35 points during the first half to set the tone and keep the best season in program history going one more week. Shelby (11-2) also was seeking its first championship game berth. Click to read more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.

Division 7

Ishpeming 44, Harbor Beach 10

Ishpeming (13-0) earned the opportunity to repeat as Division 7 champion by eliminating the reigning winner in Division 8. The Hematites' defense continued to shine – it’s now given up a combined 23 points in four playoff games this fall – while Harbor Beach (11-2) scored its fewest points since the 2011 Regional Final. Click to read more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Detroit Loyola 52, Homer 7

Loyola (13-0) earned a Finals rematch against Ishpeming with another incredible offensive performance – the Bulldogs have outscored their playoff opponents by a combined 205-14. The Semifinal appearance was a first for Homer (11-1). Click to read more from MLive Detroit.

Division 8

Beal City 34, Crystal Falls Forest Park 18

Forest Park (12-1) did hold Beal City to a season low in points and scored the second most of any opponent. That’s how good the Aggies (13-0) have been this fall, and they’ll get a chance to finish the run after falling to Harbor Beach in last year’s Division 8 Final. Click to read more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.

Muskegon Catholic Central 45, New Lothrop 14

The Crusaders (11-2) are headed to the Finals for the first time since 2008 and in search of their ninth MHSAA championship. New Lothrop (12-1) was the second straight previously-undefeated team to have its season ended by Muskegon Catholic Central. Click to read more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

PHOTO: DeWitt defenders swarm a St. Clair ball carrier during the Panthers’ 21-20 Division 3 Semifinal win Saturday at Goodrich High School. (Photo courtesy of Matt Stehouwer.)

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.)