Drive for Detroit: Week 1 in Review

August 27, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Two months from now, the majority of successes and failures from the opening weekend of high school football won't have made or broken most of the more than 600 teams playing in the MHSAA this fall. 

But players, coaches and fans all over the state will still be talking about some of the tremendous matchups that once again marked the first nights of the season. 

To identify the best of those games, it was easy to simply point toward Detroit or Grand Rapids. But that would've been too easy; below, the most significant results from every corner of our expansive state.

Greater Detroit                                                         

Detroit Cass Tech 25, Birmingham Brother Rice 18

A late start was worth the wait for those who stuck around for the finale of the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State. Not that anyone was doubting Cass Tech’s defense, but it was especially impressive given the standouts the Technicians graduated after last season’s Division 1 championship run. The loss will no doubt pay off for the reigning Division 2 champion Warriors too – they’ve made the playoffs with at least three losses the last four seasons, and made it to at least the Semifinals in two of those four. Click to read more from the Detroit Free Press.

Also noted:

Southfield 21, Martin Luther King 20 (2 OT) – The Bluejays edged another Detroit PSL favorite in the second-best game of the Classic; the teams combined for 17 wins last season.

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 17, Almont 14 – University of Michigan women’s soccer prospect Taylor Timko drilled a 35-yard field goal for the final lead with 2:48 to play.

Troy 24, Romeo 20 – Romeo has made the playoffs eight straight seasons, so Troy has additional reason to be glad after a losing season in 2011.

Carleton Airport 25, Adrian 24 – After finishing last season with a 28-21 playoff-opening loss to Adrian, Airport edged the Maples in a game that will no doubt have rankings implications.

West Michigan

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 59, Zeeland West 58

The Dux hadn’t lost since the 2010 playoffs after going undefeated in winning Division 4 last season. But Forest Hills Central got a start on its drive for a third-straight playoff berth as these teams combined for 117 points – tied for 11th in the MHSAA record book for games in which the losing team scored at least 40. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Grand Rapids Catholic Central 33, East Grand Rapids 14 – Interesting “did you know” ... the Cougars were 2-10 against East Grand Rapids going back to 1987 before this impressive win.

Fruitport 21, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer 20 – The Trojans hung on for their fourth straight opening-night win over the Rockets.

Lowell 16, Rockford 6 – Lowell had a new quarterback and Rockford was missing its starter, but both will no doubt be putting up many more points as the fall goes on.

Muskegon 21, Orchard Lake St. Mary 14 – The Big Reds’ first four opponents include three of the best teams in the state regardless of division, but they got off to a quick start by downing the reigning Division 3 champion. 


DeWitt 38, Mount Pleasant 14

The Panthers stacked impressive offensive numbers against the reigning Division 3 runner-up Oilers, who had won 32 straight regular-season games. New quarterback Jordan Johnson, a sophomore, threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for two scores for DeWitt.

Also noted:

Farwell 61, Coleman 54 – This ranks 13th in the MHSAA record book for total combined points in games in which the losing team scored at least 40.

Mendon 27, Fowler 7 – This replay of last season’s Division 8 Final again went Mendon’s way, but was much closer throughout.

Holt 24, Hudsonville 21 – With its annual game against Rockford no doubt a little on their minds, Holt’s Rams went to Hudsonville and first avenged another 2011 loss.

Lansing Catholic 45, Pewamo-Westphalia 21 – The Cougars look to be the quicker of the two reigning MHSAA runners-up to rebuild, with plenty of points potential despite a new quarterback and a number of other first-year starters.

Bay and Thumb

Richmond 25, Marine City 24

Knocking off the reigning Division 4 runner-up is a great way for Richmond to get rolling after two straight losing seasons. The Blue Devils recovered an on-side kick to get the ball back for the go-ahead drive. Read more from the Port Huron Times-Herald.

Also noted:

Midland 29, Canton 28 (OT) – This big-time matchup might’ve gotten lost in the Detroit and Grand Rapids area slugfests, but Midland’s win was one of the most solid of the weekend as both teams stand to be among the best in Division 1 this fall.

Deckerville 32, Carsonville-Port Sanilac 12 – The Eagles might find themselves fans of the 8-player game quickly after beating the reigning MHSAA champion in their first game since switching from 11 players.

Linden 17, Fenton 15 – These two have been playoff  regulars, but this win could be especially key for Linden after it lost to Fenton by three in 2011 and just got into the postseason at 5-4.

Reese 47, Montrose 26 – Both of these teams could find themselves atop league standings when the regular season is done.

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming 34, Iron Mountain 0

Last season Iron Mountain won this matchup and finished a game ahead of Ishpeming in the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference. But it appears the Hematites could be heavy favorites this fall after this dominating performance. Read more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Also noted:

Rock Mid-Peninsula 26, Bellaire 22 – The Wolverines went 2-8 last season after three years without a team, making this win over an 8-player power all the more significant.

Norway 12, Niagara (WI)  Northern Elite 9 – Norway scored with less than a minute remaining to avenge last season’s one-point loss.

Marquette 34, Detroit Denby 12 – The home team prevailed, but the neater part was that this game was played at all between opponents with a nine-hour drive between them.

Iron River West Iron County 19, Pittsford 16 – Opponents from even farther apart than Marquette and Denby met somewhat in the middle Saturday in St. Ignace for a hard-fought contest.

Lower Up North

Kingsley 18, Traverse City St. Francis 0

This was one of the state’s biggest stunners for a few reasons: Kingsley lost to St. Francis 57-8 last season, with the Gladiators then going on to the Division 7 Semifinals; Kingsley then lost an all-state running back early Friday. But the defense didn’t break. Read more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Also noted:

Boyne City 22, McBain 14 – Boyne City bounced back quickly from its 2011 losing season by beating a team that had a combined 19 wins over the last two.

Manistee 36, Ludington 34 – This made two seasons in a row that Manistee won by less than a field goal; in 2011 the score was 40-39.

Johannesburg-Lewiston 28, Atlanta 26 – The Cardinals had beaten Atlanta by an average of nearly 47 points over the last three seasons before having to survive this one.

Southwest and Border

Portage Central 36, Battle Creek Harper Creek 32

The Mustangs had a hard fall last season from 9-2 in 2010 to just 3-6, and were shut out by Harper Creek 24-0; Harper Creek went on to finish 12-1 and advance to the Division 3 Semifinals. But Portage Central again could be in at least its league title mix after coming back from a three-score deficit in this opener. Click to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Also noted:

Dowagiac 21, Vicksburg 7 – Dowagiac had its best finish in 15 years last season, but lost to Vicksburg 6-3; the Chieftains hope this revenge win is the start of another special run.

Quincy 7, Bronson 6 – The Orioles had lost five straight to Bronson, and missed qualifying for the playoffs last season by just a win.

Lawton 21, Cassopolis Ross Beatty 19 – Lawton made it two straight on opening night over the Rangers; both made the playoffs last season.

Trophy Games


Each week, the MHSAA highlights trophy games around the state. Here's a list of those from Week 1.

  • The Sword: Bloomfield Hills Andover and Bloomfield Hills Lahser met on the gridiron for the last time in the regular season. The two schools will merge next year. The teams annually played for The Sword. Final: Lahser 70, Andover 7.
  • Brown Jug Games: Two such games were played last week, Mesick at Manton and Brooklyn Columbia Central at Napoleon. Finals: Manton 41, Mesick 6; Columbia Central 28, Napoleon 6.
  • Totem Pole: Battle Creek Central was at Kalamazoo Central on Friday. This is said to be the longest running rivalry west of the Allegheny Mountains, with the two schools playing games since 1893. Final: Kalamazoo Central 20, Battle Creek Central 0.
  • Addison and Hudson met on Friday in Hudson, and the two teams have played for a trophy for a number of years sponsored by a local insurance company and a local automotive group. Final: Hudson 41, Addison 0
  • Cheese Log: A border battle between Ironwood and Hurley (WI) took place at Ironwood on Friday, and a cheese log has historically been on the line in this game. Final: Hurley 49, Ironwood 7.

PHOTO: East Lansing junior running back Kenny Washington took a hand-off and looked to turn the corner during Friday's 38-18 win at Haslett.

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.)