Drive for Detroit: Week 1 in Review

September 3, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Let’s start our first weekly review of MHSAA football action with some of the results you won’t see among our list of most significant from opening weekend:

Kent City’s first opening night win over Ravenna in 15 tries and Beal City’s incredible 61-0 win over rival Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart. Kalamazoo Central’s 14-13 win over neighbor Loy Norrix and Kinde-North Huron’s 28-14 win over reigning MHSAA 8-player champion Deckerville.

All are big-time results, no doubt. But below I’ve tried to tell you about five more from each region of our state, organized by the winner in each game, that might have bigger impacts as we move immediately forward with most leagues schedules kicking off in three days. 

West Michigan

Zeeland West 44, Detroit Country Day 28

Country Day came into this season with plenty of deserved hype returning most of its star power from last season’s run to the MHSAA Division 4 Final. But Zeeland West has plenty of championship experience too, and its tough running proved too much for the Yellowjackets. Click to read more from the Oakland Press.

Also noted:

East Grand Rapids 24, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 7 – The Pioneers began making up for last season’s first playoff miss since 2000 with a solid win over another perennial power.

Grand Rapids Christian 41, Grand Rapids South Christian 13 – New faces abound, but the reigning Division 3 champion won big over last season’s Division 4 title winner.

Muskegon Oakridge 31, Grand Rapids West Catholic 25 – The Eagles are soaring high to start this fall after finishing 2012 with a 13-6 District Final loss to West Catholic.

Rockford 23, Utica Eisenhower 6 – Given these teams’ histories, no one would be stunned if they met again in 13 weeks in the MHSAA Division 1 Final. 

Greater Detroit

Oak Park 25, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 20

Oak Park entered its opener with the opportunity to show last season’s historic run wasn’t over with 2012’s final horn. Four touchdowns during the second half against the reigning MHSAA Division 3 runner-up proved the Knights will be talked about plenty again in 2013. Read more in the Detroit Free Press.

Also noted: 

Detroit Cass Tech 18, Southfield 14 – Two-time reigning Division 1 champion Cass Tech and quarterback Jayru Campbell edged an improved Bluejays team to start 1-0.

Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 27, Dearborn 20 (2 OT) – Chippewa Valley also beat Dearborn on opening night last season on the way to its first  playoff berth in three seasons; this one could be prove just as important.

Rochester Adams 12, Clarkston 7 – Coming off its first playoff miss since 1996, Adams won for the first time in its last four tries against one of the biggest and best programs in the state.

Lake Orion 35, Oxford 30 – If this was an indication, these two should again be contenders in their respective divisions of the Oakland Activities Association. Lake Orion has held the Double "O" Pigskin Trophy three of four seasons since the series was restarted in 2010; the teams formerly played for the prize from 1962-83. 

Southwest and Border

Battle Creek Harper Creek 27, Mattawan 7

Both of these teams should be contenders in their respective divisions of the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference, and both will run their way to success again this fall. It will be interesting to see in eight weeks just how similar their paths finish after a game that would’ve been much closer if not for some untimely Mattawan turnovers. Click to read more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Also noted: 

Battle Creek Central 15, Benton Harbor 0 – The Bearcats ended their 18-game winless streak with their first shutout since 2007.

Portage Central 55, Sturgis 0 – Sturgis has a Division 1 college prospect in quarterback Chance Stewart, which made this arguably the most impressive defensive performance statewide.

Watervliet 43, Gobles 14 – Simply put, this was a solid nonleague matchup between teams that each won eight games last season. Watervliet has the head start on repeating that feat.

Edwardsburg 34, Otsego 7 – Different teams, same story as above as both are playoff regulars that should again be in the mix by the end of the season. 

Bay and Thumb

Saginaw Swan Valley 27, Saginaw Nouvel 20

Both might end this season at Ford Field after Swan Valley missed by one win a year ago and Nouvel missed by two after winning Division 7 in 2011. But as for the best in Saginaw, it looks like the Vikings at this point after running back Alex Grace ran for more than 200 yards in one of the state’s most intriguing openers. Click to read more from the Saginaw News.

Also noted:

New Lothrop 28, Traverse City St. Francis 7 – The Hornets traveled north for a tough opener and came back with plenty of momentum for the Genesee Area Conference Blue schedule.

Hemlock 19, Frankenmuth 12 – Hemlock, the 2012 Tri-Valley Conference Central champion, held on to beat the 2012 TVC East winner.

Montrose 38, Reese 8 – This looked to be a close game between 10-win teams from a year ago, but Montrose instead avenged last season’s 21-point loss to the Rockets in a bigger way.

Saginaw Arthur Hill 24, Goodrich 14 – Arthur Hill has struggled since it last playoff berth in 2008, but appears on the rebound with this reversal of a 41-6 loss to Goodrich in 2012. 


Ithaca 57, Williamston 13

This wasn’t really close, but was significant nonetheless. The win was Ithaca’s 43rd straight, tying the record for longest victory streak in MHSAA history in which all games were won during the playoff era. This week, the Yellowjackets face rival St. Charles with a chance to move up the list again. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted: 

Jackson Northwest 35, Hillsdale 20 – Only a record performance by Ithaca could trump what might be Northwest’s best football win since the mid-2000s. Hillsdale is coming off an 11-win season, and Northwest has won one game in each of the last three years.

Lansing Sexton 21, Chelsea 14 – Beating a team with 14 straight playoff berths will no doubt help the Big Reds return to the postseason after missing last season.

Pewamo-Westphalia 20, Lansing Catholic 7 – This reversed a 24-point loss to the Cougars last season as the Pirates began their quest for a third straight MHSAA Semifinals run.

Eaton Rapids 44, Leslie 0 – New Greyhounds coach Mike Smith, most known from his success at Holt, started his Eaton Rapids rebuilding effort with the team’s biggest win since 1996. 

Upper Peninsula

Negaunee 36, Manistique 30

Negaunee had to be on its game for a tough Mid-Peninsula Conference opener against another playoff team from 2012. But the Miners held on through a late Manistique run and scored last to open league play and the season 1-0. Big plays were key, as Negaunee scored on an 80-yard kickoff return and 66-yard run. The Miners continued claim of the Oscar Wassberg Trophy, named for the former coach of both teams. Click to read more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Also noted:

Cedarville 42, Posen 40 – The Trojans didn’t feel much of a challenge until Week 8 last season, but survived this one to kick off its 8-player season.

Ishpeming 36, Iron Mountain 0 – The reigning MHSAA Division 7 champion kept rolling with a win over another playoff team from last season.

Bessemer 28, Hancock 26 (OT) – The last three games between these two have been decided by a touchdown or less, but all in favor of the Bessemer-led co-op.

Marquette 31, Traverse City Central 23 – Marquette should get a solid boost at playoff selection time from this win as it goes for a fourth straight postseason berth. 

Lower Up North

Reed City 39, Big Rapids 26

As stated earlier last week, this game eventually decided last season’s Central State Activities Association title in favor of Reed City. This was the fourth straight opening-night win for the Coyotes over rival Big Rapids. This game is played for the Pioneer Trophy. Click to read more from the Cadillac News.

Also noted: 

Alpena 15, Escanaba 7 – Alpena has won only one game in each of the last two seasons and was outscored by Escanaba by a combined 72-0 over 2011 and 2012.

Hillman 55, Gaylord St. Mary 54 – These teams combined for only 41 points when they met to open 2012. This time, they qualified for the MHSAA record book.  

Charlevoix 20, St. Ignace 0 – Coming off one win in 2012, and against a team that was 24-2 combined over the last two seasons, Charlevoix pulled off one of the biggest upsets statewide.

Maple City Glen Lake 27, Boyne City 13 – Glen Lake continued rolling off last season’s best finish in more than a decade by beating again the team it defeated to open the 2012 playoffs.

Trophy Games

Each week the MHSAA highlights trophy games played across the state. A few were mentioned above, with these the rest we knew about heading into the weekend. 

  • Bull Bowl – This is one of our newest trophies, established in 2011 for the opener between Fremont and Sparta. The Spartans gained a 2-1 advantage in the series last week. Final: Sparta 6, Fremont 0.
  • Battle of 127 Trophy – Hudson and Addison have met for a number of years for this trophy sponsored by a local insurance company and local automotive group. Final: Hudson 46, Addison 0.
  • Battle for The Paddle – Neighbors Sanford Meridian and Bullock Creek have met on opening night for the last dozen seasons. Bullock Creek owns a 7-5 advantage during that time. Final: Meridian 26, Bullock Creek 22.
  • State Bank Traveling Trophy – Linden and Fenton have played for this prize dating to 1976, including on opening night the last two seasons. Final: Fenton 39, Linden 27.
  • Little Brown Jug – Two games were played for these last week: Napoleon and Brooklyn Columbia Central continuing a series begun in 1967, and Manton and Mesick. Finals: Manton 29, Mesick 0; Columbia Central 26, Napoleon 18.
  • Border Battle Cheese Trophy – Hurley (Wis.) made it eight straight opening-night wins over rival Ironwood. Final: Hurley 47, Ironwood 7. 

PHOTO: Grand Ledge made this stop, but fell a few short in a 16-14 opening-night loss at home against East Kentwood. 

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.)