Drive for Detroit: Week 1 in Review

September 2, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Opening night of MHSAA football season never disappoints.

This weekend’s first games of 2014 again produced plenty of discussion fodder. But they also included a couple interesting rarities worth pointing out.

  • We figured Stevensville-Lakeshore’s 2-0 win over Battle Creek Central on Thursday had to be a forfeit when the score came in. Actually, Lakeshore’s defense scored a safety with less than a minute to play.

  • Although we don’t tout a team’s losing streak, we certainly can celebrate the end of one – so congrats to Pinconning, which won for the first time since Week 7 of 2010, 27-8 over Caro; Clio, which won for the first time since Week 8 in 2009 by beating Mount Morris 24-14; and to Bay City All Saints for its first win since Week 7 of 2011, 45-14 over Bellevue. 

Those two certainly raised a few eyebrows among the 300-plus scores reported from Thursday-Saturday. Read below for more of the most significant results from every corner of Michigan. 

Greater Detroit

Detroit Cass Tech 27, Oak Park 26

Those following live or over the Twittersphere had to think Cass Tech was in trouble early as it trailed by two scores. But the Technicians came back to take the final lead with 2:16 to play at Wayne State University. The game featured two of the state’s top running backs – Cass Tech’s Mike Weber and Oak Park’s John Kelly – and an impressive debut by Technicians sophomore quarterback Rodney Hall. Click to read more from MLive-Detroit.

Also noted:

Orchard Lake St. Mary's 21, Southfield 19 – The Eaglets are coming off a rare playoff miss but began bouncing back by beating a Bluejays team coming off its third straight postseason appearance.

Clarkston 24, Macomb Dakota 21 – The reigning MHSAA Division 1 champion looked strong in beginning its title defense, edging a Dakota team that had won 17 straight regular-season games.

Birmingham Groves 42, Birmingham Seaholm 19 – Groves won this battle of rivals for the first time since 2011 and after falling to Seaholm by seven and six points, respectively, the last two seasons.

Dearborn Fordson 41, Temperance Bedford 21 – Fordson is seeking a ninth-straight playoff berth and got rolling by beating a Bedford team that suffered its only 2013 loss in the Regional Final.

West Michigan

Muskegon 21, Detroit Catholic Central 14

This ended up everything it was billed as Muskegon scored during the final minutes to survive in arguably the most anticipated opener of this season. The Big Reds are back-to-back MHSAA Division 2 runners-up and Detroit Catholic Central has finished second in Division 1 the last three seasons. Both have a number of new key contributors, but both also are again considered contenders to reach Ford Field this November. Click to read more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Also noted:

Grand Rapids Christian 28, Grand Rapids South Christian 14 – The Eagles have won this clash of Grand Rapids titans five seasons running, even more impressive since South Christian has played at Ford Field to finish the last two.

East Grand Rapids 17, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 14 – The Pioneers also face Lowell, Muskegon, Forest Hills Central, Caledonia and Grand Rapids Christian among others, making every win count that much more as they look to return to the playoffs after a two-year hiatus.

Muskegon Orchard View 22, Montague 16 – Although Montague dropped down just a bit in finishing 6-4 last season, this was one of the biggest stunners statewide last weekend with Orchard View seeking its first winning season since 2009.

Muskegon Mona Shores 31, Saline 28 – Coming off its first playoff appearance, the Sailors appear headed for a return after edging another 2013 playoff qualifier.

Bay and Thumb

New Lothrop 28, Traverse City St. Francis 20 (3 OT)

New Lothrop hasn’t lost a regular-season game since Week 9 of 2009 – a stretch of now 37 – although St. Francis did its best to break the streak. Neither team scored during the first overtime, and both scored during the second overtime but missed extra points. Click to read more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Also noted:

Montrose 52, Reese 7 – These teams combined for 20 wins last season, and Montrose is off to a great start on a fourth straight of at least 10 victories.

Saginaw Swan Valley 42, Saginaw Nouvel 0 – Alex Grace added another 195 yards to his more than 5,000 gained for the Vikings over the last two seasons.

Midland Dow 46, Mount Pleasant 16 – The Chargers broke a seven-game losing streak to Mount Pleasant and should be among favorites in the Saginaw Valley Association Blue.

Flint Carman-Ainsworth 26, Grand Blanc 14 – The Cavaliers followed up their best finish ever (11-2) by opening with a third straight win over this nonleague rival. 


Ithaca 38, Clare 13

Ithaca stands alone with the most consecutive high school football wins in the United States. The Yellowjackets ran their streak to 57 straight, while Iowa City Regina (Iowa) – which also had won 56 in a row – fell by a point, 29-28, to Solon (Iowa) on Friday. Clare entered this season with eight straight playoff appearances and should be a favorite to remain atop the Jack Pine Conference. Ithaca has won four straight MHSAA Division 6 championships and debuted a new starter at quarterback – junior Jacob Smith, younger brother of graduated all-stater Travis – and he threw for 245 yards and four touchdowns. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Grand Ledge 28, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 24 – This says a lot about the Comets’ hoped-for turnaround this fall after they finished 4-5 a year ago; Forest Hills Central also went 4-5 in 2013, but against a similarly rigorous schedule.

DeWitt 39, Linden 0 – The Panthers return much of the team that made last season’s Division 3 Final, but this score was a little higher than most probably expected against a Linden team DeWitt beat in the playoffs the last two seasons by a combined 14 points.

Okemos 28, Mason 14 – Could this first win over the rival Bulldogs since 2011 be a sign of things to come for a Chieftains team returning 17 starters after finishing 3-6 in 2013?

Lansing Sexton 35, Detroit East English 26 – The Big Reds have MHSAA title aspirations, and beating a strong East English team at Wayne State University was a powerful step.  

Upper Peninsula

L'Anse 16, Houghton 14

L’Anse opened newly-dedicated Volunteer Field with a pair of late defensive stands to beat Houghton for the sixth straight opening night. The Purple Hornets are coming off consecutive 8-3 seasons, but fielded a number of new contributors who held strong against a Houghton team that made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2001. Click for read more from the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette.

Also noted:

Escanaba 24, Alpena 18 – Coming off its worst finish (3-6) in six seasons, Escanaba started this fall by avenging a 15-7 loss to Alpena in last season’s opener.

Cedarville 52, Posen 0 – This was little like last season’s 42-40 nail-biter opener also won by Cedarville before both went on to make the 8-player playoffs.

Iron River West Iron County 28, Munising 6 – Make that 12 straight seasons West Iron has started 1-0, and 12 straight regular-season wins dating to Week 8 of 2012.

Ishpeming Westwood 40, Stephenson 16 – Rebounding Westwood is halfway to equaling last season’s win total with this win over a program that’s made the playoffs four of the last five years. 

Southwest and Border

Edwardsburg 42, Three Rivers 40 (2 OT)

Edwardsburg’s 2013 ended with a disappointing four-point loss in its first playoff game – which also ended up being the Eddies’ only loss of last season. They were faced with a similar situation Thursday – but made a series of big plays to come out on top. The Eddies blocked a field goal to help send this game into overtime and scored the winning points on their lone complete pass of the evening. Edwardsburg has beaten Three Rivers in three straight; this season the two are in separate divisions of the Wolverine B Conference for the first time. Click to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Also noted:

Gobles 33, Watervliet 32 – Watervliet didn’t lose last season until the playoffs, but Gobles bounced back big after missing the playoffs in 2013 and falling to the Panthers 43-14 in last fall’s opener.

Fennville 18, Lawton 0 – Fennville is seeking its first winning season since 2010, and shutting out a Lawton team coming off its fifth straight playoff appearance is a great start.

Plainwell 28, Dowagiac 13 – Plainwell has won two straight over Dowagiac after seven straight losses to the Chieftains.

Portage Northern 28, Battle Creek Lakeview 24 – Northern’s last football game before Thursday was a 31-7 playoff loss to Lakeview last fall.

Lower Up North

Traverse City Central 34, Marquette 13

Central opened last season with a 31-23 loss to Marquette – the first of four defeats by eight or fewer points as the Trojans finished 5-4 and missed the playoffs by a win. This time, Central’s offense rolled to more than 400 yards with two backs each running for more than 100. Click to read more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Also noted:

Hillman 39, Rudyard 33 – The Tigers opened with a close one, scoring the game-winner with 27 seconds to play as they pursue their ninth straight playoff berth.

Traverse City West 31, Midland 14 – The Titans opened with a nice turnaround after falling to Midland 16-0 in last season’s opener; Midland went on to win 10 games.

Petoskey 53, Sault Ste. Marie 14 – The Northmen lost two games last season by a combined four points and missed the playoffs for the second straight, but hope this fourth straight win over Sault Ste. Marie is a jump start back toward the postseason.

Charlevoix 13, Elk Rapids 12 – For the second straight year, the Rayders were coming off a 1-8 finish but opened with an upset of a team coming off a playoff berth.

PHOTO: Detroit Cass Tech's Mike Weber (25) breaks toward an opening against Oak Park at Wayne State University. (Photo courtesy of Detroit Public School League.)

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.)