Drive for Detroit: Week 1 in Review

August 29, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Upsets and comebacks, broken win streaks and broken hearts mending were among the storylines most prevalent from another highlight-filled first weekend of Michigan high school football.

Two reigning MHSAA champions – Romeo and Ishpeming – fell in their first games after ending last season at Ford Field. Another 2015 champ, Detroit Martin Luther King, returned to the field this fall victorious but without coach Dale Harvel, who died unexpectedly in July. He was with his players however, his name across all of their backs.

Each week during the regular season and playoffs, we’ll look back at the games from every region of our state and 8-player and discuss which results could have the biggest impacts as we move ahead. Games are organized regionally by hometown of the winning team.

And now, our season debut. 

Bay & Thumb

Algonac 7, Marine City 2

Odd score, but it was a pretty impressive defensive display by an Algonac unit that had five shutouts a year ago. Last season’s 19-18 opening-night win over powerhouse Marine City seemed to spur the Muskrats to their best finish ever, and they’ll be hoping for the same momentum after scoring the game’s lone touchdown midway through the third quarter. Click for more from the Port Huron Times Herald.

Also noted:

Byron 29, Montrose 27 – The Eagles ended last season with a 55-18 Pre-District playoff loss to the Rams, but came back for what’s believed to be the school’s first win over Montrose.

Bay City Central 13, Swartz Creek 12 – The Wolves became the 12th team in Michigan high school football history to win 500 games, running their record since 1922 to 500-321-31.

Midland Dow 41, Mount Pleasant 14 – The Chargers ran off 10 straight wins after opening last season with a 14-point loss to the Oilers, and appear ready to keep that run going.

Almont 35, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 26 – The Raiders couldn’t have prepped better for next week’s matchup with Algonac than by beating a Seminary team that’s gone a combined 21-4 over the last two seasons.

Greater Detroit

Macomb Dakota 35, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 28

Dakota earned new coach Greg Baur arguably the most impressive win of opening weekend as it downed the two-time reigning Division 3 champion Eaglets. Dakota quarterback Brett Droski connected with receiver Jaylen Hall on two long scores as the Cougars came back from an early deficit. A year ago, Dakota opened by downing then-reigning Division 1 champ Clarkston. Click for more from the Macomb Daily.

Also noted:

Oxford 27, Romeo 26 – Especially after going 3-6 a year ago, knocking off the reigning Division 1 champion was Oxford’s best win in a few seasons (and its second over Romeo in three.)

Dearborn Fordson 40, Canton 35 – The Tractors avenged an opening-night loss to the Chiefs last season by rallying from 21 points down at Wayne State.

Clarkston 28, Lapeer 7 – JT King ran for two of Clarkston’s four rushing touchdowns as it handed Lapeer the first regular-season loss of the Lightning’s now three-season history. 

Utica Eisenhower 28, Plymouth 7 – Eisenhower earned some momentum to take into this week's Macomb Area Conference Red tilt against league favorite Dakota by downing a playoff team from last season.


Ithaca 31, Clare 28

Ithaca hasn’t had a scare during the regular season in a long time – and the Yellowjackets kept their regular-season winning streak alive at 56 straight. Ithaca had beaten Clare by four touchdowns just a year ago, but this time the reigning Division 6 champion had to survive a comeback attempt by the Pioneers. Click to read more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.

Also noted:

East Lansing 42, St. Johns 7 – The Trojans broke a two-year opening-night losing streak to the Redwings as reigning Lower Peninsula Division 1 110 hurdles champion Kentre Patterson showed why he might be the Lansing area’s most exciting player this fall.

Brighton 14, Detroit East English 8 – The Bulldogs took a two-score lead into the fourth quarter and held on in a Michigan Stadium matchup of teams that both won nine games a year ago.

DeWitt 42, Linden 14 – The Panthers ran their opening-night winning streak against the Eagles to three after also beating Linden during the 2012 and 2013 playoffs.

Pewamo-Westphalia 30, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 20 – Add another couple of hundred yards to Jared Smith’s pursuit of the all-time career rushing record as he leads the reigning Division 7 runner-up Pirates. 

Northern Lower Peninsula

Traverse City West 42, Midland 14

The Titans got a start on reversing last season’s sub-.500 finish by nearly reversing the score of last season’s opening-night 42-11 loss to the Chemics. West stacked up 391 total yards including 271 rushing on 45 carries and jumped out to a 21-0 lead and 35-7 advantage by halftime. The Titans were 4-5 in 2015, while Midland finished 7-3. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Also noted:

Cadillac 40, Big Rapids 6 – Cadillac’s first sub-.500 season since 2008 last fall started with a three-point loss to Big Rapids, but the Vikings put up points more like their one-loss teams of 2014 and 2013 in this victory.

Gaylord 41, Boyne City 32 – With Gaylord showing a few more new faces in key places, this result might have been a bit of a surprise – and was an impressive win for the Blue Devils against a Ramblers team that won 10 games a year ago.

Onekama 18, Hillman 0 – The Portagers are coming off two straight playoff appearances, but it’s still strong that they handed Hillman the latter’s first shutout since 2012.

Tawas 35, Lincoln Alcona 30 – Alcona bounced back from an down season in 2014 to return to the playoffs a year ago, and Tawas looks like a possibility to copy with a big win coming off last year’s 2-7 finish.

Southeast & Border

Grass Lake 32, Stockbridge 18

Grass Lake is seeking its 12th straight playoff appearance this fall, so it’s not like the Warriors haven’t won their share of big games over the years. But they still made quite a defensive stand, holding down a Stockbridge offense that has scored more than 400 points each of the last two seasons and is returning its quarterback and a top receiver this fall. Click for more from the Jackson Citizen-Patriot.

Also noted:

Clinton 48, Manchester 12 – The 115th meeting between these two was not nearly as close as the 114th, which also was won by Clinton, but by only a point.

Morenci 34, Pittsford 7 – If one game is an indication, the Bulldogs are coming in on a roll again with a second straight opening-night win over a Pittsford team coming off the playoffs.

Adrian Lenawee Christian 35, Britton Deerfield 34 – Returning after the best finish in 2015 of its eight-year history, Lenawee Christian hung on to get off to another good start.

Tecumseh 15, Harper Woods Chandler Park 14 – The Indians got a much-needed opening win heading into one of the most loaded schedules from this corner of the state.

Southwest Corridor

Benton Harbor 28, Marshall 7

The good times continue to roll for Benton Harbor. Last season was history-making as the Tigers secured their first playoff berth, but this win over Marshall actually made Benton Harbor 1-0 for the first time since 2011 – and came against a playoff team from a year ago. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.

Also noted:

Gobles 14, Delton Kellogg 13 (OT) – The Tigers made it two straight one-point opening-night wins in a row over Delton, this one secured with a two-point conversion in overtime.

Coldwater 33, Jackson 22 – These two both have come back from one-win seasons to make the playoffs over the last few years, but the Cardinals are still a little ahead of the Vikings as both surge forward.

Vicksburg 17, Dowagiac 7 – In a Wolverine Conference where teams play nine league games, this one right out of the gate could be a decider or at least influence the final championship result.

Stevensville Lakeshore 30, Battle Creek Central 13 – This win could prove especially important as Lakeshore goes for its 19th straight playoff appearance but faces what will likely be one of the strongest league schedules in Michigan, again.

Upper Peninsula

Iron Mountain 35, Ishpeming 24

After absorbing two losses – opening night and playoffs – to Ishpeming a year ago, Iron Mountain started the climb back against its longtime Week 1 foe by breaking the Hematites’ 27-game regular-season winning streak that dated back to 2012. The Mountaineers hadn’t beaten Ishpeming since opening night 2011, and Ishpeming – the reigning Division 7 champion – didn't lose at all in 13 tries in 2015. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.

Also noted: 

Menominee 31, Marinette, Wis. 14 – The 110th meeting in the longest interstate rivalry involving a Michigan team moved the Maroons’ all-time edge to 53-50-7 in the series.

Sault Ste. Marie 13, Cheboygan 7 (OT) – Sault Ste. Marie is 1-0 after opening night for the first time since 2007 with its third win over the last four tries against Cheboygan.

Gwinn 36, Gladstone 16 – The Modeltowners won on opening night for only the third time over the last decade and with their most points in a game since Week 7 of 2014.

Lake Linden-Hubbell 28, Hancock 26 – The Lakes didn’t come close to having a regular-season scare going 9-0 in 2015, but stopped a two-point conversion late to survive this one. 

West Michigan

Grand Rapids Catholic Central 27, East Grand Rapids 6

GRCC debuted Cougar stadium by breaking a three-year losing streak to opening-night rival East Grand Rapids. The Cougars scored twice on defense and a third time after an interception to put away the Pioneers, who like GRCC also won nine games last season. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Muskegon 51, Ann Arbor Pioneer 14 – Muskegon quarterback Kalil Pimpleton might be the player most people statewide want to see; he ran for two scores, threw two touchdown passes and caught one at Michigan Stadium.

Caledonia 55, Fenton 52 – The Scots gained the lead for good midway through the fourth quarter after the teams were tied at halftime at Grand Valley State University.

Hudsonville 21, Grand Ledge 14 – Holding off a Comets team that went 12-1 a year ago was a great way for the Eagles to start off a new season.

East Kentwood 31, Farmington Hills Harrison 24 – The Falcons added a second-straight seven-point opening-night win over Harrison, this time at Michigan Stadium. 


Crystal Falls Forest Park 64, Rapid River 22

No team that’s made the switch from 11 to 8-player has brought as much championship success as three-time MHSAA title winner Forest Park did in making the move this fall. Its debut against annual power Rapid River could be a scary sign for opponents of what’s to come. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.

Also noted:

Pickford 56, Bellaire 6 – The Panthers did make the playoffs last season in their first of 8-player, but with a 37-26 loss to Bellaire, a regular contender in the Bridge Alliance race.

Camden-Frontier 86, Elyria Open Door Christian, Ohio 8 – The Redskins won for the first time since Week 8 of 2013, giving them immediate satisfaction in their first game of 8-player football. 

PHOTO: Detroit Martin Luther King players wear jerseys showing the last name of late coach Dale Harvel during their Week 1 win over Southfield Arts & Technology. (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.)