Drive for Detroit: Week 1 in Review

August 28, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Does anyone remember a more eventful opening weekend than the one Michigan fans enjoyed these last few days?

The 2017 kickoff had comebacks, like Marshall’s from 28 down to win. It had record-book performances, like Austin Brown’s eight first-half touchdown passes for Madison Heights Madison and Jake Moody’s 57-yard field goal for Northville (see below).

There were winning streaks broken, a rematch of a 2016 MHSAA Final, and two reigning champions facing off as well. Scoring? Two games saw a combined 110 points, one of them finishing in triple overtime. How about a massive upset by a team that didn’t win a game last year? Yep, yes, and got it.

Check out Jake Moody’s school-record kick, and then read on for the most significant games from every region of the state and 8-player as we get our “Drive for Detroit” rolling again and with our first Week 2 preview only three days away.  

Bay & Thumb

Davison 56, Southfield Arts & Technology 54 (3 OT)

Davison eventually emerged from what tied for the 10th most high-scoring overtime game in MHSAA history. The Cardinals trailed by 14 heading into the fourth quarter but followed star running back Tariq Reid to the comeback win and most exciting finish of the Xenith Prep Football Classic at Wayne State University (which can be watched on replay on Click for more from MLive-Detroit.

Also noted:

Grand Blanc 51, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 46 – Grand Blanc also pulled off a memorable comeback, scoring twice over the final 1:07 for a Vehicle City Classic win at Atwood Stadium also available for replay on

Flint Southwestern 26, Flint Beecher 12 – Southwestern, with an opening win, equaled its total number of victories for both 2016 and 2015.

Marine City 42, Algonac 6 – After missing the playoffs last year for the first time since 1997, Marine City won big against an Algonac team that was a combined 21-5 over the last two seasons.

Richmond 19, Marysville 10 – The Blue Devils avenged last year’s only regular-season loss against a Marysville team that lost only in the District Finals last fall. 

Greater Detroit

Detroit Central 32, Detroit Loyola 8

Central is riding a nice run with three straight playoff appearances, and its seven wins last year were the most since going 9-3 in 2010. But still, this was big: Loyola has played in Division 7 championship games four of the last five seasons including 2016, and hasn’t been held to single-digit scoring in a game since a 2015 Semifinal loss. The Trail Blazers rebounded from a 1-4 start last year to win a Division 6 District title, and it looks like the momentum has carried over to this fall. Click for more from the Detroit News.

Also noted:

Detroit East English 38, River Rouge 29 – East English is another playoff regular, with four berths in five seasons, but the Bulldogs missed last fall and River Rouge was 33-6 over the last three years and has major expectations for this one. Watch it on

Macomb Dakota 31, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 24 – The Cougars made it two seven-point opening-night wins in a row over the Eaglets, who still went on to win Division 3 championships the last two seasons.

Trenton 20, Allen Park 14 – This could end up being the Downriver League decider already, as Allen Park was perfect in the league last season (and 11-1 overall); this also was Trenton’s first win over the Jaguars since 1998 (a string of 10 straight losses) and first since the two became league mates in 2009.

Dearborn Divine Child 42, Benton Harbor 12 – Divine Child picked right back up after last year’s Division 3 Semifinal run, handing Benton Harbor its first regular-season loss since Week 8 in 2015. 


Grand Ledge 41, Hudsonville 14

This was quite a turnaround for a senior-loaded Comets team that fell to Hudsonville 21-14 in the 2016 opener. The Eagles scored first and the teams were tied 7-7 at halftime before the Comets broke free. Grand Ledge quarterback Nolan Bird threw for 229 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Cal Johnston. Click for more from WLNS (at 4:17).

Also noted:

New Lothrop 28, Lake Fenton 22 (OT) – After watching a 61-game regular-season winning streak end in Week 9 last October, New Lothrop started a new one against a Blue Devils team coming off a league title as well.

Haslett 43, Fowlerville 20 – The Vikings scored all of 154 points last season and finished 4-5, but posted their most points in nearly two years against a Gladiators team coming off a playoff berth.

Okemos 46, Mason 0 – This definitely bears watching; Okemos had a combined three wins over the last two seasons and scored only 158 points total last season while Mason has made the playoffs eight of the last nine years.

Ithaca 38, Clare 14 – For more than a half, the Yellowjackets’ now 65-game regular-season winning streak was under threat by annual playoff qualifier Clare. 

Northern Lower Peninsula

Indian River Inland Lakes 27, St. Ignace 20

This was one of the biggest shockers statewide and especially for those following our smaller schools. Inland Lakes has had some recent success, with playoff berths in 2013 and 2014 – but went 0-9 last fall. St. Ignace, meanwhile, is coming off a second straight trip to the Division 8 Semifinals. The Saints started last season by shutting Inland Lakes out 44-0. Click for more from 9&10 News.

Also noted:

Frankfort 70, Manton 40 – These two tied for the highest-scoring 11-player game in the state in Week 1, Frankfort coming out on top after also winning the matchup 44-34 last year.

Traverse City St. Francis 21, Marquette 7 – St. Francis reportedly became the 12th program in state history with at least 500 victories with this one.

Boyne City 51, Negaunee 13 – The Ramblers went on a 25-0 second-half run to win big over one of the annual best from the Upper Peninsula (Negaunee was 10-1 last season).

Traverse City West 42, Midland 20 – The Titans made it three wins in five seasons and two in a row over one of the Saginaw Valley League’s strongest programs. 

Southeast & Border

Jackson Lumen Christi 27, Grand Rapids West Catholic 24

Life after graduating single-season rushing record holder Bo Bell actually started out even better than a year ago for the Titans, who fell to West Catholic 30-13 last season on the way to winning the Division 6 championship. West Catholic, which went on to win Division 5 last fall, drove to the Titans’ 3-yard line but couldn’t get a go-ahead score before time expired. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 28, Pewamo-Westphalia 21 – St. Mary appears to be a contender again after a 4-5 season, starting this one by handing the reigning Division 7 champ its first loss since the 2015 title game.

Michigan Center 35, Climax-Scotts 6 – The Cardinals handed Climax-Scotts its first regular-season loss since Week 8 of 2014 after falling to the Panthers 48-14 a year ago.

Hanover-Horton 31, Concord 28 – Staying in the Cascades Conference, Hanover-Horton started its rebound from 2-7 a year ago by downing the reigning Big 8 Conference co-champion Yellow Jackets.

Pittsford 13, Morenci 12 – Pittsford’s last two seasons ended in the playoffs, but began with 44-6 and 34-7 losses to Morenci.

Southwest Corridor

Marshall 35, Jackson 34 (OT)

The most impressive comeback of many this weekend arguably took place at Marshall, where the Redhawks found themselves down 28-0 in the second quarter and came all the way back to begin a turnaround from last season’s 4-5 finish. Jackson, 5-4 last fall, must bounce back quickly with tough Zeeland East up next. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Also noted:

Coloma 61, Gobles 8 – Coloma is playing this season for its first winning record since 2009 and first playoff berth since 2008, and beating a Gobles team that was 8-3 last year is an incredible start.

Vicksburg 38, Dowagiac 27 – Vicksburg came back from 10 points down in the third quarter in a matchup of 2016 playoff teams to run its winning streak over Dowagiac to three straight.

Kalamazoo Hackett 34, Saugatuck 21 – The Fighting Irish, a combined 7-11 over the last two seasons, handed Saugatuck its first regular-season loss since 2014 and after falling by 44 in this matchup a year ago.

Homer 36, Constantine 34 – These teams’ first meeting since 1956 (according to was decided by a Homer touchdown pass with four seconds to play. 

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming 34, Iron Mountain 7

Iron Mountain may have scored first in the latest of this annual series, but Ishpeming certainly left a strong impression beginning its bounce-back from last season’s uncharacteristic 3-5 run. Last year’s opener saw the Mountaineers end the Hematites’ 27-game regular-season winning streak, so Ishpeming no doubt was inspired even more than usual against its traditional Week 1 rival. Click for more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Also noted:

Bark River-Harris 14, Iron River West Iron County 12 – The Broncos started making last year’s 3-6 finish a memory with one of its best defensive performances in three seasons and against a 2016 playoff team.

Gladstone 42, Gwinn 0 – Gwinn also was a playoff team last year and Gladstone also was 3-6, but the Braves flipped this one big-time after losing 36-16 in their 2016 meeting.

Hancock 21, Lake Linden-Hubbell 14 – In winning a season opener for the first time since 2010, Hancock also ended Lake Linden-Hubbell’s 18-game regular-season winning streak that began opening night 2016.

Menominee 26, Marinette (Wis.) 6 – The 111th meeting of this record interstate rivalry saw Menominee move its all-time advantage to 54-50-7.

West Michigan

Grand Rapids Catholic Central 20, Detroit Country Day 7

The rematch of last season’s Division 4 championship game was only a tad more high-scoring than last year’s defensive struggle, as GRCC put up 20 points this time to follow up that 10-7 victory when they last met at Ford Field. The Cougars scored the first 20 points of the game, in fact, leading off with a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter as quarterback Jack Bowen threw for one and ran in another. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Montague 48, Reed City 14 – The Wildcats not only took a first step toward a third straight playoff season, but handed Reed City its first regular-season loss since Week 9 of 2014.

Grand Rapids Christian 38, DeWitt 30 – The Eagles held off a late DeWitt comeback attempt in a matchup of what could be two of the top Division 3 teams in the state again.

Rockford 14, Saline 0 – The Rams made up for missing last year’s opener with a team-wide sickness by handing usually high-scoring Saline its first shutout since 2006.

Hudsonville Unity Christian 52, Allendale 44 – These two returning playoff teams were even a few points better after combining for 72 a year ago; Unity Christian downed the Falcons for the fourth straight time. 


Battle Creek St. Philip 14, Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 8 (OT)

After just missing the playoffs last season at 5-4, St. Philip took a major step toward guaranteeing a return by edging a Tri-unity team that went 11-1 and made the Semifinals in 2016. Both teams shined defensively in an uncharacteristically low-scoring 8-player game, even a matchup of elite teams. Click for more from WZZM13.

Also noted:

Brimley 26, Posen 18 – Brimley couldn’t field a team last season, but back on the field the Bays got their first win since 2014.

Rapid River 38, Crystal Falls Forest Park 36 – Forest Park’s only two losses in last year’s 8-player debut were to eventual champion Powers North Central, and Rapid River avenged a 64-22 defeat in this one.

North Adams-Jerome 48, Burr Oak 46 – The Rams equaled last season’s win total in their 8-player debut after making the switch this past offseason.

Bellevue 40, Webberville 6 – The Broncos also switched from 11-player after last season and two straight 3-5 finishes, and they got off to a great start downing a 2016 playoff team. 

PHOTO: Walled Lake Western defenders wrap up a West Bloomfield ball carrier during Western's 19-14 win Thursday at Wayne State University. (Photo by John Johnson). 

Inspired by Dad's Memory, Lawrence's Vasquez Emerges After Family Losses

By Pam Shebest
Special for

January 16, 2024

LAWRENCE — While COVID-19 affected many students in different ways, it definitely made an impact on Austin Vasquez.

Southwest CorridorAs a freshman at Lawrence High School during the pandemic, Vasquez lost his grandmother Theresa Phillips to cancer on March 25, 2021.

Two days later, on March 27, his father Tom Vasquez, died of complications from COVID. And on April 19 that spring, his grandfather Darrell “Gene” Phillips also lost his fight against the coronavirus.

“There is no way (to cope). You just have to keep on moving,” Austin said. “It’s what (my dad) would want me to do.

“He was my biggest (influence) in sports. He talked to me about never giving up – leave everything you’ve got.”

That is just what Vasquez is doing in the midst of his three-sport senior year.

He is the top wrestler at the school, competing at 175 pounds with a goal of making the MHSAA Tournament. He was a versatile contributor on the football field this past fall, and he’s planning to join the baseball team this spring.

Vasquez works on gaining the advantage in a match against Mendon. He’s 8-3 with six pins on the mat this winter after a busy summer of camps and tournaments. Those experiences helped lessen the nerves he’d felt during matches previously, and now he’s wrestling with an outlook of “everything to gain and nothing to lose.”

And Vasquez said he feels his dad’s presence as he prepares for competition.

“Before every match, before every game, I just think about what my dad would be telling me,” he said. “Everything he’s always told me has taught me to get better. 

“In life, I still remember everything he taught me. He was definitely a great man, and I want to be like him someday.”

Wrestling also has made Vasquez more in tune with his health.

His sophomore season he went from 230 pounds to 215, and by his junior year was down to his current 175.

“I just wanted to be healthier, not just for wrestling,” he said. “I started going to the gym every night, watched my calories, and from there grew (taller).

“Now I’m at 6-(foot-)2, and I don’t know how that happened,” he laughed.

Lawrence coach Henry Payne said Vasquez always has a positive attitude and helps the other wrestlers in the program.

“When he notices a kid next to him doing a move wrong, he’ll go over and show him the right way,” Payne said. “We have a lot of young kids that this is their first year, and he’s been a good coach’s helper.”

The coach’s helper gig will continue after graduation.

"Next year we’re hoping to open up a youth program here, and I got him and an alumni that graduated last year and is helping the varsity team this year (Conner Tangeman) to take over the youth program for us,” Payne said.

 From left: Lawrence wrestling coach Henry Payne, athletic director John Guillean and football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. On the football team, Vasquez was a jack of all trades.

“He started at guard, went to tight end, went to our wingback, went to our running back. He was trying to get the quarterback spot,” football coach Derek Gribler laughed.

Vasquez said there is no other feeling like being on the field, especially during home games.

“Wrestling is my main sport, but I’d do anything to go back and play football again,” he said. “I just love it.”

Although the football team struggled through a 1-8 season, “It was still a really fun season,” Vasquez said. “Everybody was super close. Most of us never really talked before, but we instantly became like a family.”

Vasquez had the support of his mother, Heather, and four older sisters: Makaylah, Briahna, Ahlexis and Maryah. He also found his school family helped him get through the end of his freshman year.

“(My friends) were always there for me when everything was going on,” he said. “I took that last month off school because it was too hard to be around people at that time.

"Every single one of them reached out and said, ‘Hey, I know you’re going through a rough time.’ It really helped to hear that and get out of the house.”

Vasquez also was a standout on the football field. The family connection between Vasquez and Lawrence athletic director John Guillean goes back to the senior’s youth.

“I was girls basketball coach, so I coached his sisters,” Guillean said. “I remember him when he was pretty young. I knew the family pretty well. I knew his dad. He was pretty supportive and was there for everything.”

Vasquez said that freshman year experience has made him appreciate every day, and he gives the following advice: “Every time you’re wrestling, it could be your last time on the mat or last time on the field. Treat every game and every match as if it’s going to be your last. If you’re committed to the sport, take every chance you have to help your team be successful.”

Gribler has known Vasquez since he was in seventh grade and, as also the school’s varsity baseball coach, will work with Vasquez one more time with the senior planning to add baseball as his spring sport.

“When we talk about Tiger Pride, Austin’s a kid that you can put his face right on the logo. His work ethic is just unbelievable,” Gribler said. “Everything he does is with a smile. He could be having the worst day of his life, and he’d still have a smile on his face. He pushes through. It’s tough to do and amazing to see.”

The coach – who also starred at Lawrence as an athlete – noted the small community’s ability to rally around Vasquez and his family. Lawrence has about 150 students in the high school.

“It goes beyond sports,” Gribler said. “Austin knows when he needs something he can always reach out and we’ll have his back, we’ll have his family’s back. It’s not so much about winning as it is about the kids.”

Vasquez is already looking ahead to life after high school. He attends morning courses at Van Buren Tech, studying welding, and returns to the high school for afternoon classes. 

“I’d like to either work on the pipeline as a pipeline welder or be a lineman,” he said, adding, “possibly college. I would like to wrestle in college, but let’s see how this year goes.

“I’m ready to get out, but it’s going to be hard to leave this all behind.”

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Lawrence senior Andrew Vasquez, right, wrestles against Hartford this season. (2) Vasquez works on gaining the advantage in a match against Mendon. (3) From left: Lawrence wrestling coach Henry Payne, athletic director John Guillean and football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. (4) Vasquez also was a standout on the football field. (Wrestling and football photos courtesy of the Lawrence athletic department. Headshots by Pam Shebest.)