Drive for Detroit: Week 10 in Review
November 3, 2014
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
A number of MHSAA football teams began practice last week enjoying the unseasonable warmth and glowing sun – and finished their games playing through some combination of strong wind, rain or snow and freezing temperatures.
The results that emerged from the first week of the postseason were more predictable, but far from automatic.
Of 136 games played over nine divisions, 103 (or 76 percent) were won by home teams – those with higher playoff-point averages than their first-round opponents at the end of the regular season. That means home-field advantage was a pretty good thing – but far from a sure one with seasons and careers hanging in the balance.
Take a look below at four games that stuck out from each division as the field was split from its original 272 teams.
Rockford 20, Traverse City West 14 (OT)
Only three Division 1 games this week were decided by less than two touchdowns, making this the closest of the bunch. At-large qualifier Traverse City West (5-5) has made the playoffs 11 times during its 18-year history – and faced Rockford eight times, including to open the playoffs the last three seasons. This one was clearly closer than last year’s 19-0 Rams victory, with West coming back from a 14-point halftime deficit. The win earned Rockford a rematch with rival Hudsonville in the District Final. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Macomb Dakota 21, Utica Eisenhower 14 – This score was identical and no doubt similarly nerve-wracking for Dakota (8-2) as the first time it played Eisenhower (5-5), in Week 5.
Grand Ledge 14, Hartland 0 – In mid-September, the Comets (7-3) were 1-2; now they’re seeking a first District title since 2005 after beating a league champion in Hartland (7-3).
West Bloomfield 34, Livonia Stevenson 6 – The Lakers (9-1) set a school record for wins with their first playoff victory in school history; Stevenson finished 6-4, one win better than 2013.
Muskegon Mona Shores 42, Caledonia 14
A year ago Mona Shores made the playoffs for the first time; Friday saw the Sailors (9-1) claim their first playoff victory and look even more like a Division 2 contender despite another tough matchup coming this week against undefeated Midland Dow. Mona Shores had beaten Caledonia 40-7 in Week 4, but that was before the Fighting Scots put together a run that included shutouts of Rockford and Lowell and similarly big wins over East Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Christian. Caledonia finished 7-3, two wins better than in 2013. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.
Farmington Hills Harrison 42, Fenton 10 – Harrison’s run since falling big to Oak Park in Week 3 keeps getting better and better; the Hawks (8-2) came back from a seven-point defeat to reigning Division 1 champion Clarkston in Week 9 by handing the first and lone loss to Fenton (9-1).
Walled Lake Western 14, South Lyon 13 – The Warriors (9-1) stopped South Lyon and its best season since 2006 with a last stand against the Lions (8-2) during the final minutes.
Southfield 40, Detroit Martin Luther King 12 – The Bluejays (7-3) claimed their second playoff win over King (8-2) in three seasons and this time will again face Oak Park in the District Final.
Lowell 28, East Grand Rapids 27
A series of classics between these Ottawa-Kent White rivals added another chapter, with East Grand Rapids holding the lead into the final three minutes before Lowell moving ahead for good on a 73-yard touchdown reception by Gabe Steed. The Red Arrows (9-1) have won at least one playoff game every season since last falling in an opener in 1999. East Grand Rapids finished 6-4, still its best finish in three years after missing the playoffs the last two. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Dearborn Divine Child 9, Allen Park 7 – Divine Child’s first playoff win since 2010 gave it four more victories than how the Falcons (7-3) finished a year ago and also ended the best season for Allen Park (8-2) since 2011.
Trenton 20, Romulus 6 – The Trojans (7-3) are in the playoffs and have their first playoff win both since 2008 after ending Romulus’ first playoff appearance since 2000; the Eagles (6-4) did double their win total from 2013.
Cedar Springs 36, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 0 – These O-K Bronze rivals played to a 14-8 win for Cedar Springs (9-1) in Week 6, but the Red Hawks found something that worked and ended Forest Hills Northern’s season at 7-3 for the second straight year.
Comstock Park 19, Cadillac 10
On win total alone, this would be a down season so far for Comstock Park (6-4), winners of at least nine games the last four seasons and 12-1 a year ago. But the Panthers have recovered strongly from a 1-3 start that included losses to teams with a combined 25-5 record. Comstock Park also defeated Cadillac in the playoffs a year ago, in the Regional Final, and in both cases it was Cadillac’s lone loss of the season. Click to read more from the Cadillac News.
Hudsonville Unity Christian 46, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 43 – The Crusaders (6-4) earned their first playoff win in program history, edging regular playoff qualifier Catholic Central (6-4) be re-taking the lead during the final minute.
Vicksburg 14, Three Rivers 13 – The Bulldogs’ best run since 1993 will continue after Vicksburg (8-2) avenged its Week 6 loss to the Wildcats (6-4).
Detroit Old Redford 14, Dearborn Heights Robichaud 6 – The Ravens (7-3) earned their first playoff win with a bit of an upset in edging Western Wayne Athletic Conference Red champion Robichaud (8-2).
Calumet 30, Harrison 21
Calumet, the state’s northernmost school, traveled to Harrison in the middle of the Lower Peninsula – and went home with a win as it continued to reverse last season’s 2-7 finish. The Copper Kings opened this fall 1-2 and needed to win out beginning with Week 7 to qualify for the postseason. Harrison also went 2-7 a year ago, finishing 8-2 this time after its first playoff appearance since 1999. Click for more from the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette.
Hopkins 22, Muskegon Oakridge 16 – After falling by six points in its 2012 playoff game and eight points in 2013, Hopkins (9-1) advanced to the District Final against last season semifinalist Oakridge (8-2).
Olivet 33, Stockbridge 32 – This rematch of the deciding game in the Greater Lansing Activities Conference was much closer than when Olivet (8-2) won 69-48 in Week 6; Stockbridge ended its first playoff season since 2010 at 6-4.
Ida 24, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard 0 – The Bluestreaks (8-2) earned their first playoff win since 1990 with their second straight shutout in October, this one over Gabriel Richard (7-3), which averaged 31 points per game.
Flint Beecher 21, Montrose 13
These Genesee Area Conference Red rivals met for the second time in three weeks and again played it close, with Beecher following its 19-14 win in Week 8 with a season sweep. The Buccaneers also set a program record for victories in moving to 10-0 for the first time – they were 8-5 in making the Semifinal round in 2012. Montrose finished 6-4. Click for more from the Flint Journal.
Schoolcraft 42, Constantine 28 – The Falcons (8-2) won the Kalamazoo Valley Association title ahead of Schoolcraft, but the Eagles (7-3) will move on and despite falling to Constantine 31-17 in Week 2.
Negaunee 21, Charlevoix 12 – The Miners quickly made their 5-4 record at the start of the playoffs look a lot better, and the Rayders should celebrate 6-4 as well after going 1-8 in both 2012 and 2013.
Watervliet 22, Niles Brandywine 21 – The Panthers (9-1) made the always-gutsy decision after a touchdown late to go for the two-point conversion and the win instead of a tie, and held on to finish the Bobcats at 8-2 for the second straight season.
Cassopolis 29, Decatur 28 (OT)
Cassopolis slugged through a tough league season, going 1-3 in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Red (with two one-point losses) in starting the season 2-3 overall. But the Rangers (7-3) took the final edge in this opener on a partially-blocked extra point that still found its way through the uprights, and beat a Decatur team that finished 8-2 and suffered its two losses by a mere combined 10 points. Click for more from the Cassopolis Vigilant.
Cass City 14, Marlette 8 – The Red Hawks (7-3) returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2006 with their first postseason win since 2005, while Marlette (6-4) finished its third winning season over the last four.
Pewamo-Westphalia 39, Union City 7 – P-W (8-2) actually had a negative yard total passing, but ran for 380 in handing Union City (8-2) its second straight loss to finish the fall.
Bridgman 33, Gobles 8 – The Bees (7-2) celebrated their first playoff win ever after bouncing back from a Week 9 loss to rival Buchanan; Gobles finished 7-3, a two-win improvement from 2013.
Bark River-Harris 14, Lake Linden-Hubbell 6
Since a 9-2 finish in 2009, Bark River-Harris won one, zero, one and two games, respectively, before returning to the ranks of the Upper Peninsula small-school elite this fall. Beating solid Lake Linden-Hubbell (7-3) should provide some confidence as well as the Broncos (8-2) prepare for a rematch with Crystal Falls Forest Park, which beat them 48-18 on opening night. Click for more from the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette.
Central Lake 18, Frankfort 6 – The Trojans (6-4) got into the playoffs despite four losses to other eventual playoff teams and made their selection stand up against Frankfort (5-4), in the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.
Johannesburg-Lewiston 35, Hillman 18 – The Cardinals (9-1) set themselves up to take on powerful Beal City for the third time in four seasons by ending the best season for Hillman (8-2) since 2011.
Morenci 25, Petersburg-Summerfield 0 – The Bulldogs (9-1) continued their best run since 2001 with their sixth shutout and second this season of Tri-County Conference foe Summerfield (5-5).
Lawrence 57, Portland St. Patrick 6
The Tigers started off this season in dominating fashion while facing only one eventual playoff team over the first five weeks, but haven’t slowed the last five despite taking on some of the best 8-player teams in the state. Lawrence followed up its Week 9 21-point win over Battle Creek St. Philip (9-1) – this week’s Regional Final opponent – with another big win over similarly-strong Portland St. Patrick (8-2). Lawrence has scored fewer than 50 points only once this fall and has yet to give up more than 20.
Rapid River 46, Engadine 26 – The Rockets (10-0) got a much closer game from Engadine (5-5) than the 40-point win in Week 5.
Cedarville 39, Bellaire 0 – These Bridge Football Alliance rivals faced off for the second time in three seasons with the result more of the same for the Trojans (9-1), who ended Bellaire’s season at 7-3.
Kingston 44, Owendale-Gagetown 8 – An 0-2 start made this season look a little like two-win 2013, but Kingston (7-3) has won seven of its last eight and earned a rematch against Owendale-Gagetown (8-2); the Cardinals beat the Bulldogs 48-20 three weeks ago.
PHOTO: Southfield's Kanye Harris follows blockers into Detroit Martin Luther King's defense during the Bluejays' District win over the Crusaders. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit Public School League.)
Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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:
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.)