Drive for Detroit: Week 11 in Review

November 10, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A total of 16 MHSAA football teams in Divisions 1-5 entered the postseason with playoff-point averages above 100 – an impressive number indicating those teams not only had strong records, but played plenty of tough competition as well. 

Three of those 16 teams lost their playoff openers, joined by eight more over the weekend as more of the top achievers during the regular season were overtaken by those raising their games with only a few more to play. 

The top playoff-point teams in Division 3 (DeWitt) and Division 5 (Marine City) both suffered their first and only losses this season, and 10 more undefeated teams saw their seasons end with lone defeats of the fall. 

Read on to see some of the key results that whittled the playoff field to 68 that will play in 11-player Regional Finals and 8-player Semifinals this week. 


Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 28, Macomb Dakota 27

This has been anticipated as a top Macomb County matchup for a few years – but instead, Dakota had beaten the Big Reds (8-3) in 16 straight dating back to 2004 and including six times in the playoffs. Dakota (8-3) had beaten Chippewa Valley 42-21 in Week 2 and in the playoffs both of the last two seasons. Junior Stefan Clairborne blocked a late extra-point attempt to highlight a game-changing special teams performance. Click for more from the Detroit News.

Also noted:

Clarkston 23, Lapeer 20 – The reigning champion Wolves (11-0) survived the third three-point game of their 24-game winning streak, handing Lapeer (10-1) the only loss of its inaugural season.

Hudsonville 37, Rockford 15 – The Eagles (7-4) avenged their one-point Week 4 loss to Rockford (8-3), and then some, to claim a second-straight District title.

Detroit Cass Tech 28, Dearborn Fordson 21 – One of these had to fall for the first time this season, and the Technicians (11-0) hung on to claim their fifth straight District championship while ending the best season for Fordson (10-1) since 2008.


Muskegon Mona Shores 41, Midland Dow 14

In what seemed like an instant, this one belonged to Mona Shores. The Sailors (10-1) jumped out to a 21-0 lead in handing Dow (10-1) its lone loss this season. Mona Shores quarterback Tyree Jackson was at the center of the offensive effort as usual, but this time on the ground with three rushing touchdowns. Dow hadn’t given up more than 21 points in a game. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Also noted:

Farmington Hills Harrison 10, Walled Lake Western 9 (OT) – These former longtime rivals hadn’t played each other since 2001 and battled to 3-3 before Harrison (9-2) prevailed in part by blocking an extra-point attempt by Western (9-2).

Southfield 14, Oak Park 13 – The Bluejays (8-3) won a rematch of these teams' 2012 District Final, which was won by Oak Park (8-3) also close, 19-12.

Wyandotte Roosevelt 28, Brownstown Woodhaven 21 – Roosevelt (9-2) will play this weekend for its fourth straight season of at least 10 wins, but this time ended the best ever for Woodhaven (10-1) by handing the Warriors their only loss. 


Mason 30, DeWitt 14

Few gave Mason (8-3) much chance against the reigning Division 3 runner-up Panthers (10-1), who entered the postseason with the highest playoff-point average in this division. But the Bulldogs, who entered the season with an experienced group of playmakers, have improved significantly around them after opening 1-3. DeWitt won their first meeting 25-10 in Week 3, but Mason has clamped down particularly on defense in earning this first Regional Final berth since 1995. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Petoskey 20, Mount Pleasant 14 – The Northmen (9-2) earned their first Regional Final berth since 1998 by handing to Oilers (7-4) their second loss this season by six or fewer points.

Zeeland West 30, Stevensville Lakeshore 28 – Most of Friday had to be a little scary for the reigning champion Dux (11-0), who had beaten Lakeshore (8-3) in last season’s Semifinal by a much more comfortable 42-7.

New Boston Huron 44, Trenton 27 – The Chiefs (10-1) set a team record for wins and doubled last season’s total in beating Trenton (7-4) for their first District title. 


Lansing Sexton 41, Saginaw Swan Valley 20

Swan Valley running back Alex Grace finished one of the most incredible three-year varsity careers in MHSAA football history with 198 more rushing yards and three touchdowns to give him 2,426 and 36 this season and 7,551 yards and 99 rushing touchdowns for his career. His career yards rank third all-time and his TDs are second. But every time Grace made a play Friday – offensively and defensively as well – the Big Reds (11-0) seemed to respond. Sexton senior Ja’Von Wray ran for 235 yards and five touchdowns as his team scored more than the Vikings (10-1) had given up in any two games combined this fall. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Whitehall 41, Comstock Park 36 – Some termed the Vikings’ win “miraculous” as Whitehall (9-2) came back from 23 points down to win their first District title since 2003 and end the Panthers’ run at 6-5.

Edwardsburg 34, Vicksburg 6 – The Eddies (10-1) avenged a 16-14 loss to Vicksburg (8-3) in Week 3 to push into double-figure wins for the first time since 2010 and second time in program history; Vicksburg’s record was its best since 1993.

Eaton Rapids 20, Battle Creek Harper Creek 10 – The Greyhounds (8-3) have gone from never making the playoffs before 2013 to making their second Regional Final in a row, this time over near-annual playoff team Harper Creek (6-5). 


Almont 35, Marine City 7

The run to the 2011 Semifinals makes it tough to call this the best win in Almont history – but it has to be a close second to that season's Regional Final win over Jackson Lumen Christi. Marine City was the reigning Division 4 champion, in Division 5 for this fall’s playoffs, and 23-1 over the last two seasons with more than 1,000 points scored during that time. Almont held the Mariners (10-1) to their fewest points since the 2011 Division 4 Final and has given up a meager 56 points this season. The Raiders, meanwhile, ran for 294 yards and scored the most points Marine City had given up since last season’s championship game at Ford Field. Click for more from the Port Huron Times Herald.

Also noted:

Reed City 22, Remus Chippewa Hills 21 – For the second straight week, Reed City (9-2) faced a rematch against a league rival, and Chippewa Hills (8-3) made this one much closer than the Coyotes’ 60-32 win in Week 8.

Flint Powers Catholic 19, Frankenmuth 15 – The Chargers (8-3) held on, on the road, in a rematch of the 2012 District Final in which they beat Frankenmuth (9-2) 34-0.

River Rouge 42, Ida 14 – The Panthers (10-1) reached double figure wins for the second time in three seasons and second time ever in ending the longest run for Ida (8-3) since 1990.  


Madison Heights Madison 32, Flint Beecher 6

Madison eliminated Beecher (10-1) for the second straight season to earn its fourth Regional Final berth in six seasons – and the opportunity to end Ithaca’s 11-player nation-best 67-game winning streak this week. Madison (9-2) scored 20 unanswered points in the second half to pull away while grounding a Beecher offense that hadn’t been held to single digits since 2012. Click for more from the Royal Oak Daily Tribune.

Also noted:

Leroy Pine River 34, Sanford Meridian 27 – Pine River (8-3) won a combined 11 games from 2009-13 and had never won a playoff game before two weeks ago; Meridian (8-3) did finish with its best record since 2009.

Watervliet 28, Schoolcraft 21 – Last season Watervliet won 10 straight before falling to Schoolcraft 28-26 in the District Final; this time Watervliet (10-1) has won 10 straight since falling opening night and avenged that loss to the Eagles (7-4).

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 50, Clinton 15 – The Falcons (10-1) won their sixth District title in seven seasons against last year’s Finals runner-up Clinton (10-1), which is 32-3 over the last three seasons.


Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 46, Whittemore-Prescott 0

Offensive firepower has gotten more attention during Seminary’s best season since 1994 – and Seminary scored 40 or more points for the seventh time this season. But Seminary (10-1) also has five shutouts and has given up only 96 points, particularly impressive this time given Whittemore-Prescott hadn’t been shut out since 2010. Whittemore-Prescott (10-1) also had beaten all of its opponents by at least 10 points this fall in earning its best record since 2002. Click for more from the Saginaw News.

Also noted:

Ishpeming 20, Iron River West Iron County 7 – It had been nearly a year since a team had given Ishpeming (10-0) this much of a challenge, a positive for the Wykons (9-2) in falling to the Hematites in the District Final for the second straight season.

Pewamo-Westphalia 34, Hudson 27 – The Pirates (9-2) eliminated a league champion for the second straight week, this time Lenawee County Athletic Association power Hudson (9-2).

Bridgman 17, Cassopolis 14 – The Bees (8-2) set a program record for wins in claiming their first District title and ending Cassopolis at 7-4 for the second straight season.


Harbor Beach 39, Waterford Our Lady 21

The Pirates (11-0) are 46-4 over their last 50 games and earned their fourth straight District title against their toughest opponent this fall to date. Harbor Beach had given up only 31 points total entering Saturday’s tilt. But despite allowing a few more, the defense also came through with two touchdown returns off turnovers. Our Lady finished 9-2, one win better than last season. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

Also noted:

Munising 24, St. Ignace 6 – The Mustangs (10-1) have double-digit wins for the first time since 1980 and another highlight after handing St. Ignace (10-1) its lone loss.

Beal City 53, Johannesburg-Lewiston 27 – The Aggies (9-2) have topped 50 points in both of their playoff games and ended the season for Johannesburg-Lewiston (9-2) for the third time in five years.

Morenci 42, Ottawa Lake Whiteford 22 – The Bulldogs (10-1) continued their best run since reaching the 1996 Finals by finishing a sweep of Tri-County Conference rival Whiteford (7-4).


Cedarville 28, Rapid River 0

The Trojans (10-1) will play in their first 8-player Semifinal after eliminating rival Rapid River (10-1), last season’s 8-player runner-up and the Bridge Football Alliance champion ahead of Cedarville the last two seasons. Cedarville fell just short against the Rockets, losing 20-19 in Week 6, but came on big in the rematch with a touchdown in each quarter. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

Also noted:

Deckerville 72, Kingston 22 – Deckerville (9-2) won its second Regional title in three seasons by beating Kingston (7-4) a second time this fall; the Eagles won their first meeting only 14-8 in Week 2.

Peck 56, Morrice 8 – The Pirates (11-0) set up a Semifinal rematch with Lawrence by ending the first 8-player season for Morrice at a solid 6-5 – the Orioles’ best record since 2006.

Lawrence 50, Battle Creek St. Philip 14 – Lawrence (11-0) beat St. Philip (9-2) for the second time in three weeks and by scoring at least 50 points for the 10th time this fall.

PHOTO: Warren DeLaSalle, on offense, downed Detroit East English 21-14 in their Division 2 District Final. (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.)