Drive for Detroit: Week 12 in Review

November 17, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The third weekend of this season's MHSAA Football Playoffs was highlighted by the continuation of one of the state's most impressive winning streaks – and the finishes of two others of note.

Ithaca emerged from a fourth-quarter deficit against Madison Heights Madison to win another Division 6 Regional title and push its winning streak to 68 games, the longest 11-player streak in the country. 

But there will be a new Division 2 champion; reigning three-time title-winner Birmingham Brother Rice fell to Catholic League rival Warren DeLaSalle. And for the first time in its short MHSAA history, the 8-player tournament will have a champion not from Michigan's thumb – 2013 champion Peck and 2012 winner Deckerville both were eliminated in Semifinals. 

We touch briefly below on both 8-player games and all 32 11-player Regional Finals, with links to additional coverage of the games of particular note. 


Cedarville 36, Deckerville 20

Cedarville eliminated a former champion to earn an opportunity to win its first title. The Trojans (11-1) put up 36 points despite playing through a blizzard and facing powerful Deckerville (9-3), which finished this fall with its only losses against the other teams in the Semifinals – Cedarville, Lawrence and Peck. Click for more from the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News.

Lawrence 66, Peck 40

This was a reversal of last season’s Semifinal between these teams, and Lawrence (12-0) hopes to now finish similarly as Peck when it won last season's championship. The Tigers again rode the many talents of quarterback Derek Gribler, who ran for 280 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 271 yards and six scores in one of the most impressive performances in the MHSAA’s young 8-player history. Peck finished 11-1 and had beaten Lawrence 73-34 in last season’s Semifinal before taking down Rapid River for the championship. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.


Saline 42, Canton 35

Saline (11-1) advanced to the Semifinals for the first time, in the process setting a team record for wins; in fact, the Hornets’ two best finishes have come during the last three years. But it wasn’t without a wild finish. Canton ran for nearly 400 yards, and Saline quarterback Josh Jackson repeatedly matched – with the Hornets’ defense then coming up big at the end. The Chiefs (9-3) did post their best record since 2010. Click for more from

Other Regional Finals:

East Kentwood 31, Hudsonville 14 – The Falcons (11-1) made their first Semifinal since 2002 by winning a rematch against surging Hudsonville (7-5) after claiming the first meeting 35-28.

Clarkston 40, Walled Lake Central 22 – The reigning champion Wolves (12-0) ended the longest run for Walled Lake Central (9-3) since 2011.

Detroit Cass Tech 48, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 35 – Wow; Cass Tech running back Mike Weber ran for 404 yards and five touchdowns as the Technicians (12-0) won their 12th game for the fourth season in five and ended the longest run for Chippewa Valley (8-4) since 2004. 


Warren DeLaSalle 26, Birmingham Brother Rice 21

As well as DeLaSalle (9-3) has played over the last month, this still has to count as a stunner – although DeLaSalle has been on the verge of a such a power move all season. DeLaSalle’s three losses came during one disappointing run – by seven to Brother Rice in Week 4, four to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in Week 5 and then to Dearborn Fordson by four in Week 6. Those opponents are a combined 31-4 with St. Mary’s still alive in Division 3. This win earned the Pilots their fourth Semifinal berth over the last nine years – and ended a four-year Brother Rice run of 47-7. Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.

Other Regional Finals:

Muskegon Mona 39, Battle Creek Lakeview 0 – The offensively-powerful Sailors (11-1) put up their best defensive performance by handing Lakeview (9-2) its first shutout since 2012.

Farmington Hills Harrison 23, Flushing 10 – The Raiders (9-3) ended with their best record since 1997, but Harrison (10-2) moved on to its four Semifinal over the last decade.

Southfield 35, Wyandotte Roosevelt 7 – The Bluejays (9-3) have come back off a Week 9 loss to make the Semifinals for the first time since 2008; Roosevelt (9-3) can still celebrate extending its District title string to four straight.


Zeeland West 30, Lowell 27

The reigning Division 3 champion Dux (12-0) survived a second-straight close call after defeating Stevensville Lakeshore by only two in the District Final. Dakota Guerink and Nick Jasch both ran for two touchdowns and West’s defense made a late stop to ice the win. Lowell’s Max Dean capped a solid season with four more touchdown runs as the Red Arrows (10-2) finished with double-figure wins for the eighth time in nine seasons and 12th in 15 years. Click for more from the Holland Sentinel.

Other Regional Finals:

Muskegon 42, Petoskey 7 – The Big Reds (11-1) have scored 128 points in three playoff games in advance of facing Zeeland West this week; Petoskey (9-3) finished four wins better than 2013 and made a Regional Final for the first time since 1998.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 49, Mason 10 – The Eaglets (10-2) have now doubled last season’s win total and made their sixth Semifinal in eight seasons; Mason (8-4) made its first Regional Final since 1995 despite a 1-3 start this fall.

New Boston Huron 38, Redford Thurston 29 – Huron’s best season ever continues as the Chiefs (11-1) won their fifth straight by at least 10 points while Thurston can still celebrate a District title despite also opening this fall 1-3.


Detroit Country Day 21, Chelsea 0

As an at-large qualifier, Country Day (8-4) has cruised through the playoffs somewhat under the radar. But keep in mind that its losses this fall were to three reigning MHSAA champions – Brother Rice, Zeeland West and Division 8 Muskegon Catholic Central – and reigning Division 7 runner-up Detroit Loyola. The Yellowjackets have been nothing if not steady during the playoffs, outscoring their opponents by a combined 77-6 – with Chelsea (9-3) suffering its only loss of more than seven points this fall but after bouncing back from 2-7 a year ago. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

Other Regional Finals:

Grand Rapids South Christian 49, Whitehall 14 – The Sailors (10-2) made it 10 straight and nine straight by double figures in advancing to the Semifinals for the third straight season; Whitehall finished 9-3 after going 1-8 only a year ago.

Edwardsburg 42, Eaton Rapids 8 – The Eddies are back in the Semifinals for the first time since 2010 with their third game in four weeks holding an opponent under 10 points; Eaton Rapids finished its second playoff season 8-4, a win better than its first playoff season a year ago.

Lansing Sexton 35, Richmond 7 – The Big Reds (12-0) booked their return to the Semifinals by locking down an offense averaging 40 points per game for Richmond (10-2) entering the weekend.


Menominee 43, Freeland 35

Menominee’s offense has been typical of the Maroons (12-0) – they’re 12 points from scoring 600 for the second straight year and have averaged more than 40 per game three of the last four seasons. But a defensive stand late finally stopped Freeland (10-2) in this back-and-forth battle that ended with Menominee heading to the Semifinals for the third straight season – to face Grand Rapids West Catholic, last year’s opponent in the Division 5 Final. Click for more from the Midland Daily News.

Other Regional Finals:

Grand Rapids West Catholic 56, Reed City 28 – Although Reed City (9-3) became only the second team to score this many points on the Falcons, West Catholic (12-0) broke 50 for the first time since Week 2.

Lansing Catholic 49, Flint Powers Catholic 21 – The Cougars (12-0) have arrived in the Semifinals for the second time in four seasons by outscoring their playoff opponents 180-35, although Powers (8-4) put up the most points among the three teams eliminated.

Almont 35, River Rouge 12 – Make this officially the best season in Almont history at 12-0 and the Raiders’ defense arguably the most impressive in the state (still giving up only 5.7 points per game); River Rouge (10-2) hadn’t lost since Week 2 and finished with double-figure wins for the second time in three seasons. 


Ithaca 41, Madison Heights Madison 27

With a quarter to play, Ithaca’s winning streak was in danger for one of the few times since it began opening night of 2010. The Yellowjackets (12-0) trailed 27-19, an unfamiliar spot for a team that rarely has had to come back during the last five seasons. But they scored 22 unanswered points over the final seven minutes to give a signature win to a current group of younger players that didn’t play a large role in Ithaca’s runs of the last four seasons. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.

Other Regional Finals:

Boyne City 28, Leroy Pine River 16 – The Ramblers (12-0) are back in the Semifinals for the first time since 2001 after ending the longest playoff run ever for Pine River (8-4).

Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 41, Watervliet 35 – The Mustangs (11-1) have built steadily to this first Regional title over their seven seasons of football; Watervliet’s end was heart-breaking as it was the second time in four seasons the Panthers (10-2) fell in a Regional by a touchdown.

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 27, Jackson Lumen Christi 26 – Only the possibility of Ithaca’s winning streak ending kept this from being the main game in Division 6, as St. Mary (11-1) returned to the Semifinal by handing Lumen Christi (11-1) its lone loss despite more than 400 yards rushing by Khari Willis. 


Detroit Loyola 60, New Lothrop 26

Loyola (12-0) pulled one victory closer to returning to Ford Field for the third straight season by winning big in this matchup of undefeated teams. Marvin Campbell, the team’s top running back during its 2013 run as well, had five touchdowns as Loyola got ahead early and never trailed. It was the third time in four seasons New Lothrop (11-1) had reached the Regional Final; the Hornets haven’t lost a regular season game since 2009. Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.

Other Regional Finals:

Ishpeming 22, Traverse City St. Francis 13 – The two-time reigning champion Hematites (11-0) stood strong against a challenge in their first game this season decided by fewer than 10 points; St. Francis finished its best since 2011 at 11-2.

Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 44, Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker 8 – The Cardinals are back in the Semifinals for the first time since winning the Class D title in 1986; Laker’s lone loss this season ended their best run since 2002 at 11-1.

Pewamo-Westphalia 53, Bridgman 12 – The Pirates (10-2) have become regulars at this stage of the playoffs with four straight Regional Final appearances and three titles during that time; Bridgman ended its longest playoff run at 8-3 and with a team record for wins. 


Munising 43, Crystal Falls Forest Park 14

The road downstate in Division 8 generally goes through Crystal Falls Forest Park – and Munising traveled it well this weekend, figuratively speaking. This Regional Final was moved to the Superior Dome at Northern Michigan University, and the Mustangs (10-1) left with their second Regional title and first since 1980. Forest Park (9-1) had made Semifinals in eight of the previous 10 seasons before suffering this first in-state loss this fall – the Trojans’ other defeat was by four to Hurley of Wisconsin. Click for more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Other Regionals Finals:

Beal City 28, Baldwin 0 – The Aggies (10-2) returned to the Semifinals for the third straight year by shutting down an offense for Baldwin (10-2) averaging 47 points per game heading into the weekend.

Muskegon Catholic Central 48, Mendon 7 – The Crusaders (12-0) again made quick work of a former MHSAA champion, with Mendon (10-2) joining Fowler and Fulton among those that have fallen to MCC this postseason.

Harbor Beach 21, Morenci 7 – Morenci (10-2) had been strong on defense and held Harbor Beach (12-0) to half its 46-ppg average, but also was held to a season low.

PHOTO: Zeeland West advanced past Lowell 30-27 in a snowy Division 3 Regional Final. (Click to see more from

Working Together, with Neighbor's Help, Schoolcraft Teams Making Selves at 'Home'

By Pam Shebest
Special for

September 19, 2023

SCHOOLCRAFT — If it is a home game for the Schoolcraft football team, head over to Vicksburg.

Southwest CorridorIf it is soccer, go to Schoolcraft’s baseball field.

Things are a bit jumbled in the sports world for the Eagles this season.

With a new football field under construction and a new elementary school built on the site of the former practice fields, the two teams have been a bit displaced.

“Along with our football field, we had three practice fields that were utilized by a lot of our youth programs, Rocket football, youth soccer and our soccer and football programs,” Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin said. “It’s taken a lot of understanding and flexibility from our coaches, players and our community to make it work out, and it has.”

Meanwhile, all four Eagles home football games will be played at Vicksburg High School.

If Vicksburg is home on a Friday, then the Eagles will play Saturday, including their Homecoming game this Saturday against Galesburg-Augusta.

The Eagles won their only “home” game so far, 33-14 against Kalamazoo United, and take a 3-1 record into Saturday’s contest.

The soccer team gave up its field to the football team for practices and has been practicing and playing their matches in the outfield of the baseball stadium.

For the soccer team, “It’s kind of an upgrade,” Applin said. “The soccer field they traditionally play on, they don’t have a scoreboard, they don’t have a bathroom facility, so we’ve been able to use the (baseball) scoreboard, the PA system, open up the bathroom building.

Schoolcraft’s Kolby Lloyd (10) works to break away from a tackler during a “home” game played at Vicksburg this fall. “The goal at some point is to give soccer a home, and we’re very, very excited about that.”

This year definitely has been challenging for the first-year AD, who credits Vicksburg athletic director Mike Roy with being a tremendous help.

“Mike Roy has been nothing but accommodating to us,” Applin said. “He’s been super helpful to me stepping in and assuming this scenario.

“The communities are so close, it almost feels like home for us.”

Roy said Jeff Clark, former Schoolcraft AD, reached out once the bond was passed for the new stadium last year.

“We had to make small accommodations as did Schoolcraft to make the schedules work,” Roy said. “By moving (Schoolcraft’s) games to Saturday, Vicksburg had to work with our Rocket football organization to make sure games were completed” before the Eagles varsity games.

Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency said his team has been “rolling with the punches.

“These guys don’t care where it’s at; they just want to play football. We’re all taking care of each other. What a great place to be when everybody works together.”

When Jake Bailey heard the team would be playing at Vicksburg, “That got me excited,” the junior offensive tackle said. “They’ve got a really nice facility. I know the school will come out to support us no matter where we are, but it’s definitely different.

“Good thing we don’t play Vicksburg, although it would be fun because it would be both our home fields. The new facilities and being back at our home field at Roy Davis (Field next year) will be really fun.”

Vicksburg is Division 4, while Schoolcraft is Division 7.

Clockwise, from top left: Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency, Schoolcraft boys soccer coach Jeremy Mutchler, soccer player Jack Curtis and football player Jake Bailey.The soccer team was “just being a team player” in giving up its own field for football practice, second-year head coach Jeremy Mutchler said.

“For the soccer team to be a team player and get behind the football team will help the community get behind the soccer team as well,” he added.

The biggest drawback is that part of the current field includes a piece of the baseball infield.

“The only odd thing is it is a smaller field, still regulation size, but smaller,” Mutchler said. “Part of the field is in the diamond, so we have to play in the dirt and it gets tricky, especially when you’re trying to throw it in or just play down the line.”

The move has cost the team a few home games.

“At the beginning of the year, we allowed schools, if they didn’t want to play here, we would go to their house,” Mutchler said. “We had to go to a few schools we would have played at home.”

Maintenance supervisor Eric McGehee was instrumental in preparing the field.

“He laid out exactly the parameters, so I was able to send that to all the ADs that were going to visit to give them an opportunity to decide whether that’s something they wanted to help us out for our home games,” Applin said. “A lot of schools were more than willing to come and play us to give our boys some home games. A couple wanted to be cautious and play on a more traditional surface, and we were able to make those arrangements as well.”

In only its second year as a varsity sport, the boys soccer team is still finding its identity, posting a 2-5 record so far.

Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin has taken over the maneuvering of the teams’ home sites during his first year on the job.“We’re a very young team,” Mutchler said. “All juniors and freshmen. This is the juniors' second regular season. It’s all been a learning phase with maturity and sportsmanship.”

Junior captain Jack Curtis said he was a bit “bummed out” when he heard the team would move to the baseball field.

“The first practice, I drove over to our practice field,” he said. “No one was there.

“I drove over to the high school and saw everyone practicing (at the baseball field). I didn’t think a soccer field could fit on a baseball field.”

Curtis said in spite of the temporary move, “I’m just glad we can have some home games this year on Schoolcraft soil.”

As for Applin, he spent much of his career coaching basketball at both the high school and college levels and most recently worked as a salesman for Zeigler. His wife, Meredith, is an assistant coach for Western Michigan University’s women’s basketball team.

Ferency is appreciative of the work Clark and Applin have done to make this season’s changes relatively seamless.

“I’d like to highlight how great our athletic department is,” he said. “It takes a lot of moving pieces and parts to move people around and have a space for everybody.

“I’m really proud of our athletic department and all our coaches and kids for just rolling with the punches.”

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) Schoolcraft’s varsity boys soccer team, including Nyan Wonders (15), faces Comstock this season on its field in the outfield of the baseball stadium. (2) Schoolcraft’s Kolby Lloyd (10) works to break away from a tackler during a “home” game played at Vicksburg this fall. (3) Clockwise, from top left: Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency, Schoolcraft boys soccer coach Jeremy Mutchler, soccer player Jack Curtis and football player Jake Bailey. (4) Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin has taken over the maneuvering of the teams’ home sites during his first year on the job. (Action photos by Stephanie Blentlinger/Lingering Memories Photography. Headshots and Applin photo by Pam Shebest.)