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

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.)