Drive for Detroit: Week 2 Preview
August 31, 2016
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
After an opening weekend highlighted by showcases in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas, Michigan high school football fans should look west, north and really far north for the most colossal matchups of Week 2.
Arguably the top teams in the Lansing and Grand Rapids areas and all of 8-player football will face off as the most intriguing games of this week’s Drive for Detroit, powered by MI Student Aid. A number of leagues also begin play, with matchups in at least three conferences likely playing a part in which favorite eventually is crowned champion.
Check out our previews below – and visit the MHSAA.com Score Center tonight and all weekend for scores as they are reported and links to updated schedules and standings.
Bay & Thumb
Almont (1-0) at Algonac (1-0)
The water should be boiling for this Blue Water Area Conference opener. Rewind to Week 6 of last season, when upstart Algonac broke reigning league champ Almont’s 16-game BWAC winning streak with a 21-7 victory. Algonac went on share the league title with Richmond (with Almont a win short of also sharing), then beat Almont again, 13-0, in their Division 5 District Final. Both earned impressive victories last week, Algonac over Marine City and Almont over Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary.
Others that caught my eye: Chesaning (1-0) at Freeland (1-0), Midland Dow (1-0) at Bay City Central (1-0), Harbor Beach (1-0) at Beaverton (1-0), Flint Powers Catholic (0-1) at Saginaw Heritage (1-0).
Allen Park (1-0) at Wyandotte Roosevelt (1-0)
Allen Park shared the Downriver League championship last season by winning its final seven regular-season games after falling to Roosevelt 23-14 in Week 2. The Bears, meanwhile, ended up missing out on any share of the league title by going on to lose two games by a combined four points. Roosevelt has won seven of eight meetings against Allen Park – including once in the playoffs – since the two became league foes in 2009.
Others that caught my eye: Walled Lake Western (1-0) at Canton (0-1), Utica Eisenhower (1-0) at Macomb Dakota (1-0), Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (1-0) at Romeo (0-1), Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (0-1) at Detroit Loyola (1-0) on Friday.
DeWitt (1-0) at Grand Ledge (0-1)
Lansing-area fans have been anticipating this matchup not just since schedules were announced for this season, but for many years. These two have been the most successful programs in the Capital Area Activities Conference for most over the last two decades and nearly are neighbors, although Grand Ledge has about 700 more students. The Comets made the Division 1 Semifinals a year ago; DeWitt’s most recent of five MHSAA Finals appearances came in 2013. Both are led by standout quarterbacks – DeWitt by Will Nagel and the Comets by Nolan Bird – although playmakers JD Ross and Antonio Rush, respectively, could be the difference-makers for those teams on offense. DeWitt dominated at Linden last week, while Grand Ledge fell a score short at Hudsonville.
Others that caught my eye: Lansing Catholic (1-0) at Lansing Everett (0-1), Dansville (1-0) at Pewamo-Westphalia (1-0), Hillsdale (1-0) at Portland (1-0), Davison (1-0) at Mount Pleasant (0-1) on Friday.
Northern Lower Peninsula
Maple City Glen Lake (1-0) at Traverse City St. Francis (1-0) on Friday
St. Francis is fresh off a trip to the Upper Peninsula and a 40-14 win over frequent playoff team Marquette. Glen Lake certainly is a more familiar opponent – the teams were in the same division of the Northern Michigan Football Conference during the league’s first two seasons, although they are in different divisions this fall. Glen Lake made headway in its two matchups with St. Francis last season, coming off a 41-7 Week 7 loss to fall only 21-3 in a Division 6 playoff opener. A four-touchdown win over Kingsley last week should be a good sign of things to come for the Lakers.
Others that caught my eye: Charlevoix (1-0) at Boyne City (0-1), Lincoln Alcona (0-1) at Hillman (0-1), Whittemore-Prescott (1-0) at Tawas (1-0), Central Lake (1-0) at Frankfort (1-0).
Edwardsburg (1-0) at Vicksburg (1-0)
Although Edwardsburg won this matchup 58-25 a year ago, the fact remains that Vicksburg is still the only team to hand the Eddies a regular-season loss over the last three seasons – winning 16-14 in 2014. That’s enough to make this intriguing. But add in a solid 17-7 win for the Bulldogs over Dowagiac last week, and it appears they’re up to the task of challenging the Wolverine Conference frontrunners again.
Others that caught my eye: Marshall (0-1) at Coldwater (1-0), Schoolcraft (1-0) at Watervliet (1-0), Niles (1-0) at Mattawan (0-1), Kalamazoo Central (0-1) at Stevensville Lakeshore (1-0).
Southeast & Border
Morenci (1-0) at Hudson (1-0)
An early key moment in Morenci’s turnaround over the last three seasons was a 2014 win over the rival Tigers, who had mostly dominated their annual game over the previous decade and a half. Morenci made it two straight on Hudson by winning 26-20 last year and is coming off a solid 34-7 win over 2015 playoff qualifier Pittsford. The Tigers are coming off their first sub-.500 finish last year since 2006 and have plenty to prove – and also to benefit from by winning this one with an increasingly tough Lenawee County Athletic Association schedule ahead.
Others that caught my eye: New Haven (1-0) at Ida (1-0), Milan (1-0) at Flat Rock (1-0) on Friday, New Boston Huron (1-0) at Carleton Airport (1-0) on Friday, Ypsilanti Community (0-0) at Monroe (0-1) on Friday.
Lowell (1-0) at Rockford (0-1) on Friday
After three seasons off, these Grand Rapids-area powers will face off again; Lowell won both the 2011 and 2012 meetings when the teams first brought this matchup back after nearly four decades. Aside from these being two of the best-known programs in the state, last week’s events should draw a few more statewide eyes west. Lowell, the reigning Division 2 runner-up thanks to a last-play touchdown in the 2015 Final by Detroit Martin Luther King, blazed out of the gates with a 36-19 win over Warren DeLaSalle. Rockford, meanwhile, was forced to forfeit to Saline last week because an illness sidelined a good portion of the team. The Rams made the Division 1 Regional Finals last fall.
Others that caught my eye: Benton Harbor (1-0) at Grand Rapids South Christian (1-0), at Hudsonville; St. Ignace (1-0) at Muskegon Catholic Central (1-0), Zeeland West (1-0) at Muskegon Mona Shores (1-0), Caledonia (1-0) at Grand Rapids Christian (1-0) on Friday
Negaunee (1-0) at Calumet (1-0)
Calumet is one of the most consistently solid teams on either peninsula, with seven or more wins nine of the last 11 seasons. And the Copper Kings broke through one of their toughest annual obstacles at the end of last fall, downing Negaunee 24-14 in a Division 6 playoff opener after losing all five of the teams’ recent meetings. Still, the Miners’ 7-3 finish last fall was similarly solid but a little deceptive – those three losses came over the final four weeks and by a combined 17 points. This could be a statement win for a team looking to take those next small steps back to elite.
Others that caught my eye: Petoskey (0-1) at Escanaba (1-0), Gwinn (1-0) at Iron Mountain (1-0), Bessemer Gogebic (1-0) at Bark River-Harris (1-0) on Friday, Newberry (1-0) at Munising (0-1) on Friday.
Powers North Central (1-0) at Crystal Falls Forest Park (1-0) on Friday
Forest Park, 11-player until this fall, has taken a deep dive immediately into 8-player football, opening up last week against annual power Rapid River (and winning 64-22) and now hosting reigning champion Powers North Central. The Jets opened last week just as explosively as they played all of last season, putting up 60 on Luck, Wis. This one could be telling in how the Western Eight Conference standings eventually shake out – and also indicate where Forest Park sits in relation to the 8-player elite.
Others that caught my eye: Posen (1-0) at Cedarville (1-0), Lawrence (1-0) at Morrice (1-0).
Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO: Kalamazoo Central, here on offense against St. Joseph last week at Michigan Stadium, will face Stevensville Lakeshore seeking its first win this season. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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.)