Drive for Detroit: Week 2 Preview

August 30, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The break was short for many teams heading into Week 2 of this football season.

While last week’s openers were mostly split between Thursday and Friday, nearly all of Michigan’s teams will play this week’s games tonight in advance of the Labor Day holiday and start of school for many next Tuesday.

Below is our weekly look – powered by MI Student Aid – at some of the games to see no matter your neighborhood (relatively and regionally speaking) and includes games that will be played on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Remember, check out the MHSAA Score Center for the full schedule plus scores all three nights as they games are completed. A number of games also will be broadcast again this weekend, live, on

Bay & Thumb

Almont (1-0) at Algonac (0-1), Thursday

After a couple of seasons at or near the top of Port Huron-area football, Algonac opened last week with a 42-6 loss to Marine City – its first non-Richmond regular-season defeat since 2014. Up next is Blue Water Area Conference rival Almont, no doubt aching to win big as well after taking four losses (two in the playoffs) from the Muskrats over the last two seasons. The Raiders are coming off a big win over 2016 playoff team Grosse Ile.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Freeland (1-0) at Chesaning (1-0), Saginaw Heritage (1-0) at Flint Powers Catholic (1-0), Beaverton (1-0) at Harbor Beach (1-0), Lake Fenton (0-1) at Montrose (1-0).

Greater Detroit

Southfield Arts & Technology (0-1) at Clarkston (1-0), Friday

Southfield A&T came out on the losing end of arguably the most exciting game of opening weekend. But if its 56-54 triple-overtime defeat to powerful Davison told us anything, it’s that last year’s 8-4 finish could be just a start for the second-year program built from the former Southfield and Southfield-Lathrup. The Warriors beat Clarkston 24-18 a year ago, actually, but the Wolves appear in form already as well coming off a 42-7 win over Lapeer (27-5 over the last three seasons with two of those losses to Clarkston).

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Romeo (1-0) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (1-0), FRIDAY Toledo Whitmer, Ohio (1-0) at Detroit Catholic Central (1-0), East Kentwood (1-0) at Orchard Lake St. Mary's (0-1), Macomb Dakota (1-0) at Utica Eisenhower (1-0).


Grand Ledge (1-0) at DeWitt (0-1), Thursday

The is the second year in a row the Lansing area’s most successful programs of the last decade have matched up (and the series will continue with DeWitt moving into the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue with Grand Ledge next fall). The Comets won last year’s meeting 28-21. Senior-dominated Grand Ledge impressed last week with a 41-14 win over Hudsonville, but a DeWitt team that put a number of new starters on the field last week also impressed coming back to nearly catch Grand Rapids Christian, on the road, before falling 38-30.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Dearborn Divine Child (1-0) at East Lansing (1-0), Portland (1-0) at Lansing Sexton (1-0), Fulton (1-0) at Laingsburg (0-1), FRIDAY Beal City (1-0) at Clare (0-1).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Muskegon Catholic Central (0-0) at Frankfort (1-0), Friday

The anticipation for this one has been boiling over. Muskegon Catholic Central handed Frankfort its first and only loss last season, 35-0 in a Division 8 Regional Final at MCC on the way to winning a fourth straight MHSAA championship. The Panthers also got within 22-12 of MCC in a 2015 Regional Final, so there’s a nice build-up of history behind this meeting of small-school contenders. The Crusaders couldn’t lock down a Week 1 game this fall, so this is their season opener and the sophomore debut for heavily-followed quarterback Cameron Martinez. Frankfort did have a game in Week 1 and put up 70 points – its most in a game since 2004 – to down Manton by 30.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY St. Johns (0-1) at Cadillac (1-0), FRIDAY Newberry (1-0) at Gaylord St. Mary (1-0), Traverse City St. Francis (1-0) at Maple City Glen Lake (1-0), Escanaba (1-0) at Petoskey (0-1).

Southeast & Border

Pinckney (1-0) at Chelsea (1-0), Friday

Chelsea is 32-6 over its last three seasons and won all of its Southeastern Conference White games last season by at least 22 points. The Bulldogs will welcome Pinckney to the league Friday after the Pirates went 8-3 last season (their most wins since 1989) before coming over from the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West. Pinckney also had a coaching change in the offseason with defensive coordinator Rod Beaton getting a promotion, and his expertise will be especially handy this week. Chelsea 27 points last week on a Milan defense that gave up only 16 per game in 2016.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY New Haven (1-0) at Ida (1-0), Homer (1-0) at Concord (0-1), Petersburg-Summerfield (1-0) at Pittsford (1-0), FRIDAY Detroit Mumford (1-0) at Saline (0-1).

Southwest Corridor

Schoolcraft (1-0) at Berrien Springs (1-0), Thursday

Berrien Springs has been right on the verge of a big season over the last few, with three straight playoff appearances and a 17-5 record since the start of 2015. The Shamrocks looked ready to make this the year opening with a 53-0 win over Buchanan last week. But giving Schoolcraft its first regular season loss since 2014 would really make a statement. The Eagles are 20-2 going back to the start of 2015 and downed Fennville 41-0 to start this year’s campaign. If Schoolcraft comes through this one on top too, Berrien Springs still will have a few more opportunities to make noise – see Week 4 against Benton Harbor and Week 9 against Muskegon Oakridge.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Coldwater (1-0) at Marshall (1-0), Battle Creek Central (0-1) at Portage Central (1-0), Paw Paw (1-0) at Sturgis (1-0), FRIDAY Grand Rapids South Christian (1-0) at Benton Harbor (0-1).

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming (1-0) at Norway (1-0), Friday

The Hematites seem to be getting most of the tough ones out of the way early as they work back from last year’s 3-5 finish. Ishpeming started this fall by avenging a 2016 loss to Iron Mountain 34-7, and now comes Norway, which shut out the Hematites 14-0 last year. The slight difference this time is these teams are no longer in the same league, literally; the Knights left the Mid-Peninsula Conference for the Mid-Eastern Conference this season. They opened with a 34-7 nonleague win over Niagara (Wis.) after ending last fall as a District champ.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Iron Mountain (0-1) at Gwinn (0-1), Calumet (1-0) at Negaunee (0-1), FRIDAY Traverse City Central (1-0) at Marquette (0-1), SATURDAY Munising (0-1) at St. Ignace (0-1).

West Michigan

Lowell (1-0) at Rockford (1-0), Friday

One of the best scheduling moves in the state in 2016 was the re-introduction of this matchup between two of the elite programs in all of the Grand Rapids area and statewide. Lowell won that first matchup since the end of a two-year series in 2011-12, 21-10, but it also was Rockford’s opener as it had to miss its Week 1 game last fall with a team-wide sickness. This time both teams have a win out of the way, and impressive ones on both sides. The Rams shut out Saline 14-0 to start, while the Red Arrows downed Warren DeLaSalle 36-6.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Grand Rapids Christian (1-0) at Caledonia (1-0), Detroit Loyola (0-1) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1-0), Warren DeLaSalle (0-1) at Grandville (1-0), FRIDAY Muskegon Mona Shores (1-0) at Zeeland West (1-0).


Crystal Falls Forest Park (0-1) at Powers North Central (1-0), Friday

At least the faces will look mostly different from those who more or less decided which was the best team in the Upper Peninsula (and arguably statewide) last season. Reigning two-time MHSAA champion North Central graduated the majority of its stars from the last two seasons including quarterback Jason Whitens, and Forest Park’s record-setting back Dan Nocerini is now playing at Michigan Tech. After losing only to North Central (twice) last season, the Trojans opened last week with a 38-36 defeat to Rapid River. But some of the same success could be brewing again for the Jets, who made it 27 straight victories with a 66-0 shutdown of Felch North Dickinson.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Lawrence (1-0) at Deckerville (1-0), Mayville (1-0) at Morrice (1-0), North Adams-Jerome (1-0) at Battle Creek St. Philip (1-0), Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (0-1) at Suttons Bay (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: East Kentwood (with red trim) faces Orchard Lake St. Mary's this week after opening with a win against Harrison Township L'Anse Creuse. (Photo by John Johnson). 

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.)