Drive for Detroit: Week 2 Preview

August 29, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Opening week of this high school football season predictably fulfilled anticipation and expectation.

The encore should be pretty good, too.

Up this week is a rematch of last season’s Division 1 championship game, which also is among a number of league openers matching conference title favorites all over Michigan. Reigning Division 3 champ Muskegon won’t be starting league play for a few more weeks, but again might be hosting the most intriguing game statewide as another Detroit-area powerhouse comes to town.

Nearly all of this week’s games will be played Thursday night in advance of the Labor Day holiday. Check out the MHSAA Score Center for the full schedule and results as games are completed, and if you’re not watching in person check out one of eight games live on

“Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid. Games below are Thursday unless noted.

Bay & Thumb

Frankenmuth (1-0) at Saginaw Swan Valley (1-0)

Big-time rivals during the 1980s (when they shared a league), Swan Valley and Frankenmuth will meet again for the first time since 2010 and this time as statewide contenders. Swan Valley is the reigning Division 5 runner-up and Frankenmuth was a Division 5 semifinalist a year ago as both fell to champion Grand Rapids West Catholic during the playoff’s final rounds. Both are coming off big wins over bigger competition last week; the Vikings downed Cedar Springs by nine, and the Eagles defeated Bay City Central by 23.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (1-0) at Reese (1-0), Goodrich (1-0) at Ortonville Brandon (1-0), Flint Carman-Ainsworth (1-0) vs. Midland (0-1) at Northwood, St. Clair Shores South Lake (1-0) at Marine City (1-0).

Greater Detroit

West Bloomfield (1-0) at Clarkston (1-0), Friday

This is a rematch of last season’s Division 1 championship game, when these two combined for the second-lowest scoring Final in MHSAA football history – Clarkston winning 3-2. Not telling by the score, West Bloomfield’s offense was loaded with future Division I college players – but the retooled Lakers scored 39 in a win last week over Birmingham Groves, while Clarkston’s defense looked stingy again in downing Grandville 12-9. And don’t forget: These two also both play in the Oakland Activities Association Red, and West Bloomfield won that matchup last season 37-16.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Waterford Our Lady (1-0) at Sterling Heights Parkway Christian (1-0), Oak Park (1-0) at Birmingham Groves (0-1), Livonia Churchill (1-0) at Belleville (1-0), Warren Fitzgerald (1-0) at Auburn Hills Avondale (1-0).


Haslett (1-0) at Lansing Sexton (0-1)

In finishing 8-3 a year ago, Haslett posted its best record since 2006. The Vikings picked up on the same foot last week, opening with a 28-7 win over Coldwater – and they’ll now try to make it two in a row over 2017 playoff teams. Sexton just missed giving new coach Johnel Davis his first win, falling to Gaylord by 23-19. But the Big Reds would love to pick up some steam heading into a new league, the Capital Area Activities Conference White, and it’s already possible to forecast this as a key game if Sexton is to qualify for the playoffs in two months.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Lincoln Alcona (0-1) at Breckenridge (1-0), Brooklyn Columbia Central (1-0) at Leslie (1-0), Walled Lake Northern (0-1) at DeWitt (1-0), Ann Arbor Huron (0-1) at Williamston (1-0).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Traverse City St. Francis (1-0) at Maple City Glen Lake (0-1)

St. Francis had a lot to enjoy about a 42-3 opening-night win over Marquette last week, while Glen Lake ran into a regular-season superpower in falling to New Lothrop. But a win over the Gladiators would certainly heal the grief of that 32-point defeat. These teams have met in both the regular season and playoffs two of the last three seasons, with St. Francis claiming last year’s regular-season meeting 35-9 – but then the District Final rematch only 13-0.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Tawas (1-0) at Rogers City (1-0), Lakeview (1-0) at Lake City (1-0), Gladstone (1-0) at Gaylord (1-0), Marquette (0-1) at Traverse City Central (1-0).

Southeast & Border

Napoleon (0-1) at Addison (1-0)

Last season’s Cascades Conference race saw Addison beat Napoleon by two, Napoleon beat Michigan Center by three and Michigan Center beat Addison by 12 – and all three share the league title. It wouldn’t be shocking if this matchup played a big part in the chase again. Addison opened last week with a big win over Dearborn Heights Star International and Napoleon fell to Brooklyn Columbia Central – both repeats of 2017 results and not necessarily telling of what to expect.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Jackson Lumen Christi (1-0) at Parma Western (1-0), Hudson (0-1) at Morenci (0-1), Lake Fenton (1-0) at Ida (1-0) FRIDAY Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1-0) at Saline (0-1).

Southwest Corridor

Saugatuck (1-0) at Watervliet (1-0)

Both saw their 2017 seasons end against eventual MHSAA champions, Watervliet in a Division 6 Regional Final to Jackson Lumen Christi and Saugatuck at Ford Field where it fell to Pewamo-Westphalia in the Division 7 Final. Watervliet scored at least 50 points in its first seven games last season, and opened this one with another 50-pointer last week against Lawton. Saugatuck actually was more of a defensive force a year ago – but started this one with a 55-pointer that’s been the expectation most other seasons this decade.  

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Dowagiac (1-0) at Three Rivers (1-0), Portage Northern (1-0) at Stevensville Lakeshore (0-1), St. Joseph (0-1) at Niles (1-0), Kalamazoo United (1-0) at Lawton (0-1).

Upper Peninsula

Iron Mountain (1-0) at Ishpeming Westwood (1-0), Friday

Iron Mountain’s one-win finish in 2017 was quite a rarity – the Mountaineers had made the playoffs 16 of the previous 18 years and not had a one-win season on the field since 1990. So it made sense that they equaled last fall’s win total last week with a 12-9 victory over Negaunee. Westwood, meanwhile, is coming off its winningest season ever at 9-2 – and started its campaign last week to show that wasn’t a one-hit wonder with a 42-0 shutout of Houghton.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Negaunee (0-1) at Calumet (1-0) FRIDAY Lake Linden-Hubbell (0-1) at Ishpeming (1-0), Petoskey (0-1) at Escanaba (0-1), Iron River West Iron County (1-0) at Bark River-Harris (0-1).

West Michigan

Detroit Martin Luther King (1-0) at Muskegon (1-0), Friday

When Muskegon opens with back-to-back home games against Warren DeLaSalle and now Martin Luther King, it’s hard to not tout them as the biggest games of many exciting matchups from the west side of the Lower Peninsula. Quarterback Cameron Martinez showed what he’s capable of in last week’s 36-21 win over the reigning Division 2 champion, and expectations will only continue to grow. But King – which fell to DeLaSalle by a point in their Division 2 Semifinal in November – could be an even tougher test coming off a 52-38 win over Illinois powerhouse East St. Louis.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Rockford (0-1) at Lowell (0-1), Lansing Catholic (1-0) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (0-1), Benton Harbor (1-0) at Grand Rapids South Christian (1-0), Holland West Ottawa (1-0) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (1-0).


Eben Junction Superior Central (1-0) at Cedarville (0-1)

Superior Central stunned the 8-player community with a 46-24 win over reigning Division 2 champion Crystal Falls Forest Park last week, and the Cougars can start 2-0 for the first time since 2012 by following up against another perennial power. But Cedarville surely is eager to get back on the field as well after putting up 40 in a six-point loss to Stephenson. Don’t be surprised if this turns into an offensive display.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Central Lake (0-1) at Onekama (1-0), Engadine (1-0) at Pickford (1-0), Powers North Central (0-1) at Rapid River (1-0), Bellaire (1-0) at Suttons Bay (1-0).

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews and reviews 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: A Flint Beecher linebacker readies for the snap during last week’s win over Flint Southwestern at Atwood Stadium. (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.)