By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
For the second year in a row, storms crashed the second week of Michigan's high school football season.
But the rain could only postpone about 70 games and some dramatic early-season finishes that surely will be difference-makers in the standings in weeks to come.
See below for our look at the most significant of the week's results from every region and our 8-player teams.
Bay & Thumb
Marlette 28, Bad Axe 27
Bad Axe (1-1) stormed into the fall with a big season-opening win over Harbor Beach, and looked like it would add a second victory over a 2014 playoff team before Marlette went ahead during the fourth quarter on a 67-yard scoring pass. Click for more from the Port Huron Times-Herald.
Bay City John Glenn 28, Cadillac 14 – After a nice bounce-back last season for John Glenn (2-0), the Bobcats continued to surge by avenging last season’s 31-7 loss to Cadillac (0-2).
Port Huron 28, New Baltimore Anchor Bay 26 – The Big Reds (1-1) bounced back from a tough loss in Week 1 by keeping a five-game streak going against Anchor Bay (1-1).
Byron 14, Carson City-Crystal 7 – Byron (2-0) is starting nicely after last season’s 4-5 finish, this week avenging last season’s loss to the Eagles (1-1), who are coming off three straight playoff appearances.
Clio 7, Stanton Central Montcalm 6 – The Mustangs are 2-0 for the second straight season with a second straight one-point win over Central Montcalm (0-2).
Macomb Dakota 28, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 21
One of the best football rivalries in all of the Macomb Area Conference, this annual matchup continues to meet expectations. Dakota (2-0) has won 11 straight over the Big Reds during the regular season, but was coming off a one-point loss to Chippewa Valley (1-1) in last season’s District Final. Click for more from MLive-Detroit.
Wyandotte Roosevelt 23, Allen Park 14 – Both of these teams are regular contenders in the Downriver Conference, with Roosevelt (2-0) now taking the upper hand after finishing third last season when Allen Park (1-1) was league runner-up.
Detroit Loyola 42, Muskegon Oakridge 13 – Reigning Division 7 champion Loyola (1-1) looks up to another run after winning big over solid Oakridge (1-1).
Farmington 20, Oak Park 19 – Farmington (2-0) had lost three straight to Oak Park (0-2), including in last season’s playoff opener.
Detroit U-D Jesuit 23, Detroit Country Day 13 – Jesuit (2-0) equaled last season’s win total by beating a second playoff team from a year ago; Country Day is 1-1.
Mason 21, Eaton Rapids 6
The build-up made this the premier game in the Lansing area Thursday, as both teams made the playoffs the last two seasons. But the result remained the same as it's been going back to 1993, the last time Mason fell to Eaton Rapids (1-1). The teams played to only a 10-7 win for Mason last season, but the Bulldogs (2-0) broke away this time relying again on an experienced offense and stout defense. Click for more from Mason Today.
Portland 37, Hillsdale 14 – The Raiders (2-0) are bouncing back nicely from their first losing season since 2002, knocking off the Hornets (1-1), who had won 13 of their last 15 regular-season games.
Stockbridge 53, Sand Creek 48 – Panthers quarterback Mason Gee-Montgomery threw himself into the MHSAA record book with seven touchdown passes as Stockbridge (2-0) went over 50 points for the second time in two games in dropping Sand Creek to 1-1.
Beal City 43, Clare 36 (OT) – These two have played classics two straight seasons, with Beal City (2-0) adding to last year’s one-point win by outlasting Clare (0-2) this time.
Corunna 19, Montrose 13 (OT) – This might be the best win for the Cavaliers (2-0) since at least 2007, or longer ago, as they’ve made the playoffs just once over the last decade while the Rams (1-1) are an annual contender.
Northern Lower Peninsula
Gaylord 45, Grayling 6
These rivals took nearly 20 seasons off before reviving their annual game last fall, and it’s been all Blue Devils so far with both victories by a combined score of 80-6. The score this time wouldn’t make this seem like a big game aside from the neighborly connection, but it could have a bearing on both teams’ futures. Gaylord (2-0) is trying to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2005, and this could be huge toward achieving that goal after the team started 3-0 nonleague last season but went only 2-4 in Big North Conference play. Grayling (1-1) missed the playoffs last fall for the first time in five seasons and faces a tough road ahead starting with Maple City Glen Lake this week. Click for more from the Gaylord Herald-Times.
Kalkaska 40, Elk Rapids 23 – It was quite a comeback by the Blazers (1-1), who fell to Elk Rapids 48-0 only a year ago but this time dropped the Elks to 0-2.
Houghton Lake 12, Lakeview 7 – Not only did this avenge a 45-6 loss to Lakeview (1-1) last year, but it set up Houghton Lake (1-1) to surpass its one-win finishes of 2014, 2013 and 2012.
Manistee 40, Muskegon Orchard View 14 – The Chippewas are 2-0 for the first time since 2009 and after losing to Orchard View 34-7 a year ago; the Cardinals are 0-2.
Maple City Glen Lake 26, Suttons Bay 14 – Glen Lake (2-0) needs one more win to equal last season’s 3-6 finish and now has victories this fall over two 2014 playoff teams and five straight wins over Suttons Bay (0-2).
Southeast & Border
Morenci 26, Hudson 20 (3 OT)
This quickly is turning into one of the top rivalry games from this corner of the state. Morenci (2-0) now has won the last two meetings (by a combined 11 points) after losing 11 in 12 to the Tigers (1-1) from 2002-13. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.
Concord 44, Union City 36 – The Yellow Jackets (2-0) haven’t won two games total since 2010, and hadn’t beaten Union City (1-1) since 1988.
Napoleon 13, Grass Lake 8 – Napoleon (1-1) had lost 10 straight to Grass Lake (1-1), but now is 1-0 to start the Cascades Conference schedule for the first time since 2010.
Jackson 56, Lansing Everett 27 – Jackson (2-0) has its most win since 2010 and got there by adding a victory over Everett (0-2), a playoff team the last three seasons.
Onsted 21, Adrian Madison 20 (OT) – The Wildcats needed a little extra to survive Madison (1-1) for the second straight season and to start 2-0 for the second straight.
Portage Central 28, Battle Creek Lakeview 21
These two may end up champions of their separate divisions of the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference, but regardless this will be remembered as one of the league’s marquee battles of 2015. Portage Central came back from a second-half touchdown deficit and now has a little more momentum to ride heading into next week’s SMAC West opener against Stevensville Lakeshore. Click for more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Benton Harbor 14, Battle Creek Central 9 – Not only did the Tigers (1-1) break a 20-game losing streak, but they did so against a Central team that’s only a combined 15 points from being undefeated instead of 0-2.
Cassopolis 41, Mendon 6 – This has started like a rare down season for Mendon, which is 0-2 for the first time since 2006; but Cassopolis is 2-0 for the first time since 2010.
Constantine 21, Decatur 20 (OT) – The landscape this season is drastically different for the Falcons (1-1) with a new league and six new opponents, but a win over usually-powerful Decatur (1-1) is a great way to bounce back from a three-point loss on opening night.
Schoolcraft 34, Watervliet 33 – The Eagles will hop into a new league next week 2-0 after edging a Watervliet team that has started 1-1 but won 10 games each of the last two seasons.
L’Anse 30, Iron River West Iron County 26
This was quite a reversal from last season’s 54-8 win by West Iron, with L’Anse (2-0) handing the Wykons their first loss in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference since 2012. West Iron also hadn’t started 0-2 since 2002. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.
Escanaba 16, Petoskey 7 – The Eskymos are 2-0 for the first time since 2011 after beating a Petoskey team that won nine game a year ago but fell to 1-1.
Newberry 47, Felch North Dickinson 36 – The Indians (2-0) got their first win in four tries against North Dickinson since joining the Nordics (1-1) in the Mid-Eastern Conference.
Lake Linden-Hubbell 35, Hurley (Wis.) 6 – The Great Western Conference is a team fewer this season, but Lake Linden-Hubbell (2-0) is a game up after avenging last season’s 28-6 loss to Hurley.
Negaunee 21, Calumet 14 – Make that three of the last four meetings between these two decided by eight points or fewer, with Negaunee (2-0) winning all four matchups and dropping Calumet this time to 1-1.
Muskegon 42, Grand Rapids Christian 14
There weren’t a lot of better ways the Big Reds (1-1) could’ve bounced back from a three-point loss to Detroit Catholic Central on opening night. Christian (1-1) itself was coming itself off a nice nail-biter win over Grand Rapids South Christian. Now Muskegon will face Grandville this week trying to become the first team in Michigan high school history to win 800 games. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Montague 70, Ravenna 48 – This goes down as one of the more interesting recent chapters in this West Michigan Conference rivalry, with Montague (2-0) scoring its most points since 2010 and Ravenna (1-1) scoring enough to beat most.
Caledonia 23, Grand Rapids South Christian 7 – The Fighting Scots (2-0) have outscored two teams that went a combined 18-7 last season by a combined score of 63-10; South Christian fell to 0-2.
Grandville 38, Lansing Sexton 25 – Grandville is 2-0 after handing reigning Division 4 runner-up Sexton its second loss, which was absolutely necessary as the Bulldogs might face the toughest schedule of any team in Michigan over the next seven weeks.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 40, Byron Center 28 – The Huskies finished last season on a 1-3 spiral, but are 2-0 after beating 2014 playoff team Byron Center (1-1) for the second straight year.
Kingston 20, Kinde-North Huron 12 Kingston still has been outscored 54-20 after two games, but came back strong after a big opening night loss to Deckerville. North Huron entered off a big win over Carsonville-Port Sanilac; this gave Kingston a 3-2 advantage in the series since the two schools first started playing 8-player in 2012. Both are 1-1 this season. Also noted: Cedarville 34, Pickford 20 – Pickford (1-1) is new to 8-player this fall, but gave Cedarville one of its few close games since this the Trojans (2-0) made the switch in 2011. Webberville 34, Tekonsha 32 – The Spartans are 2-0 but have walked the edge, with both wins by two points; this one dropped Tekonsha to 1-1. PHOTO: Detroit East English (on offense) downed Detroit Renaissance 40-7 in their Week 2 matchup. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit Public School League.)
Kingston 20, Kinde-North Huron 12
Kingston still has been outscored 54-20 after two games, but came back strong after a big opening night loss to Deckerville. North Huron entered off a big win over Carsonville-Port Sanilac; this gave Kingston a 3-2 advantage in the series since the two schools first started playing 8-player in 2012. Both are 1-1 this season.
Cedarville 34, Pickford 20 – Pickford (1-1) is new to 8-player this fall, but gave Cedarville one of its few close games since this the Trojans (2-0) made the switch in 2011.
Webberville 34, Tekonsha 32 – The Spartans are 2-0 but have walked the edge, with both wins by two points; this one dropped Tekonsha to 1-1.
PHOTO: Detroit East English (on offense) downed Detroit Renaissance 40-7 in their Week 2 matchup. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit Public School League.)
On jaw-dropping moments alone, the 2023 Football Finals played over the last two weekends at Northern Michigan University’s Superior Dome and Ford Field were an unforgettable success.
The two longest active winning streaks in the state were ended by first-time champions. Perhaps the two most recognizable players in Michigan faced off in the season finale. The winningest active coach in state history led his team to a record-tying title, while two more coaches retired with their program’s first. The lone repeat champion needed every last second to score all of its points during the fourth quarter, and four reigning champions saw their repeat or three-peat bids denied.
Consider those an opening kickoff of the final “1st & Goal Review” this season.
MHSAA.com covered all 10 championship games, with quick recaps and links (click on the game scores) to those stories below followed by notations of performances entered into the MHSAA Finals record book and a report on some of the main storylines to emerge as those championships were being decided.
Finals in Review
11-Player Division 1: Southfield Arts & Technology 36, Belleville 32 – Read
The concluding game of this season’s Finals kept everyone on the edge of their seats as A&T not only claimed its first championship but ended reigning champ Belleville’s winning streak at 38 games. This matched up arguably the top quarterbacks in the state, with senior Isaiah Marshall piling up 415 total yards while running for a touchdown and throwing for two more, and Belleville junior Bryce Underwood totaling 203 total yards with a passing score as he attempted to lead the Tigers to a Division 1 title for the third-straight season.
11-Player Division 2: Muskegon 33, Warren De La Salle Collegiate 21 – Read
Muskegon also ended a two-year title streak, as De La Salle was the reigning champion and making its fourth-straight Finals appearance. The Big Reds had finished Division 3 runner-up in 2022, but followed senior quarterback M’Khi Guy, who piled up 374 total yards, ran for a pair of touchdowns and threw for two more.
11-Player Division 3: Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 27, Mason 10 – Read
Both were playing for a first championship, and Forest Hills Central after finishing Division 2 runner-up last season. Several top contributors from the 2022 Rangers team were back, and they limited a Mason offense that had averaged 41 points per game entering the finale. In doing so, FHC sent retiring coach Tim Rogers out with the ultimate win.
11-Player Division 4: Harper Woods 33, Grand Rapids South Christian 27 – Read
Harper Woods was another first-time champion, carrying a 14-0 lead into the second quarter and extending it to as many as 20 before South Christian made a late run behind the record-setting passing of junior quarterback Carson Vis. Harper Woods lost junior lead back Colby Bailey on the second play, but junior Donald Adams stepped in and averaged 10 yards per carry with 174 total.
11-Player Division 5: Grand Rapids Catholic Central 21, Corunna 7 – Read
After missing out on a Ford Field trip last fall, Grand Rapids Catholic Central claimed its third Division 5 title over the last four seasons. Senior quarterback Connor Wolf ran for all three touchdowns and senior running back Kellen Russell-Dixon powered the attack with 133 yards on the ground. Corunna was making its first Finals appearance and gave the Cougars one of their closest games, as all but three wins had come by at least 32 points.
11-Player Division 6: Kingsley 38, Almont 24 – Read
Kingsley claimed its first Finals championship since 2005 led by another record-setting performance. Senior running back Eli Graves tied the Finals record scoring 30 points, the last of his four touchdowns with 2:19 to play and after Almont had pulled within six points of the lead. The Stags controlled the ball for more than 33 minutes – or nearly 70 percent of the game.
11-Player Division 7: Jackson Lumen Christi 34, Menominee 30 – Read
The Titans and longtime coach Herb Brogan tied the MHSAA record with their 13th Finals championship as they scored the game-winning points with 4:04 to play to complete this repeat title run. Junior running back Kadale Williams ran for 276 yards, the fifth-most in Finals history, and scored his first two touchdowns during the second quarter to bring Lumen back from an early 14-0 deficit.
11-Player Division 8: Ubly 21, Ottawa Lake Whiteford 6 – Read
The rematch of the 2022 Division 8 Final – won by Whiteford – this time went Ubly’s way as the Bearcats also ended the Bobcats’ 27-game winning streak in coach Eric Sweeney's final game. Ubly had finished Finals runner-up three times, but concluded its first championship season 14-0. The teams played a scoreless first quarter and Whiteford scored first in the second before the Bearcats stacked three scoring drives of at least 5 minutes, 30 seconds apiece.
8-Player Division 1: Martin 30, Indian River Inland Lakes 26 – Read
Martin scored all 30 of its points during the final 10:17 to repeat as Division 1 champion in unimaginable fashion. Junior quarterback Gavin Meyers’ 21-yard run with five seconds to play put the Clippers ahead for good, and he finished with 358 total yards and also threw a touchdown pass with 33 seconds left to pull Martin within four points of the lead. Inland Lakes was playing its first Final.
8-Player Division 2: Adrian Lenawee Christin 36, Marion 18 – Read
Lenawee Christian clinched its third Finals championship over the last four seasons and after falling short a year ago. Senior quarterback Sam Lutz piled up one more massive statistical performance, throwing for 350 yards and three touchdowns on near-perfect passing, while also running for two scores. Marion was making its first Finals appearance since 1990.
As noted above, Jackson Lumen Christi tied the MHSAA football record by winning its 13th Finals championship. The Titans share that top spot with now-closed Farmington Hills Harrison, and Grand Rapids Catholic Central and Muskegon also moved up that list with their eighth and seventh titles, respectively. Lumen Christi also played in its 16th championship game – third-most and two short of Harrison’s record in that category, while Muskegon played in its 14th, GRCC in its 10th and Grand Rapids South Christian and Warren De La Salle Collegiate both in their ninth Final.
Kingsley senior Eli Graves became one of five to score a record 30 points in an 11-Player Final, doing so with four rushing touchdowns and three 2-point conversions. His four touchdowns tied for fifth-most TDs in a Final and tied for third-most rushing scores. Graves also made the single-game rushing yards list with 210 yards on 33 carries.
Jackson Lumen Christi junior Kadale Williams finished his season with more than 1,900 yards rushing after reaching the single-game Finals rushing list with 276 on 27 carries. Muskegon senior quarterback M’Khi Guy joined Williams and Graves with 215 rushing yards on 25 carries.
Although Harper Woods and Grand Rapids South Christian combined to score just 60 points, they combined for 1,030 total yards, second-most on the list for both teams combined, and South Christian’s 533 total yards alone tied for fourth-most by a single team. Sailors junior quarterback Carson Vis set 11-Player Finals records with 441 passing yards, 30 completions and 513 total yards, and his 44 pass attempts rank second. His senior receiver Jake Vermaas made lists with 10 receptions and 176 yards. Not surprisingly, Vis’ passing yards also make the most by one team in an 11-Player Final.
Southfield A&T senior Isaiah Marshall also made the total yardage list with 415, ranking fourth, and his 281 passing yards and 20 completions also earned entries. Guy made the total yardage list with 374 and also the longest pass list with a 94-yarder to senior Destin Piggee for a score. De La Salle junior Sante Gasperoni made the single-game passing yardage list with 249, and Harper Woods sophomore Nate Rocheleau also made the longest throw list with a 90-yard scoring toss to senior Ramonty Houze. Mason junior Cason Carswell made the attempts and completions lists connecting on 22 of 40 passes.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central senior Alex Moeller made the single-game field goals list in 11-player with two, from 35 and 27 yards out. Lumen Christi junior Andrew Salazar made the single-game extra points list with five in five tries.
Senior Tashi Braceful was on the other end of some of Marshall’s record work making the 11-player receptions list with 10 catches, for 152 yards.
Conversely, two teams made the list for fewest passing attempts in an 11-player championship game – Almont, which completed one pass on two attempts, and Ubly, which attempted three passes and completed two.
South Christian earned one more entry from the Division 4 game, tying for third-most first downs with 28. Kingsley also made that list, ranking sixth with 27.
Kingsley and Ubly also made the list for fewest punts in an 11-Player Final, as neither punted last weekend.
Marion senior Gavin Prielipp set the 8-Player Finals record for the fastest touchdown scored on an opening kickoff, bringing it back in Division 2 76 yards for a score over the game’s first nine seconds.
Lenawee Christian sophomore Max Stamats made the records for longest field goal also in that game, drilling a 42-yarder.
Cougars senior quarterback Sam Lutz is all over the record book. His 396 total yards in the Division 2 Final rank fifth on that list, while his 350 passing yards are third and .870 percentage throwing the ball (20 for 23) is the first entry in that category. The 350 passing yards also represent the third-most on the team list for 8-Player Finals.
Senior teammate Easton Boggs also made his marks in Division 2, with his 210 receiving yards ranking third and his three touchdown receptions tying for second-most in an 8-Player title game.
Both Division 1 quarterbacks also made the 8-Player Finals list for total offense, Martin junior Gavin Meyers with 358 yards and Inland Lakes junior Aidan Fenstermaker with 323.
Martin as a team ranked second on the 8-player list for most points scored in a quarter, with its 30 during the fourth, and also made the first downs list with 27. Neither Martin nor Inland Lakes punted in that Division 1 game, placing those teams on the lists for fewest punts by one team and fewest between both teams in one game.
Stories Behind the Scores
Legendary Lineup: From a competitiveness point of view, this was as strong a set of Football Finals as we’ve enjoyed in recent memory. Over the last five seasons alone, only 12 championship games – out of 50 – had been decided by seven points or fewer, and only 24 had margins of 14 or fewer points, including only three of 10 games in 2022. But the last two weekends saw four games decided by seven points or fewer, three more by 8-14 points, and the remaining three by 15, 17 and 18.
Some Old, Some New: Of 10 champions this season, four earned football titles for the first time – and only two were repeat winners from 2022. While nine teams played in Finals for at least the second season in a row, five played in a championship game in this sport for the first time. More than 45,000 fans attended the 11-Player Finals, up 2,000 from a year ago and thanks in part to notable crowds from first-time finalists Mason, Corunna and A&T.
Scheduling Notes: Due to Michigan State playing Penn State on Friday at Ford Field, the MHSAA 11-Player Finals were moved to Saturday and Sunday, and Sunday’s games also started at 9:30 a.m. instead of the traditional 10 kickoff time. The schedule adjustment also allowed for experimentation with the order of games, with the largest schools each day – Division 2 on Saturday and Division 1 on Sunday – moved to the final time slots those evenings.
Dazzling Finishes: The Division 1 games – both in 11-player and 8-player – provided last-minute game-winning touchdowns to cap storybook seasons. In 11-player, Isaiah Marshall’s 11-yard scoring run with 47 seconds to play pushed Southfield Arts & Technology past Belleville 36-32 after the Tigers previously had come back from an 18-point deficit. In 8-Player Division 1, Martin scored all of its 30 points during the fourth quarter – the last 16 over the final 33 seconds – and with quarterback Gavin Meyers scrambling 21 yards for the winning score with five seconds to play. The Martin win kicked off the championship weekends, while the Southfield A&T victory ended the season.
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PHOTOS (Top) Our collage includes photos from all 10 MHSAA Football Finals. (2) Muskegon’s Da'Carion Taylor holds up the ball after his touchdown catch during the 11-Player Division 2 game. (3) Inland Lakes’ Jacob Willey (4) and Avery Enos celebrate Willey’s second touchdown of the 8-Player Division 1 Final. (4) Southfield A&T’s DeMario Quarles enjoys a moment after his team’s 11-Player Division 1 victory. (11-Player Finals photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos. 8-Player Finals photos by Cara Kamps.)