Drive for Detroit: Week 2 in Review

September 4, 2015

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. 

Also noted:

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).

Greater Detroit

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.

Also noted:

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.

Also noted:

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.

Also noted:

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. 

Also noted: 

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. 

Southwest Corridor

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.

Also noted:

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.

Upper Peninsula 

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.

Also noted:

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.

West Michigan

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.

Also noted: 

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.)

Constantine Football All-Stater, Wrestling Champ Aiming for Grand Finale

By Scott Hassinger
Special for

April 30, 2024

CONSTANTINE – Bennett VandenBerg has earned many accolades over the last four years as a three-sport athlete at Constantine.

Southwest CorridorBut the awards aren't what the 6-foot-3, 240-pound standout will remember most when reflecting on his memories as an all-state football player, state champion wrestler and record-breaking throwing specialist on the Falcons' track & field squad.

"I'll remember how I represented our school and pushed myself to be the best I could be in each sport that I played," said VandenBerg, who has earned 12 varsity letters.

VandenBerg has evolved into one of the most accomplished athletes in the state this school year as a senior, especially standing out among those from smaller communities.

This past fall he was named first-team Division 5-6 all-state at defensive end in football before winning the Division 3 Individual Finals wrestling title at 285 pounds in early March at Ford Field.

VandenBerg's final goal is to win the discus title at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals on Saturday, June 1, in Kent City to end his Constantine career all-state in all three sports.

He broke the school record in the discus his junior year with a throw of 158 feet, 1 inch; the previous mark of 156-6 had been held by Doug Polasek since 1986. VandenBerg has eclipsed his school record twice this spring, most recently with a personal-best toss of 170-9 in a Southwestern Athletic Conference double dual meet with Schoolcraft and Kalamazoo Christian. He ranks No. 4 statewide in the event regardless of enrollment division. Lawton junior Mason Mayne at 175-4 is the only Division 3 competitor with a better throw than VandenBerg.

"It's really cool to have your name up on the school record board, but I'd like to make that mark more untouchable before I'm done," VandenBerg said. "My goal is to be a state discus champion. I've put in the necessary work for it. It would be nice to end my career that way."

Kyle Rimer, Constantine's veteran boys track & field coach, is most impressed with VandenBerg's leadership and presence in working with the Falcons' younger athletes.

VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. "Bennett loves to compete. Ever since he was a freshman, we've also had him on our 400-meter relay team. That's something he really enjoys doing. He's not just a thrower, but a good overall athlete with lots of drive,” Rimer said. “There's a lot of individuality in track & field, but I think he does a great job of leading the younger kids. He has the drive, accountability and technique to achieve his goal of being a state champion in his throwing events.”

VandenBerg is already a two-time Finals placer in the discus, earning sixth as a junior and seventh his sophomore year. He admits being a little disappointed with his distance at the 2023 state meet.

"In that particular event (discus) you need lots of focus and determination because there are a ton of tiny things you can mess up on that affect your throw. To become better you need to be consistent, show up every day and be willing to put in the work," VandenBerg said. "Right now I'm working on my speed in the circle and quickness in my follow-through."

VandenBerg also has been pleased with his improvement this spring in the shot put. He's increased his distance by over five feet and hopes to break the school record in that event as well. John Kampars (1967) holds Constantine's shot put record at 54-8¼, and VandenBerg's personal best is 48-10 in a double-dual meet this season against Parchment and Centreville.

"Shot put is a difficult event. You need power, but your form has to be top-notch – otherwise it's tough to move that 12-pound ball," VandenBerg said. "I would love to qualify for state in both the discus and shot put and be all-state in each. That would be amazing if I could be a state champion in either of those events."

VandenBerg has put in extra work in the offseason with special instruction from Bill Griffey of Next Throw in Plainwell, along with working with Constantine assistant track & field and head football coach Shawn Griffith.

"Bennett puts a lot of time into working on his throwing. He spends a lot of time in the weight room, and he's a bigger kid who is not afraid to be coached and listens to what other people tell him," Griffith said. "We're excited to see what he can do now that we've had warmer weather recently."

VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft.VandenBerg's motivation this spring follows a tremendous wrestling season that saw him finish 54-0 and capture the 285 championship with a 3-0 win in the title match over Reed City junior Wyatt Spalo.

"I gained 20 pounds of muscle and did everything you need to do to become a better athlete to wrestle the heavyweight division. Winning the title was overwhelming. It was everything I ever wanted, and the first 20 minutes after winning it was relief, especially after losing in the Finals as a junior. I just went into that last match and wrestled smart and confident," VandenBerg said. "My speed and strength gave me an advantage over the bigger heavyweights I faced this year."

Vandenberg, 188-22 with 104 career pins, became the 10th Finals champion in Constantine wrestling history and the first to achieve the feat since Kevin Watkins won a 152-pound crown in 2000.

VandenBerg competed at 189 as a freshman and sophomore. He was a Regional qualifier as a freshman and finished sixth in Division 3 as a sophomore before ending his junior campaign as the Finals runner-up at 215. 

"Bennett is a competitor who hates to lose, and if he does he learns from it. He had a lot of good practice partners on the team his first three years, and he wasn't going to be denied after losing in the Finals as a junior," said Constantine wrestling coach Dale Davidhizar Jr.

VandenBerg played on Constantine's varsity football team for four years. He got a lot of extra playing time as a freshman when Constantine reached the Division 6 Semifinals during in the COVID-shortened season. He led the Falcons in rushing as a sophomore before switching to tight end as a junior. Out of necessity, VandenBerg returned to lead Constantine in rushing and scoring again as a senior.

"Bennett learned a great deal from the older guys on the team his first three varsity seasons. He learned leadership qualities and is a very unselfish kid who is willing to do what's best for his team," Griffith said.

VandenBerg is most proud of Constantine winning a District crown last fall, especially after his senior class went 0-5-1 as eighth graders. VandenBerg posted 164 solo tackles at defensive end during his final high school season and was Constantine's main offensive weapon with 1,354 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing on 186 carries.

"Winning Districts as seniors in football was a special moment. As eighth graders, we weren't exactly the most athletic team, but we put in the work as we got older to become successful," VandenBerg said.

VandenBerg has been invited to play for the West team at the annual Michigan High School Football Coaches Association's East-West All-Star Game this summer.

College coaches have shown interest in VandenBerg in all three sports, especially football and wrestling. VandenBerg, who carries a cumulative GPA of 3.989 and scored 1110 on his SAT, is weighing his options in athletics but knows he wants to study either ecology or forestry in college.

"I love being outdoors and doing what I love to do," VandenBerg said.

Scott HassingerScott Hassinger is a contributing sportswriter for Leader Publications and previously served as the sports editor for the Three Rivers Commercial-News from 1994-2022. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Constantine’s Bennett VandenBerg competes in the discus during a home meet his junior season. (Middle) VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. (Below) VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft. (Photos by Brandon Watson/Sturgis Journal.)