Drive for Detroit: Week 2 in Review

September 6, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Three overtime thrillers. Two matchups pitting arguably the best programs from their respective areas. One of the most intriguing games in Michigan 8-player football history. 

If you missed following Week 2's results, you truly missed out – but we're here to help. 

Catch up below for many of the most telling results from another Labor Day weekend.

Bay & Thumb

Algonac 14, Almont 7

This is turning into quite the Blue Water Area Conference rivalry series, with Algonac extending its run to three straight over Almont (1-1) after losing to the Raiders 72-7 in 2014. Last season’s win helped the Muskrats to an eventual share of the league title; this one definitely gives them an upper hand again only a game into the BWAC schedule. Offense was at a premium once again, but Algonac (2-0) scored in the second and fourth quarters and has given up only nine points over its first two games. Click for more from the Port Huron Times Herald.

Also noted:

Beaverton 39, Harbor Beach 22 – The Beavers (2-0) are already one win shy of tying last season’s total after dealing the frequently-powerful Pirates (1-1) a first defeat this fall.

Port Huron Northern 27, Marine City 24 – The Huskies (1-1) are looking to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2010, and beating Marine City (0-2) for the first time certainly will help.

St. Clair Shores South Lake 54, Madison Heights Madison 28 – South Lake (2-0) could be a clear favorite in the Macomb Area Conference Silver after avenging last season’s 56-42 title-deciding loss to the reigning champion Eagles (1-1).

Davison 49, Mount Pleasant 14 – Tariq Reid ran for 309 yards and scored five touchdowns as Davison moved to 2-0 and dropped the Oilers to 0-2.

Greater Detroit

Southfield Arts & Technology 24, Clarkston 18 (OT)

What a start/bounce back for the first-year Warriors. The school, formed by a merger of the former Southfield High and Southfield Lathrup, opened this season and its football history by falling to Detroit Martin Luther King 39-0 during opening weekend. So that made this rebound win over the always-tough Wolves (1-1) at least a little unexpected – and gave Southfield A&T an early edge in a strong Oakland Activities Association Red as well. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

Also noted:

Utica Eisenhower 26, Macomb Dakota 13 – Only the stunner by Southfield A&T could trump this massive win by Eisenhower (2-0), which ended a five-game losing streak to its MAC Red rival; Dakota (1-1) beat the Eagles twice last season, including in the District Final.

Walled Lake Western 33, Canton 30 – These two combined to go 22-4 in 2015, but Western (2-0) is off to the better start so far after dealing a heartbreaker to the Chiefs (0-2).

Allen Park 38, Wyandotte Roosevelt 0 – The Jaguars (2-0) have outscored their first two opponents by a combined 100-0 after avenging last season’s loss to the Bears (1-1).  

Detroit U-D Jesuit 20, Ann Arbor Pioneer 7 – The Cubs are 2-0 for the second straight season after bottling up a Pioneer team that went 7-4 a year ago.


Grand Ledge 28, DeWitt 21

The game everyone in the Lansing area has waited years to see lived up to its billing, as the reigning Capital Area Activities Conference Blue champion Comets outlasted the annual powerhouse from the CAAC Red. Grand Ledge didn’t totally ground DeWitt’s high-powered offense, but did come up with necessary stops and multiple turnovers to improve to 1-1 with league play beginning this week. The Panthers, also 1-1, will move on to trying to extend their 38-game league winning streak that dates to 2008. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Haslett 9, Flushing 6 – The Vikings (1-1) made it three straight over Flushing (1-1); they’ve won by a combined eight points over those three recent meetings.

Pewamo-Westphalia 64, Dansville 0 – The Aggies (1-1) are likely still one of the best teams in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference, but the reigning Division 7 runner-up Pirates (2-0) are likely just this good.

Portland 40, Hillsdale 0 – The Raiders (2-0) are another Lansing-area team looking elite so far after dealing Hillsdale (1-1) its first shutout loss since 2011.

Fowlerville 38, Charlotte 25 – The Gladiators have had some tough seasons since last making the playoffs in 2010, but are 2-0 for the first time since 2009 after downing the Orioles (0-2). 

Northern Lower Peninsula

Charlevoix 22, Boyne City 14 (OT)

The Red Rayders (2-0) have come up with stunning wins from time to time over the last few years and are riding a streak of two straight winning seasons. But this still must qualify as the most stunning in recent memory – Charlevoix hadn’t scored on Boyne City over their last two meetings and hadn’t beaten the Ramblers since 2011. Boyne City (0-2), a Division 6 regional finalist last fall, isn’t far off its usual pace, however; the two losses this season are by only a combined 17 points. Click for more from the Petoskey News.

Also noted:

Manton 28, Johannesburg-Lewiston 24 – Aside from the Week 9 victory that gave the 2014 Rangers their only playoff appearance of the last two decades, beating the Cardinals (who were 43-12 over last five seasons) might be Manton’s best win since the early 1990s; both teams are now 1-1.

Alpena 33, Sault Ste. Marie 20 – The Wildcats (1-1) are looking for their first winning season since 2004, and getting past a 2015 playoff team like the Blue Devils (1-1) will help.

Traverse City St. Francis 21, Maple City Glen Lake 13 – This is the latest chapter in what’s become a strong rivalry, as St. Francis moved to 2-0 and Glen Lake to 1-1 with both likely contenders in their respective leagues.

Manistee 36, Hopkins 30 – The Chippewas (1-1) have improved yearly over the last three and bounced back from an opening-night loss by beating a Hopkins team (1-1) trying to rebound from its first sub-.500 season since 2006. 

Southeast & Border

Concord 28, Homer 26 (OT)

Tune back in later this week for a feature on Concord, which struggled through back-to-back 1-8 seasons in 2013 and 2014 before making a huge jump to 7-3 last year. The Yellowjackets (2-0) hadn’t beaten Homer since 2009 and fell 32-30 last season as the Trojans went on to win the Big 8 Conference title. Click for more from the Jackson Citizen-Patriot.

Also noted:

East Jackson 30, Vandercook Lake 28 – The Trojans (1-1) have three wins total over their last four seasons, but got a huge one against a Jayhawks team (0-2) that finished 8-2 a year ago.

Hudson 8. Morenci 6 – The momentum in this rivalry swung back to the Tigers (2-0), who had lost two straight to Morenci (1-1) and have given up only 14 points total over two games this fall.

New Boston Huron 21, Carleton Airport 14 – The Chiefs (2-0) opened Huron League play with a second win by seven points or fewer, but also fourth straight over Airport (1-1)

Temperance Bedford 51, Fenton 28 – Last season’s 0-4 start is a distant memory for the Mules (2-0), who got past a Fenton team (0-2) coming off its eighth straight playoff appearance. 

Southwest Corridor

Marshall 17, Coldwater 7

The Redhawks (1-1) came back from an opening-night loss to Benton Harbor to avenge last season’s 9-7 defeat to Coldwater (1-1) that ended up deciding the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference title. In doing so, Marshall also ended the Cardinals’ 13-game regular-season winning streak; the latter’s only loss last fall came in a Division 3 Semifinal. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer

Also noted:

Benton Harbor 28, Grand Rapids South Christian 21 – The Tigers (2-0) continued to show last season’s success wasn’t just a one-and-done by sending the Sailors to 1-1.  

Paw Paw 22, Plainwell 9 – The Redskins (2-0) are off to their seventh straight 2-0 start despite missing the postseason a year ago; Plainwell (1-1) rebounded off last season’s Paw Paw loss to still make the playoffs and will look to do so again.  

Schoolcraft 51, Watervliet 30 – This wasn’t as close as Schoolcraft’s one-point win last season, but similarly impressive as the Eagles moved to 2-0 by outscoring the offensively-talented Panthers (1-1).

Cassopolis 33, Mendon 14 – The Rangers (2-0) extended their winning streak over the annually-powerful Hornets (1-1) to two straight to open Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Red play. 

Upper Peninsula

Negaunee 14, Calumet 6

The Miners (2-0) sent back at least some of the disappointment left over from falling to Calumet in last season’s Division 6 playoff opener. Negaunee held the Copper Kings to 18 fewer points than in the playoff loss while riding two running backs who both gained more than 100 yards on the ground, and has now beaten Calumet (1-1) in five straight regular-season meetings. Click for more from the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette.

Also noted:

Bark River-Harris 52, Bessemer Gogebic 24 – This could end up a key win in the wide-open but tough Mid-Eastern Conference race; Bark-River Harris (2-0) is the reigning co-champion, but the Miners (1-1) are among additions from the old Great Western Conference.

Newberry 50, Munising 14 – The Indians (2-0) also beat Munising last season before tying with the Mustangs (0-2) for third in the Mid-Eastern standings; Newberry looks like a favorite this time.  

Norway 41, Felch North Dickinson 14 – The Knights (2-0) have equaled last fall’s win total as they seek a first winning season since 2010; North Dickinson is 1-1 and sees Munising next.

Lake Linden-Hubbell 38, L’Anse 14 – The Lakes (2-0) are another Mid-Eastern transplant from the old Great Western Conference, and they continued to gear up by beating a Hornets team (0-2) with three winning seasons over its last four.  

West Michigan

Lowell 21, Rockford 10

These Grand Rapids-area powers hadn’t faced each other since 2012, but Lowell (2-0) now owns wins in all three of their recent meetings. The Red Arrows came back this time from a three-point halftime deficit, which was especially impressive against a Rockford team chomping for a win after having to forfeit in Week 1 because an illness overtook a number of players. Lowell is a major favorite in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White but first must face rival East Grand Rapids this week, while Rockford (0-2) gets Mona Shores before a challenging O-K Red schedule begins. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted: 

Holland Christian 32, Ada Forest Hills Eastern 28 – The Maroons (1-1) got a nice boost as they seek their first winning season since 2009, handing a first regular-season loss since 2014 to reigning Division 4 semifinalist Forest Hills Eastern (1-1)

Muskegon Catholic Central 21, St. Ignace 6 – The Crusaders (2-0) are in midseason form defensively, giving up a combined 12 points over the last two weeks to opponents that averaged nearly 37 in 2015, including a Saints team (1-1) that put up 44 on opening night.

Zeeland West 32, Muskegon Mona Shores 28 – The first two wins have been close for the Dux (2-0, by a combined nine points, but extended a regular-season winning streak going back to Week 3 in 2013; this one ended a Mona Shores regular-season streak that had started in Week 3 of 2014.

Wyoming 38, Comstock Park 7 – The Wolves are 2-0 after going a combined 4-23 over the last three seasons and beat a Comstock Park team (1-1) coming off its sixth straight playoff berth. 


Powers North Central 60, Crystal Falls Forest Park 42

Reigning MHSAA champion North Central (2-0) earned the first of what could be multiple rounds this season with new 8-player force Forest Park, putting up 30 points during the third quarter to move to 15-0 since making the switch from 11-player. The Jets have scored 60 points in both of their games this season, but the Trojans (!-1) became only the second team over the last two seasons to come within 40 points of North Central, and the first to come within 20. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.

Also noted:

Cedarville 45, Posen 0 – These Trojans (2-0) split a pair of two-point games last season against Posen (1-1), but left no doubts this time.

Engadine 34, Onaway 12 – The Eagles have had a nice run in 8-player with five straight playoff appearances, and now are 2-0 for the first time since 2012 after handing Onaway (1-1) a first loss.

Lawrence 30, Morrice 18 – No team held Morrice (1-1) under 20 points last season, but the Tigers (2-0) have become known for defense while playing in this high-scoring format.

PHOTO: Okemos defenders stop an Ann Arbor Skyline ball carrier during the Chiefs' 30-6 win Thursday. (Photo by John Johnson.)

Inspired by Dad's Memory, Lawrence's Vasquez Emerges After Family Losses

By Pam Shebest
Special for

January 16, 2024

LAWRENCE — While COVID-19 affected many students in different ways, it definitely made an impact on Austin Vasquez.

Southwest CorridorAs a freshman at Lawrence High School during the pandemic, Vasquez lost his grandmother Theresa Phillips to cancer on March 25, 2021.

Two days later, on March 27, his father Tom Vasquez, died of complications from COVID. And on April 19 that spring, his grandfather Darrell “Gene” Phillips also lost his fight against the coronavirus.

“There is no way (to cope). You just have to keep on moving,” Austin said. “It’s what (my dad) would want me to do.

“He was my biggest (influence) in sports. He talked to me about never giving up – leave everything you’ve got.”

That is just what Vasquez is doing in the midst of his three-sport senior year.

He is the top wrestler at the school, competing at 175 pounds with a goal of making the MHSAA Tournament. He was a versatile contributor on the football field this past fall, and he’s planning to join the baseball team this spring.

Vasquez works on gaining the advantage in a match against Mendon. He’s 8-3 with six pins on the mat this winter after a busy summer of camps and tournaments. Those experiences helped lessen the nerves he’d felt during matches previously, and now he’s wrestling with an outlook of “everything to gain and nothing to lose.”

And Vasquez said he feels his dad’s presence as he prepares for competition.

“Before every match, before every game, I just think about what my dad would be telling me,” he said. “Everything he’s always told me has taught me to get better. 

“In life, I still remember everything he taught me. He was definitely a great man, and I want to be like him someday.”

Wrestling also has made Vasquez more in tune with his health.

His sophomore season he went from 230 pounds to 215, and by his junior year was down to his current 175.

“I just wanted to be healthier, not just for wrestling,” he said. “I started going to the gym every night, watched my calories, and from there grew (taller).

“Now I’m at 6-(foot-)2, and I don’t know how that happened,” he laughed.

Lawrence coach Henry Payne said Vasquez always has a positive attitude and helps the other wrestlers in the program.

“When he notices a kid next to him doing a move wrong, he’ll go over and show him the right way,” Payne said. “We have a lot of young kids that this is their first year, and he’s been a good coach’s helper.”

The coach’s helper gig will continue after graduation.

"Next year we’re hoping to open up a youth program here, and I got him and an alumni that graduated last year and is helping the varsity team this year (Conner Tangeman) to take over the youth program for us,” Payne said.

 From left: Lawrence wrestling coach Henry Payne, athletic director John Guillean and football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. On the football team, Vasquez was a jack of all trades.

“He started at guard, went to tight end, went to our wingback, went to our running back. He was trying to get the quarterback spot,” football coach Derek Gribler laughed.

Vasquez said there is no other feeling like being on the field, especially during home games.

“Wrestling is my main sport, but I’d do anything to go back and play football again,” he said. “I just love it.”

Although the football team struggled through a 1-8 season, “It was still a really fun season,” Vasquez said. “Everybody was super close. Most of us never really talked before, but we instantly became like a family.”

Vasquez had the support of his mother, Heather, and four older sisters: Makaylah, Briahna, Ahlexis and Maryah. He also found his school family helped him get through the end of his freshman year.

“(My friends) were always there for me when everything was going on,” he said. “I took that last month off school because it was too hard to be around people at that time.

"Every single one of them reached out and said, ‘Hey, I know you’re going through a rough time.’ It really helped to hear that and get out of the house.”

Vasquez also was a standout on the football field. The family connection between Vasquez and Lawrence athletic director John Guillean goes back to the senior’s youth.

“I was girls basketball coach, so I coached his sisters,” Guillean said. “I remember him when he was pretty young. I knew the family pretty well. I knew his dad. He was pretty supportive and was there for everything.”

Vasquez said that freshman year experience has made him appreciate every day, and he gives the following advice: “Every time you’re wrestling, it could be your last time on the mat or last time on the field. Treat every game and every match as if it’s going to be your last. If you’re committed to the sport, take every chance you have to help your team be successful.”

Gribler has known Vasquez since he was in seventh grade and, as also the school’s varsity baseball coach, will work with Vasquez one more time with the senior planning to add baseball as his spring sport.

“When we talk about Tiger Pride, Austin’s a kid that you can put his face right on the logo. His work ethic is just unbelievable,” Gribler said. “Everything he does is with a smile. He could be having the worst day of his life, and he’d still have a smile on his face. He pushes through. It’s tough to do and amazing to see.”

The coach – who also starred at Lawrence as an athlete – noted the small community’s ability to rally around Vasquez and his family. Lawrence has about 150 students in the high school.

“It goes beyond sports,” Gribler said. “Austin knows when he needs something he can always reach out and we’ll have his back, we’ll have his family’s back. It’s not so much about winning as it is about the kids.”

Vasquez is already looking ahead to life after high school. He attends morning courses at Van Buren Tech, studying welding, and returns to the high school for afternoon classes. 

“I’d like to either work on the pipeline as a pipeline welder or be a lineman,” he said, adding, “possibly college. I would like to wrestle in college, but let’s see how this year goes.

“I’m ready to get out, but it’s going to be hard to leave this all behind.”

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Lawrence senior Andrew Vasquez, right, wrestles against Hartford this season. (2) Vasquez works on gaining the advantage in a match against Mendon. (3) From left: Lawrence wrestling coach Henry Payne, athletic director John Guillean and football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. (4) Vasquez also was a standout on the football field. (Wrestling and football photos courtesy of the Lawrence athletic department. Headshots by Pam Shebest.)