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.)

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.)