Drive for Detroit: Week 2 in Review

September 5, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor 

We're only two weeks into this football season, and of course there has been plenty to talk about. 

But our 8-player football divisions experienced a season's worth of highlights over this Labor Day weekend. 

See below for Week 2's most significant results from every region of the state in 11-player football, but also check out the 8-player highlights – which include the first win ever for one team and the first loss in forever for another. 

Bay & Thumb

Bay City Central 22, Midland Dow 21 (OT)

After falling a score short in its opener against Frankenmuth, Bay City Central (1-1) blocked an extra point and then got the game-winner from kicker Austin Welter to beat Dow (1-1) for the first time since 2011 – and after falling to the Chargers both during the regular season and playoffs in 2016. Those two losses last year were by 20 and then 31 points, respectively. Click for more from the Bay City Times.

Also noted:

Algonac 28, Almont 7 – After opening with a big loss to Marine City, the Muskrats (1-1) got a needed bounce-back against another of the Port Huron area’s elite in Almont (1-1).

Freeland 34, Chesaning 25 – The Falcons (2-0) kept their regular-season winning streak intact at 23 straight against an Indians that team opened with a shutout but fell to 1-1.

Flint Powers Catholic 37, Saginaw Heritage 34 (2 OT) – Andrew Simon was another kicking hero as Powers (2-0) won a second straight close game and sent the Hawks to 1-1.

Lake Fenton 21, Montrose 0 – This Genesee Area Conference Red opener was a big one to get out of the way for the reigning champ Blue Devils (1-1), with Montrose (1-1) always in the league title mix as well. 

Greater Detroit

Bloomfield Hills 28, West Bloomfield 24

The “new” Bloomfield Hills burst on the scene with its first winning campaign in 2016, starting 9-0 before falling to West Bloomfield 31-14 in a Division 1 playoff opener. To finish off this avenging, however, the Black Hawks needed to drive nearly the entire field over the final two minutes. Bloomfield Hills now sits 2-0 with both wins by four points or fewer, while West Bloomfield fell to 0-2 with two losses by five points or fewer. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

Also noted:

Warren DeLaSalle 31, Grandville 0 – The Pilots (1-1) traveled to face a second straight Ottawa-Kent Conference reigning champion, landing a stunning defeat on last season’s Red co-leading Bulldogs (1-1) after falling to Lowell in Week 1.

Clarkston 17, Southfield Arts & Technology 7 – The Wolves (2-0) have given up 14 points total in two impressive wins, while Southfield A&T might be the best 0-2 team in Michigan after another close loss to a power.

Utica Eisenhower 42, Macomb Dakota 16 – Eisenhower (2-0) ran its streak in this rivalry to three straight after also ending last season for Dakota (1-1) in a District Final.

Gibraltar Carlson 42, Trenton 14 – A week after taking a giant step forward in the Downriver League race with a win over Allen Park, Trenton (1-1) fell for the second straight season to Carlson (2-0), which is coming off a 4-5 finish but won three of its final four games last fall. 


DeWitt 14, Grand Ledge 7

The combination of Grand Ledge’s sizable Week 1 win over Hudsonville, DeWitt’s loss to Grand Rapids Christian and the Comets’ victory in the first game of this quickly-building rivalry last fall makes the Panthers victory all the more impressive. DeWitt held Grand Ledge scoreless until late in the fourth quarter – and to its fewest points in a regular-season game since 2013. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

St. Johns 56, Cadillac 43 – The Redwings (1-1) especially on offense bounced back after scoring 20 in a one-point loss Week 1 to East Lansing; Cadillac (1-1) also put up its highest tally since midway through 2015.

Ionia 35, Hillsdale 14 – This could eventually come into play as Hillsdale (1-1) tries to get back to the playoffs after seeing its 15-year streak end last fall and Ionia (1-1) tries to get in for the first time since 2013.

Lansing Sexton 20, Portland 14 – This provided an exciting preview of Capital Area Activities Conference White matchups to come, as the Big Reds (2-0) are set to join annual favorite Portland (1-1) in that division next year.

Saranac 27, Fowler 21 – The Redskins are 2-0 for the first time since 2011 with a win over Fowler (1-1) also for the first time since that fall. 

Northern Lower Peninsula

Traverse City St. Francis 35, Maple City Glen Lake 9

St. Francis enjoyed the debut of Glen Lake’s new artificial turf field by handing the Lakers their sixth straight loss in this rivalry. The Gladiators (2-0) ran their regular-season winning streak to 24 after also beating Glen Lake 35-9 last fall. But Glen Lake would love to repeat history – in 2016 it rebounded and won 10 of its next 11 to reach the Division 6 championship game. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Also noted:

Rogers City 14, Indian River Inland Lakes 7 – Inland Lakes (1-1) got to celebrate last week its first win since 2015, but Rogers City (1-1) ended the fun with its first victory since Week 6 a year ago.

Alpena 27, Sault Ste. Marie 26 – The Wildcats (1-1) stopped a two-point conversion to get a win for the second straight season over the Blue Devils (1-1).

Gaylord St. Mary 28, Newberry 21 (OT) – The Snowbirds are off to a 2-0 start for the second straight season but this time with wins over two teams that made the playoffs the year before; Newberry is 1-1 coming off an 8-3 finish.

Petoskey 14, Escanaba 7 – The Northmen (1-1) got their first win, both equaling last year’s total and avenging last season’s 39-0 defeat to the Eskymos (1-1).

Southeast & Border

Milan 41, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 18

The Big Reds (1-1) didn’t enjoy a great start falling by 20 two weeks ago to Chelsea, but made up for it by avenging last season’s only regular-season loss. That 2016 10-point defeat to St. Mary cost Milan an outright Huron League championship, but this win broke a three-year losing streak against the Falcons (1-1). Click for more from the Monroe Evening News.

Also noted:

Parma Western 32, Battle Creek Pennfield 20 – The Panthers are enjoying their third 2-0 start in four seasons but also went 0-2 a year ago; the Panthers, a playoff team in 2016, now must battle back from a winless start.

Homer 52, Concord 12 – These two and Springport shared the Big 8 Conference title last season, but this big win by Homer (2-0) means Concord (0-2) will need to catch up quickly to stay in the mix.

Reading 34, Springport 7 – Staying in the Big 8, Reading made a statement to move to 1-1 after two straight 3-6 finishes, while Springport (1-1) also finds itself now a win back in its title defense.

Chelsea 10, Pinckney 7 – Chelsea (2-0) scored all of its points over the final few minutes to stun Pinckney (1-1) in the latter’s second game in the Southeastern Conference White. 

Southwest Corridor

Berrien Springs 27, Schoolcraft 14

Defense has been Berrien Springs’ strength in three straight playoff seasons, and the Shamrocks (2-0) earned one of their most impressive regular-season wins in some time by holding Schoolcraft (1-1) to its fewest points since Week 8 of 2014. The Eagles also hadn’t lost a regular-season game in more than two years. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.

Also noted:

Climax-Scotts 52, Sand Creek 21 – A week after seeing their 19-game regular-season winning streak end, the Panthers (1-1) started anew by handing a first loss to a Sand Creek team that went 9-2 a year ago.

Delton Kellogg 34, Lawton 21 – Despite starting 1-1, Delton has put up 72 points over two games, with 34 the second-most Lawton (0-2) has given up during the regular season since 2014.

Coldwater 28, Marshall 7 – After losing to Marshall (1-1) by 10 last year and losing out on a share of the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference title because of that defeat, Coldwater (2-0) has jumped the first obstacle a tough league road.

Richland Gull Lake 10, Portage Northern 9 – The Blue Devils (1-1) have won two games in each of the last two seasons, but now own their first of this fall over a 2016 playoff team in the Huskies (0-2). 

Upper Peninsula

L'Anse 32, Lake Linden-Hubbell 12

Lake Linden-Hubbell (1-1) hadn’t fallen during the regular season since 2014 and hadn’t lost to L’Anse since a 2013 District opener. But the Purple Hornets – 2-0 coming of a 2-7 run last fall – appear to have turned things around as they look to break a three-season playoff drought. Click for more from the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette.

Also noted:

Gwinn 30, Iron Mountain 24 – The Modeltowners (1-1) bounced back from a rough Week 1 defeat to Gladstone to quickly put Iron Mountain down 0-2 after the latter finished 8-3 a year ago.

Calumet 28, Negaunee 21 – This was a nonleague game but a great confidence builder for Calumet (2-0), which went 10-2 last season despite splitting with the Miners (0-2).

Norway 35, Ishpeming 22 – The Hematites (1-1) came out on a roll with a big Week 1 victory, but Norway (2-0) took that momentum away with a second straight win in the series.

Munising 20, St. Ignace 8 – The Mustangs (1-1) struggled to only two wins last season, but handed 2016 Division 8 semifinalist St. Ignace a rare early second loss. 

West Michigan

Lowell 14, Rockford 0

Lowell handed the Rams (1-1) their first shutout since Week 5 of 2014 and scored all the points it needed during the first half to extend its regular-season winning streak to 19. The Red Arrows (2-0) didn’t have a penalty or a turnover in holding an opponent scoreless for the first time since Week 5 of 2015. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Muskegon Catholic Central 31, Frankfort 6 – The Crusaders (1-0) won this rematch of last season’s Division 8 Regional Final by a nearly identical score and remains the only team to have beaten Frankfort (1-1) since 2015.

East Kentwood 21, Orchard Lake St. Mary's 0 – The Falcons (2-0) put themselves into the thick of O-K Red talk with a surprising shutout of the reigning Division 3 champion Eaglets (0-2).

Muskegon Mona Shores 42, Zeeland West 20 – The Sailors moved to 2-0 by avenging last season’s four-point loss to West (1-1), which hasn’t won its first two games for the first time since 2013.

Muskegon 28, Lincolnshire Stevenson (Ill.) 7 – Muskegon traveled to Illinois to avenge its only regular-season loss of 2016, a three-pointer to Stevenson on the way to finishing Division 3 runner-up.


Crystal Falls Forest Park 66, Powers North Central 58 (OT)

The Trojans (1-1) can argue they were the second-best 8-player team in the state last year, losing twice to North Central while giving the Jets their toughest games. Forest Park now also can boast that it handed North Central (1-1) its first 8-player loss, ending the Jets’ winning streak at 27 since making the switch in 2015. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

Also noted:

Deckerville 52, Lawrence 0 – The Eagles (2-0) have outscored their first two opponents by a combined 94-6, with this especially impressive against a Lawrence program that is 37-8 since moving to 8-player in 2013.

Atlanta 28, Fife Lake Forest Area 18 – Two weeks ago, Atlanta won its first game since 2014; on Thursday it moved to 2-0 for the first time since 1992 against a Forest Area team that is 1-1 but was 7-3 in 2016.

Rapid River 50, Eben Junction Superior Central 42 (2OT) – Combined with Forest Park’s win over North Central, Rapid River (2-0) looks like the team to beat in the Western Eight Conference after surviving Superior Central (0-2) and beating the Trojans in Week 1.  

Bear Lake 44, Baldwin 28 – The Lakers (1-1) earned their first win ever in handing Baldwin (1-1) its first loss since moving from 11-player before this season. 

PHOTO: A Newberry ball carrier is chased by Gaylord St. Mary defenders during the Snowbirds' overtime win Friday. (Photo by Jeff Rochefort.)

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.)