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.)

Jones' Motto Inspires 'Get To' Foundation's Work to Provide Opportunities

By Tom Kendra
Special for

October 4, 2023

Ben Jones always had the same, simple message, even if it was 100 degrees and sunny or 35 degrees and raining sideways, and whether he was playing for a powerhouse like Muskegon Catholic Central or coaching a program trying to establish itself at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood.

West Michigan“We get to play football today,” Jones would say, as many of those around him were complaining and grumbling.

It was never “have to” for Jones, but always “get to.”

Jones, who was about to start his second year as head coach at Cranbrook, had his life tragically cut short by a drunk driver who crashed into his vehicle as he was traveling home from work in Detroit on Aug. 19, 2020. He was just 30 years old.

While Jones is gone, leaving a hole as large and painful as the 6-foot-2, 260-pound frame he carried as a tight end in his senior year at Hillsdale College, that “Get To” mentality is alive and well, and thriving and growing – thanks in large part to the efforts of his football teammates from Muskegon Catholic and later at Hillsdale.

The Get To Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was formed in Jones’ honor and has grown exponentially in less than three years, providing grants to sports organizations and scholarships to student-athletes.

“There is a core group of about 10 of them that have worked on (the foundation), and it’s been amazing,” said Theresa Jones, Ben’s mother, who with her husband Bruce has worked with the foundation. “It started small, and then it caught fire.”

The president of the foundation is Tim Hornak, Jones’ best friend and teammate in the trenches at both Muskegon Catholic and Hillsdale. Hornak returned to deliver a pre-game speech before the Crusaders’ home game on Sept. 15 against Kalamazoo United, where he talked about the man who is the inspiration behind the rapidly-growing Get To movement.

“You don’t have to, you get to – that simple difference can change your lives,” said Hornak, who teamed with Jones when both were seniors to help the Crusaders to a 14-0 record and the Division 8 championship in 2008. “You get to play football tonight and continue the tradition that started here in the 1950s.

“You get a chance to line up and play a great game with your best friends.”

Inspired by Hornak’s words and Jones’ legacy, the Crusaders downed Kalamazoo United 27-7 that night, the team’s second-straight win after an 0-2 start, which put them back in the Division 8 playoff picture.

Jones works with his linemen during his first year as head coach at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood in 2019. A tailgate party was held before the game as a fundraiser for the Get To Foundation, and it happened to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the Crusaders’ 2008 championship team – arguably one of the best teams in the school’s storied history. MCC has won 12 state championships, trailing only Farmington Hills Harrison in state playoff history.

The phrase “get to,” according to Hornak, goes back to the whiteboard in the MCC locker room his sophomore year and perfectly captures Jones’ approach to life and to football, whether his team was unbeaten like at MCC or struggling like the Chargers did just after he and Hornak graduated.

Jones, who wore No. 62 at MCC, was a two-way starting lineman who also played on the Crusaders’ 2006 championship team as a sophomore. His best friends on the team were the Hornak twins, Tim and Jon, whose father Mike was an assistant coach.

After his funeral service on Aug. 24, 2020, Jones’ hearse made a stop at MCC’s Kehren Stadium on the way to the cemetery, taking a lap on the track around Mike Holmes Field.

He went on to play on three teams which won or shared Great Lakes Interscholastic Athletic Conference titles at Hillsdale, where he wore No. 91 and played tight end and H-back.

“He had an inner self-confidence that you could tell right away when talking to him,” said Hillsdale coach Keith Otterbein. “He was very positive. He encouraged his teammates.”

Jones graduated from Hillsdale in 2013 with a degree in financial management and a minor in mathematics, moved to Royal Oak and took a job as a portfolio manager and financial planner at Schwartz & Co. Investment Advisors.

In his free time, he worked as an assistant varsity football coach at Cranbrook from 2015 to 2018, before being elevated to head coach in 2019 at the age of 28.

One of his first actions as head coach was getting Cranbrook football T-shirts printed with the message “Get To” on the back. Jones guided the Cranes to a 6-4 record and a Division 4 playoff berth in what would prove to be his only season as head coach.

A plaque honoring Jones has been placed in the tunnel leading from the home locker room to the football field at Hillsdale College.He died nine days before Cranbrook’s scheduled season opener in 2020, which ended up being delayed six weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the immediate aftermath of Jones’ shocking death, the Hornak brothers and other former teammates vowed to do something to honor Ben and to help out his family. Out of that mission, the Get To Foundation was born.

Get To has awarded scholarships for the past three years. In 2023 alone, the foundation awarded $16,000 in scholarships to 22 student-athletes from around the state.

In addition, Get To has awarded $55,000 in grants to 17 organizations – including $3,000 to the Eaton Rapids High School football program for new shoulder pads and helmets and $2,500 to the Detroit Tigers Foundation’s Gloves for Kids program.

The next event on the foundation’s busy calendar is a speech by best-selling motivational author Jon Gordon at Lawrence Tech University on Oct. 17.

The foundation’s board has trademarked the phrase “Get To” and hopes to continue to grow the organization’s size and scope – in a way mirroring how big and impactful Ben’s life could have been if it wasn’t cut short.

For more information or to make a donation, go to the organization’s website at

The relentless efforts of Ben’s ex-teammates to keep his memory alive means the world to his parents, as well as his two younger siblings – Alissa, a standout swimmer at Hillsdale who is now the school’s assistant women’s swimming coach; and Nate, who also played football for the Chargers and is now a foreign currency trader for Barclay’s, based in New York City.

Theresa Jones said coming together with all of Ben’s closest friends for Get To Foundation events has been a continuous blessing for the family.

“Every time we have an event for the foundation, it’s all of Ben’s friends and family members dressed up and having a good time,” his mother said. “It always feels like Ben’s wedding reception that he never got to have.”

Tom KendraTom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Ben Jones is shown before the 2008 Division 8 championship game at Ford Field during his senior year at Muskegon Catholic Central. The Crusaders defeated Crystal Falls Forest Park, 40-0. (Middle) Jones works with his linemen during his first year as head coach at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood in 2019. (Below) A plaque honoring Jones has been placed in the tunnel leading from the home locker room to the football field at Hillsdale College. (Top photo by Tim Reilly. Additional photos courtesy of the Get To Foundation.)