Drive for Detroit: Week 2 in Review

September 4, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The east side of the Lower Peninsula enjoyed a rematch of last season’s Division 1 championship game. The west enjoyed a matchup of arguably the two best teams in all the state this fall.

In between, Week 2 of Michigan’s high school football season included at least three headline-grabbing upsets, a memorable last-second score, and the end of a losing streak stretching more than four years.

Muskegon and Clarkston had a lot to celebrate over the long weekend, but so did Saline, Lansing Catholic and Harbor Springs – not to mention rejuvenated Battle Creek Central and Detroit Cass Tech, coming off a play that surely will be remembered in that program’s storied history. 

And let’s give special shoutouts to Dexter – which ended a 42-game losing streak with a 36-22 win over Ypsilanti Community – and Spring Lake, which moved to 2-0 with a win over rival Fruitport after going winless for 2017.

Many more of last week’s storylines are covered below in our Drive for Detroit review, powered by MI Student Aid.

Bay & Thumb

HEADLINER: Flint Carman-Ainsworth 21, Midland 7 The reigning champions in the Saginaw Valley League Blue and Red, respectively, are off to opposite starts. Carman-Ainsworth is 2-0 heading into the start of league play this week, while Midland is a deceptive 0-2 after now falling to two 2017 playoff teams. Click for more from the Flint Journal and see below for highlights from State Champs Sports Network.

Also of note: Saginaw Swan Valley 56, Frankenmuth 20 The Vikings (2-0) were runners-up in Division 5 last season and Frankenmuth (1-1) was a semifinalist coming through opposite sides of the bracket. We could see how much changes over two months if they meet again this playoffs.

Remember this one: Richmond 24, Algonac 21 Last year it was Algonac winning this matchup to clinch the Blue Water Area Conference title in Week 8. This time the Blue Devils (1-1) have an edge on the Muskrats (0-2) but with the rest of the league schedule left to play.  

More shoutouts: Marlette 20, Harbor Beach 14 (OT) The Raiders (1-1) broke a seven-game losing streak against the Pirates (1-1), last season’s Greater Thumb Conference East champ. Swartz Creek 16, Flushing 13 The Dragons are 2-0 for the first time since 2012 after winning three games total last season and losing to Flushing (1-1; 9-3 in 2017) last year 53-12.

Greater Detroit

HEADLINER: Clarkston 28, West Bloomfield 25 This rematch of last season’s Division 1 championship game saw many more than five points score (Clarkston won that Finals meeting 3-2). The Wolves (2-0) held off West Bloomfield (1-1) multiple times at the end to secure its second-straight three-point win to open the season and an important first step in the Oakland Activities Association Red race – West Bloomfield won the league meeting a year ago. Click for more from MLive-Detroit.

Also of note: Detroit Cass Tech 21, Lakewood St. Edward (Ohio) 20 The Technicians (2-0) got past Ohio power St. Edward scoring all 21 of their points over the final five minutes and the winning touchdown on a 60-yard toss into the end zone on the game’s final play.

Remember this one: Oak Park 13, Birmingham Groves 7 These two and Farmington Hills Harrison shared the Oakland Activities Association White title last season. Oak Park (2-0) faces Harrison this week and Groves (0-2) is hoping to get into the mix after opening with close losses to the Knights and West Bloomfield.

Other shoutouts: Sterling Heights Parkway Christian 20, Waterford Our Lady 13 Parkway is now 2-0 by avenging two big 2017 losses, this one after falling to Our Lady (1-1) by 29 last season. Birmingham Brother Rice 13, Mishawaka Penn (Ind.) 7 The Warriors (2-0) appear back after a big Week 1 win over U-D Jesuit and this avenging of last year’s 38-0 loss to Indiana power Penn.


HEADLINER: Lansing Catholic 15, Grand Rapids West Catholic 14 This might have made the loudest boom of the weekend statewide as the Cougars (2-0) edged the reigning five-time Division 5 champion. Quarterback Josh Kramer ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns and also for the winning two-point conversion. West Catholic fell to 0-2 after also losing Week 1 to reigning Division 6 champion Jackson Lumen Christi. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal and see highlights below from WZZM.

Also of note: Haslett 20, Lansing Sexton 6 The Vikings moved to 2-0 with their second win over a 2017 playoff team – Sexton (0-2) coming off an 8-4 finish – and Haslett has outscored its first two opponents by a combined 48-13.  

Remember this one: Harrison 38, Houghton Lake 34 Half the Jack Pine Conference made the playoffs in 2017, including these third and fourth-place finishers, respectively, and the result this time could come into play if either challenges for the league title. Both are 1-1 overall.

Other shoutouts: Dansville 33, Laingsburg 0 The Aggies (1-1) bounced back from a tough Week 1 loss to Leslie to earn a nice win over a Laingsburg program that is 0-2 but won eight games each of the last three seasons. East Lansing 20, Dearborn Divine Child 10 The Trojans are looking especially tough defensively as they too are 2-0 for the first time since 2012 and after losing to Divine Child (0-2) a year ago.

Northern Lower Peninsula

HEADLINER: Harbor Springs 14, Frankfort 7 Frankfort was 28-7 over the last three seasons, so this is impressive for more than adding to Harbor Springs’ first 2-0 start since 2013. The Rams also are working to bounce back from last season’s 4-5 finish. Frankfort fell to 1-1 after opening with a win over Newberry. Click for more from the Petoskey News-Review.

Also of note: Rogers City 24, Tawas 8 The Hurons (2-0) equaled their win total for all of 2017, holding a Tawas team that scored 48 against Lincoln Alcona in a Week 1 win to only eight points.

Remember this one: Traverse City St. Francis 50, Maple City Glen Lake 12 This is the third straight season St. Francis has beaten Marquette and Glen Lake (0-2) to start, but a combined 92-15 scoring edge easily is the widest over the recent series.

More shoutouts: Kingsley 43, West Branch Ogemaw Heights 0 The Stags have welcomed back coach Tim Wooer with a 2-0 start after winning one game all of last season. Benzie Central 33, Kalkaska 0 The Huskies couldn’t finish 2016 and won one game last fall – but their 2-0 start equals their number of wins from the past four seasons combined.

Southeast & Border

HEADLINER: Saline 17, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 7 The Hornets broke the two-time reigning Division 4 champion’s 21-game winning streak, handing GRCC (1-1) its first defeat since Week 8 of 2016. Saline locked down the Cougars’ running game and scored the final 17 points to improve to 1-1 as well. Click for more from the Saline Post.

Also of note: Sand Creek 27, Climax-Scotts 16 The Aggies (1-1) are trying to bounce back from last season’s 4-5 finish, and avenging a 31-point loss to Climax-Scotts (1-1) certainly helps.

Remember this one: Napoleon 35, Addison 20 These were two of three co-champions last season in the Cascades Conference, but now Addison (1-1) must catch up quickly with the third title winner Michigan Center up next and Napoleon (1-1) not seeing Michigan Center until Week 8.

More shoutouts: Milan 26, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 21 These two frequently have decided the Huron League title, and Milan (2-0) surely is hoping that turns out the case again. St. Mary fell to 1-1 having played two 2017 playoff teams to open. Pittsford 10, Petersburg Summerfield 0 The Wildcats (2-0) have yet to give up a point this season and avenged a 12-point loss to the Bulldogs (1-1) from a year ago.

Southwest Corridor

HEADLINER: Battle Creek Central 34, Richland Gull Lake 33 The Bearcats may be back. Battle Creek Central pulled off a second straight win by seven or fewer points to reach 2-0 for the first time since 2005. Battle Creek Central finished 3-6 both of the last two seasons and last made the playoffs in 2008. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Also of note: Three Oaks River Valley 32, Galesburg-Augusta 24 River Valley had won a combined two games over the last four seasons but is 2-0 for the first time since 2006 and guaranteed to equal its best record since 2002.

Remember this one: Kalamazoo Central 30, Portage Central 14 The Maroon Giants (1-1) this fall are seeking their first playoff berth since 2004 and had lost to annual playoff qualifier Portage Central (1-1) by 22 and 10 the last two seasons.

More shoutouts: Springport 22, Union City 20 The Spartans (2-0) launched their Big 8 Conference schedule by avenging last season’s 26-point loss to the Chargers (1-1). Marshall 28, Battle Creek Harper Creek 27 After falling in overtime in its opener, Marshall (1-1) edged Harper Creek – which has lost its two games by a combined three points. 

Upper Peninsula

HEADLINER: Ishpeming Westwood 34, Iron Mountain 7 The Patriots have kept churning after last season’s record nine-win finish, adding this victory for a 2-0 start during which they’ve outscored those opponents by a combined 76-7. Iron Mountain (1-1) opened with a solid win over Negaunee and will work to still figure into the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference “large school” race. Click for more from the Marquette Mining Journal and see below for a highlight from ABC10.

Also of note: Escanaba 15, Petoskey 14 The Eskymos (1-1) took an opening night loss to Alpena and needed every last point against this Big North Conference opponent in a game that could prove important to Escanaba’s eventual playoff hopes.

Remember this one: St. Ignace 38, Newberry 30 The Saints (1-1) played through an uncharacteristic one-win season a year ago and then fell on opening day last month, but avenging a 37-point loss to Newberry (0-2) from last  year is a significant step in a better direction.

More shoutouts: Calumet 30, Negaunee 8 The Copper Kings (2-0) have outscored their first two opponents by a combined 78-14 to set up one of the U.P.’s best matchups this week against Westwood. Ishpeming 38, Lake Linden-Hubbell 12 The Hematites (2-0) have begun a bounce-back from a tough end to last fall with a pair of wins by a combined 90-12 score.

West Michigan

HEADLINER: Muskegon 24, Detroit Martin Luther King 21 This was everything expected and more from a matchup of two of the absolute top teams in the state, regardless of division. The Big Reds (2-0) took their final lead late to cement the victory and add to a 16-game winning streak and 18-game regular-season winning streak. The Crusaders (1-1) haven’t won fewer than 11 games since 2014 and are expected to make a double-digit run again. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Also of note: Holland West Ottawa 42, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 41 (2OT) The Panthers moved to 2-0 with a second straight impressive win and after falling by three to the Rangers (1-1) a year ago.

Remember this one: Rockford 36, Lowell 0 The Rams (1-1) had lost all four of their games this decade to the Red Arrows (0-2), but got a dboost that should pay off later as they seek to make the playoffs for the 24th straight season.  

More shoutouts: Grand Haven 13, Traverse City West 10 The Titans (1-1) had won the last two meetings between these teams by 27 and 28 points, and Grand Haven (2-0) won only one game all of last season. Saugatuck 49, Watervliet 42 This was expected to be high-scoring and also delivered thanks in part to Brad Dunn’s 316 yards and five touchdowns rushing for the Indians (2-0), who handed Watervliet (1-1) its first regular-season loss since Week 6 of 2016.


HEADLINER: Morrice 34, Deckerville 14 Twice in the last three seasons these two also have met in the playoffs, so this might not be the final chapter of this fall. Both times Morrice (2-0) won the regular-season meetings and Deckerville (1-1) won in the playoffs – including 38-0 in last season’s Regional Final – so the Orioles won’t rest much despite an impressive victory. Click for more from the Owosso Argus-Press.

Also of note: Pickford 52, Engadine 7 The Panthers (2-0) won big in the latest installment of what’s become a nice rivalry with Engadine (1-1), especially since both are now in the Great Lakes Conference East beginning this fall.

Remember this one: Suttons Bay 45, Bellaire 6 Both teams made the playoffs last season, previously playing in different leagues, but the Norsemen have opened with a 107-6 combined score over two games as they look to challenge in the Midwest Central Conference West both now share.  

More shoutouts: Colon 45, Bellevue 20 The Magi (2-0) won just two games all of last season, but got a big one off Bellevue (1-1), which won 10 in 2017. Onekama 53 Central Lake 6 The Portagers (2-0) sent the reigning 8-player Division 1 champion Trojans to 0-2 by avenging last season’s 14-point defeat.

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid. 

PHOTO: Lake Linden-Hubbell's Kyle Simpson (52) and Cole Gregiore (20) try to stop Ishpeming's Hunter Smith. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)

Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

May 26, 2023

Mendon’s run to the Division 2 Final last fall included some of the strongest rushing performances over the history of 8-player football.

The Hornets ran for 4,317 yards, second-most all-time, on the second-most attempts (520) and with a record-setting 682 yards Oct. 14 against Marcellus. Mendon also set the record for total offense with 692 total in that game, and made the single-season touchdowns list with 76 including 66 rushing (also second on that list).

Junior Jack McCaw made the single-season scoring list with 212 points, most coming on 29 touchdowns, and Evan Lukeman made the single-game rushing list with 401 yards against Marcellus. Mendon’s defense also earned praise, twice making the fewest-first-downs-allowed list with a low of three.

See below for more recent additions to the 8-player portion of the football record book:

8-Player Football

Athens’ Landon Bennett earned a pair of record book entries after reaching the end zone seven times during his team’s 72-0 win over Burr Oak on Sept. 8. His seven scores are tied for third-most in 8-player history and included three rushing, three on punt returns and one on an interception return. The three punt return touchdowns are a record. Bennett is a junior.

On the night Powers North Central broke its 8-player record for consecutive wins, claiming its 28th straight, senior Luke Gorzinski tied Jets great Jason Whitens for the record for interception touchdowns in a game with two, scoring on returns during the second and fourth quarters. Gorzinski has signed with Michigan Tech, and North Central’s winning streak is 37 games and counting.

A pair of Atlanta offensive playmakers and a top defensive lineman earned a total of seven entries in the record book for achievements last fall. Senior quarterback Tyler Currie threw for 30 touchdowns over eight games, and also made the records for six touchdowns and 419 passing yards against Whittemore-Prescott on Sept. 23; the passing yards are second-most for one 8-player game. Sophomore Landon Galea was added for 263 yards and five of those touchdowns against the Cardinals, and also for 1,418 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns over nine games. Junior teammate Tucker Kendrick made the tackles for loss list with five against Hillman on Oct. 6.

Adrian Lenawee Christian senior Brady McKelvey became the first to make the career extra points list in 8-player football this past fall. He bettered his previous single-season record making 64 of 66 extra-point attempts over 11 games and finishing his two-year varsity career with 123 extra points in 127 tries.

Sam McKissack reached the record book showcasing multiple skills for Crystal Falls Forest Park during the 2021 season – twice for rushing attempts in a game including with a record 59 against Ontonagon that Sept. 10, and then with a record 70-yard punt Oct. 30, 2021, against Lake Linden-Hubbell. Teammate Devon Basirico also made the record book with six fumble recoveries over 11 games that season. As a team, Forest Park was added twice for single-game rushing attempts – including 73 total in that Ontonagon game – and for 424 rushes over 11 games for the season. McKissack and Basirico are seniors this spring.

Nikolaus Lewis tied for eighth-most rushing touchdowns in an 8-player game when he reached the end zone six times for Carsonville-Port Sanilac in its win over Caseville on Oct. 7. He’s a senior this spring.

Bridgman has won 24 straight games over the last three seasons, and an exceptional offense – and exceptional offensive star – have played major roles. The Bees were added for 658 total yards in a win over Lawrence last season, that total ranking third all-time, and also 613 yards in a win over Eau Claire. Those included totals of 575 and 547 rushing yards, respectively, and Bridgman was added for 3,598 rushing yards (sixth on the list), 59 rushing touchdowns (fourth) and 76 total touchdowns (seventh). Senior Reid Haskins capped his four-year, 32-game varsity career with 13 record book entries, including for 254 points last season over nine games (tied for fifth all-time) and a record 620 career points, 41 touchdowns last season (fifth) and a record 95 for his career, 2,344 rushing yards last season (third) and a record 5,206 for his career, and 41 rushing touchdowns last season (third) and a record 94 for his career. Senior teammate Tanner Peters made the records three times including for 50 extra points last season (fourth) and 99 over 26 games and three seasons (second on the career list).

Mio's Austin Fox rewrote the 8-player passing record book this past fall, with his 621 yards in a game against Whittemore-Prescott setting a single-game record as he totaled four of the five-highest passing yardage totals. He also set a record with 3,516 over nine games for the season, another record with 289 passing attempts over those nine games and a third record for nine touchdown passes in that game against the Cardinals. His 41 touchdown passes total rank fourth. Teammates Gage Long and Nathan Hurst also earned several record book entries on the receiving end of those passes. Long’s 297 receiving yards against Whittemore-Prescott were tied for third most, and Hurst’s 266 against Alcona rank eighth. Long set a single-season record with 1,739 receiving yards, with Hurst sixth all-time at 1,321, and Long’s 14 receptions against the Cardinals and 70 for the season also rank second on those respective lists. Hurst set a record for longest 8-player kickoff return with a 99-yarder against St. Helen Charlton Heston. All three are seniors.

Peck was one of the first MHSAA 8-player champions, claiming the title in 2013, and Cody Abrego one of the state’s first 8-player stars. The Pirates were added to the MHSAA record book 52 times, and Abrego 14 times individually. Among the most notable entries for the 2015 graduate were for 462 points scored over his two-season career (ranking sixth all-time), 74 career touchdowns (sixth), 2,202 rushing yards in 2013 (fifth) and 35 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (sixth). Current senior Caleb Lentner was one of the stars statewide this past season, and he was added eight times including for 50 points scored in a game (ranking second), 272 points for a season last fall (fifth), eight touchdowns in a game (tied for second), 42 touchdowns in a season (fifth), an 8-player record of 2,694 rushing yards from last season, and 38 rushing touchdowns also last fall (fourth). Others to make the individual lists were Nathan Robar, Caleb Dudley, Steven VanConant, Kyle Abrego and Nathan Neihaus, Dudley for a record 20 career interceptions over two seasons and VanConant for a record 12 tackles for loss in a 2022 game and 36 tackles for loss for the season last fall. The Pirates also are all over the 8-player team record book, including for a record 97 touchdowns in 2013, a record 5,895 yards of total offense that season, 528 carries, 4,346 rushing yards and 73 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (all ranking second); and 24 interceptions in 2014, which ranks second on that list.

Senior quarterback JR Hildebrand was one of the most dynamic players in 8-player football in the fall in leading Martin to the Division 1 title. He had one of his most exciting nights in a playoff opener against Tekonsha, making the single-game touchdown pass list with six in a 68-6 victory.

PHOTO Mendon’s Jack McCaw (21) eludes a tackle during the 8-Player Division 2 Final in November at Northern Michigan University. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)