Drive for Detroit: Week 3 Preview

September 8, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

If Week 2 of the Michigan high school football season was loaded with matchups anticipated statewide, this week is just about the opposite – these games matter just as much, but it will likely take a few weeks to find out how they will impact the rest of this fall.

A pair of reigning MHSAA champions and a pair of neighbors who share a stadium are among highlighted matchups in this week’s Drive for Detroit preview, powered by MI Student Aid

But many of the other intriguing games feature teams off to quick starts for the first time in a while and still working to prove they’ll be in the mix at the end after showing that potential during the season's first two weeks.

Bay & Thumb

Lake Fenton (2-0) at Flint Beecher (2-0)

Although neither of these teams was among co-champions of the Genesee Area Conference Red last season, they’re annually among teams to beat in that league – and so far that looks to be the case again this fall. Beecher – which downed Lake Fenton 27-26 a year ago – has outscored its first two opponents by a combined 59-0. The Blue Devils’ early stretch has been tougher, but last week’s 18-14 win over 2015 playoff qualifier Olivet makes their start arguably more impressive as well.

Others that caught my eye: Ortonville Brandon (2-0) at Fenton (0-2), Detroit Loyola (1-1) at Marine City (0-2), Harbor Beach (1-1) at Reese (2-0), Croswell-Lexington (2-0) at Richmond (1-1).

Greater Detroit

Northville (2-0) at Walled Lake Western (2-0)

Last week’s 33-30 win over Canton gave Western 15 straight regular-season victories, and quarterback Cody White is one of the most discussed players across the state – he threw for 122 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 119 and two against the Chiefs. But Northville also was perfect during the regular season in 2015 and is coming off two similarly impressive wins over Dearborn and Brighton to kick off this fall.

Others that caught my eye: Southfield Arts & Technology (1-1) at Birmingham Groves (2-0), Dearborn Fordson (2-0) at Belleville (1-1), Detroit East English (1-1) at Detroit Central Collegiate (1-1), Oxford (1-1) at Clarkston (1-1).


Fowlerville (2-0) at Portland (2-0)

Most seasons, Williamston/Lansing Catholic would be the game to see, or one of them, in the Capital Area Activities Conference White. But Fowlerville’s best start since 2009 is providing a spark of anticipation for a program that won a lot during the 1990s and 2000s – and quarterback Nick Semke (166 yards/4 TDs rushing, 201 yards/2 TDs passing) is another reason to be interested. All of that said, Portland is coming off a 40-0 win over annual playoff team Hillsdale and riding its typical tough running attack, led by one of the Lansing area’s best in Logan Lefke.

Others that caught my eye: Williamston (1-1) at Lansing Catholic (2-0), Lake Odessa Lakewood (2-0) at Perry (1-1), Mason (2-0) at St. Johns (0-2), Laingsburg (2-0) at Dansville (1-1).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Traverse City West (2-0) vs. Traverse City Central (2-0) at Thirlby Field

These rivals will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the split of old Traverse City High with a Patriot Game (see story on Second Half) and one of the most anticipated matchups in this rivalry since it began in 1997. West is off to its first 2-0 start since 2004, having stunned Midland on opening night by 28 points and come back with another 28-point win over Grand Haven. Central, which has beaten West in two straight, didn’t lose a regular-season game last season and outscored Bay City Western and Marquette by a combined 86-20 over the first two weeks.

Others that caught my eye: Cheboygan (1-1) at Boyne City (0-2), Rogers City (1-1) at Lincoln Alcona (1-1), Oscoda (1-1) at Whittemore-Prescott (2-0, East Jordan (2-0) at Central Lake (1-1).

Southeast & Border

Adrian Madison (2-0) at Clinton (2-0)

Reigning Division 6 runner-up Clinton is a powerhouse, with a combined record of 45-4 over the last four seasons and two comfortable wins this fall to extend its regular-season winning streak to 38. But Madison has earned the opportunity to hope; the Trojans gave Clinton arguably the latter’s best regular-season game last season before falling 37-21 and are off to their first 2-0 start since 2013. Madison hasn’t made the playoffs since 2009, and not finished above .500 since that fall, but starts the Tri-County Conference schedule having reversed a one-point 2015 loss to Onsted with a one-point win last week.

Others that caught my eye: Brooklyn Columbia Central (2-0) at Hudson (2-0), Hillsdale (1-1) at Dundee (1-1), East Lansing (1-1) at Jackson (1-1), Grosse Ile (2-0) at New Boston Huron (2-0).

Southwest Corridor

Stevensville Lakeshore (2-0) at Portage Central (2-0)

The narrative here hasn’t changed much over the last few seasons; one of these two has won the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West championship every year over the last four. Portage Central beat Lakeshore 7-6 last season and has won 16 of its last 17 regular-season games since losing to the Lancers by three in 2014. Both have romped to start this fall, Central outscoring its opponents 77-8 and Lakeshore 82-34.

Others that caught my eye: Jackson Lumen Christi (1-1) at Battle Creek Harper Creek (2-0), Portage Northern (1-1) at St. Joseph (2-0), Dowagiac (1-1) at Three Rivers (1-1), Kalamazoo Central (0-2) at Kalamazoo Loy Norrix (0-2).

Upper Peninsula

Bark River-Harris (2-0) at Newberry (2-0)

Bark River-Harris has enjoyed a rejuvenation going a combined 16-6 over the last two seasons and sharing the Mid-Eastern Conference title in 2015. Is Newberry next to make a jump? The Indians have been building with two playoffs appearances after a series of sub.-500 seasons and opened this fall with 30+ point wins over Harbor Springs and Munising. Either way, this should be entertaining – the teams scored 90 points between them as the Broncos won 56-34 last year.

Others that caught my eye: Iron Mountain (2-0) at Iron River West Iron County (1-1), Gaylord (1-1) at Escanaba (2-0), Johannesburg-Lewiston (1-1) at St. Ignace (1-1), Gladstone (1-1) at Negaunee (2-0).

West Michigan

Zeeland West (2-0) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (2-0)

It’s a rare treat when two reigning MHSAA champions match up, and there will be plenty of star power when reigning Division 4 winner Zeeland West faces the returning Division 5 champion Falcons. It’s been new coach, same story for West Catholic, which opened by avenging last year’s loss to Jackson Lumen Christi and has won 13 straight. Zeeland West has won 40 of its last 41 games and started this fall beating a pair that went a combined 16-5 a year ago.

Others that caught my eye: Hudsonville (2-0) at East Kentwood (2-0), Lowell (2-0) at East Grand Rapids (1-1), Grand Rapids Christian (2-0) at Wyoming (2-0), Muskegon Mona Shores (1-1) at Rockford (0-2).


Waldron (2-0) at Portland St. Patrick (2-0) on Saturday

The Spartans posted their best finish, 8-2, as an 8-player team last fall after breaking a four-game losing streak to the Shamrocks with a 32-24 victory in Week 3. The offense that put up 46 points per game in 2015 is still rolling and scored 90 over the last two weeks. But St. Patrick has put up a combined 104 points in its first two games and no doubt has been circling this one as it looks to return to MHSAA title contention.

Others that caught my eye: Rapid River (1-1) at Webberville (2-0), Engadine (2-0) at Pickford (2-0).

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews 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: A Hudsonville receiver pulls in a catch and begins to break away from Holt defenders during the Eagles’ Week 2 victory. (Photo by Jeremy Sampson.)

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.)