By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Mid-September is not the logical time to announce a league championship has been decided.
But this season, games played during Week 3 eventually may determine at least nine league championships.
A number of results could've been considered the most intriguing – and we've tried to hit all of the possibilities in this week's Drive for Detroit report.
Muskegon 21, Rockford 9
The Big Reds are rivaling Detroit Cass Tech as the most impressive team in the state so far after motoring past Rockford on the legs of a 400-21 rushing yards advantage. Muskegon (3-0) now owns wins over Rockford, Orchard Lake St. Mary and Ohio power Sylvania Southview. The Rams face a 1-2 start for the first time since 1999. But rest assured, Ram Nation: the last time Rockford opened 1-2, it still made the Division 1 Semifinals. Click to read more from the Muskegon Chronicle.
Holland West Ottawa 24, East Grand Rapids 17 – These teams met for the first time since 1983; West Ottawa beat the Pioneers for the first time since 1980.
Muskegon Oakridge 35, Montague 7 – After two straight one-point games between these two, Oakridge won big to take the upper hand in the West Michigan Conference.
Zeeland East 15, Hudsonville 14 – East is off to a 3-0 start again, but the Eagles are 1-2 with those losses by a combined four points.
Grand Rapids South Christian 42, Grand Rapids West Catholic 7 – Beating this 2011 Division 5 Semifinalist, plus losing to Grand Rapids Christian by only 10 in Week 1, makes the Sailors look lined up to challenge Grand Rapids Catholic Central in the O-K Gold.
Pinckney 36, Brighton 14
The Pirates had lost 18 straight to Brighton. In fact, they hadn’t beaten the Bulldogs since 1977 before scoring 29 unanswered points Friday in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West opener. Pinckney is 2-1, just a win off last season’s total and halfway to their best season since 2001. Brighton fell to 1-2. Click to read more from the Livingston Daily.
Alma 14, Freeland 6 – The Panthers opened the Tri-Valley Conference Central season by avenging a loss that kept them from winning a share of the title in 2011.
Grand Ledge 35, Lansing Sexton 8 – The Comets scored more than 30 points for the third straight week and look good to cruise into an Oct. 5 showdown with Lansing Everett that could decide the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title.
Portland St. Patrick 58, Burr Oak 14 – The Shamrocks appear to have struck gold with the 8-player format, averaging nearly 61 points per game during a 3-0 start.
Owosso 25, Haslett 22 – This was arguably Owosso’s most impressive win since 2006 and will help as the Trojans go for a first playoff berth since 2001.
Oxford 34, Farmington Hills Harrison 31 (2 OT)
The Wildcats had lost by an average of 31 points to the Hawks over the last two seasons, their first together in the Oakland Activities Association White. But Oxford (2-1) broke Harrison’s 21-game regular-season winning streak in what has to be considered an upset although both teams made the playoffs in 2011. The Wildcats also beat a 2011 playoff team, North Farmington, in Week 2. Click to read more from NorthOaklandSports.com.
Livonia Churchill 35, Plymouth 31 – Churchill had lost its first four matchups with Plymouth since the start of the KLAA, including 41-0 in 2011.
Warren DeLaSalle 40, Dearborn Fordson 19 – After a loss to one of the best in Ohio, Cleveland St. Ignatius, the Pilots bounced back for a solid win heading into the Catholic League season.
Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 21, Utica Eisenhower 7 – The Big Reds avenged a 45-0 shutout from last season to get to 2-1 and only a win shy of last season’s victory total.
Oak Park 34, Rochester Adams 22 – The Knights are 3-0 and equaled last season’s win total; combine this with an opening-weekend win over Detroit East English, and Oak Park is looking good to make some noise in the OAA White.
Thumb and Bay
Frankenmuth 12, Millington 8
The Eagles (3-0) had lost four straight to their rival, and appeared in trouble of making it five after giving up a safety in the fourth quarter. But Frankenmuth recovered an onside kick and scored, and with the win earned an an early upper hand in the Tri-Valley Conference East. Millington fell to 2-1. Click to read more from the Saginaw News.
Capac 12, Almont 7 – The Chiefs avenged a 28-0 loss from 2011 and gained what could be a significant step toward its playoff hopes.
Peck 44, Carsonville-Port Sanilac 13 – The Pirates downed the reigning MHSAA 8-player champion to move to 3-0.
Midland Dow 27, Saginaw 16 – Dow avenged last season’s 18-13 loss and moved to 2-0 in the tough Saginaw Valley Association North.
Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 28, Merrill 14 – The Cardinals needed this one to keep pace in a league that sent five of eight teams, including both of these squads, to the playoffs last season.
Southwest and Border
Schoolcraft 21, Olivet 20
Schoolcraft knocked out two Kalamazoo Valley Association favorites over the last two weeks and at 3-0 is now the team to beat. Olivet led by 10 points during the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold on despite some significant statistical advantages and fell to 2-1. Click to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Battle Creek Harper Creek 35, Sturgis 3 – This was looking like a must-win for the 1-2 Beavers, and turned into an impressive win as well.
Stevensville Lakeshore 21, Portage Northern 14 (2 OT) – This was the best of the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference openers, and could have title implications later on.
Blissfield 32, Hudson 13 – The Royals got their first win by avenging a 39-point loss from 2011.
Dowagiac 30, Plainwell 13 – Dowagiac extended its winning streak over Plainwell to seven straight and looks set for another run in the Wolverine B South.
Lower Up North
Traverse City St. Francis 12, Elk Rapids 7
The Gladiators have bounced back well since an opening-night loss to Kingsley, moving to 2-1 against an Elk Rapids team that is likely better than its 1-2 record. The Elks also fell on opening night, to Mancelona, which won 10 games in 2011. With St. Francis not playing in the Lake Michigan Conference this season after winning it a year ago, Elk Rapids could be the team that pushes Grayling for the league title. Click to read more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Pellston 7, Rogers City 6 – The Hornets made a first-quarter touchdown stand to move to 3-0 for the first time since 1995 and equal their highest win total of the last decade.
Benzie Central 8, Frankfort 6 – This was looking like a bit of a must-win for Benzie Central after an 0-2 start, and is a big first step toward defending the Northwest Conference title.
McBain 19, Manton 14 – The Ramblers stopped a Manton offense that had scored at least 40 points in each of its first two games this season.
Cadillac 44, Petoskey 14 – One of these two has won the Big North Conference every season dating to 2008; Cadillac is the favorite now.
Negaunee 36, Gladstone 34
The Miners (3-0) pushed their winning streak over Gladstone to three straight with this second consecutive win over the Braves by a field goal or less. Negaunee entered the fourth quarter trailing by 14 points, but scored twice during the final six minutes to stay perfect this fall. Gladstone fell to 2-1, but has plenty to be pleased about after finishing winless in 2011. Click to read more from the Marquette Mining Journal.
Crystal Falls Forest Park 13, Hurley 12 – The Trojans avenged last season’s lone regular-season loss and became favorites in the Great Western Conference.
L’Anse 45, Ontonagon 6 – The Purple Hornets eclipsed last season’s win total and moved to 3-0 by beating a team with three straight playoff appearances.
Norway 14, Stephenson 8 – The Knights equaled last season’s win total by moving to 2-1, also by beating a team that is coming off three straight playoff berths.
Eben Junction Superior Central 61, Posen 40 – The 8-player game has proven high-scoring, but this is the first matchup this season to result in more than 100 combined points with the losing team scoring at least 40.
Each week, the MHSAA highlights trophy games around the state. Here's one from Week 3.
- The Wooden Oar Trophy: Fruitport and Spring Lake launched this award last week, dubbing their matchup the Bayou Battle. Final: Fruitport 15, Spring Lake 6.
PHOTO: Traverse City St. Francis' Byron Bullough (5) works to break a tackle by Elk Rapids' Ryan Simpson (57) during Friday's 12-7 Gladiators win. (Click to see more at Terry McNamara Photography.)
Five showdowns of undefeated teams highlight this week's Michigan high school statewide schedule as we begin our second-half buildup toward the end of the regular season.
If you're not watching in person, check out most of the matchups highlighted below, and several others, on MHSAA.tv. Check in as well with the MHSAA Scores page for all of them as they come in. (Games below are Friday unless noted.)
Bay & Thumb
Croswell-Lexington (5-0) at Almont (5-0) - Watch
Just past halfway through the Blue Water Area Conference schedule, half the teams are 3-1 or 4-0 in league play – with these the co-leaders. Croswell-Lexington hasn’t played a game closer than 19 points this fall, but did lose last year’s meeting with Almont 37-26. The Raiders, meanwhile, have won the last two weeks by seven and one point, respectively – but opened the season with three straight shutouts as the stifling defense they’ve become known for has given up only 34 points total.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Lapeer (4-1) at Grand Blanc (3-2) - Watch, Linden (4-1) at Fenton (4-1) - Watch, Birch Run (4-1) at Freeland (5-0) - Watch, Madison Heights Lamphere (4-1) at Marine City (4-1).
Westland John Glenn (5-0) at Belleville (5-0) - Watch
Belleville’s 42-3 victory over Livonia Franklin last week was the team’s 30th straight, and the Tigers now own the state’s longest active winning streak with Powers North Central’s coming to an end at 41 on the same night. Belleville’s next challenger is John Glenn, which under second-year coach Jason Mensing has as many victories this fall as the last two combined and has nearly guaranteed its first winning season since 2014. Mensing guided his former team Ottawa Lake Whiteford through several memorable moments, and this will be the Rockets’ biggest so far under his leadership.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Gibraltar Carlson (4-1) at Trenton (4-1) - Watch, Romeo (3-2) at Macomb Dakota (4-1) - Watch, Lake Orion (5-0) at Rochester Adams (3-2) - Watch, Marine City Cardinal Mooney (3-2) at Clarkston Everest Collegiate (3-2) - Watch.
Goodrich (5-0) at Corunna (5-0) - Watch
The winner of this matchup clinches a share of the Flint Metro League Stars championship, similar to last season when Goodrich won the league and Corunna was second thanks to the Martians’ 42-7 win in their Week 5 matchup. Both arguably have been even better this fall. Goodrich has handed the only losses this season to Frankenmuth and Linden, and Corunna has given up only 31 points this season and no more than 17 in a game while scoring at least 38 every time out.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Evart (4-1) at Beal City (5-0) - Watch, Grand Ledge (5-0) at DeWitt (2-2) - Watch, Fowler (5-0) at Pewamo-Westphalia (4-1) - Watch, Montrose (4-1) at New Lothrop (4-1) - Watch.
Northern Lower Peninsula
Charlevoix (4-1) at Elk Rapids (2-3)
There’s more riding here than the initial glance my indicate. Charlevoix, with a win, would clinch a share of the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders title – its first since 2020 and after finishing second to Boyne City both of the past two seasons. The Rayders haven’t had a game closer than 13 points since falling to Traverse City St. Francis by one in their season opener. Elk Rapids got off to a tough start but has won two straight – both in shutouts – and is looking for its first win over Charlevoix since 2018.
Southeast & Border
Jackson (4-1) at Adrian (4-1) - Watch
Jackson has a chance to set up a Week 7 winner-take-all matchup with Chelsea for the Southeastern Conference White championship – a nice jump after finishing third last season. The Vikings haven’t defeated Chelsea since 2018 but lost by a respectable 17-0 last fall. But they can’t overlook Adrian, still enjoying its best season since 2016 despite falling to Chelsea 28-18 last week. The Maples would love to hand Jackson a loss tonight and cheer for the Vikings next week with a title share possible.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Michigan Center (4-1) at Grass Lake (4-1) - Watch, Flat Rock (4-1) at Milan (3-2) - Watch, Ann Arbor Huron (3-2) at Saline (5-0) - Watch, Hudson (5-0) at Blissfield (3-2) - Watch.
Parma Western (5-0) at Battle Creek Harper Creek (4-1)
We’re halfway through the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference schedule, and this has emerged as an important matchup with Parma Western tied with Hastings for first and Harper Creek only a game back after falling to the Saxons 34-6 last week. The Beavers struggled to 3-6 a year ago but already have avenged 2022 losses to Battle Creek Lakeview, Battle Creek Central and Marshall – and Western defeated them 34-0 last season before Harper Creek went 2-1 to finish the fall. Western’s defense is a notable strength again, giving up only 37 points total this season despite taking on Dearborn Divine Child and Detroit Country Day over the first two weeks.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Paw Paw (5-0) at Edwardsburg (3-2) - Watch, Constantine (4-1) at Allegan (4-1) - Watch, St. Joseph (3-2) at Portage Northern (5-0) - Watch, Muskegon Catholic Central (3-2) at Schoolcraft (4-1) - Watch.
Gladstone (4-1) at Menominee (5-0)
This is the first of three games that will tell a lot about Menominee’s season as the Maroons enter this stretch alone atop the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper at 4-0 but with Gladstone, Week 7 opponent Negaunee and Week 8 opponent Kingsford all 3-1 in league play. While this is a new conference for the Maroons this season, they have plenty of history with Gladstone as both came from the Great Northern Conference – and Menominee had won three straight in the series before Gladstone’s 28-6 victory last fall. Gladstone’s lone defeat this year came Week 3 to Kingsford, 35-12.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Maple City Glen Lake (3-2) at Sault Ste. Marie (3-2) - Watch, Manistique (3-2) at Iron Mountain (5-0) - Watch, Marquette (2-2) at Escanaba (1-4) - Watch, Houghton (2-3) at Calumet (1-4) - Watch.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (4-1) at East Grand Rapids (5-0)
We’ve been watching East Grand Rapids’ rejuvenation this fall with this among games circled for special attention, and Forest Hills Central’s 15-14 loss to Byron Center last week hardly lessens the intrigue. The Rangers are still among favorites statewide in Division 3, ranked No. 2, and East Grand Rapids is right behind them this week at No. 3 (while Byron Center is No. 2 in Division 2). The Ottawa-Kent Conference White title won’t be decided with this matchup, but it surely will be impacted – and the Rangers have defeated EGR all three times they’ve met since the Pioneers rejoined the division in 2020.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Allendale (5-0) at Spring Lake (4-1), Lowell (4-1) at Byron Center (5-0), Caledonia (4-1) at Hudsonville (4-1) - Watch, Zeeland East (4-1) at Muskegon (3-2).
Mendon (5-0) at Adrian Lenawee Christian (5-0) - Watch
Movement on the overall 8-player enrollment list have made this a matchup we’ll see just this once this fall, as Mendon – last year’s Division 2 runner-up – has moved to Division 1 and is ranked No. 2, while Lenawee Christian is top-ranked in Division 2 after winning Division 1 titles in 2020 and 2021 and reaching a Regional Final last year. Still, many 8-player eyes will be watching. The Cougars have given up just 32 points this season and no more than 12 in a game, and that defense should be part of the key matchup within the matchup because Mendon is scoring 52 per contest and coming off an 80-point performance.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Carson City-Crystal (5-0) at Coleman (4-1) - Watch, Brown City (5-0) at Mayville (5-0) - Watch, St. Ignace (5-0) at Newberry (4-1), Norway (4-1) at Ontonagon (4-1) - Watch.
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PHOTO Muskegon Catholic Central and Orchard View players reach to get a hand on the ball during their meeting this season. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)