By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Swartz Creek and Flint Kearsley combined for 137 points in Week 3, second most in MHSAA history for two football teams when the losing team scores at least 40 (Swartz Creek won 77-61).
Reigning Division 7 runner-up Detroit Loyola dropped reigning Division 4 runner-up Detroit Country Day to 0-3 with a 20-14 win. And Deckerville, last season's 8-player MHSAA champion, beat 2011 champion Carsonville-Port Sanilac 42-0.
All were pretty significant and worth mentioning for sure. But they were just honorable mentions in this week's recap of the most significant results from every region of the state.
Muskegon 45, Rockford 0
Instead of trying to explain the shock factor that accompanied this score, let’s instead focus on how good this likely means Muskegon (3-0) is again this season. The Big Reds are coming off a runner-up finish in Division 2, and have to be considered a favorite to return to Ford Field after defensively dismantling the Rams (2-1) while getting another big night from quarterback Deshaun Thrower. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Holland West Ottawa 27, East Grand Rapids 23: The Panthers (2-1) earned another key nonleague win as they gear up for a tough O-K Red schedule; East Grand Rapids (2-1) will hope to pick up another this week before beginning in the similarly-strong O-K White.
Muskegon Mona Shores 21, Caledonia 20: The Sailors, seeking their first playoff berth, are 3-0 for the first time since 1980 with this win over frequent postseason qualifier Caledonia (2-1).
Zeeland East 14, Hudsonville 12: This Chix (3-0) made it 18 straight wins in the regular season, this time against a Hudsonville team (2-1) that also should be in the O-K Red mix.
Grand Rapids South Christian 34, Grand Rapids West Catholic 17: Another solid win by the reigning Division 4 champion Sailors (2-1) puts reigning Division 5 runner-up West Catholic (0-3) in a must-win scenario for the rest of the regular season.
Lower Up North
Traverse City West 17, Traverse City Central 14 (OT)
At the high school level especially, with rosters changing dramatically each season, it’s difficult to pick which early-season games will be the most competitive. But this rivalry game was again as good as advertised, coming down to an overtime field goal. West avenged last season’s loss to regain the Nowak-Olson Memorial Trophy and earn a 5-4 edge in the teams’ most recent nine meetings. Click to read more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Traverse City St. Francis 36, Elk Rapids 26: Although these two no longer play each other in the Lake Michigan Conference, this matchup between Gladiators (2-1) and Elks (2-1) remains one of the best among Traverse City’s smaller schools.
Cadillac 20, Petoskey 7: The Vikings (3-0) look good to be in the Big North Conference mix again after defeating another contender in Petoskey (2-1) on the first night of league play.
Hale 12, Oscoda 8: The Eagles (1-1) beat Oscoda (0-3) for the first time in their recent five-game series.
Indian River Indian Lakes 36, Pickford 34 (OT): The Bulldogs (2-1), seeking their first playoff berth since 2009, avenged last season’s loss against Pickford (2-1), a 2012 qualifier.
Bay and Thumb
Lapeer West 19, Lapeer East 13
As the Flint Journal led, “it was a classic finish to a storied rivalry.” These schools entered their final game against each other both 2-0 and were tied until the final two minutes. The series, which began in 1975, is ending because the schools are merging next summer. West finished with a 29-10 all-time lead. Click to read more from the Flint Journal.
Flint Beecher 40, Goodrich 7: The Bucs (3-0) pulled nearly a reversal of last season’s 26-0 loss to the Martians (1-2).
Saginaw Arthur Hill 21, Bay City Western 18: The Lumberjacks (3-0) already have equaled their best season since 2008 and did so last week by beating the regularly-ranked Warriors (1-2).
Saginaw Swan Valley 29, Freeland 19: Vikings running back Alex Grace ran for 337 yards as Swan Valley (3-0) continued to impress against the rival Falcons (2-1).
Yale 16, Croswell-Lexington 13: Yale (2-1) broke a four-game losing streak against Croswell-Lexington (1-2) which included regular season and playoff defeats in 2012. In doing so, Yale reclaimed The Helmet traveling trophy.
Iron River West Iron County 23, Iron Mountain 20
How big was this win for West Iron? The Wykons hadn’t beaten their rival since 1990, including five seasons where they also lost playoff games to Iron Mountain. The Mountaineers (1-2) outscored West Iron by a combined 116-0 from 2010-12. And now the Wykons can celebrate their first 3-0 start since that same season 23 years ago. Click to read more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.
Crystal Falls Forest Park 31, Hurley (Wis.) 14: The Trojans (3-0) earned a significant Great Western Conference edge by handing rival Hurley (2-1) its first loss.
Marquette 17, Sault Ste. Marie 14: Few teams in Michigan can match the Marquette's start of three wins against 2012 playoff teams, with Sault Ste. Marie (1-2) its final opponent before the start of league play.
Menomionee 40, Harbor Beach 21: What a way for Menominee (3-0) to enter league play – coming off beating a Harbor Beach team (2-1) coming off the Division 8 championship.
Powers North Central 22, Lake Linden-Hubbell 14: The Jets are 3-0 for the first time since 1998, while the Lakes fell to 1-2 for the first time since 2004.
Greater Detroit and Southeast
Madison Heights Madison 29, Warren Woods Tower 22 (OT)
It’s only the end of Week 3, but Madison (3-0) looks pretty good to repeat at Macomb Area Conference Silver champion thanks to this win combined with last week’s over Warren Fitzgerald, the only team to beat Madison during last season’s title run. Madison trailed Warren Woods Tower (2-1) by two scores early before coming all the way back. Click to read more from the Detroit Free Press.
Detroit Mumford 26, Detroit Cody 22: By improving to 3-0, Mumford bested its records of the past two seasons while dropping Cody – a playoff team last season – to 1-2.
Oak Park 36, Rochester Adams 30: The Knights (3-0) scored twice over the final eight minutes to survive an Adams team that is much better than its 1-2 record indicates.
Warren DeLaSalle 42, Harper Woods Chandler Park 14: Chandler Park (2-1) is considered a team to watch in the Detroit area, which makes this win even more impressive for the Pilots (2-1).
Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 42, Utica Eisenhower 21: The Big Reds (3-0) continued their best start since 2006, with Eisenhower (1-2) now left to chase Chippewa Valley and Macomb Dakota in the Macomb Area Conference Red.
Olivet 28, Schoolcraft 14
Wasn’t the Kalamazoo Valley Association supposed to come down again to Schoolcraft and Constantine? The Eagles no doubt used that as a motivating factor in handing the reigning league champ its first regular season loss since 2011 and only a week after Schoolcraft had beaten Constantine. Now it’s Olivet setting pace in the KVA, with Constantine coming up in Week 8. Click to read more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.
Eaton Rapids 17, Charlotte 12: The Greyhounds (2-1) regained the Little Brown Jug traveling trophy for the first time since 1992 against a solid Charlotte team (2-1), and with one more win will equal their most for a season since 1997.
Lansing Sexton 35, Grand Ledge 0: The Big Reds (3-0) haven’t given up a point in two weeks and with this win put the rival Comets (0-3) in a must-win situation for the rest of the regular season.
Grass Lake 27, Michigan Center 20: Only a loss to Michigan Center (2-1) kept Grass Lake (3-0) from a second straight outright Cascades Conference title last season; the Warriors, Cardinals and Manchester ended up sharing first place, but now Grass Lake has an upper hand.
Howell 14, Hartland 12: The Highlanders (3-0) survived to remain undefeated and avenge last season’s 12-point loss to the rival Eagles (1-2).
Southwest and Border
Plainwell 10, Dowagiac 0
These two don’t play in the same division of the Wolverine Conference, but are arguably the two best teams in the league. Dowagiac (2-1) entered this matchup 19-1 over its last 20 regular-season games and having won all seven of this recent series with the Trojans (3-0). Click to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Decatur 27, Saugatuck 20: This was the first time Decatur (3-0) gave up points this season, but this also was the most impressive of the victories; Saugatuck (2-1) had outscored its first two opponents by a combined score of 117-12.
Battle Creek Harper Creek 14, Marshall 6: The Beavers (2-1) were in need of a quick bounce-back after last week’s five-point loss to St. Joseph, and got it with a close win over Marshall (0-3).
Portage Central 34, Mattawan 8: After falling to Mattawan (1-2) by a point last season, Portage Central (3-0) left no question this time in the teams’ Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference West opener.
St. Joseph 32, Stevensville Lakeshore 20: The Bears (3-0) continued their impressive opening surge by winning the annual War by the Shore trophy and ending a four-game regular-season losing streak to Lakeshore (2-1).
Every week of football season, the MHSAA highlights trophy games around the state. Here are two more not previously mentioned above:
Little Brown Jug - Suttons Bay vs. Kingsley: The Stags held onto this trophy for the third straight season. Final: Kingsley 34, Suttons Bay 21.
Bayou Battle Paddle - Fruitport vs. Spring Lake: Spring Lake claimed this trophy for the second time in three seasons, both times with one-point wins. Final: Spring Lake 10, Fruitport 9.
PHOTO: Detroit Mumford (maroon jerseys) edged Detroit Cody 26-22 to move to 3-0. (Photo courtesy of Detroit Public School League.)
Separated by 527 travel miles – whether over Mackinac Bridge or around Lake Michigan, the Novara family celebrated nearly parallel football successes this fall.
At Portland, John Novara completed his 25th season as head coach leading the Raiders to a 12-1 record – their best since finishing Division 5 runner-up in 2018, and a second-straight Capital Area Activities Conference White championship on the way to reaching the Division 4 Semifinals.
At Kingsford, fifth-year coach Mark Novara led the Flivvers to a 10-2 record – their best since posting the same in 2004. Kingsford shared the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper title and won a Division 5 District title, its first District championship since 2009.
John Novara graduated from Iron Mountain in 1989, and younger brother Mark graduated from Kingsford in 1993.
Similarly parallel, both teams were quarterbacked by Novaras. Dominic Novara directed the Raiders’ attack, and cousin Nic Novara led the Flivvers. Both are juniors. (Mark Novara was a Division III All-American at quarterback at Lakeland College in Wisconsin.)
One more connection: Portland athletic director Kevin Veale quarterbacked the Iron Mountain teams with John Novara as tight end long before they worked together downstate. Veale’s nephew Garrett Veale was a standout two-way lineman for Mark Novara and Kingsford this fall.
Small gesture, memorable connection
Dante DeGrazia’s senior season was sadly short-lived this fall, as he suffered a season-ending injury during the first half of South Lyon East’s opening game against White Lake Lakeland at Michigan Stadium.
But an official provided a memory the DeGrazias will not forget.
Chris Curtis had begun his 16th season as an official earlier that day at U-M, and stuck around to watch the Lakes Valley Conference matchup. A month later, he was officiating the East/Warren Mott game, and made sure to check in with DeGrazia – a small gesture, but a meaningful one as well and another reminder of the interconnectedness of communities within educational athletics.
“When he heard my son wasn't able to play anymore, needed surgery and that he was a senior, he offered him kindness and a hug on the field,” Dante’s mother Dana DeGrazia wrote to East athletic director Greg Michaels. “As a parent whose son is going through a rough time dealing with losing his senior season, hearing this story from Dante means a lot to me and the support that was given to him and I wanted to reach out and tell him thank you.”
PHOTOS (Top) Kingsford football coach Mark Novara, far left, quarterback Nic Novara and Portland coach (and uncle) John Novara celebrate the Flivvers' District title. (Middle) South Lyon East's Dante DeGrazia (33) and official Chris Curtis meet for a quick hug during East's Week 5 game. (Photos courtesy of the Portland football program and DeGrazia family, respectively.)