Drive for Detroit: Week 3 in Review
September 10, 2018
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Just like that, we're three weeks into another Michigan high school football season.
And just like that, the picture of what we might expect this fall is beginning to get a little bit clearer.
There are 128 undefeated teams setting the pace. Some we're used to seeing at the top, and a number of others are enjoying encouraging turnarounds early this fall.
Below we offer glances at 45 games that popped from the page this past weekend, and we're just beginning to tell the story.
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Bay & Thumb
HEADLINER: Davison 36, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 29 These Flint-area powers haven’t been in the same league since 2013, but Davison (3-0) ran its winning streak over Carman-Ainsworth (2-1) to three straight with a late score and win in the Saginaw Valley League Blue opener. Click for more from the Flint Journal and see below for highlights from WJRT.
.@DavCardFootball rallies late to beat @CarmanAinsworth, remain perfect @DavisonMade @CACavaliers https://t.co/ZgDnRqOiNC
— ABC12WJRT (@ABC12WJRT) September 8, 2018
Also of note: Flint Hamady 24, Flint Beecher 18 With the other three Genesee Area Blue teams starting out a combined 2-7, Hamady might be in nice shape already to win its first league title since 2007. The rival Buccaneers (1-2), however, are hoping to turn things around quickly as they seek to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
Remember this one: Sandusky 28, Ubly 22 These two and Harbor Beach have been in the mix for most of the Greater Thumb Conference East titles this decade; Sandusky (3-0) has an early upper hand this time, but Ubly (2-1) will be waiting for a trip-up.
Other shoutouts: Saginaw Swan Valley 41, Freeland 3 The Vikings (3-0) have looked unstoppable early, this time winning big against the rival Falcons (2-1). Cass City 40, Marlette 14 The Red Hawks (2-1) have bounced back from a Week 1 loss with two big wins including this one over a Marlette team that beat Harbor Beach in Week 2.
HEADLINER: Oak Park 23, Farmington Hills Harrison 15 In successive weeks, Oak Park (3-0) has defeated Birmingham Groves and now Harrison (2-1), the teams with which it shared the Oakland Activities Association White championship a year ago. The Knights are impressing especially on defense, giving up just under 12 points per game. Click for more from the Oakland Press and see highlights below from State Champs! Sports Network.
??VIDEO: Check out the highlights of the Oak Park (@OakParkHighMI) vs. Farmington Hills Harrison (@FHHarrisonFB) game from Friday night pic.twitter.com/sn9HAbEiqx
— STATE CHAMPS! (@statechampsnet) September 8, 2018
Also of note: Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 45, Utica Eisenhower 24 The Big Reds (3-0) are the team to chase in the prestigious Macomb Area Conference Red after this win over last season’s champion Eisenhower (1-2) – which edged Chippewa Valley 49-42 a year ago in the game that eventually decided the title.
Remember this one: Lake Orion 28, Rochester Adams 24 The Dragons (1-2) had a tough 2017, which included a 39-8 defeat to Adams (2-1). But they got their first win this fall by handing a first loss to the reigning OAA Red co-champ.
More shoutouts: Canton 47, Plymouth 26 The Chiefs (2-1) handed the neighboring Wildcats (2-1) their first loss as the rivalry started a new chapter with both teams boasting new coaches. Dearborn Heights Crestwood 22, Romulus 20 Crestwood last was 3-0 in 1991, according to michigan-football.com, and equaled last season’s overall win total by downing a reigning league champion in the Eagles (0-3).
HEADLINER: East Lansing 31, Grand Ledge 28 This one told a lot about one of mid-Michigan football’s premier leagues. East Lansing, last season’s Capital Area Activities Conference Blue runner-up, now looks most likely to provide newcomer DeWitt the biggest challenge in this fall’s league race. But Friday also showed reigning champion Grand Ledge has the opportunity to make an impact despite graduating much of last year’s team. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
??VIDEO: Check out the highlights of the East Lansing (@eltrojans) vs. Grand Ledge (@GL_football) game from last night pic.twitter.com/nBEJvIMTxD
— STATE CHAMPS! (@statechampsnet) September 9, 2018
Also of note: Greenville 41, Lowell 35 (OT) The Red Arrows (0-3) are having rare struggles to open this fall, but beating them is still a huge accomplishment – and Greenville (1-2) had dropped three games to Lowell over the last two seasons, including once in the playoffs.
Remember this one: Williamston 21, Fowlerville 14 These two are main reasons the CAAC Red has a new look this fall, and Williamston (3-0) has an early advantage on contending for the league title – although much-improved Fowlerville (2-1) showed it can’t be counted out.
More shoutouts: Clare 42, Harrison 18 Harrison (1-2) remains the last team to beat Clare (3-0) in the Jack Pine Conference – back in Week 9 of 2015. Holt 14, Traverse City West 7 Downing a 2017 playoff team like West (1-2) is a great sign for Holt (1-2), especially after the Rams opened with losses to two more tough nonleague foes.
Northern Lower Peninsula
HEADLINER: Lake City 14, McBain 12 Recall that the Trojans (3-0) stormed back from 2-7 in 2016 to 12-1 last fall, and that they earned the Highland Conference title because of a 28-8 win over eventual runner-up McBain in Week 3. The Ramblers (1-2) made this one closer, but Lake City’s 12-game regular-season winning streak lives on. Click for more from the Cadillac News and see highlights below from MI Sports Now.
.@LCTROJANFOOTBAL turns back McBain in thrilling 'Overtime on the Road' matchup https://t.co/djRZ8IJevh pic.twitter.com/Gce55ca4SV
— MISportsNow (@MISportsNow) September 8, 2018
Also of note: Manton 28, Beal City 22 The Rangers (3-0) were last 3-0 in their most recent playoff season, 2014, and hadn’t beaten Highland Conference foe Beal City (0-3) since joining the league in 2007.
Remember this one: Cheboygan 22, Boyne City 6 The Northern Michigan Football League Legends division could be shifting as Cheboygan (1-2) handed the reigning champion Ramblers (1-2) their first league defeat after a perfect run a year ago.
More shoutouts: West Branch Ogemaw Heights 18, Wyoming Kelloggsville 14 Kelloggsville (1-2) is struggling after last season’s 10-1 finish, but regardless this is big for Ogemaw Heights (1-2) as it equaled its win total for the last three seasons combined. Manistee 33, Ludington 14 The Chippewas (3-0) have bounced back from last season’s 2-7 finish and handed Ludington (2-1) its first defeat to start Lakes 8 Conference play.
Southeast & Border
HEADLINER: Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 20, Riverview 6 St. Mary (2-1) has played three 2017 playoff teams to open this fall, including reigning Huron League champion Riverview (2-1). The Falcons are chasing in the league after falling to Milan last week, but now will cheer for Riverview to take down Milan this week and open the league race all the way back up. Click for more from the Southgate News-Herald.
Also of note: Dundee 33, Hudson 6 The Vikings (3-0) equaled last season’s win total by defeating the reigning Lenawee County Athletic Association champion Tigers (2-1), a big step as Dundee seeks its first playoff berth since 2012.
Remember this one: Brooklyn Columbia Central 21, Ida 20 These are two more contenders in the LCAA, with Ida (2-1) last season’s runner-up and Columbia Central (3-0) one of the new favorites.
More shoutouts: Jackson 27, Monroe 20 The Southeastern Conference is treating Jackson (3-0) well. Although this was just a crossover, the win over Monroe (2-1) was impressive and with two league victories to begin the fall gave the Vikings their best start since 2003. Dexter 37, Ann Arbor Huron 14 A week after breaking a 42-game losing streak, Dexter (2-1) guaranteed its best finish since 2011.
HEADLINER: Hartford 26, Mendon 24 (OT) Mendon does not lose often during the regular season; in fact, the Hornets were riding a 21-game regular-season winning streak before Hartford pulled off this headline grabber. Mendon had won last year’s meeting 41-14 on the way to claiming the first Southwest 10 Conference title. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium and see below for highlights from FOX 17.
Hartford 26, Mendon 24 @HartfordFB https://t.co/WuSHoQLKdr
— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) September 8, 2018
Also of note: Portage Central 21, Portage Northern 20 Central (2-1) scored the go-head touchdowns during the final minutes to bounce back from a Week 2 loss and make it five straight over the rival Huskies (2-1).
Remember this one: Berrien Springs 41, Schoolcraft 28 The Shamrocks (2-1) opened this season with a loss but have bounced back with two solid wins including this one over a Schoolcraft team that has made the playoffs nine straight seasons and also sits 2-1.
More shoutouts: Delton Kellogg 28, Fennville 7 The Panthers are 3-0 for the first time since 2009 after handing Fennville (2-1) its lone defeat. Battle Creek Central 30, Battle Creek Lakeview 15 Central’s second straight win over Lakeview (0-3) put the Bearcats at 3-0 after they won three games total both of the last two seasons.
HEADLINER: Calumet 14, Ishpeming Westwood 12 A few late defensive stops could end up being the difference in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference large-school title race as Calumet (3-0) hung on to deal Westwood (2-1) its first defeat. The Copper Kings have playoff-caliber Iron River West Iron County and Norway next, but both are in the league’s other division. Click for more from the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette.
Also of note: Ishpeming 46, Norway 19 The West PAC small-school division is loaded, but with this win it looks like Ishpeming (3-0) and West Iron might be favorites with Norway (2-1) on the chase.
Remember this one: Gladstone 14, Menominee 0 The Braves (2-1) didn’t play Menominee (0-3) last season, but before that hadn’t beaten the Maroons during their yearly series since 2008. Menominee shares the longest active playoff streak of 22 seasons with Rockford, but must win out to guarantee pushing it to 23.
More shoutouts: Escanaba 27, Detroit Loyola 24 After a Week 1 loss, Escanaba (2-1) has won two games by four points combined, with this one over rejuvenated Loyola (2-1). Negaunee 30, Hancock 29 The Miners (1-2) needed this after a tough start, and got past a Hancock team that’s also 2-1 and coming off its best season since 2006.
HEADLINER: Holland West Ottawa 45, Rockford 40 The Ottawa-Kent Conference Red season is one week old, but West Ottawa (3-0) made quite an opening statement with its third straight win over the perennially powerful Rams (1-2) – coincidentally all three have been decided by five points. This time quarterback Isaac VanDyke scored with 20 seconds to play to extend the streak. Click for more from the Holland Sentinel and see highlights below from WZZM.
Late score lifts West Ottawa over Rockford https://t.co/Zd7YlzSMU0 pic.twitter.com/glVHkW9EdE
— 13 On Your Sidelines (@13OYSL) September 8, 2018
Also of note: Muskegon Orchard View 32, Muskegon Catholic Central 14 The Cardinals (1-2) didn’t have the greatest start with two 20+ point losses, but beating MCC (1-2) for the first time since 1966 could be the beginning of a turnaround.
Remember this one: Muskegon 49, East Grand Rapids 21 The Big Reds (3-0) were the state’s biggest story after two huge wins to open this season, but they trailed East Grand Rapids (1-2) by 14 in this game before scoring 42 unanswered points.
More shoutouts: Grandville 37, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 36 The Bulldogs (1-2) are on the board after losses to two reigning MHSAA champions to start the season, but the Rangers (1-2) might also be one of the state’s best 1-2 teams after falling by just a point two straight weeks. Wayland 19, Grand Rapids South Christian 14 Wayland (3-0) has equaled its win total of both the last two seasons thanks to its first victory over the Sailors (2-1) since 2007.
HEADLINER: Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 22, Deckerville 12 The Irish brought a tradition of success from 11-player this fall, and the transition appears to be going smoothly as they moved to 2-1 with this win over the reigning 8-player Division 1 runner-up. The Eagles (1-2) have lost two straight but to teams that are a combined 5-1. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.
.@SacredHeartMtP1 doubles up Deckerville https://t.co/sPCIXISxkC pic.twitter.com/4NI1V2NoRU
— MISportsNow (@MISportsNow) September 7, 2018
Also of note: Pickford 38, Crystal Falls Forest Park 20 The Panthers (3-0) avenged last season’s 8-Player Division 2 Semifinal loss to the eventual champion Trojans (1-2).
Remember this one: Brethren 42, Marion 20 Brethren (2-1) sits alone atop the West Michigan D League standings with this win over the reigning champion Eagles, a 54-0 winner in last year’s meeting.
More shoutouts: Genesee 8, New Haven Merritt 6 In its first season of 8-player, Genesee is 3-0 – after winning a combined three games over the last three seasons. Merritt (1-2), meanwhile, has two losses by a combined eight points. Camden-Frontier 44, Portland St. Patrick 0 The Redskins (3-0) have outscored their opponents by a combined 169-6 and handed the reigning 8-player Division 2 runner-up Shamrocks (2-1) their first shutout since 2014.
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PHOTO: East Lansing and Grand Ledge players work to secure the ball during Friday's Trojans win. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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:
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.)