Drive for Detroit: Week 4 Preview

September 15, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Predicting anything after three weeks of a high school football season is a fruitless endeavor, as so much can change over the next six weeks of play.

But no fewer than 16 leagues across Michigan could eventually see this fall’s championship races affected significantly by what plays out on fields over the next 48 hours.

This week’s “Drive for Detroit” preview – powered by MI Student Aid – highlights a handful of key matchups and mentions many more below; we’ll discuss all of the ramifications that emerge in Monday’s weekend in review.

(Games below are Friday; for the full weekend schedule including Thursday and Saturday games, visit the MHSAA Score Center.)

Bay & Thumb

Alma (3-0) at Freeland (3-0)

Freeland is 7-1 against Alma over the teams’ last eight meetings and off to another fast start after making Division 5 Regional Finals and losing only one regular-season game over the last two seasons. But Alma beat Saginaw Swan Valley last week for the first time since 2011 to earn a 3-0 start for the first time since 2012 – the same season the Panthers got that most recent win against tonight’s Tri-Valley Conference Central opponent.  

Others that caught my eye: Roscommon (3-0) at Beaverton (2-1), Almont (2-1) at Croswell-Lexington (2-1), Linden (2-1) at Flushing (2-1), Saginaw Nouvel (2-1) at Bay City John Glenn (2-1).

Greater Detroit

West Bloomfield (2-1) at Farmington Hills Harrison (2-1)

These Oakland County neighbors re-stoked their rivalry last season for the first time since 2006, with West Bloomfield claiming a 20-14 Week 9 win. The Lakers are following the strong arm of quarterback Bryce Veasley, who has thrown for 543 yards and five touchdowns over his team’s last two games. But he’s taking on a defense this week that has given up more than 20 points only three times – twice to East Kentwood and the third in a Division 2 Semifinal – over its last 17 games.  

Others that caught my eye: Detroit East English (2-1) at Detroit Denby (3-0), St. Clair Shores South Lake (3-0) at Warren Fitzgerald (3-0), Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (2-1) at Utica Eisenhower (3-0), Birmingham Brother Rice (2-1) at Warren DeLaSalle (2-1).


Lansing Catholic (3-0) at Portland (3-0)

This Capital Area Activities Conference White rivalry game is always a matchup of differing styles, and the result has been an even split of their last eight meetings. The Cougars’ wide open attack is led this year by dual-threat quarterback Michael Lynn III, with Portland’s physical running game paced by Logan Lefke among a collection of backs. Lynn threw for 161 yards and ran for 80 and two touchdowns in last week’s win over Everett, but the Raiders didn’t give up a point over the last two weeks to Hillsdale and Fowlerville – and are able to control the clock by grinding out yards on the ground.

Others that caught my eye: DeWitt (2-1) at Mason (3-0), Lake City (2-1) at Beal City (1-2), Flint Hamady (2-1) at New Lothrop (3-0), Bath (2-1) at Pewamo-Westphalia (3-0).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Portage Central (3-0) at Traverse City Central (3-0)

Some potential league title-deciding games from this region are mentioned below, but it’s tough not to highlight a matchup of undefeated powers who went a combined 17-3 a year ago. Traverse City Central is coming off an emotional 10-8 win over rival West last week and is giving up a meager 174 yards of offense per game. That sounds a lot like Portage Central, which downed rival Stevensville Lakeshore 37-0 in Week 3 and has given up eight points this season.

Others that caught my eye: Leroy Pine River (2-1) at McBain (3-0), St. Ignace (2-1) at East Jordan (3-0), AuGres-Sims (3-0) at Lincoln Alcona (2-1), Maple City Glen Lake (2-1) at Onekama (3-0).

Southeast & Border

Temperance Bedford (3-0) at Saline (3-0)

The difference in Bedford this season can be measured in part by its results against the same early opponents over the last two years; the Mules have outscored Toledo St. Francis de Sales, Fenton and Ann Arbor Pioneer by a combined 117-70 this fall after those three outscored Bedford by a combined 109-76 in kicking the Mules off to an 0-3 start a year ago. Next up is Saline, which beat Bedford 43-0 in 2015 and just got past winless Ann Arbor Skyline 24-21 last week – but also is 26-2 without a regular-season loss since falling on opening night in 2014.

Others that caught my eye: Ida (3-0) at Brooklyn Columbia Central (2-1), Hudson (3-0) at Dundee (2-1), Manchester (2-1) at Grass Lake (3-0), Sand Creek (3-0) at Morenci (2-1).

Southwest Corridor

Paw Paw (2-1) at Edwardsburg (3-0)

The Eddies are absolutely rolling, again, with three wins by a combined 145-14 score to take the lone lead in the Wolverine Conference. But Paw Paw has come closer than most over the last few seasons, and after Vicksburg in Week 3 of 2014 was the next most-recent team, in Week 9 of 2012, to hand Edwardsburg a regular-season defeat. The Redskins did drop a 14-6 heartbreaker to Sturgis last week, but scored first and outgained the Trojans before a late touchdown led to the final result.

Others that caught my eye: Niles (3-0) at Portage Northern (1-2), St. Joseph (3-0) at Stevensville Lakeshore (2-1), Berrien Springs (1-1) at Cassopolis (3-0), Sturgis (2-1) at Three Rivers (2-1).

Upper Peninsula

Negaunee (3-0) at Iron Mountain (3-0)

This may decide, and at the least will play a major role, in determining the Mid-Peninsula Conference title winner. Iron Mountain is back in the mix thanks to a Week 1 win over three-time reigning champion Ishpeming and has to be confident again having split the last six meetings with the powerful Miners. Negaunee has finished league runner-up two of the last three seasons and will bring a bullish attack that’s run for nearly 900 yards already this season; Neal Violetta had 475 yards and five touchdowns on the ground and Shane Ring has run for 228 yards and five scores.

Others that caught my eye: Newberry (3-0) at Felch North Dickinson (2-1), Calumet (2-1) at Houghton (3-0), Escanaba (3-0) at Marquette (1-2), Ishpeming (1-1) at Ishpeming Westwood (1-2).

West Michigan

Grandville (3-0) at Hudsonville (3-0)

Not only is Grandville off to its best on-field start since 2001 (the Bulldogs opened 2012 3-0 but received a forfeit win), but they’ve dominated giving up only 22 points total and scoring at least 44 in all three of their first games. The numbers don’t flash as much for Hudsonville because of the quality opponents the Eagles have beaten, including handing the only losses so far to 2015 playoff teams Grand Ledge and East Kentwood. The winner tonight will earn an enviable, although not entirely secure position atop the competitive Ottawa-Kent Conference Red.  

Others that caught my eye: Grand Rapids South Christian (2-1) at Grand Rapids Christian (3-0), Byron Center (3-0) at Muskegon (2-1), Ludington (3-0) at Muskegon Catholic Central (3-0), Rockford (1-2) at Caledonia (1-2).


Peck (3-0) at Deckerville (3-0)

This is the top 8-player rivalry of a strong 8-player thumb area, and Peck no doubt has been aching to get another shot at the Eagles after falling to them 50-6 in Week 8 and then 30-6 in the first round of last season’s playoffs. Deckerville is off to another dominating start, outscoring its first three opponents by a combined 128-20 after reaching MHSAA Semifinals the last two years.

Others that caught my eye: Onaway (2-1) at Cedarville (3-0), Rudyard (2-1) at Posen (2-1).

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: Alma ran past Birch Run in Week 1 and hopes to move to 4-0 this weekend against Freeland. (Click to see more from

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.)