Drive for Detroit: Week 4 Preview
September 13, 2018
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
There are some magnificent comeback seasons unfolding across Michigan this football season.
Holton is 3-0 for the first time since 1999. Leroy Pine River won one game a year ago and is 3-0 for the first time since 2004. We highlight two more 3-0 teams below in Battle Creek Central and Kingsley with similar stories to celebrate – and also big tests this week as we edge closer to the midpoint of the regular season.
Games below are tonight unless noted. Check out the MHSAA Score Center for the full schedule and results as games are completed. MHSAA.tv will broadcast 14 games tonight, including four noted below. Our “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid.
Bay & Thumb
Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (3-0) at Cass City (2-1)
Laker’s only single-digit regular-season win in 2017 came against Cass City, a 20-14 victory in Week 5 that eventually earned the Lakers the Greater Thumb Conference West championship. They went on to also defeat Cass City 18-14 in a Division 7 District Final – so the Red Hawks no doubt will be amped even more, if possible, as they look to break a nine-game losing streak against their neighbor from the north.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Flint Powers Catholic (2-1) at Davison (3-0), Grand Blanc (3-0) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (2-1), Croswell-Lexington (3-0) at Richmond (2-1), Carson City-Crystal (3-0) at Merrill (2-1).
Marine City (3-0) at Madison Heights Madison (3-0)
Paced by standout quarterback Austin Brown, Madison has outscored its first three opponents by a combined 116-27 in adding to a 15-game regular-season winning streak. The Eagles edged Marine City 28-24 a year ago on the way to winning the Macomb Area Conference Silver title, but the Mariners have been similarly dominant this fall outscoring opponents by a combined 122-37 – including 34-20 over an improved St. Clair Shores South Lake.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Eastpointe (2-1) at Warren Woods-Tower (3-0), Walled Lake Western (2-1) at Waterford Mott (3-0), Dearborn Fordson (3-0) at Livonia Churchill (2-1), Birmingham Brother Rice (3-0) at Warren DeLaSalle (2-1).
Lake Odessa Lakewood (2-1) at Perry (2-1)
The Perry playoff watch has been on again the last few seasons as the Ramblers have finished 5-4 in 2016 and 4-5 last fall while in pursuit of their first postseason berth. Both Perry wins this season came against programs that had winning records a year ago – but the Ramblers are 0-4 against Lakewood since the formation of the Greater Lansing Activities Conference in 2014. The Vikings have never finished lower than second in the league and won it twice.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Holt (1-2) at DeWitt (2-1), Fowlerville (2-1) at Haslett (3-0), Reed City (3-0) at Howard City Tri-County (2-1), Hemlock (2-1) at St. Louis (3-0).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Kingsley (3-0) at Traverse City St. Francis (3-0), Saturday
Kingsley has rebounded from 1-8 by beating two 2017 playoff teams in three games under former-now-new coach Tim Wooer, who returned this fall after a decade at Traverse City West. But this weekend will provide a different level of barometer for the Stags’ rejuvenation. St. Francis has yet to be tested, winning its three games by an average of 38 points per.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Benzie Central (2-1) at Elk Rapids (3-0), Manton (3-0) at Lake City (3-0), Clare (3-0) at Roscommon (2-1), Traverse City West (1-2) vs. Traverse City Central (3-0) at Thirlby Field.
Southeast & Border
Riverview (2-1) at Milan (3-0)
Milan’s work over the last six seasons and beginning of this one is impressive: a 50-17 record with five playoff berths and three Huron League championships. But Riverview took the spotlight last season with the Huron title, 11 wins and a trip to the Division 3 Semifinals. Will Milan take it back this weekend? Senior running back Hunter Aeschbacker ran for 197 yards in a 26-21 Week 2 victory over Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central and has 342 rushing yards total to go with more than 1,200 a year ago. Riverview was tripped up last week by the Falcons, 20-6.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Brooklyn Columbia Central (3-0) at Blissfield (2-1), Dundee (3-0) at Ida (2-1), Whitmore Lake (2-1) at Ottawa Lake Whiteford (3-0), Chelsea (3-0) at Ypsilanti Lincoln (2-1).
Portage Central (2-1) at Battle Creek Central (3-0)
Battle Creek Central’s best start since 2003 has drawn statewide attention, but Portage Central might be the biggest test yet. The Mustangs are coming off a one-point win on the road over rival Portage Northern and own a sizable victory over Richland Gull Lake, which the Bearcats beat by just a point. Regardless of what happens tonight, both teams could end up as league champions in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference – Battle Creek Central plays in the East and Portage Central in the West.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Edwardsburg (3-0) at Dowagiac (2-1), East Lansing (3-0) at Portage Northern (2-1), Saugatuck (3-0) at Schoolcraft (2-1), St. Joseph (2-1) at Stevensville Lakeshore (1-2).
Calumet (3-0) at Iron River West Iron County (3-0)
Calumet earned some valuable close-game experience with last week’s 14-12 win over Ishpeming Westwood, and now will get a look at the Wykons – who just missed making the Division 8 championship game a year ago. Having opened against three opponents with a combined 1-8 record, West Iron will be facing its toughest challenge since that three-point Semifinal loss to Saginaw Nouvel last fall – but did down Calumet 53-20 a year ago.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Gwinn (3-0) at Hancock (2-1), Ishpeming (3-0) at Ishpeming Westwood (2-1), Johannesburg-Lewiston (2-1) at St. Ignace (2-1), Iron Mountain (2-1) at Norway (2-1).
Whitehall (3-0) at Muskegon Oakridge (3-0)
Whitehall’s 28-14 win over Oakridge a year ago was a headline grabber – the Vikings hadn’t come out on top in this matchup since 1999. They fell short in their West Michigan Conference title pursuit thanks to a two-point loss to Montague the next week – but this is lining up as a similar opportunity except this time Whitehall is undefeated heading in. After scoring 50 or more points three times last season, Oakridge has done so in every game so far – but numbers are relative as tonight’s game will be the toughest challenge for both teams to date.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (2-1) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (1-2), Grand Rapids Christian (2-1) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (1-2), East Kentwood (2-1) at Holland West Ottawa (3-0), Muskegon Mona Shores (3-0) at Rockford (1-2).
AuGres-Sims (3-0) at Hillman (3-0)
The longtime North Star League foes made the jump together this fall into 8-player football. So far, so good – but Hillman surely hopes the move also includes the end of a two-game losing skid against the Wolverines, who are carrying an 11-game regular-season winning streak. They also haven’t given up a point since opening night – or faced an opponent with a win this season. Hillman’s early competition has been stronger, and things will get tougher after this for both as Onaway (2-1) and Posen (3-0) are among opponents left on both teams’ league schedules.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Bellevue (2-1) at Camden-Frontier (3-0), Onekama (3-0) at Fife Lake Forest Area (2-1), Suttons Bay (3-0) at Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (3-0), Rapid River (2-1) at Pickford (3-0).
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PHOTO: Howard City Tri-County picks up yardage during last week’s win against Remus Chippewa Hills; Tri-County has a key matchup this week with Reed City. (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.)