Drive for Detroit: Week 4 in Review

September 24, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Just when we thought we'd figured out a few things about how this MHSAA football season might unfold ... we found out we don't know that much yet. 

Upsets ruled Week 4. Of course, the teams that won probably don't see their victories that way. And in two months, some of what we consider surprises now might not be considered stunners any longer.

But check out how the unexpected played a major role as we began the second third of this fall's slate. 

West Michigan

Lowell 31, Muskegon 20

Many were so caught up in Muskegon’s 45-0 win over Rockford two weeks ago that they likely didn’t give Lowell (4-0) a shot at catching the Big Reds (3-1). But Kyler Shurlow is fast becoming the next Red Arrows quarterback star, and he came up big in his team’s biggest game of the regular season. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Comstock Park 27, Allendale 25: The Falcons (3-1) have pushed Comstock Park to the brink the last two seasons, but the Panthers (4-0) survived again after a five-point win in their 2012 matchup.

Muskegon Reeths-Puffer 14, East Kentwood 7: Reeths-Puffer (3-1) hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007, but is ascending after avenging last season’s 35-points loss to East Kentwood (2-2) to also equal its number of wins for the entire season.

Zeeland East 27, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 25: The undefeated Chix (4-0) had to survive a second straight game against Forest Hills Central (2-2) decided by four points or fewer.

Reed City 22, Newaygo 14: Make that 24 straight regular-season wins for the Coyotes (4-0), who by beating solid Newaygo (3-1) look even better to push it to 29.

Upper Peninsula

Escanaba 35, Marquette 14

This one was not just significant but probably shocking to fans who pay close attention to Upper Peninsula’s biggest schools. Escanaba entered 0-3 and Marquette 3-0, but the Eskymos made it three straight over the Redmen. Click to read more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

Also noted:

L'Anse 21, Hancock 20: The Purple Hornets (3-1) have one of the highest playoff point averages of any team expected to make the Division 8 playoffs, but Hancock (1-3) must win out to gain an automatic bid.

Negaunee 36, Iron Mountain 8: The Miners are 4-0 for the second straight season, but the Mountaineers (1-3) face their toughest start since 1990.

Norway 36, Manistique 34: Norway (2-2) is a win from equaling last season’s total after beating a 2012 playoff qualifier in Manistique (0-4).

Lake Linden-Hubbell 22, Bessemer 20: The Lakes (2-2) earned a shot at staying in the Great Western Conference title hunt, while dealing a blow to repeat hopes of Bessemer (3-1).


Holt 31, Lansing Everett 21

Just when it looked like Holt (2-2) wouldn’t factor in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue race this season, the Rams beat the reigning champion and presumed favorite by scoring more points in one game than Everett (3-1) had given up in its other three games combined. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Fowler 42, Bath 22: The Eagles (3-1) have outscored three opponents by a combined 106-50 since falling 40-0 to Mendon on opening night; Fowler also has beaten the Bees (2-2) in 24 straight.

Pinckney 20, Howell 10: Seeking their first winning record and playoff berth since 2001, the Pirates (3-1) are halfway there and off to their best start since that season; Howell remains in good shape at 3-1 as well.

Eaton Rapids 17, Jackson Northwest 7: The Greyhounds (3-1) have tied their most wins for a season since 1997, although Northwest (2-2) can’t be too frustrated with its most victories for a season since 2009.

Springport 18, Reading 13: The Spartans (3-1) lent Big 8 Conference leaders Jonesville and Homer a hand by downing last season’s champ, Reading (2-2).

Lower Up North

Standish-Sterling 27, Whittemore-Prescott 20

Standish-Sterling (4-0) continued its best start since 2008 with a late stand as Whittemore-Prescott (3-1) also played to remain perfect on the season. The Cardinals had won both games since the series was restarted after previously coming to close after the 1985 season. Click to read more from the Bay City Times

Also noted:

Kinglsey 31, Frankfort 20: The Stags (3-1) set up next week’s rematch with reigning Northwest Conference champion Maple City Glen Lake by edging Frankfort (2-2) for the third time in four seasons.

Cheboygan 42, Ludington 14: The Chiefs moved to 3-1 for the second straight season by dealing a first loss this fall to Ludington (3-1), which remains off to its best start since 2004.

Mancelona 22, Central Lake 18: These teams combined to go 17-5 in 2012, and Mancelona (2-2) got back on the right foot by also pushing Central Lake to 2-2 and claiming the M-88 Trophy. 

Traverse City St. Francis 34, Grayling 14: The Gladiators (3-1) ended Grayling’s 12-game regular-season winning streak and made it 10 of 11 over the Vikings (3-1).

Southwest and Border

Parchment 44, Constantine 26

Parchment has had only one playoff season over the last decade and not a lot of wins to be this excited about. The Panthers (2-2) hadn’t beaten Constantine (2-2) since the latter joined the Kalamazoo Valley Association in 2008, but Clay Wilkey averaged more than 20 yards per carry in leading Parchment to the big upset. Read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Also noted:

Portage Central 38, Stevensville Lakeshore 28: This makes Portage Central (4-0) one the favorites in the Southwestern Michigan Activities Conference West, while leaving Lakeshore (2-2) to battle back from its worst start since 2004.

St. Joseph 17, Portage Northern 10: St. Joseph (4-0) is that other favorite in the SMAC West, thanks to a defense that is giving up 12 points per game and held the Huskies (3-1) to a season low.

Niles Brandywine 26, Bridgman 18: The Bobcats (4-0) made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2002 and haven’t slowed down, although Bridgman (2-2) gave them their toughest game to date.

Plainwell 44, Otsego 17: The Trojans (4-0) just keep rolling despite playing three 2012 playoff teams over their first four games; Otsego has little room for error at 2-2 and with tough opponents waiting in Weeks 8 and 9.

Greater Detroit and Southeast

Southfield 20, Oak Park 12

The Bluejays have arrived among the elite in the Detroit area. That seemed a pretty good bet after a four-point loss to Detroit Cass Tech during Week 1, but Southfield (3-1) took another big step by handing Oak Park (3-1) its first loss and shutting down a Knights offense averaging nearly 32 points per game entering the weekend. Click to read more from the Detroit Free Press.

Also noted:

Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 36, Lake Orion 7: Last season was the only other time during its 12-year history that Stoney Creek (4-0) had played powerful Lake Orion (3-1), and this one looked a lot different than that 35-point loss.

Birmingham Brother Rice 26, Warren DeLaSalle 24: Of a number of key Catholic League games, this one is the most telling; Brother Rice (4-0) might be the favorite again, but DeLaSalle (2-2) should push the other contenders as well.

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 28, Flint Powers Catholic 2: Few statewide are surging early like the Fighting Irish (4-0), who have outscored opponents by a combined 172-10. Powers (2-2) hadn’t scored fewer than 14 points before this game.

Saline 35, Ann Arbor Pioneer 3: Saline tied for the Southeastern Conference Red title last season and missed winning outright by a one-point loss to Pioneer (2-2); this time, the Hornets (4-0) might not be slowed.

Bay and Thumb

Midland 51, Saginaw Arthur Hill 21

Much has been discussed, and rightly so, about Arthur Hill’s resurgence this season. But it appears the Saginaw Valley Association North still belongs to Midland (4-0), which showed it in a big way. The reigning league champ put up its season high points total against a Lumberjacks team that had started 3-0 and not given up more than 18 points in a game. Click to read more from the Saginaw News.

Also noted:

Mount Pleasant 35, Midland Dow 28: The Oilers’ two-win season of 2012 is fast becoming a distant memory, with this win over Dow (3-1) putting Mount Pleasant (3-1) in a tie for first in the SVA North.

Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port 27, Unionville-Sebewaing 0: Hard to believe the Lakers (4-0) haven’t made the playoffs since 2009, but they’ve now won as many games as in all of 2012. Beating USA (3-1) also sets Laker up for a Greater Thumb Conference West showdown with Reese that could decide the title.

Peck 61, Lawrence 38: These are two of the top 8-player teams in the state, with Peck (4-0) now owning the highest playoff point average and Lawrence (2-1) looking like a playoff lock as well in its first season after making the move.

Richmond 42, Almont 35 (2 OT): Make Richmond (3-1) the favorite now in the Blue Water Area Conference after beating both Almont (3-1) and Croswell-Lexington.

Trophy Games

Each week the MHSAA highlights trophy games around the state. Here are a few in addition to the one mentioned above:

Little Brown Jug: Union City vs. Athens. These two play for a trophy that originated in 1947. Final: Union City 33, Athens 14.

Little Brown Jug: Homer vs. Concord. Like their Big Eight Conference colleagues mentioned just above, these two play for a similar prize. Final: Homer 44, Concord 6.

The Axe: Munising vs. Newberry. This newer traveling award originated in 2004. Final: Munising 28, Newberry 27.

Rocket-Rebel Trophy: Wyoming Kelloggsville vs. Wyoming Lee. These crosstown rivals both also play in the O-K Silver. Final: Kelloggsville 47, Lee 6.

Battle for Butch: Beaverton vs. Gladwin. These Jack Pine Conference rivals play for a stuffed dog stitched together in 1937. Final: Gladwin 48, Beaverton 14.

Holton-Hesperia Trophy: Holton vs. Hesperia. These two have been foes in various leagues going back half a century. Final: Hesperia 40, Holton 19.

PHOTO: Lowell ran past Muskegon 31-20 in a face-off of two of the most highly-regarded teams in the state. (Click to see more from High School Sports Scene.)

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.)