Drive for Detroit: Week 4 in Review

September 22, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A total of 93 teams remain undefeated after the fourth week of this MHSAA football season.

A number of them had to overcome major challenges last week to remain flawless.

Read on for last week's most significant results from every corner of the state, kicked off by a bit of the story behind one of the surprise 4-0 teams of 2014.

Southwest and Border

Vicksburg 25, Paw Paw 20

This wins out as the biggest result from a weekend of many from this part of the state for a few reasons, including its contribution to Vicksburg's overall body of work. The Bulldogs won four games last season and three in 2012, but improved to 4-0 this fall by beating the reigning Wolverine B East champion after beating reigning West champion Edwardsburg a week ago. Paw Paw (3-1) has lost only four regular-season games since the start of 2010. Click to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Also noted: 

Edwardsburg 24, Plainwell 22 – The Eddies (3-1) bounced back from a two-point loss to Vicksburg by beating a Plainwell (3-1) team that had outscored its first three opponents by a combined 105-19.

Decatur 28, Gobles 14 – Decatur (4-0) has won 12 straight nonleague games over the last four seasons, including two over the always-solid Tigers (3-1).

Stevensville Lakeshore 17, St. Joseph 7 – The Lancers (4-0) are already starting to separate in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West having now beaten the Bears (3-1) in addition to reigning champion Portage Central in successive weeks.

Coldwater 35, Parma Western 28 – Coldwater is 4-0 for the first time since 1983 and got there by holding off a Parma Western (2-2) team that has lost two games by a combined eight points.

West Michigan

Rockford 28, Hudsonville 27 

This was everything it was billed, the Rams winning for the fifth straight time but the matchup returning to “classic” status after a few one-sided contests. Hudsonville (3-1) scored late in the fourth quarter to pull within a point of the lead, but went for a 2-point conversion and the lead – and Rockford (4-0) made the stop. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Grand Rapids West Catholic 35, Hudsonville Unity Christian 21 – Unity Christian (2-2) has impressed early, but West Catholic (4-0) remains the elite of small Class B programs on this side of the state.

East Kentwood 39, Grandville 38 – The Falcons (4-0) are off to their best start since 2004, and Grandville (2-2) is only 11 points over two losses from the same record.

Whitehall 41, Mason County Central 27 – Whitehall (4-0) is off to its best start since 2006 thanks to avenging last season’s 14-point loss to Mason County Central (2-2).

Muskegon 37, East Grand Rapids 7 – Few prepared for league play like Muskegon (4-0), which opened with wins over Detroit Catholic Central, Grand Rapids Christian, Grandville and now the Pioneers (2-2).

Bay and Thumb

Millington 27, Frankenmuth 13

The rivalry remains revved, with Millington ending Frankenmuth’s 17-game Tri-Valley Conference East winning streak and on the Eagles’ home field. Frankenmuth (3-1) had last lost a league game in 2011, also to the Cardinals (4-0). Click for more from The Saginaw News.

Also noted:

Flint Beecher 32, Goodrich 13 – The Bucs (4-0) look like early favorites to push reigning champion Montrose in the Genesee Area Conference Red, although Goodrich (3-1) gets the Rams first, this week.

Coleman 29, Carson City-Crystal 26 – A pair of two-point losses kept Coleman (3-1) from last season’s Mid-State Activities Conference title, making this three-point win over the reigning champion Eagles (3-1) that much sweeter.

Grand Blanc 13, Brighton 10 – The Bobcats (3-1) are off to a great start toward repeating as champions of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West, with Brighton (2-2) last season’s runner-up.

Mount Pleasant 24, Midland 21 – This has turned into a Saginaw Valley Association rivalry, with four of the last five between the two decided by eight points or fewer; Mount Pleasant (3-1) has beaten Midland (2-2) four of those last five.

Greater Detroit

Ypsilanti Community 20, Chelsea 14

Coming off its first sub-.500 season in the last 16, Chelsea (3-1) has looked so far much more like its usual playoff team self. That makes this arguably the most impressive win of the new Ypsilanti Community’s first two seasons – and gives the Grizzlies (3-1) a nice edge in the tough Southeastern Conference White. Click for more from

Also noted:

Dearborn Heights Robichaud 36, Saginaw Nouvel 13 – The Bulldogs (4-0) are off to another impressive start as they play for a fourth-straight playoff berth, while Nouvel (1-3) finds itself in a rare position of needing to win out to guarantee a return.

Oxford 21, Lake Orion 14 – What better way for Oxford (4-0) to prepare for reigning Division 1 champion and league favorite Clarkston than by beating last season’s Oakland Activities Association Red co-runner-up Lake Orion (2-2).

Birmingham Brother Rice 28, Warren DeLaSalle 21 – Rival Detroit Catholic Central is up next for Brother Rice (4-0), but the Warriors first had to survive a second-straight close one against the Pilots (3-1).

Warren Michigan Collegiate 20, Detroit University Prep 0 – Not only did the Cougars (4-0) avenge last season’s two-point loss to University Prep (3-1), but they also continued a now three-game shutout streak. 


Battle Creek Harper Creek 52, Charlotte 45 (3 OT)

This has been the best game of the four-week history of the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference, with Harper Creek rebounding from a Week 3 loss to league favorite Jackson Lumen Christi by surviving against the Orioles (1-3). Harper Creek (2-2) led by three scores at one point before Charlotte surged back and tied the score with less than a minute left in regulation. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer

Also noted:

Lansing Everett 42, Holt 41 (OT) – These are two of five Capital Area Activities Conference Blue teams that look capable of making the playoffs, and Everett (2-2) can breathe just a bit easier while Holt (1-3) has its work cut out to stay alive.

Grand Ledge 20, Okemos 7 – The Chieftains (2-2) clearly are improved and another CAAC Blue playoff contender, but Grand Ledge (2-2) remains a step ahead.

St. Johns 42, Mason 21 – This solidified the Redwings (4-0) as DeWitt’s top competition in the CAAC Red, and left Mason (1-3) needing to win out against a manageable group after starting with four strong opponents.

Williamston 32, Eaton Rapids 13 – The Hornets (4-0) are back among the best in the Lansing area, off to their best start since their Finals runner-up season of 2010 after soundly defeating the Greyhounds (2-2).

Upper Peninsula

Negaunee had outscored Iron Mountain (2-2) by a combined score of 64-14 the last two seasons dominating this matchup while the Mountaineers worked through a couple of middling seasons. Iron Mountain looks up to one of the toughest schedules in the U.P., while the Miners (2-2), coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons, must rebound from two straight losses with a tough second half of the schedule looming. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.

Also noted:

Ishpeming 38, Ishpeming Westwood 14 – Make that 17 straight over Westwood (3-1) for the Hematites (4-0), who by way of their eight-game schedule need one more win to become the first team this season to qualify for the playoffs.

Menominee 49, Gladstone 6 – The Braves (3-1) remain off to a strong start, but Menominee (4-0) remains the team to beat in the Great Northern U.P. Conference.

Marquette 24, Escanaba 22 – The Redmen (3-1) kicked off the Great Northern U.P. Conference schedule by breaking a three-game losing streak to the Eskymos (1-3).  

Lake Linden-Hubbell 28, Bessemer 20 – The Lakes improved to 3-1 while dropping Bessemer to the same in a battle of 2013 playoff teams.

Lower Up North

Tawas 34, Lincoln Alcona 20

Tawas looked like it might be on the upswing with a 2-1 start after winning a combined five games over the last two seasons. Beating a Lincoln Alcona team that had won 15 straight regular-season games made the point loud and clear. The Tigers (3-1) beat Tawas by 20 in 2013 and 36 points in 2012. Click for more from the Bay City Times.

Also noted:

Petoskey 42, Traverse City West 21 – Despite falling to favorite Cadillac last week, Petoskey (3-1) stayed in the Big North Conference mix by doubling up the Titans (1-3).

Cadillac 41, Alpena 28 – Make that 15 wins in 16 games for Cadillac (4-0), although Alpena (2-2) deserves a mention for its improvement.

Elk Rapids 38, Maple City Glen Lake 12 – Despite a 1-2 start, don’t forget the Elks (2-2), who beat solid Glen Lake (2-1) in impressive fashion.

Hillman 34, Rogers City 32 (2 OT) – The Tigers are figuring out every way to win, now doing so twice by more than 40 points and twice by a touchdown or less; Rogers City (1-3) is better than its record.


Peck 53, Dryden 6 

The way both had outscored their first three opponents, this looked like it could be higher scoring. But the reigning MHSAA champion Peck (4-0) impressed as much on defense as offense, scoring at least 48 points for the fourth time this fall while giving up its first score of the season. Dryden (3-1) hadn’t given up a point since opening night. Click for more from the Port Huron Times-Herald

Also noted: 

Deckerville 54, Morrice 26 – The Eagles (4-0) continued to shine against the Orioles (2-2), who playing 8-player for the first time after some success at the 11-player level.

Posen 30, Ewen-Trout Creek 24 – After opening with two losses, Posen (2-2) has bounced back well in pursuit of a second-straight playoff berth.

PHOTO: Mount Pleasant has won four of its last five against Midland, including 24-21 on Friday. (Click to see more from

Constantine Football All-Stater, Wrestling Champ Aiming for Grand Finale

By Scott Hassinger
Special for

April 30, 2024

CONSTANTINE – Bennett VandenBerg has earned many accolades over the last four years as a three-sport athlete at Constantine.

Southwest CorridorBut the awards aren't what the 6-foot-3, 240-pound standout will remember most when reflecting on his memories as an all-state football player, state champion wrestler and record-breaking throwing specialist on the Falcons' track & field squad.

"I'll remember how I represented our school and pushed myself to be the best I could be in each sport that I played," said VandenBerg, who has earned 12 varsity letters.

VandenBerg has evolved into one of the most accomplished athletes in the state this school year as a senior, especially standing out among those from smaller communities.

This past fall he was named first-team Division 5-6 all-state at defensive end in football before winning the Division 3 Individual Finals wrestling title at 285 pounds in early March at Ford Field.

VandenBerg's final goal is to win the discus title at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals on Saturday, June 1, in Kent City to end his Constantine career all-state in all three sports.

He broke the school record in the discus his junior year with a throw of 158 feet, 1 inch; the previous mark of 156-6 had been held by Doug Polasek since 1986. VandenBerg has eclipsed his school record twice this spring, most recently with a personal-best toss of 170-9 in a Southwestern Athletic Conference double dual meet with Schoolcraft and Kalamazoo Christian. He ranks No. 4 statewide in the event regardless of enrollment division. Lawton junior Mason Mayne at 175-4 is the only Division 3 competitor with a better throw than VandenBerg.

"It's really cool to have your name up on the school record board, but I'd like to make that mark more untouchable before I'm done," VandenBerg said. "My goal is to be a state discus champion. I've put in the necessary work for it. It would be nice to end my career that way."

Kyle Rimer, Constantine's veteran boys track & field coach, is most impressed with VandenBerg's leadership and presence in working with the Falcons' younger athletes.

VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. "Bennett loves to compete. Ever since he was a freshman, we've also had him on our 400-meter relay team. That's something he really enjoys doing. He's not just a thrower, but a good overall athlete with lots of drive,” Rimer said. “There's a lot of individuality in track & field, but I think he does a great job of leading the younger kids. He has the drive, accountability and technique to achieve his goal of being a state champion in his throwing events.”

VandenBerg is already a two-time Finals placer in the discus, earning sixth as a junior and seventh his sophomore year. He admits being a little disappointed with his distance at the 2023 state meet.

"In that particular event (discus) you need lots of focus and determination because there are a ton of tiny things you can mess up on that affect your throw. To become better you need to be consistent, show up every day and be willing to put in the work," VandenBerg said. "Right now I'm working on my speed in the circle and quickness in my follow-through."

VandenBerg also has been pleased with his improvement this spring in the shot put. He's increased his distance by over five feet and hopes to break the school record in that event as well. John Kampars (1967) holds Constantine's shot put record at 54-8¼, and VandenBerg's personal best is 48-10 in a double-dual meet this season against Parchment and Centreville.

"Shot put is a difficult event. You need power, but your form has to be top-notch – otherwise it's tough to move that 12-pound ball," VandenBerg said. "I would love to qualify for state in both the discus and shot put and be all-state in each. That would be amazing if I could be a state champion in either of those events."

VandenBerg has put in extra work in the offseason with special instruction from Bill Griffey of Next Throw in Plainwell, along with working with Constantine assistant track & field and head football coach Shawn Griffith.

"Bennett puts a lot of time into working on his throwing. He spends a lot of time in the weight room, and he's a bigger kid who is not afraid to be coached and listens to what other people tell him," Griffith said. "We're excited to see what he can do now that we've had warmer weather recently."

VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft.VandenBerg's motivation this spring follows a tremendous wrestling season that saw him finish 54-0 and capture the 285 championship with a 3-0 win in the title match over Reed City junior Wyatt Spalo.

"I gained 20 pounds of muscle and did everything you need to do to become a better athlete to wrestle the heavyweight division. Winning the title was overwhelming. It was everything I ever wanted, and the first 20 minutes after winning it was relief, especially after losing in the Finals as a junior. I just went into that last match and wrestled smart and confident," VandenBerg said. "My speed and strength gave me an advantage over the bigger heavyweights I faced this year."

Vandenberg, 188-22 with 104 career pins, became the 10th Finals champion in Constantine wrestling history and the first to achieve the feat since Kevin Watkins won a 152-pound crown in 2000.

VandenBerg competed at 189 as a freshman and sophomore. He was a Regional qualifier as a freshman and finished sixth in Division 3 as a sophomore before ending his junior campaign as the Finals runner-up at 215. 

"Bennett is a competitor who hates to lose, and if he does he learns from it. He had a lot of good practice partners on the team his first three years, and he wasn't going to be denied after losing in the Finals as a junior," said Constantine wrestling coach Dale Davidhizar Jr.

VandenBerg played on Constantine's varsity football team for four years. He got a lot of extra playing time as a freshman when Constantine reached the Division 6 Semifinals during in the COVID-shortened season. He led the Falcons in rushing as a sophomore before switching to tight end as a junior. Out of necessity, VandenBerg returned to lead Constantine in rushing and scoring again as a senior.

"Bennett learned a great deal from the older guys on the team his first three varsity seasons. He learned leadership qualities and is a very unselfish kid who is willing to do what's best for his team," Griffith said.

VandenBerg is most proud of Constantine winning a District crown last fall, especially after his senior class went 0-5-1 as eighth graders. VandenBerg posted 164 solo tackles at defensive end during his final high school season and was Constantine's main offensive weapon with 1,354 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing on 186 carries.

"Winning Districts as seniors in football was a special moment. As eighth graders, we weren't exactly the most athletic team, but we put in the work as we got older to become successful," VandenBerg said.

VandenBerg has been invited to play for the West team at the annual Michigan High School Football Coaches Association's East-West All-Star Game this summer.

College coaches have shown interest in VandenBerg in all three sports, especially football and wrestling. VandenBerg, who carries a cumulative GPA of 3.989 and scored 1110 on his SAT, is weighing his options in athletics but knows he wants to study either ecology or forestry in college.

"I love being outdoors and doing what I love to do," VandenBerg said.

Scott HassingerScott Hassinger is a contributing sportswriter for Leader Publications and previously served as the sports editor for the Three Rivers Commercial-News from 1994-2022. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Constantine’s Bennett VandenBerg competes in the discus during a home meet his junior season. (Middle) VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. (Below) VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft. (Photos by Brandon Watson/Sturgis Journal.)