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

Inspired by Dad's Memory, Lawrence's Vasquez Emerges After Family Losses

By Pam Shebest
Special for

January 16, 2024

LAWRENCE — While COVID-19 affected many students in different ways, it definitely made an impact on Austin Vasquez.

Southwest CorridorAs a freshman at Lawrence High School during the pandemic, Vasquez lost his grandmother Theresa Phillips to cancer on March 25, 2021.

Two days later, on March 27, his father Tom Vasquez, died of complications from COVID. And on April 19 that spring, his grandfather Darrell “Gene” Phillips also lost his fight against the coronavirus.

“There is no way (to cope). You just have to keep on moving,” Austin said. “It’s what (my dad) would want me to do.

“He was my biggest (influence) in sports. He talked to me about never giving up – leave everything you’ve got.”

That is just what Vasquez is doing in the midst of his three-sport senior year.

He is the top wrestler at the school, competing at 175 pounds with a goal of making the MHSAA Tournament. He was a versatile contributor on the football field this past fall, and he’s planning to join the baseball team this spring.

Vasquez works on gaining the advantage in a match against Mendon. He’s 8-3 with six pins on the mat this winter after a busy summer of camps and tournaments. Those experiences helped lessen the nerves he’d felt during matches previously, and now he’s wrestling with an outlook of “everything to gain and nothing to lose.”

And Vasquez said he feels his dad’s presence as he prepares for competition.

“Before every match, before every game, I just think about what my dad would be telling me,” he said. “Everything he’s always told me has taught me to get better. 

“In life, I still remember everything he taught me. He was definitely a great man, and I want to be like him someday.”

Wrestling also has made Vasquez more in tune with his health.

His sophomore season he went from 230 pounds to 215, and by his junior year was down to his current 175.

“I just wanted to be healthier, not just for wrestling,” he said. “I started going to the gym every night, watched my calories, and from there grew (taller).

“Now I’m at 6-(foot-)2, and I don’t know how that happened,” he laughed.

Lawrence coach Henry Payne said Vasquez always has a positive attitude and helps the other wrestlers in the program.

“When he notices a kid next to him doing a move wrong, he’ll go over and show him the right way,” Payne said. “We have a lot of young kids that this is their first year, and he’s been a good coach’s helper.”

The coach’s helper gig will continue after graduation.

"Next year we’re hoping to open up a youth program here, and I got him and an alumni that graduated last year and is helping the varsity team this year (Conner Tangeman) to take over the youth program for us,” Payne said.

 From left: Lawrence wrestling coach Henry Payne, athletic director John Guillean and football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. On the football team, Vasquez was a jack of all trades.

“He started at guard, went to tight end, went to our wingback, went to our running back. He was trying to get the quarterback spot,” football coach Derek Gribler laughed.

Vasquez said there is no other feeling like being on the field, especially during home games.

“Wrestling is my main sport, but I’d do anything to go back and play football again,” he said. “I just love it.”

Although the football team struggled through a 1-8 season, “It was still a really fun season,” Vasquez said. “Everybody was super close. Most of us never really talked before, but we instantly became like a family.”

Vasquez had the support of his mother, Heather, and four older sisters: Makaylah, Briahna, Ahlexis and Maryah. He also found his school family helped him get through the end of his freshman year.

“(My friends) were always there for me when everything was going on,” he said. “I took that last month off school because it was too hard to be around people at that time.

"Every single one of them reached out and said, ‘Hey, I know you’re going through a rough time.’ It really helped to hear that and get out of the house.”

Vasquez also was a standout on the football field. The family connection between Vasquez and Lawrence athletic director John Guillean goes back to the senior’s youth.

“I was girls basketball coach, so I coached his sisters,” Guillean said. “I remember him when he was pretty young. I knew the family pretty well. I knew his dad. He was pretty supportive and was there for everything.”

Vasquez said that freshman year experience has made him appreciate every day, and he gives the following advice: “Every time you’re wrestling, it could be your last time on the mat or last time on the field. Treat every game and every match as if it’s going to be your last. If you’re committed to the sport, take every chance you have to help your team be successful.”

Gribler has known Vasquez since he was in seventh grade and, as also the school’s varsity baseball coach, will work with Vasquez one more time with the senior planning to add baseball as his spring sport.

“When we talk about Tiger Pride, Austin’s a kid that you can put his face right on the logo. His work ethic is just unbelievable,” Gribler said. “Everything he does is with a smile. He could be having the worst day of his life, and he’d still have a smile on his face. He pushes through. It’s tough to do and amazing to see.”

The coach – who also starred at Lawrence as an athlete – noted the small community’s ability to rally around Vasquez and his family. Lawrence has about 150 students in the high school.

“It goes beyond sports,” Gribler said. “Austin knows when he needs something he can always reach out and we’ll have his back, we’ll have his family’s back. It’s not so much about winning as it is about the kids.”

Vasquez is already looking ahead to life after high school. He attends morning courses at Van Buren Tech, studying welding, and returns to the high school for afternoon classes. 

“I’d like to either work on the pipeline as a pipeline welder or be a lineman,” he said, adding, “possibly college. I would like to wrestle in college, but let’s see how this year goes.

“I’m ready to get out, but it’s going to be hard to leave this all behind.”

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Lawrence senior Andrew Vasquez, right, wrestles against Hartford this season. (2) Vasquez works on gaining the advantage in a match against Mendon. (3) From left: Lawrence wrestling coach Henry Payne, athletic director John Guillean and football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. (4) Vasquez also was a standout on the football field. (Wrestling and football photos courtesy of the Lawrence athletic department. Headshots by Pam Shebest.)