Drive for Detroit: Week 4 in Review

September 21, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

If Week 4 was an indication, there will be a few new leaders of their packs by the end of this football regular season. 

This weekend's highlights included the end of one of the most impressive league winning streaks in the state, a few more headlining upsets and the emergence of a handful of other teams that haven't made the "Drive" in a few seasons. 

Bay & Thumb

Midland 21, Mount Pleasant 14

Five of the last six meetings between these Saginaw Valley League Red rivals have been decided by eight points or fewer, with Midland running its streak to three straight over the Oilers. Both are considered playoff contenders this fall, lining up potentially in Division 2 – and if that happens, it’s a strong possibility they could meet again. The Chemics (4-0) also equaled last season’s win total, while Mount Pleasant fell to 3-1. Click for more from the Midland Daily News.

Also noted:

Sanford Meridian 32, Clare 10 – After falling to Clare (1-3) by only two points a year ago, Meridian (4-0) this time ended the Pioneers’ 33-game Jack Pine Conference winning streak that went back to 2010.

Flint Beecher 26, Goodrich 9 – The reigning champion Bucs (4-0) are in the Genesee Area Conference Red driver’s seat again after downing last season’s league runner-up, Goodrich (2-2).

Flint Powers Catholic 10, Davison 0 – After falling to Flushing on opening night, the Chargers (3-1) have given up seven points total in three games, with Davison (2-2) the second to be held scoreless.

Ubly 36, Marlette 12 – The Bearcats equaled their win totals of each of the last two seasons in moving to 3-1 for the first time since 2011, while beating Marlette (3-1) for the first time since 2012.

Greater Detroit

Warren DeLaSalle 30, Birmingham Brother Rice 6

Reigning Division 2 champion DeLaSalle (3-1) had fallen to Brother Rice by seven points or fewer both of the last two seasons, but got past the Warriors for the first time since 2011 to start the Detroit Catholic League schedule off with a key victory. The Warriors (1-3) had three losses combined from 2012-14, but also opened this fall with three tough out-of-state opponents. Click for more from MLive-Detroit.

Also noted:

Lincoln Park 18, Wyandotte Roosevelt 15 – The Railsplitters (3-1) are for real, this week equaling last season’s win total to tie for their best finish already since 2005, while downing annual Downriver League contender Roosevelt (3-1).

St. Clair Shores South Lake 34, Clinton Township Clintondale 8 – The Cavaliers (4-0) continued their nice comeback from 2-7 a year ago and can now circle Oct. 16 against Madison Heights Madison as the possible decider in the Macomb Area Conference Silver, although Clintondale (3-1) remains in the chase facing Madison the week before.

Dearborn Heights Robichaud 49, Redford Thurston 21 – Playoff regular Thurston (2-2) presented a new league challenge to Robichaud (4-0), but not enough as the Bulldogs moved to 2-0 in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue.

Plymouth 24, Livonia Churchill 16 – The Wildcats (3-1) owed this rival some big payback after last season’s 42-0 loss to the Chargers (2-2) that broke a string of three straight games between the two decided by a touchdown or less.


Portland 28, Lansing Catholic 6

Consider Portland’s comeback complete. Not only the Raiders beat their third 2014 playoff team already this fall, and not only did they equal last season’s win total after just four games. But Portland (4-0) also took a major step ahead in the Capital Area Activities Conference White, downing the reigning Division 5 runner-up and holding the usually high-powered Cougars (3-1) to their fewest points since 2009. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Brighton 35, Grand Blanc 12 – The Bulldogs (4-0) also equaled their win total from last season, beating Grand Blanc (3-1) during the regular season for the first time in their seven recent meetings as part of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association.

St. Johns 34, Haslett 32 – The Redwings (3-1) just keep looking more impressive and held off a late charge by Haslett (3-1) to become DeWitt’s biggest obstacle in the CAAC Red.

Lake Odessa Lakewood 61, Stockbridge 42 – There were few defensive stops as Lakewood (4-0) not only equaled its 2014 win total but pulled into lead position ahead of the Panthers (3-1) in the Greater Lansing Activities Conference.

Jackson 35, Lansing Sexton 34 – The Vikings (3-1) bounced back from last week’s seven-point loss by beating Sexton (0-4) for the first time since 2006; the Big Reds’ defeats this season are by a combined 24 points.  

Northern Lower Peninsula

Alpena 21, Cadillac 18

Alpena (2-2) has had its share of football struggles over the last decade, but is showing signs of a team on the rise – including this first win over Cadillac since 2007. The Wildcats opened with two losses by 14 and then nine points, respectively, but are 2-0 in the Big North Conference for the first time since their last playoff season of 2004. Cadillac (0-4) owns two three-point losses this season, contributing to its toughest start since 2003 – but could make a run to the finish and hope to reach the postseason at 5-4. Click for more from the Alpena News.

Also noted:

Boyne City 55, Kingsley 28 – The Ramblers (4-0) gave up their most points this season but also scored their most since Week 9 of 2014 against a Kingsley team (2-2) that hadn’t given up more than 14.

Grayling 48, Charlevoix 36 – The Vikings (3-1) pulled within a win of matching last season’s success by extending their streak over the Red Rayders (2-2) to seven straight.

Hillman 22, Rogers City 6 – While never in the same division of the North Star League, this two have played each other for 12 consecutive years; the Tigers (3-1) made it five in a row over Rogers City (2-2), which opened the series with seven straight wins.

Traverse City Central 28, Whitehall 21 – The Trojans (4-0) continued their surge, following up a close win over rival West last week with an impressive victory over previously-undefeated Whitehall (3-1). 

Southeast & Border

Brooklyn Columbia Central 21, Hudson 0

The Golden Eagles (4-0) have made a 180-degree turn from last season’s 0-6 start, which included a 43-7 loss to Hudson. Columbia Central won a combined seven games over the last three seasons but looks like the favorite in the Lenawee County Athletic Association after downing the reigning champion Tigers (2-2) and also 2014 runner-up Hillsdale in Week 3. Click for more from the Brooklyn Exponent.

Also noted:

Manchester 23, Grass Lake 13 – The Dutchmen (3-1) have taken control of this Cascades Conference rivalry with three straight wins over the Warriors (2-2).

Petersburg-Summerfield 38, Ottawa Lake-Whiteford 18 – The Bulldogs (3-1) succeeded in bouncing back quickly after losing last week to Morenci, and now will root for Whiteford (3-1) to beat Morenci in Week 7.

Monroe 41, Ann Arbor Skyline 6 – The Southeastern Conference Red is loaded this fall, making this a key win for the Trojans (3-1) over improved Skyline (2-2).

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 27, New Boston Huron 7 – The Falcons (4-0) could be headed for a second straight Huron League title after beating New Boston Huron (2-2), last season’s runner-up.

Southwest Corridor

Berrien Springs 7, Cassopolis 0

This matchup of former Lakeland Conference rivals might turn out to be a meeting between eventual Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference champions. Berrien Springs scored near the end of the first quarter, and hung on through a weather delay to hand Cassopolis (3-1) its first loss. The Shamrocks (4-0) are one of four teams in the BCS White, while the Rangers are one of four in the BCS Red and frontrunners in that league thanks to a Week 2 win over Mendon. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.

Also noted:

Stevensville Lakeshore 28, St. Joseph 14 – Lakeshore (3-1) remains in the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference West race thanks to this win, necessary after a one-point loss to Portage Central in Week 3; St. Joseph (3-1) gets Portage Central in Week 9.  

Hartford 32, Gobles 29 – The Indians (1-3) struggled at the start this season, but handed Gobles (3-1) its first loss of the fall.

Edwardsburg 26, Paw Paw 6 – The new-look Wolverine B Conference is filled with contenders, but Edwardsburg (4-0) remains at the top after downing playoff regular Paw Paw (2-2).

Battle Creek Lakeview 48, Mattawan 14 – After two straight losses and with two tough league crossovers ahead, the Spartans (2-2) needed a stand against a Mattawan team (2-2) in a similar spot.

Upper Peninsula

Newberry 31, Munising 14

It's early, of course. But at 3-1 and with a win over Munising, Newberry could be setting up for its best season in more than a decade. The Indians will have a tough time winning the Mid-Eastern Conference after losing to Bark River-Harris in Week 3, but are two wins off last season’s total and haven’t won six games since 2005. The Mustangs (3-1), last season’s Division 8 runners-up, had won 17 straight regular-season games and can create an interesting scenario at the top of the league standings when they face Bark River-Harris in Week 7.

Also noted:

Marquette 28, Escanaba 21 – The Redmen (1-3) loaded their nonleague slate and got off to a tough start, but are in first in the Great Northern Upper Peninsula Conference with Escanaba (2-2) dropping its second straight.

Crystal Falls Forest Park 28, Felch North Dickinson 20 – The Trojans (2-2) have had three games decided by eight points or fewer, and this was the first in their favor; it also dropped the Nordics to 1-3.

Negaunee 28, Iron Mountain 14 – Negaunee (4-0) avenged a three-point loss to the Mountaineers (2-2) from last season to move to 2-0 in the Mid-Peninsula Conference.

Ishpeming 46, Ishpeming Westwood 6 – The Hematites (4-0) continue to own this rivalry with 20 straight wins over the Patriots (2-2). 

West Michigan

Zeeland West 38, Comstock Park 28

This was one of the most challenging wins of the Dux’ 20-game regular-season winning streak, and certainly a different story than last season’s 57-7 win over Comstock Park. The Panthers (3-1) jumped out to a two-touchdown lead before the punishing running game and defense caught stride for West (4-0). Both are favorites in their divisions of the Ottawa-Kent Conference, with play beginning this week. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Muskegon Mona Shores 30, Caledonia 7 – The offense gets the praise, but the defense definitely was most impressive in this one for the Sailors (4-0), who have given up only 31 points this season; Caledonia (2-2) hadn’t scored in single digits since its last meeting with Mona Shores a year ago.  

Muskegon 56, East Grand Rapids 28 – The Big Reds (3-1) got four touchdowns from quarterback Kalil Pimpleton after the teams were tied 21-21, and the Pioneers (3-1) were unable to keep pace.  

Grand Rapids Christian 24, Zeeland East 20 – While nonleague, this was key for the Eagles (3-1) with the Chix (3-1) one of a number of tough teams dotting the final two thirds of the schedule.

Grand Rapids West Catholic 45, Hudsonville Unity Christian 28 – Handing the Crusaders (3-1) their first loss should provide a nice confidence boost for a West Catholic team (2-2) that had won 23 straight games before dropping two of three to start this fall. 


Cedarville 18, Onaway 12

Few have given Cedarville (3-1) a regular-season challenge during the 8-player era, but Onaway (2-2) didn’t make the move to 8-player until this season – and was a solid 4-5 a year ago playing 11-player in the Ski Valley Conference. Onaway’s other loss this season was to Rapid River – which gave Cedarville its only defeat.

Also noted:

Posen 42, Bellaire 6 – The Vikings (4-0) are looking like contenders in Bridge Alliance Conference after arguably their most impressive win since also beating Bellaire (2-2) in 2013.

Burton Madison 38, Akron-Fairgrove 16 – Madison (2-1), in only its eighth game every of 8-player, handed a first loss this season to the much more experienced Vikings (3-1).

PHOTO: Montrose, on defense, stopped Durand 69-0 on Friday to bounce back from two straight losses and improve to 2-2. 

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.)