Drive for Detroit: Week 5 Preview

September 22, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

There are 100 undefeated Michigan high school football teams at the midpoint of this season. Another 136 teams have only one loss heading into Week 5, which will be played out in most places tonight.

Eventually every fall, the elite emerge from all of those with great starts. And this looks like it's going to be that week for the 2015 season. 

A number of our undefeated teams take on those from the group with one loss. Many of those matchups are mentioned below in this week’s Drive for Detroit preview, powered by MI Student Aid. Many more may be discussed in Monday's review of the weekend; be sure to tune back in then. 

To see the weekend's full schedule, check out the MHSAA Score Center. All games below are Friday unless noted.

Bay & Thumb

Millington (4-0) at Frankenmuth (4-0)

A year doesn’t go by when this isn’t one of the must-see games from the Saginaw Bay area. There’s just too much history between the two; Millington has handed Frankenmuth its only two Tri-Valley Conference East losses over the last five seasons, and three of the Cardinals’ five league losses over the last five seasons came to the Eagles. Frankenmuth owns the most recent victory, 28-7 last year, and has outscored four opponents by a combined 150-20 this fall. Millington’s margin so far is 182-28 – and this one could see more offense than defense with standout quarterbacks Jared Davis and Bryce Bearss leading the Eagles and Cardinals, respectively.  

Others that caught my eye: Brighton (3-1) at Grand Blanc (4-0), Croswell-Lexington (3-1) at Algonac (4-0), Montrose (3-1) at Lake Fenton (4-0), Midland Dow (4-0) at Flint Powers Catholic (2-2).

Greater Detroit

Detroit Catholic Central (4-0) at Birmingham Brother Rice (3-1)

What gives this an edge over the many other 4-0 vs. 3-1 matchups in the Detroit area this week is a few-fold. The winner certainly has an upper hand in the Detroit Catholic League Central, annually one of the state’s most competitive leagues. But it’s also intriguing because of Brother Rice’s bounce-back from 2-7 a year ago – its first sub-.500 finish since 1985. The Warriors’ lone loss this fall was to Indiana power Mishawaka Penn; DCC handed previously-undefeated Cleveland St. Ignatius a first loss last week and also owns an always-impressive win over Toledo Whitmer. The Shamrocks’ 35-7 win over Brother Rice in 2015 was their first against the rival after three straight losses; Rice surely will be looking to start a new streak.

Others that caught my eye: Romulus (4-0) at Dearborn (3-1), Detroit East English (3-1) at Detroit Cass Tech (4-0), Romeo (3-1) at Utica Eisenhower (4-0), Dearborn Fordson (4-0) at Redford Thurston (3-1).


Stockbridge (3-1) at Lake Odessa Lakewood (4-0)

These two have combined to score 73 and then 103 points in their most recent meetings, respectively, and Stockbridge quarterback Mason Gee-Montgomery is coming off throwing eight touchdown passes to pass 100 for his career last week. Lakewood hasn’t scored fewer than 37 points this fall, and both teams are giving up their share as well. In addition to the obvious entertainment factor, this is a big one because it could decide the eventual Greater Lansing Athletic Conference champion. The Vikings are reigning champs, and with Stockbridge and Olivet are 2-0 in league play with two more league games left after this weekend.  

Others that caught my eye: Laingsburg (4-0) at Fowler (3-1), East Lansing (2-2) at Holt (2-2), Flint Hamady (2-2) at Durand (4-0), New Lothrop (4-0) at Byron (3-1).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Charlevoix (4-0) at Maple City Glen Lake (3-1)

The Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders division standings could clear up a little bit this week with this result; the winner will join Frankfort (which plays a crossover) as the only undefeated teams left in league play. This isn’t unfamiliar territory for the Rayders; they finished second in the Leaders in 2014. Glen Lake hasn’t been in contention since the formation of the NMFC that fall – but looks early more like the 2012 and 2013 teams that won Northwest Conference titles. The Lakers’ loss this season was by a mere eight points to powerhouse Traverse City St. Francis, and they beat 3-1 Onekama 42-7 a week ago. Charlevoix has an impressive win though too, by eight over NMFC Legends co-leader Boyne City in Week 2.

Others that caught my eye: Johannesburg-Lewiston (2-2) at Frankfort (4-0), Traverse City Central (4-0) at Gaylord (2-2), Houghton Lake (3-1) at Roscommon (4-0), Lincoln Alcona (3-1) at Whittemore-Prescott (3-1).

Southeast & Border

Adrian Madison (3-1) at Sand Creek (4-0)

Six of eight teams in the Tri-County Conference are .500 or better so far, and the league has a couple of significant matchups this week. Sand Creek gets a chance to prove it will stick in contention with also-undefeated Clinton and Ottawa Lake Whiteford. The Aggies have more wins than they’ve totaled in an entire season since 2011, but Madison – which lost to Clinton by only eight in Week 3 – is halfway to earning its first playoff berth since 2009.

Others that caught my eye: Tecumseh (2-2) at Chelsea (4-0), Springport (4-0) at Homer (2-2), Dundee (2-2) at Ida (4-0), Grand Ledge (3-1) at Jackson (2-2).

Southwest Corridor

Lawton (4-0) at Gobles (4-0)

This rivalry has been on, and then off, and now on again a few times over the last 15 years, but this edition might be the most meaningful in a while – and not just because Lawton won a nail-biter 30-27 a year ago. Both are staring down reigning champion Schoolcraft in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Central, with Lawton getting the Eagles next week and Gobles getting them in Week 7. Both are contenders to take the title away; Gobles has scored at least 50 points three weeks in a row, and Lawton has given up 12 – total – in four games.

Others that caught my eye: Battle Creek Lakeview (3-0) at Portage Central (3-1), Edwardsburg (4-0) at Dowagiac (2-2), Parchment (3-1) at St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic (4-0), Bark River-Harris (2-2) at Climax-Scotts (4-0) on Saturday.

Upper Peninsula

Lake Linden-Hubbell (4-0) at Newberry (4-0)

The Mid-Eastern Conference has seen the share of top games in the Upper Peninsula so far, and this one could finish the sorting for this season. Newberry, in fact, can clinch a share of the league title, which would its first since 2005 in the Straits Area Conference. The Lakes won the final Great Western Conference title last fall but have played only one Mid-Eastern game so far. They need to win this one to not only take the lead, but keep alive a 13-game regular-season winning streak that this fall included handing Hancock its only loss so far.  

Others that caught my eye: Calumet (3-1) at Hancock (3-1), Norway (4-0) at Ishpeming (2-1), Menominee (4-0) at Kingsford (3-1), Gwinn (3-1) at Negaunee (4-0).

West Michigan

Whitehall (4-0) at Montague (4-0)

This is a rematch of one of the classics from the Muskegon area a year ago; Montague won 29-28 in Week 5, which ended up contributing significantly to the Wildcats winning the West Michigan Conference championship. Comparing results against the same first four opponents from a year ago, Montague has been far more dominant this fall, outscoring those teams by a combined 173-24. Whitehall earned an impressive 50-47 win over much-improved Wyoming Kelloggsville in Week 1 and hasn’t slowed, running for 402 yards against Hart last week.

Others that caught my eye: Zeeland West (3-1) at Byron Center (3-1), Grand Rapids Christian (4-0) at Cedar Springs (3-1), Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (3-1) at Muskegon (3-1), Lowell (4-0) at Greenville (3-1).


Battle Creek St. Philip (4-0) at Camden-Frontier (3-0), Saturday

Camden-Frontier made its 8-player debut Week 1 by breaking a 19-game losing streak and has absolutely dominated, outscoring its first three opponents by a combined 194-8 – although two of those wins came against the same team. Regardless, the Redskins will find out Saturday where they might sit when it comes to the state’s elite. St. Philip has had a couple of closer-than-usual wins, two by 10 or fewer points. But the reigning MHSAA runner-up has won 16 of its last 17 games.

Others that caught my eye: Deckerville (4-0) at Rudyard (3-1), Pickford (3-1) at Posen (2-2).

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTO: Flint Hamady (blue helmets) downed Byron in Week 2 and takes on Durand this week; Byron takes on New Lothrop, which with Durand is tied for first in the Genesee Area Conference Blue. (Click to see more from Varsity Monthly.)

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.)