Drive for Detroit: Week 5 Preview

September 21, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Big things are ahead in Michigan high school football.

Not much will be decided this week as we cruise into the midpoint of the regular season. But teams all over Michigan are setting the foundations to celebrate soon – either as league champions or playoff qualifiers (and AuGres-Sims, 4-0 and playing eight games this season, can become our first this weekend).

Below is our weekly look at the games that appear most intriguing from every region of the state, powered by MI Student Aid. Keep these links handy for the weekend: MHSAA Score Center for scores as they come in (and links to each team’s schedule, league standings and playoff-points average), and, which again will broadcast nine games this weekend – click here for the schedule.

Bay & Thumb

New Lothrop (4-0) at Flint Hamady (3-1), Friday

The Genesee Area Conference Blue was decided last season by New Lothrop’s 51-16 Week 4 win over Hamady, and this matchup could be the eventual clincher again. The Hornets have now won 65 of their last 66 regular-season games going back to the start of 2010, and they haven’t given up a point this fall since downing GAC Red leader Lake Fenton in Week 1. But Hamady has held its last three opponents to single-digit scoring since losing to still-undefeated Cass City on opening night, signaling this might be closer than last year’s meeting.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Byron (3-1) at Lake Fenton (3-1), Midland (3-1) at Bay City Central (3-1), Flint Beecher (2-2) at Saginaw Nouvel (4-0), Harbor Beach (3-1) at Sandusky (2-2).

Greater Detroit

Birmingham Groves (3-1) at Farmington Hills Harrison (3-1), Friday

After falling to Oakland Activities Association White co-leader Oak Park last week, Groves has one more chance to mix up the top of the standings as it hopes to repeat as the league champion – this time likely sharing the title. Harrison is the other team currently in first, and longtime coach John Herrington is just two wins from tying retired Birmingham Brother Rice coach Al Fracassa for most wins (430) in MHSAA football history. A victory tonight for the Hawks could make Week 7 versus Oak Park the first opportunity for Herrington to break the record.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Utica Eisenhower (4-0) at Romeo (3-1), Clinton Township Clintondale (4-0) at Hazel Park (3-1), Marine City (4-0) at Madison Heights Madison (4-0), West Bloomfield (2-2) at Rochester Adams (4-0).


Portland (3-1) at Lansing Catholic (4-0), Friday

The Cougars kept this rivalry game as a potential league title decider by surviving a one-point game against Williamston last week. Portland won the last two Capital Area Activities Conference White titles after handing Lansing Catholic its lone league loss both seasons. Both teams are led by dynamic quarterbacks again – Michael Lynn III for Lansing Catholic and Austin Allison for Portland – and both also are giving up only 15 points per game.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Okemos (4-0) at Grand Ledge (3-1), Montrose (3-1) at Corunna (3-1), Clare (3-1) at Harrison (3-1), Fulton (3-1) at Pewamo-Westphalia (3-1).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Grayling (4-0) at Boyne City (4-0), Friday

The Northern Michigan Football League’s Legends division is again loaded, with three undefeated teams and two more at 3-1 out of seven teams total. This matchup should help break up some of the top pack. These two and two-time reigning champion Traverse City St. Francis are the co-leaders, after St. Francis downed Boyne City in Week 9 last year to secure the title. Grayling’s last league title came in 2013 in the old Lake Michigan Conference and Boyne won the Legends in 2014 – making it hardly surprising they’re among those battling the Gladiators again. Grayling gets St. Francis next week; Boyne City has its shot in Week 9.

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

Southeast & Border

Michigan Center (3-1) at Addison (4-0), Friday

Addison’s best start since 2006 has made the Cascades Conference race one of the most intriguing of the first half of the regular season. Last season’s co-champions, Grass Lake and Napoleon, remain in the mix, but Addison’s two-point win over Napoleon last week put the Panthers in first place alone. After six straight sub-.500 seasons, Addison is a win from breaking that streak. Michigan Center, meanwhile, is one of three teams tied for second in the league and only a three-point loss to Napoleon in Week 3 from being tied for first.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Adrian (3-1) at Chelsea (3-1), Quincy (3-1) at Reading (3-1), Homer (3-1) at Springport (2-2), SATURDAY Temperance Bedford (3-1) at Ann Arbor Pioneer (2-2).

Southwest Corridor

Kalamazoo Hackett (4-0) at Watervliet (4-0), Friday

The Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley is another league that has enjoyed a great nonconference run – five teams are 3-1 or 4-0, and the sixth is 2-2. Watervliet has won or shared its league’s championship six straight seasons and is on pace to break 500 points offensively for the third straight year. Hackett’s path has been different – the four wins this fall tie their most in nine of the last 10 seasons. But the Fighting Irish clearly are up to the challenge this year – and both will have to be up to the challenges of Constantine, Coloma, Delton Kellogg and new league foe Schoolcraft over the next five weeks.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY White Pigeon (3-1) at Mendon (4-0), Athens (4-0) at Climax-Scotts (3-1), St. Joseph (3-1) at Mattawan (3-1), Three Rivers (3-1) at Paw Paw (3-1).

Upper Peninsula

Bark River-Harris (3-1) at Norway (4-0), Friday

The Mid-Eastern Conference continues to produce some of the U.P.’s top matchups every week, and this one again could go far in figuring out the eventual champion. Norway is the only one of five teams that hasn’t played a league game; it’s also the only one undefeated and has the highest playoff-point average of the five. Bark River-Harris’ loss came to current M-EC leader Newberry; the Broncos interestingly have wins over teams from multiple states – Wisconsin and Illinois – a rarity on either peninsula.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Hancock (3-1) at Calumet (3-1), Gladstone (4-0) at Ishpeming (2-2), Negaunee (1-3) at Gwinn (2-2), Newberry (3-1) at Lake Linden-Hubbell (0-3).

West Michigan

Grandville (3-1) at East Kentwood (4-0), Friday

The Ottawa-Kent Conference Red easily could be headed for another split title – three teams shared last year, two in 2015 and 2014. And there appear to be four contenders again – these two obviously included. Grandville was one of those three champs a year ago, and minus a painful defeat to Warren DeLaSalle has given up only 27 points over its three wins. The Falcons have been nearly as stellar on that side of the ball, shutting out reigning Division 3 champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in Week 2 and despite giving up 32 last week to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (which is averaging 30 per game).

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Cedar Springs (3-1) at Grand Rapids Christian (4-0), Coopersvile (3-1) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (3-1), Grant (3-1) at Remus Chippewa Hills (3-1), Montague (4-0) at Whitehall (3-1).


Morrice (4-0) at Flint International Academy (4-0), Friday

Similar to last season, no one has slowed down Deckerville yet. But the winner of this game will have the most meaningful chance. All three are 3-0 in the North Central Thumb League Stars division, Morrice bouncing back from a 4-5 finish last season and Flint International picking right back up after going 6-3 in its first season of 8-player football in 2016. The Flames already have put up 190 points, more than half their total over nine games a year ago. They’ll face a great challenge in a Morrice defense that is giving up 4.5 points per game – a rarity in this high-scoring, wide-open format.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Rudyard (3-1) at Brimley (3-1), North Adams-Jerome (2-2) at Camden-Frontier (4-0), Lawrence (3-1) at Kingston (2-2), Onekama (4-0) at Suttons Bay (3-1).

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: Bark River-Harris, right, will take on Norway in this weekend’s most intriguing game in the Upper Peninsula. (Photo by Jeff Rochefort.)

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.)