Drive for Detroit: Week 5 in Review

September 24, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Fall officially is upon us. And so is the home stretch of another MHSAA football regular season.

Four weeks remain before the playoffs begin, and that allows us to crunch some numbers all 596 11-player teams surely are following with interest.

So far, one team has qualified for the postseason. Another 73 can do so with a victory this week.

And that's only part of the excitement, as many still have chances at league championships hanging in the balance.

Many are mentioned below in this week's Drive for Detroit report.

Greater Detroit

Livonia Churchill 43, Canton 40

Churchill took a major stride toward its first league title since 1979. Although the teams combined for nearly 1,000 yards in total offense, the Chargers made a last stand to improve to 5-0 and 3-0 in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association South. For Canton, it’s been some tough luck – its two losses are by a combined four points. Click to read more from Mlive Detroit.

Also noted:

Orchard Lake St. Mary 13, Detroit Cass Tech 6 – Cass Tech has appeared invincible, but this victory by the reigning MHSAA Division 3 champion over the reigning champ in Division 1 re-opens the debate over the best in Michigan overall this fall.

Detroit University Prep 28, Warren Michigan Collegiate 26 – After winning one game in the Charter School Conference in 2011, University Prep is one win from clinching at least a share of the title and also equaling its most ever.

Oak Park 20, Farmington 15 – At 5-0, Oak Park has won its most games since 2007 and is off to its best start since 1998.

Milan 35, Monroe St. Mary Catholic 20 – The Big Reds are in the midst of one of the biggest turnarounds in the state this fall, now 5-0 after going 1-8 in 2011 and losing their last four to Monroe St. Mary.

West Michigan

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 43, East Grand Rapids 17

This was played in a baseball stadium, Fifth Third Ballpark, but hardly looked like a baseball game on the scoreboard. Forest Hills Central scored all 43 points in the first half and continued on what is shaping up as a special season despite the competition in the ultra strong O-K White. The Rangers improved to 4-1 and had lost seven straight to the Pioneers dating back to 2001. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Grand Rapids Christian 38, Caledonia 21 – This is another one that dictates some order in the O-K White, with both of these teams still 4-1 despite the Eagles’ one-game league advantage.

Comstock Park 38, Belding 31 – The Panthers outlasted the Redskins to remain one of only two 2-0 teams atop the O-K Blue.

Montague 9, Whitehall 3 – Make that six straight wins for Montague in the battle for the “Bell” that has raged more than a century.

Muskegon Mona Shores 41, Grand Rapids Union 6 – Every week seems to bring another accomplishment for the Sailors, who are 4-1 for the first time since 1989.

Upper Peninsula

Kingsford 14, Menominee 13

Overlooked accidentally in Friday’s pregame report, this ended up as the best this weekend in the entire peninsula. Both entered 4-0 after the first week of Great Northern Upper Peninsula Conference play and with little to spare. The league again looks like a gauntlet after three of five teams made the playoffs in 2011 and a fourth finished 5-4. Click to read more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.

Also noted:

Marquette 35, Gladstone 14 – Also in the GNUPC, this keeps Marquette just a game back of the co-leaders and two from making the playoffs.                              

Rapid River 60, Engadine 40 – Rapid River was one of three undefeated teams atop the Bridge 8-Man Football Alliance heading into the week; now there are two.

Cedarville 42, Eben Junction Superior Central 12 – These were the other two B8FA teams that came in 4-0; Cedarville continues to look like possibly the best team in all of 8-player this fall.

Iron Mountain North Dickinson 40, Bark River-Harris 0 – The Nordics became the first team to earn an MHSAA playoff berth; they are 5-0 playing only eight regular-season games this fall.

Southwest and Border

Edwardsburg 49, Three Rivers 41

These Wolverine B Conference South foes seem to be tailor-made for the rain that fell all over the Lower Peninsula on Friday. On a night of offensive firepower, Edwardsburg supplied a little bit more by running for 485 yards and seven touchdowns. The win sets up the Eddies as Dowagiac’s biggest competition for the league title. Click to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Also noted:

Watervliet 41, Hartford 29 – The separation has begun in the Southwestern Athletic Conference South, and Watervliet moved to 5-0 overall.

Paw Paw 24, Vicksburg 13 – The Redskins also moved to 5-0 overall and are tied with Plainwell now atop the Wolverine B Conference North.

Portage Central 33, St. Joseph 23 – The best of the strong Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West keep beating up on each other, with the Mustangs now just a game behind the leaders.

Stevensville Lakeshore 37, Niles 21 – Similar story from this SMAC West game, but Lakeshore is sharing first place with Mattawan, a win ahead of Central and Portage Northern.

Lower Up North

Traverse City Central 49, West Branch Ogemaw Heights 21

There’s plenty to tout with the surging Trojans. They’re 4-1, tying last season’s win total. They’re tied with crosstown rival Traverse City West atop the Big North Conference. They’re off to their best start since 1991, when the schools were still combined. And they’ve got the Titans next in arguably the biggest game of this rivalry since they split in 1997. Click to read more from the Traverse City Record Eagle.

Also noted:

Traverse City West 40, Cadillac 11 – The Titans couldn’t afford a trip-up heading into this week’s game with Central that could eventually be the decider in the Big North Conference.

Traverse City Christian 60, Big Rapids Crossroads 48 – These teams have only one win combined between them, but Christian set a school record for points and Crossroads scored its third-most ever.

Kingsley 12, Frankfort 6 – After a four-point loss to Frankfort in 2011, the Stags turned the tables to keep atop the Northwest Conference.

Boyne City 29, Traverse City St. Francis 13 – The Ramblers had lost 10 straight to St. Francis, including 28-0 in 2011.

Thumb and Bay

Lapeer West 13, Linden 10

A 23-yard field goal with five seconds to play earned Lapeer West coach Mike Smith his 100th win and handed Linden its first loss of the season. Both Flint Metro League teams have a loss and are chasing first-place Swartz Creek. Click to read more from the Flint Journal.

Also noted:

Freeland 16, Saginaw Swan Valley 14 – Another week, another Tri-Valley Conference Central re-mix at the top; now it’s Hemlock in first with these two tied for second.

Midland 41, Mount Pleasant 34 – The Chemics keep churning through close ones; they improved to 5-0 with their third win of seven or fewer points this fall.

Reese 23, Vassar 0 – This wasn’t as close as billed, perhaps, but Reese now is the sure frontrunner (again) in the Greater Thumb Conference West.

Richmond 35, Armada 33 – While Croswell-Lexington has a firm hold on first in the Blue Water Area Conference, five more teams (these two included) are either 3-2 or 2-3 overall and working toward that magic number of six wins.  


Charlotte 35, Mason 3

On one hand, it was a little early to put so much pressure on a young Mason team that indeed started 4-0, but against opponents that have combined for only two wins so far. On the other hand, few in mid-Michigan gave Charlotte much of a chance in this one – and the Orioles no doubt took that to heart. Charlotte is 3-2 and looks good to win at least three more and earn its first playoff berth since 2008. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Holt 21, East Lansing 14 – Despite a couple of tough losses to elite teams, Holt isn’t going away; the Rams are 3-2 and look good to double that win total after handing the Trojans their first loss this fall.

Springport 26, Union City 25 – Three losses by a combined 21 points led to a tough start this fall for the Spartans, but this helps after they lost to Union City 47-8 in 2011.

DeWitt 34, St. Johns 20 – The Panthers look like they’ve found another quarterback in Jacob Heath, and need just one more win in the Capital Area Activities Conference Red for a share of the title.

Portland 40, Williamston 7 – This sets up the CAAC White as a two-team race between the Raiders and Lansing Catholic.

Trophy Games

Each week, the MHSAA highlights trophy games around the state. Here's another to go with the Montague/Whitehall battle for "The Bell" mentioned above.

  • Iosco County News-Herald and Oscoda Press (News-Press) Trophy: Oscoda hosted Tawas in this 58th meeting dating back to 1954, and won its seventh straight of the series. Final: Oscoda 22, Tawas 18.

PHOTO: Orchard Lake St. Mary junior fullback Jeff Robinson rumbles through the Detroit Cass Tech defensive during Friday's win by the Eaglets. (Click to see more at Terry McNamara Photography.)

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.)