Drive for Detroit: Week 5 in Review

September 29, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

No set up is needed to explain the significance of many of the games played across Michigan during Week 5 of the MHSAA football season. 

The scores speak for themselves.

Read on for some of the details behind a wide array of results that wowed many over this weekend. 

In addition, Ishpeming (5-0) became the first playoff qualifier for 2014, and Battle Creek St. Philip put up one of the most incredible point totals in MHSAA history – 89 points after trailing early in its 8-player win. 

Total, seven games this weekend saw teams combine to score more than 100 points – while six games saw both teams score in single digits, including one of the matchups highlighted below.  

Bay and Thumb

Goodrich 41, Montrose 39

The game of the season in the Genesee Area Conference Red was shaping up as Montrose vs. Flint Beecher on Oct. 17 – until Goodrich changed things up substantially by ending the Rams’ 22-game league winning streak. That Beecher/Montrose matchup might still decide part of the league title – but Goodrich is back in play as a contender. Click for more from the Flint Journal.

Also noted:

Almont 23, Richmond 6 – The Raiders (5-0) remained perfect while ending a 12-game Blue Water Area Conference winning streak for Richmond (4-1).

Lapeer 63, Mount Pleasant 0 – This is the most impressive win of an early run by the first-year Lightning (5-0), which looks like the Saginaw Valley Association Red favorite after dominating the Oilers (3-2).

Burton Atherton 34, Flint Hamady 22 – Atherton (4-1) still trails in the Genesee Area Conference Blue by a win, but knocked Hamady (4-1) out of a tie for first.

Millington 30, North Branch 29 – Only a week after a huge win over rival Frankenmuth, Millington (5-0) just survived against the Broncos (1-4) to remain atop the Tri-Valley Conference East. 

Southwest and Border

Battle Creek Lakeview 27, Stevensville Lakeshore 0

Lakeview has had plenty of success the last few seasons and is 19-3 over its last 22 games, two playoff losses included. But this might be the most impressive win of the run – although Lakeshore plays in the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference East and Lakeview in the West, the Spartans (3-1) still should celebrate their first win (and in impressive fashion) over the Lancers (4-1) since 2001. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Also noted:

Battle Creek Central 21, St. Joseph 10 – The Bearcats (3-2) already have their most wins since 2008 and now an upset of one of the best teams annually from the southwest in St. Joseph (3-2).

Plainwell 31, Vicksburg 21 – The Wolverine B Conference East title may have been decided Friday, with Plainwell (4-1) bouncing back from a Week 4 loss to slow the upstart Bulldogs (4-1).

Paw Paw 62, Edwardsburg 57 – The favorites in the Wolverine B West also met and combined for more than 100 points for the second straight season as Paw Paw (3-2) took a 2-1 advantage on Edwardsburg (4-1) in their recent series.

South Haven 34, Dowagiac 28 – South Haven (2-3) hadn’t beaten Dowagiac since 2007 – or scored a point on the Chieftains (2-3) since 2011. 

Lower Up North

Boyne City 28, Traverse City St. Francis 27 (OT)

This victory will become "legendary" if it ends up deciding the first Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends title. Boyne City (5-0) held on to first place after choosing to go for a 2-point conversion instead of an extra point that would’ve instead sent the game into a second overtime. Both losses for St. Francis (3-2) this season have come in OT. Click for more from the Petoskey News.

Also noted:

Traverse City Central 18, Gaylord 7 – The Big North Conference race is getting whittled down, with Central (4-1) putting much improved Gaylord (4-1) a game back of the leaders.

Suttons Bay 48, Charlevoix 19 – The Norsemen (4-1) with a win over East Jordan this week can clinch a share of the NMFC Legacy title; Charlevoix (2-3) must win out to guarantee a playoff berth.

Manistee 30, McBain 20 – The Chippewas (4-1) broke a four-game losing streak to McBain (2-3) to surpass last season’s win total with four more games to play.

Whittemore-Prescott 34, Lincoln Alcona 0 – The Cardinals (5-0) clinched a share of the North Star League’s Huron Shores title, although Alcona (3-2) can still gain a share with some Week 7 help from Rogers City. 

Greater Detroit

Clarkston 42, Oxford 14

Clarkston (5-0) left no doubt which is the top team again in the Oakland Activities Association Red, downing Oxford (4-1) to go with previous wins over Rochester Hills Stoney Creek and surprise contender West Bloomfield. The Wolves, defending MHSAA Division 1 champions, broke open the game at the end of the first half and pulled away during the second. Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.

Also noted:

West Bloomfield 39, Lake Orion 0 – The Lakers (4-1) are off to their best start since 2000 with their only loss to Clarkston; Lake Orion (2-3) finds itself needing to win out to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2000.

Farmington Hills Harrison 34, Southfield 27 (3 OT) – Harrison (4-1) kept its hopes alive for a share of the OAA White title, but now needs help from Southfield (3-2) against league leader Oak Park in Week 8.

Waterford Mott 20, Walled Lake Western 17 – Mott (4-1) equaled its highest win totals of the last six seasons and kept a share of the top spot in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association North by upending reigning champion Western (4-1).

Warren Woods-Tower 16, Madison Heights Madison 14 – Madison (4-1) had won 20 straight regular-season games, although Woods-Tower (5-0) nearly broke the streak in 2013 after becoming the first to fall in 2012. 

West Michigan

Caledonia 42, Rockford 0

Caledonia opened this season with two impressive wins and looked like a team to watch until then falling to 2-2 (although those losses were to talented teams as well). Put the Fighting Scots (3-2) back on the watch list; over the last decade, only powerhouse Muskegon has managed to put this kind of loss on Rockford (4-1). Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:  

Grand Rapids Christian 35, Hudsonville 34 – Only the shock of the above result kept this from being the area’s most intriguing game of the weekend; Christian (4-1) scored the go-ahead points during the final minutes, delivering Hudsonville (3-2) its second one-point loss in successive weeks.

Grandville Calvin Christian 29, Wyoming Godwin Heights 28 – The Squires (2-3) trail by a win in the O-K Silver standings but still have hope for the playoffs after giving Godwin Heights (4-1) its first loss.

Grand Rapids South Christian 41, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 14 – Just when it looked like the Sailors (3-2) might struggle after opening with two losses (albeit against strong teams), they’re looking good to win out in the O-K Gold; GRCC (2-3) must do the same to guarantee a seventh straight playoff berth.

Muskegon Oakridge 36, Ravenna 20 – Oakridge (4-1) still owns supremacy in the West Michigan Conference although Ravenna (4-1) is poised to take a share of the league title if the Eagles fall over the next three weeks. 


Manchester 18, Hanover-Horton 16

The Flying Dutchmen dissolved a little of the thrill of Hanover-Horton’s turnaround season with a goalline stand that set up this week’s likely Cascades Conference championship game against Grass Lake. Both are undefeated in conference play – Manchester (4-1 overall) has played one more game – while Hanover-Horton sits tied for third but still 4-1 overall and with a strong shot at its first playoff berth since 2008. Click for more from the Jackson Citizen-Patriot.

Also noted:

Charlotte 42, Parma Western 35 – The Orioles (2-3) delivered another heart-breaker to Western (2-3) which has three losses by seven points or fewer.

Fowler 27, Dansville 6 – The Eagles (5-0) are setting up a Week 8 championship game against Pewamo-Westphalia after the two more or less eliminated Dansville (3-2) from Central Michigan Athletic Conference contention over the last two weeks.  

Eaton Rapids 9, Portland 7 – This was another sign Eaton Rapids (3-2) has turned a corner as a program; after falling badly to Williamston in Week 4, the Greyhounds hung in a nail-biter against improving Portland (3-2).

Homer 40, Jonesville 16 – The Big 8 Conference looks to be a two-team race after Homer (5-0) dropped Jonesville (3-2) into third behind the Trojans and also-undefeated Union City. 

Upper Peninsula

Bark River-Harris 22, Felch North Dickinson 18              

Bark River-Harris (4-1) hasn’t won more than two games in a season since 2009 – and its four wins this fall equal the total of the last four seasons combined. The Broncos have won all four after losing on opening night to Crystal Falls Forest Park, but beating North Dickinson was by far the most impressive as the Nordics (3-2) are playoff regulars and went 8-3 a year ago. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

Also noted:

Iron Mountain 13, Ishpeming Westwood 8 – The Mountaineers (3-2) are shaping up as second-best in the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference, with Westwood (3-2) falling after two straight losses.

Marquette 21, Gladstone 13 – The Great Northern U.P. Conference race is again looking like Marquette (4-1) vs. Menominee, with Gladstone (3-2) falling to both in successive weeks.

St. Ignace 28, Johannesburg-Lewiston 0 – The Saints (5-0) are alone atop the Ski Valley Conference with the Cardinals (4-1) now in a tie for second place.

Hurley, Wis., 32, Bessemer 26 – Hurley (5-1) clinched a share of the Great Western Conference title while Bessemer (3-2) fell to third place despite a strong effort. 


Waldron 66, Webberville 46

When these two have met the last two seasons, it's been busy for the scoreboard operator. Waldron (4-1) scored its most points since Week 6 in 2012, and also scored its season-high points in 2013 in a 56-54 win over the Spartans (3-2). Click for more from the Hillsdale Daily News.

Also noted:

Kingston 26, Dryden 24 – The Cardinals (3-2) surpassed last season’s win total and kept a foot in the North Central Thumb 8-Man League race while handing Dryden (3-2) its second straight loss.

Big Rapids Crossroads Academy 26, Burton Madison 24 – The Cougars (1-4) earned their first win in 8 or 11-player since 2010.

PHOTO: Lapeer, in its first season after former schools West and East combined this summer, is off to a 5-0 start. (Click to see more from

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.)