Drive for Detroit: Week 5 in Review

September 26, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This weekend, we’ll be able to start counting how many teams have punched tickets for this season’s MHSAA playoffs. But here are a few numbers of note before we take that next significant step.

The number of undefeated high school varsity teams in Michigan was cut from 100 to 81 during Week 5. A total of 73 pulled to within a win of qualifying for the postseason. And in more of an oddity, three pairs of teams combined to score 119 points: St. Clair and St. Clair Shores South Lake (71-48 for St. Clair), Flint Kearsley and Swartz Creek (67-52 for Kearsley) and Kalamazoo United and Constantine (62-57 for Kalamazoo). On the other side of the spectrum, rivals Grosse Pointe North and South combined for an 8-4 North victory.

Numbers are great, but what mattered more, of course, were a number of results from all over the state. Check out the most significant from every corner below.

Bay & Thumb

Frankenmuth 24, Millington 7

The Eagles (5-0) made it four wins over their last five meetings with their Tri-Valley Conference East rival, this time holding an offense averaging 46 points per game to a single score while getting three touchdown runs from quarterback Jared Davis. Frankenmuth has given up only 27 points over five games this season – although Millington (4-1) did hold the Eagles to a season low on offense as well. Click for more from the Saginaw News.

Also noted:

Algonac 19, Croswell-Lexington 14 – The reigning co-champion Muskrats (5-0) more or less eliminated another Blue Water Area Conference contender in Croswell-Lexington (3-2) to keep pace with the other co-champion, Richmond, atop the standings.

Bay City Central 28, Midland 14 – The Wolves (3-2) equaled their win total from last season with their first over Midland (3-2) since a 2006 District Final.

Lake Fenton 35, Montrose 0 – The Blue Devils (5-0) likely brought the Genesee Area Conference Red race down to two teams, with Corunna, by handing the Rams (3-2) their first league loss. 

Flint Hamady 44, Durand 21 – Hamady (3-2) knocked Durand (4-1) out of a tie for first in the GAC Blue while pulling only a win behind solo leader New Lothrop after losing to the Hornets in Week 4. 

Greater Detroit

Detroit Catholic Central 28, Birmingham Brother Rice 21 (2 OT)

Brother Rice (3-2) may be back from its worst finish in 30 years, but Detroit Catholic Central earned the better track to finishing on top in the Detroit Catholic League Central. The Shamrocks (5-0) watched a 14-0 lead dissolve, but held on for a final stop after scoring the first points of the second overtime. DCC is only 1-0 in the Central, with Orchard Lake St. Mary’s at 2-0 as the other undefeated team in league play. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

Also noted:  

Trenton 31, Brownstown Woodhaven 28 – The Trojans (5-0) scored the final 17 points against previously-undefeated Woodhaven (4-1) to come back and stay atop the Downriver League standings with co-leader Allen Park up next.

Dearborn 22, Romulus 8 – The Pioneers (4-1) took over first place alone in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference Red with two league games to play and Romulus (4-1) needing help now from teams sitting tied for fourth and sixth.

Detroit Cody 18, Detroit Mumford 12 (3 OT) – After an eight-point loss to Grosse Pointe South on opening night, Cody (4-1) has put together its best start since 2010, doubled last season’s win total and now beaten a Mumford team (3-2) coming off three straight victories.

Utica Eisenhower 16, Romeo 14 – The Eagles (5-0) kept pace with Warren Mott atop the Macomb Area Conference Red by handing reigning MHSAA Division 1 champion Romeo (3-2) its first league loss on a last-second field goal by Anthony Tocco. 


Brighton 20, Grand Blanc 19

The Bulldogs (4-1) are alone at 2-0 in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West after getting a late turnover and then game-winning field goal by Rudy Ramirez against the rival Bobcats (4-1). Brighton has mastered the close win early this season, with three victories by six points or fewer. Click for more from the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

Also noted:

Corunna 48, Flint Beecher 20 – As noted above, the GAC Red race seems down to Corunna (5-0) and Lake Fenton, with the Cavaliers off to their best start since 2002 and Beecher (2-3) now having to win out to guarantee a 10th straight playoff berth.

Laingsburg 25, Fowler 14 – The Wolfpack (5-0) beat Fowler (3-2) for the first time since 2009 to remain tied for first in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference with co-leader Pewamo-Westphalia up next.

Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 47, Vestaburg 20 – The Irish (2-3) probably aren’t in the mix in the Mid-State Activities Conference after suffering two league losses during an 0-3 start, but they might have taken Vestaburg (4-1) out as well while keeping playoff hopes alive.

Grand Ledge 30, Jackson 19 – The Comets (4-1) scored the final two touchdowns but were a quarter from seeing their lead in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue disappear as Jackson (2-3) scored to take the lead at the start of the fourth. 

Northern Lower Peninsula

Traverse City Central 21, Gaylord 20

For the second time in three weeks, Traverse City Central just held on to its perfect record against a Big North Conference rival. After beating West 10-8 two weeks ago, the Trojans returned to league play Friday and drove for the go-ahead score over the final 1:11 to remain in first place in the Big North Conference. Gaylord (2-3) has fallen twice to Central by a combined eight points over their last two meetings. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Also noted:

Gaylord St. Mary 45, Central Lake 12 – The Snowbirds (5-0) have won all of their games by at least 18 points in amassing more victories this season than in any since 2009.

Boyne City 35, Grayling 14 – Hopefully no one counted out the Ramblers (3-2) after an 0-2 start; they are one of three teams still undefeated in Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends league play after handing Grayling (3-2) its first Legends defeat.

Maple City Glen Lake 49, Charlevoix 7 – The Lakers (4-1) left no doubt which team should be ahead in the NMFC Leaders title hunt, handing Charlevoix (4-1) its first loss with the other league favorite, Frankfort, up next.

Roscommon 36, Houghton Lake 34 – Every Roscommon win lately seems notable as the Bucks (5-0) go after a first league title since 2006, this one because Houghton Lake (3-2) is off to its best start since 2011.

Southeast & Border

Morenci 20, Clinton 17 (OT)

Morenci (3-2) has had a lot to celebrate while watching the football program ascend over the last three seasons. But Friday’s conquest had to be among the top handful of highlights. Clinton (4-1) hadn’t lost a regular-season game since 2011 – a run of 40 straight – and aside from an eight-point win over Adrian Madison two weeks ago hadn’t been slowed much this fall despite some pretty significant graduations this spring. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.

Also noted:

Homer 28, Springport 26 – The reigning Big 8 Conference champion Trojans (3-2) are hanging on tied for second in the league after knocking Springport (4-1) out of a tie for first.

Sand Creek 26, Adrian Madison 18 – The Aggies (5-0) moved into a Tri-County Conference first-place tie with only Ottawa Lake Whiteford thanks to an impressive win over Madison (3-2) and the Clinton upset discussed above.

Adrian 18, Ypsilanti Community 6 – The Maples (3-2) are working back toward their former status as contenders, this week avenging last season’s 45-point loss to Ypsilanti Community (2-2) to earn a third win – their most in a season since 2012.

Milan 42, New Boston Huron 7 – Huron (3-2) looked like it might give Milan (5-0) some trouble in the Huron League, but the Big Reds instead put together their most impressive win as they  head into this week’s likely title-decider against Grosse Ile. 

Southwest Corridor

Lawton 31, Gobles 21

Lawton won its third straight over the Tigers to set up this week’s matchup with Schoolcraft which could decide the Southwestern Athletic Conference Central championship. Lawton (5-0) ran for more than 400 yards to grind out the win after trailing Gobles (4-1) late in the second quarter. Click for more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Also noted:

Comstock 20, Niles Brandywine 14 – First, Comstock (2-3) breaks a 40-game losing streak last week; this week, the Colts won their second game in a row for the first time since 2010 and against a Brandywine team (1-4) that went 5-4 a year ago.

Kalamazoo United 62, Constantine 57 – Aside from the fact these teams combined to score 119 points, this is the first time either school in the United co-op – Hackett or Christian – had beaten Constantine (3-2) since 2008; Kalamazoo also is 3-2.

Climax-Scotts 20, Bark River-Harris 8 – The Panthers (5-0) got their closest competition this season from the unfamiliar Broncos (2-3) but still managed to continue a defensive effort that’s given up 31 points over five games.

Portage Central 10, Battle Creek Lakeview 7 – The Mustangs (4-1) needed and got a nice bounce-back from last week’s loss to Traverse City Central by handing Lakeview (3-1) its first loss.

Upper Peninsula

Norway 14, Ishpeming 0

Norway is enjoying one the best turnaround seasons in all of Michigan, and beating Ishpeming for the first time since 2009 is the topper so far. The Hematites had defeated the Knights by a combined 86-0 over the last two seasons, but Norway (5-0) now has more wins than in any season since 2010 – and will play Negaunee this week in what could be the deciding game in the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference race. Ishpeming (2-2) has two losses in a season for the first time since 2011, but with an eight-game schedule needs only five wins to qualify automatically for the playoffs. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.

Also noted:

Gladstone 46, Marquette 45 – The Braves (2-3) squeaked out their first win over Marquette since 2009 and after falling to the Redmen (1-4) by 30 a year ago.

Calumet 52, Hancock 17 – The Copper Kings’ big win over third-place Hancock (3-2) puts Calumet (4-1) firmly atop the West-Peninsula Athletic Conference standings.

Negaunee 19, Gwinn 12 – Add Gwinn (3-2) to an impressive list of challengers Negaunee (5-0) has taken down this season; next up are undefeated Norway and rival Ishpeming.

Lake Linden-Hubbell 44, Newberry 29 – The Lakes (5-0) still have three league games to play and Newberry (4-1) only one, but Lake Linden-Hubbell is in a semi-comfortable position in the Mid-Eastern Conference thanks to this key win. 

West Michigan

Montague 41, Whitehall 20

This one wasn’t as close as Montague’s one-point win over Whitehall (4-1) a year ago, but could turn out just as significant for the Wildcats (5-0) as they look to repeat as West Michigan Conference champions. Montague’s next two games are against teams that are a combined 2-8 before they face rival Muskegon Oakridge in the final league game and a rematch of the title-decider in 2015. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Also noted:

Hamilton 42, Holland 26 – The Hawkeyes’ resurgence continues; Hamilton is 5-0 after going 4-23 over the last three seasons combined.

Byron Center 24, Zeeland West 14 – Another nice run by the Bulldogs (4-1) just got a bonus as they handed reigning Division 4 champion Zeeland West (3-2) its second straight loss.

Grand Rapids Christian 41, Cedar Springs 16 – The Eagles (5-0) got a solid win over Cedar Springs (3-2) during a one-week break in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold schedule and heading into this week’s tilt with co-leader East Grand Rapids.

Wyoming Kelloggsville 36, Grandville Calvin Christian 28 – The Rockets (4-1) broke a five-game losing streak to Calvin Christian (2-3) to remain tied for first in the O-K Silver after winning three games last season.  


Camden-Frontier 22, Battle Creek St. Philip 0

Camden-Frontier (4-0) is enjoying a successful move to 8-player, breaking a 19-game losing streak on opening night. But this had to be a surprise; St. Philip is the reigning MHSAA runner-up and hadn’t lost a regular-season game since Week 9 of 2014 – or been shut out since making the move to 8-player in 2012. Click for more from the Hillsdale Daily News.

Also noted:

New Haven Merritt 68, Burton Madison 48 – Merritt (5-0) has enjoyed a nice run over the last three seasons, but this easily has been the Mustangs’ most dominating start – and also-undefeated Owendale-Gagetown is up next.  

Morrice 26, Mayville 20 (OT) – The Orioles (3-2) hung on for what likely will be a key win as they build their playoff case; Mayville was 5-4 in 11-player only a season ago.  

PHOTO: Morrice earned a key 8-player win in overtime over Mayville last week. (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.)