Drive for Detroit: Week 5 in Review

September 25, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

If there was a theme that emerged across much of the state during Week 5 in Michigan high school football, it boiled down to this: Not so fast. 

Not so fast, teams appearing to break away from the pack.

Not so fast, new contenders on the block who have won big but still have big opponents to play.

Not so fast, those counting out those old favorites because they’ve fallen early to teams on the rise.

And not so fast, if you’re thinking a slow start is sure to be followed by a disappointing finish.

We’ve passed the midpoint of the regular season, but this week’s Drive for Detroit review – powered by MI Student Aid – saw a number of teams show there’s plenty yet to prove and decide over the next month.  

Bay & Thumb

Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker 20, Cass City 14

This could be the eventual decider in the Greater Thumb Conference West as Laker handed Cass City (4-1) its first loss this season while beating the Red Hawks for the seventh straight year. The Lakers (4-1), perfect since falling to still-undefeated Hudson on opening night, held on as Cass City finished the game four yards from tying the score. Click for more from the Huron Daily Tribune (and check out the video below from Thumb Tailgater Sports).

Also noted:

New Lothrop 56, Flint Hamady 34 – Make that 66 wins in its last 67 regular-season games for New Lothrop (5-0), although Hamady (3-2) scored more than any opponent had on the Hornets in any game since 2014.

Midland 42, Bay City Central 35 – Midland (4-1) earned a solid win in a matchup of teams in first place in their respective Saginaw Valley League divisions; the Chemics are co-leaders in the Blue, and Central (3-2) is one of two atop the Red.

Lake Fenton 24, Byron 6 – The Blue Devils (4-1) held on to a slim lead over Montrose in the Genesee Area Conference Red while sending Byron (3-2) to fourth place in what continues to be a tight league race.

Frankenmuth 47, Bridgeport 42 – The Eagles (5-0) trailed by 21 during the second half before coming back to beat a Bridgeport team that at 3-2 has more wins already than it finished with in any of the last three seasons.

Greater Detroit

West Bloomfield 17, Rochester Adams 16

Over two weeks West Bloomfield broke open the Oakland Activities Association Red title chase, handing Adams its first loss after doing the same to Clarkston in Week 4. Quarterback Bryce Veasley threw two touchdown passes including a 99-yarder to Tre Mosley, and the Lakers (3-2) stopped an Adams two-point conversion attempt after the Highlanders (4-1) scored during the final minutes. Click for more from the Oakland Press (and see highlights from State Champs! Sports Network).

Also noted:

Madison Heights Madison 28, Marine City 24 – A contender in the Macomb Area Conference Silver, Madison (5-0) got a major playoff points boost from handing MAC Gold co-leader Marine City (4-1) its first loss.

Detroit Mumford 13, Detroit Cody 7 – Mumford (4-1) kept just ahead of Cass Tech with one more league win in the Detroit Public School League Green title hunt, and likely will cheer for Cody (3-2) to beat the Technicians this week.

Birmingham Groves 32, Farmington Hills Harrison 31 – The reigning champ Falcons (4-1) kept themselves alive in the OAA White, moving into a second place tie now with Harrison (3-2) and Troy one win behind Oak Park.

Clinton Township Clintondale 30, Hazel Park 14 – MAC Bronze leader Clintondale (5-0) eclipsed last year’s win total with an impressive one over the OAA Blue-leading Vikings (3-2), who are already one win better than last year with their most since 2012. 


Portland 35, Lansing Catholic 6

The Raiders, adding this win to another over Williamston in Week 3, own a commanding lead in the Capital Area Activities Association White as they play for a three-peat. Portland (4-1) scored the first 28 points this time and locked down an offense that was averaging 39 points per game entering the night. Lansing Catholic (4-1) is 29-3 during the regular season since the start of 2014 – with all three losses to the Raiders. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Williamston 35, Ionia 34 – The Hornets (3-2) bounced back from painful losses to Portland and Lansing Catholic by edging the Bulldogs (3-2), who similarly have lost two games by a combined nine points.

Clare 42, Harrison 14 – A potential Jack Pine Conference-deciding matchup with Beaverton wouldn’t come until Week 9, but Clare (4-1) took a step toward making it happen by knocking the Hornets (3-2) into a tie for third place.

Laingsburg 33, Fowler 0 – The Wolfpack (4-1) set up this week’s matchup with Pewamo-Westphalia for first place in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference by extending a two-year winning streak over Fowler (2-3) for the first time since 2008-09.

Grand Ledge 28, Okemos 20 – This kept reigning champ Grand Ledge (4-1) tied atop the CAAC Blue with Holt, but also showed that Okemos (4-1) can hang with the league’s best after a fast start against opponents that haven’t had much success this fall.

Northern Lower Peninsula

Boyne City 21, Grayling 6

The Ramblers (5-0) extended their winning streak over Grayling to four straight and in doing so took a sizable step toward making Week 9’s matchup with Traverse City St. Francis a potential decider in the Northern Michigan Football League Legends division. Those two met to decide the title in Week 9 in 2016 and are tied for first place again. Click for more from the Petoskey News-Review.

Also noted:

Cheboygan 22, Kalkaska 15 – Also in the NMFL Legends, Cheboygan (2-3) equaled its most wins in a season since 2013 by avenging last year’s 35-0 loss to the Blazers (3-2).

Frankfort 52, Johannesburg-Lewiston 14 – The Panthers (4-1) took their points-per-game average this season to 47 against the rebounding Cardinals (3-2), who will equal last year’s win total with their next victory.

Lake City 20, Beal City 14 – The Trojans (5-0) have now handed losses to two of three teams tied for second in the Highland Conference, while Beal City (3-2) will face those other two over the next two weeks as it looks to stay in contention.

Harbor Springs 20, St. Ignace 16 – The Rams (3-2) downed the reigning league champion Saints (1-4) to maintain first place in the NMFL Legacy.

Southeast & Border

Michigan Center 36, Addison 24

The Cardinals (4-1) dissolved at least some of the excitement surrounding Addison’s best start in more than a decade by creating a three-way tie for first in the Cascades Conference with the Panthers (4-1) and Napoleon (which had beaten Michigan Center in Week 3). Addison and Napoleon already have met as well. Click for more from the Jackson Citizen Patriot.

Also noted:

Brighton 30, Livonia Stevenson 10 – The Bulldogs (3-2) kept themselves in contention for at least a shared title in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association Black by handing Stevenson (4-1) its first loss.

Blissfield 25, Brooklyn Columbia Central 14 – After leader Hudson, the Lenawee County Athletic Association is a bit of a jumble with Blissfield (3-2) now in the mix a week after Columbia Central (3-2) looked to be joining.

Jackson 35, Lansing Sexton 28 – The Vikings might be the best 1-4 team in Michigan and showed it against the talented Big Reds (3-2) after earlier absorbing one and two-point losses.

Reading 13, Quincy 12 – The Rangers (4-1) kept themselves tied for first in the Big 8 Conference with Union City; Quincy (3-2) faced them both over the last two weeks.

Southwest Corridor

Watervliet 52, Kalamazoo United 34

Watervliet and quarterback Zach Pickens are putting up huge offensive numbers, and the Panthers (5-0) kept their streak going of scoring at least 50 points in every game this season. This was only the opener of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley schedule, but Kalamazoo United (4-1) was a strong first test in a league loaded with them. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.

Also noted:

Coloma 41, Constantine 0 – Staying in the SAC Valley, the Comets (4-1) guaranteed their best finish since 2009 and after losing to Constantine (3-2) by scores of 68-35 and 46-0 over the last two seasons.

Hartford 39, Decatur 38 – The Indians (4-1) have doubled their wins and nearly their points scored as well from 2016 already, with downing Decatur (3-2) their best victory so far.

Three Rivers 14, Paw Paw 0 – The Wildcats (4-1) will get to affect the Wolverine B Conference race as one of four teams in first or second, while Paw Paw (3-2) will need some breaks to get back in the mix.

St. Joseph 42, Mattawan 7 – The Bears (4-1) will need help to win the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West, but can claim a win over the SMAC East-leading Wildcats (3-2). 

Upper Peninsula

Gladstone 20, Ishpeming 8

The Braves (5-0), new to the Mid-Peninsula Conference this season, clinched a share of the league title with this victory; they will face winless Iron Mountain in Week 8 with an opportunity to win the championship outright. Ishpeming scored first, but Gladstone scored the final three touchdowns of the game. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

Also noted:

L'Anse 20, Hurley (Wis.) 18 – The Purple Hornets (4-1) held on to a share of the lead in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference by downing another contender in Hurley (4-2).

Hancock 42, Calumet 24 – Staying in the West PAC, the Bulldogs (4-1) could still find their way into the title conversation after moving to 3-1 in the league by downing the Copper Kings (3-2).

Norway 28, Bark River-Harris 14 – Norway (5-0) controlled its destiny to remain in first in Mid-Eastern Conference by handing Bark River-Harris (3-2) a second league loss, then got some help (see below).

Lake Linden-Hubbell 34, Newberry 20 – Lake Linden-Hubbell (1-3) is in playoff mode already as it seeks a fifth straight postseason berth, and the Lakes started to bounce back from a slow start by handing Newberry (3-2) its first M-EC defeat. 

West Michigan

Montague 46, Whitehall 44

The West Michigan Conference has been one of the state’s most exciting the last two weeks, with Whitehall handing reigning champion Muskegon Oakridge a loss in Week 4 only to be edged Friday by Montague (5-0) – which faces Oakridge in Week 7. Whitehall (3-2) came back from 20 points down to make the 111th meeting between the teams a close finish; Montague owns a 61-48-2 edge in the series. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle (and see below for a highlight from FOX 17.)

Also noted:

Hudsonville Unity Christian 35, Comstock Park 32 – The Crusades (3-2) had opened Ottawa-Kent Conference Green play with two defeats, but may have turned things around by downing the O-K Blue co-leading Panthers (4-1).

Grandville 28, East Kentwood 14 – East Kentwood (4-1) arguably had been the most impressive O-K Red team heading into Week 5, but the Falcons will need help to get back in the title hunt as Grandville (4-1) held onto a first-place tie with Holland West Ottawa (Rockford also is without a league loss, but with one fewer game so far).

Grand Rapids Christian 48, Cedar Springs 44 – The Eagles (5-0) scored on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Isaac Dykema to Anthony Ladd with six seconds to play to down the Red Hawks (3-2).

Muskegon Heights Academy 36, Ludington 27 – The Tigers (3-2) hadn’t won more than two games the last two seasons and haven’t won more than three since 2011; they’ll face Muskegon Catholic Central this week with first place in the Lakes 8 Conference on the line after handing the Orioles (2-3) their third league defeat. 


Morrice 40, Flint International Academy 28

Morrice (5-0) set itself up for a matchup with undefeated Deckerville this week for first place in the North Central Thumb League Stars division. The Orioles have won all of their games by at least 12 points, but third-place International Academy (4-1) gave them their closest game and gets its chance against Deckerville in Week 7. Click for more from the Owosso Argus-Press. 

Also noted:

Onekama 54, Suttons Bay 18 – The Portagers (5-0) have won all of their games since switching to 8-player this season by at least 24 points and are tied for first in the Midwest Central Michigan Conference, while Suttons Bay (3-2) is among four teams tied for third.

Central Lake 58, Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 31 – Central Lake also is a first-year 8-player team and is tied with Onekama for first in the MCMC; Tri-unity fell to 2-3 after facing the co-leaders in back-to-back weeks.

Kingston 64, Lawrence 42 – The Cardinals (3-2) tied their wins total from last season while also sending Lawrence to 3-2.

Stephenson 54, Eben Junction Superior Central 30 – The Eagles (5-0) also have won all of their games this season by 24 points, this time despite giving up a season-high 30 to the Cougars (1-4).

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: Portland's running game found success in its 35-6 win over Lansing Catholic on Friday. (Click for more from

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.)