Drive for Detroit: Week 6 Preview
September 28, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Starting tonight, the playoff field begins to take shape.
Last week, AuGres-Sims – 5-0 but playing only eight games this regular season – clinched the first playoff berth of the 2017 MHSAA Playoffs. This weekend, 63 more teams can qualify for the 11-player tournament.
Below are the games of most intrigue in every region of the state, not counting 21 games played Thursday night. Go to the MHSAA Score Center to find those and for scores as they come in tonight and Saturday (and for links to each team’s schedule, league standings and playoff points average). Check out MHSAA.tv for six live broadcasts – click here for the schedule.
Bay & Thumb
Almont (4-1) at Richmond (5-0), Friday
The Blue Water Area Conference appears to be a two-team race with Richmond and Algonac tied at 4-0 in league play. But Almont can make it a three-team race again by avenging last season’s 34-21 loss to the Blue Devils. Almont already fell to Algonac in Week 2 28-7; Richmond gets its turn against the Muskrats in Week 8.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Corunna (3-2) at Goodrich (4-1), St. Clair Shores Lake Shore (3-2) at Port Huron Northern (4-1), Unionville-Sebewaing (3-2) at Reese (3-2), SATURDAY Bay City Central (3-2) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (3-2).
Belleville (5-0) at Dearborn Fordson (5-0), Friday
Not only are these teams tied for first in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference Red, but Belleville has the second-highest playoff points average among teams projected to be in Division 1, and Fordson’s average is tied for fourth-highest. Fordson won the WWAC Blue last season and has given up no more than 14 points in a game this fall. The Tigers came into the Red from the Blue with Fordson after finishing second to the Tractors in that league last season – the result of a 34-25 loss in their meeting. The Tigers are riding a streak of three straight shutouts and after giving up only six points in Week 2.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Detroit Martin Luther King (4-1) at Detroit Denby (4-0), Canton (4-1) at Livonia Stevenson (4-1), Southfield Arts & Technology (3-2) at Rochester Adams (4-1), Dearborn Divine Child (5-0) at Warren DeLaSalle (4-1)
Freeland (4-1) at Alma (5-0), Friday
The Falcons’ 24-game regular-season win streak came to an end in Week 4, and Alma will now try to end Freeland’s Tri-Valley Conference Central title streak at two in a row after finishing second in the league last year because of a 12-6 loss when these teams last met. The Panthers have the highest playoff point average among teams projected to play in Division 4 and sit tied for first in the Central with Saginaw Swan Valley, which downed Freeland two weeks ago.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian (5-0) at Belding (4-1), Laingsburg (4-1) at Pewamo-Westphalia (4-1), Lansing Sexton (3-2) at Okemos (4-1), Olivet (5-0) at Lake Odessa Lakewood (5-0).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Frankfort (4-1) at Maple City Glen Lake (2-2), Friday
After finishing Division 6 runner-up last season, Glen Lake loaded up the schedule for this fall – and its losses are to undefeated Traverse City St. Francis and Watervliet. The Lakers came back from an open Week 4 to shut out Charlevoix last week, and they remain the biggest obstacle to Frankfort winning a third straight Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders division title. The Panthers claimed last year’s championship thanks to a 26-21 win over Glen Lake. They also have only eight regular-season games, with an open date in Week 9, and this looks like the toughest test left before a potentially promising playoff run.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Lincoln Alcona (4-1) at Oscoda (4-1), Benton Harbor (2-3) at Traverse City West (5-0), AuGres-Sims (5-0) at Whittemore-Prescott (2-3), SATURDAY Grayling (4-1) at Traverse City St. Francis (5-0).
Southeast & Border
Ottawa Lake Whiteford (5-0) at Morenci (3-2), Friday
Whiteford hasn’t lost a regular-season game since 2015 and has yet to be challenged since finishing runner-up in Division 8 last season. The Bobcats have outscored their opponents 281-52 and handed Petersburg-Summerfield its only loss in their Tri-County Conference opener. Morenci joins Whiteford as undefeated in the league and with a deceptive overall record – those losses came the first two weeks by a combined three points against Pittsford and Hudson teams that together are 9-1. The Bulldogs have lost twice to Whiteford the last two seasons and beat Whiteford twice in 2014, meaning this could be only chapter one of two again for these rivals.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Climax-Scotts (4-1) at Adrian Lenawee Christian (4-1), Tecumseh (3-2) at Pinckney (4-1), Clinton (3-2) at Petersburg-Summerfield (4-1), Adrian (3-2) at Ypsilanti Lincoln (3-2).
Plainwell (4-1) at Edwardsburg (5-0), Friday
As noted earlier this season, Edwardsburg hasn’t lost a Wolverine B Conference game since 2012 (and now has 29 straight regular-season wins overall). But three teams have only one loss in the league this fall and are ready to pounce – and the Eddies face those three teams over the next three weeks. First up is Plainwell, followed by Three Rivers and then Vicksburg in Week 8. The Trojans have beaten Vicksburg and lost to Three Rivers so far, but given up only 33 points since falling to the Wildcats on opening night. Edwardsburg has given up only 34 points this season – and scored 290.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Parchment (4-1) at Berrien Springs (4-1), Jackson Lumen Christi (4-1) at Coldwater (4-1), Schoolcraft (4-1) at Constantine (3-2), Paw Paw (3-2) at Vicksburg (4-1).
Escanaba (4-1) at Menominee (4-1), Friday
This will be the 121st meeting between the Great Northern Conference rivals, and Menominee holds a 66-51-3 edge in the longtime rivalry. The Maroons swung the advantage their way with 18 straight wins over the Eskymos, including by 28-14 last year in the game that ended up deciding the league title. This will be Menominee’s first game against an in-state opponent after five versus Wisconsin teams to start the fall. It may be the Maroons’ toughest remaining before the playoffs; Escanaba’s lone loss was to much-improved Petoskey in Week 2.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Hurley, Wis. (4-2) at Hancock (4-1), Calumet (3-2) at Iron River West Iron County (4-1), Negaunee (2-3) at Ishpeming (2-3), Norway (5-0) at Munising (3-2).
East Grand Rapids (5-0) at Grand Rapids Christian (5-0), Friday
The west side of the Lower Peninsula is loaded with outstanding matchups this weekend. But this one rises to the top as a rematch of last season’s decider in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold in addition to featuring one of the best rivalries in the Grand Rapids area. Christian and EGR rank third and fourth, respectively, in playoff point average among teams projected to play in Division 3. Christian also started 5-0 last year before falling to the Pioneers 28-7 in Week 6, and this time East Grand Rapids has been more dominating with two straight shutouts while giving up only 42 points total so far.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Wyoming Kelloggsville (5-0) at Wyoming Godwin Heights (5-0), Remus Chippewa Hills (4-1) at Reed City (4-1), Rockford (3-2) at Grandville (4-1), Morley Stanwood (5-0) at Kent City (5-0).
Deckerville (5-0) at Morrice (5-0), Friday
From a numbers standpoint, these North Central Thumb League Stars contenders are nearly even; both are 4-0 in league play, Deckerville outscoring its opponents 214-40 this season and Morrice by a 223-46 margin. But the Eagles are the team to beat in at least the Lower Peninsula until proven otherwise, with 16 straight regular-season wins and after finishing 8-player runner-up a year ago – when they also beat Morrice 46-6. That said, the Orioles handed Flint International Academy its first loss last week and should make this game much more even as well.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Camden-Frontier (5-0) at Bellevue (5-0), Flint International Academy (4-1) at Lawrence (3-2), Ontonagon (3-1) at Stephenson (5-0), SATURDAY Suttons Bay (3-2) at Central Lake (5-0).
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PHOTO: Alma defenders wrap up a Birch Run ball carrier during a 21-10 win on opening night. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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:
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.)