Drive for Detroit: Week 6 in Review

October 8, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A handful of undefeated teams ended perfect seasons for others during Week 6, and a number of league races began to clear up as we finished the second third of the football regular season. 

But we'll assume no team celebrated its win with more relief than the team that hadn't won in quite a while. 

We don't often point to a lack of success, but Lincoln Park deserves a shout for its perseverance over the last eight seasons. The Railsplitters sit 1-5 thanks to their first win last week since the second week of 2006. 

You do the math, but keep in mind the streak included four losses by five points or fewer. Lincoln Park clearly earned some fans statewide as it battled on, and they'll surely be rooting for that next win to come soon as well. 

For the rest of Week 6 results of most significance all over the state, read on. 

West Michigan

Shelby 22, Muskegon Oakridge 19

Thanks in part to a trick play-turned-touchdown with 25 seconds to play, Shelby ended Oakridge’s 18-game regular-season winning streak and a personal four-game losing streak against its West Michigan Conference rival. Shelby (6-0) still has a few tough games left on the league schedule, and Oakridge (5-1) will be hoping for an upset so it can claim a share of the title. Click to read more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Also noted:

Lowell 42, East Grand Rapids 39 (4 OT): This is one of those games that draws statewide eyes, and was decided in extra periods after East Grand Rapids (3-3) cut a halftime deficit before Lowell (6-0) prevailed.

Muskegon Reeths-Puffer 46, Zeeland East 26: The Reeths-Puffer revival continues, with the Rockets now 5-1 – they won a combined 10 games from 2008-12 – and their win over Zeeland East (5-1) was one of their most impressive of the last decade.

Grand Rapids South Christian 35, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 29 (OT): Losing to GRCC and finished second in the O-K Gold to the Cougars (3-3) was one of South Christian’s few disappointments during its Division 4 championship season of 2012; the Sailors (5-1) look strong to claim the league title this time. 

Grandville Calvin Christian 17, Hopkins 16: This turned the O-K Silver into a three-team race, with these two and NorthPointe Christian all tied for first with two league games to play (but none against each other). Calvin Christian improved to 3-3 overall and Hopkins fell to 4-2. 

Lower Up North

Lincoln Alcona 63, Oscoda 10

Lincoln Alcona moved to the North Star League this fall. So far, so good. The Tigers claimed their first league title ever with this Battle of F41 trophy game win, and at 6-0 qualified for the playoffs for the second straight season – and fourth time ever. Click to read more from the Bay City Times.

Also noted:

Grayling 48, Elk Rapids 28: The Elks (4-2) were major obstacles Grayling (5-1) needed to overcome to continue surging in the Lake Michigan Conference.

Indian River Inland Lakes 56, Central Lake 30: Inland Lakes (4-2) equaled its win totals of each of the last four seasons; Central Lake fell to 2-4.

Petoskey 42, Traverse City Central 37: Neither is likely to still contend in the Big North Conference this season, but this likely will end up a key result as both are 3-3 overall.

Lake City 46, McBain 0: Wow. Lake City (6-0) has given up just six points this season, and also shut out a McBain team that at 4-2 will push for a playoff spot. 

Upper Peninsula

Crystal Falls Forest Park 43, Felch North Dickinson 20

These small-school powers have faced off at least once every season (and multiple times when they've also met in the playoffs) since 1992. Forest Park (6-0) entered in first place in the Great Western Conference, and North Dickinson (5-1) is the same in the Mid-Eastern Conference. Although this helps neither’s league chances, it does give Forest Park a 16-11 edge in their 27 recent meetings. Click to read more from the Iron County Reporter.

Also noted:

Iron River West Iron County 41, Calumet 0: The Copper Kings (0-6) are having a are down season, but West Iron (6-0) appears to be building one of its best.

Marquette 24, Kingsford 0: Marquette (5-1) kept pace just one win back of Great Northern UP Conference leader Menominee with another impressive win, this one over the frequently-contending Flivvers (4-2).

Rapid River 45, Cedarville 28: Few teams have had Cedarville’s number during the three seasons of 8-player football, and only Rapid River (6-0) has beaten the Trojans (5-1) the last two seasons.

Engadine 36, Posen 20: Engadine (1-5) has had a tough couple seasons, but beating solid Posen (4-2) is something the Vikings surely enjoyed. 

Greater Detroit and Southeast

Milan 21, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 14

Make that 15 straight regular-season wins for Milan (6-0) and a strong edge moving forward as it attempts to claim a second straight Huron League championship. To beat its toughest competition this season, Milan had to hold off St. Mary (5-1) after jumping out to a 14-0 lead. Click to read more from the Monroe Evening News.

Also noted:

Waterford Our Lady 21, Royal Oak Shrine 14: The Lakers (4-2) have now won four straight and have a one-game lead in the Catholic League Intersectional after handing a first loss this season to Shrine (5-1).

Manchester 29, Grass Lake 18: The Warriors (5-1) were one of two teams challenging first-place Manchester (5-1) atop the Cascades Conference; the other, Michigan Center, comes up in Week 8.

Ida 36, Hudson 28 (OT): The Bluestreaks (5-1) took a strong step toward their first Lenawee County Athletic Association championship since sharing the title in 1997 by outlasting the formerly first-place Tigers (5-1).

St. Clair 36, Marysville 13: This left St. Clair (6-0) and Marine City as the lone undefeated teams in the Macomb Area Conference Gold, with Marysville (4-2) now a game back in the league standings. 

Bay and Thumb

Marlette 36, Vassar 35

Marlette (6-0) has had some solid teams over the last decade, but never one that has come out of the gate like this one. Marlette has scored at least 35 points in every game and just edged a Vassar team (3-3) contending for a playoff spot. MHSAA Student Advisory Council member Connor Thomas caught three touchdown passes for the Raiders. Click to read more from the Tuscola Advertiser.

Also noted:

Frankenmuth 21, Millington 6: The Eagles (5-1) have beaten their rivals two straight seasons and can clinch a share of the Tri-Valley Conference East title this week. Millington (4-2) must hope for a loss and then beat second-place North Branch to stay in the hunt.

Davison 35, Flint Powers Catholic 17: Ended is the rough start for Davison (3-3), which has won three straight to potentially set up a Week 9 matchup with Flint Carman-Ainsworth for the Saginaw Valley Association South title. Powers is 3-3 with losses to teams that are combined 12-6 this fall. 

Fenton 30, Lapeer East 7: The Tigers (6-0) are making space atop the Flint Metro League standings, pushing the Eagles (3-3) back to fourth with Lapeer West and Swartz Creek still tied for second.

Saginaw Heritage 21, Saginaw Arthur Hill 8: These teams appear to be moving different directions – Arthur Hill (3-3) has lost three straight, and Heritage (4-2) has won its last three. 

Southwest and Border

Schoolcraft 28, Battle Creek Pennfield 22

It’s possible some considered Schoolcraft (5-1) out of the Kalamazoo Valley Association race after it fell to Olivet in Week 3. Not so fast. The reigning champion is just a game back and now will be rooting for Pennfield (5-1) – which also is tied for second place and faces first-place Olivet this week. The Eagles also must face Constantine in Week 8, another matchup we’ll surely be watching. Click to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Also noted:

Climax-Scotts 21, Pittsford 14: Climax-Scotts (6-0) has won six straight over the Wildcats (4-2), but they haven’t come easily; this was the fourth straight decided by eight points or fewer.  

Bridgman 22, Cassopolis 21: This also has turned into a close one of late, with Bridgman (4-2) also beating Cassopolis (3-3) last season by only three points.

Lawton 33, Hartford 22: The Blue Devils (6-0) kept pace with Watervliet in the ultra-competitive Southwestern Athletic Conference South, with Hartford (3-3) now looking to win out to make the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

Lawrence 53, Deckerville 38: The move to 8-player continues to look great for Lawrence (4-1 in 8-player, 5-1 overall), which looks like a title contender after beating last season’s MHSAA champion Deckerville (3-3). 


Homer 40, Jonesville 12

Homer moved to 6-0, and in the process earned its first playoff appearance since 2006 and got within one more win of claiming at least a share of its first Big 8 Conference title since 2005. Jonesville fell to 5-1, but still looks strong to make the postseason for the second straight. Click to read more from the Jackson Citizen-Patriot.

Also noted:

Lansing Sexton 48, Holt 7: No team since Chelsea on opening night has come closer than 21 points to the Big Reds (6-0), who handed Holt (3-3) its first loss since Week 2.

Lansing Everett 25, East Lansing 17: This left Everett (5-1) with Grand Ledge and Holt as one of three teams one game back of Sexton in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue, but the only one of the three still to face the Big Reds; East Lansing (3-3) has dropped two straight and faces Sexton this week.

Jackson Lumen Christi 35, Mason 0: This should sew up the CAAC Gold title for the Titans (6-0), with Mason (4-2) still looking great to qualify for the playoffs.

Portland 43, Williamston 22: This gave Portland (6-0) at least a share of the CAAC White title, with Williamston (4-2) and Lansing Catholic a game back and facing each other this week. 

Trophy games

Each week, the MHSAA highlights trophy games around the state. Here are a few in addition to the one mentioned above:

County Line Trophy: Bath vs. Laingsburg. These two renewed this rivalry in 1986 and have played annually since, with the Bees last weekend ending a two-game losing streak to their rival. Final: Bath 20, Laingsburg 19.

Old US 131 Trophy: Big Rapids vs. Morley-Stanwood. Big Rapids has followed up three straight losses to this rival with two straight wins. Final: Big Rapids 30, Morley-Stanwood 9.  

Friendship Trophy: Coopersville vs. Sparta. These two have played every season since 1966, most recently as members of the O-K Blue. Final: Sparta 41, Coopersville 14.

Hinker Bell Game: Escanaba vs. Menominee. These two continue to face off annually in a game that recalls this trophy although it disappeared a number of years ago. Final: Menominee 44, Escanaba 0. 

PHOTO: Lowell (on offense) needed four overtimes to hold off East Grand Rapids on the Pioneers' Homecoming night. 

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.)