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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Separated by 527 travel miles – whether over Mackinac Bridge or around Lake Michigan, the Novara family celebrated nearly parallel football successes this fall.
At Portland, John Novara completed his 25th season as head coach leading the Raiders to a 12-1 record – their best since finishing Division 5 runner-up in 2018, and a second-straight Capital Area Activities Conference White championship on the way to reaching the Division 4 Semifinals.
At Kingsford, fifth-year coach Mark Novara led the Flivvers to a 10-2 record – their best since posting the same in 2004. Kingsford shared the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper title and won a Division 5 District title, its first District championship since 2009.
John Novara graduated from Iron Mountain in 1989, and younger brother Mark graduated from Kingsford in 1993.
Similarly parallel, both teams were quarterbacked by Novaras. Dominic Novara directed the Raiders’ attack, and cousin Nic Novara led the Flivvers. Both are juniors. (Mark Novara was a Division III All-American at quarterback at Lakeland College in Wisconsin.)
One more connection: Portland athletic director Kevin Veale quarterbacked the Iron Mountain teams with John Novara as tight end long before they worked together downstate. Veale’s nephew Garrett Veale was a standout two-way lineman for Mark Novara and Kingsford this fall.
Small gesture, memorable connection
Dante DeGrazia’s senior season was sadly short-lived this fall, as he suffered a season-ending injury during the first half of South Lyon East’s opening game against White Lake Lakeland at Michigan Stadium.
But an official provided a memory the DeGrazias will not forget.
Chris Curtis had begun his 16th season as an official earlier that day at U-M, and stuck around to watch the Lakes Valley Conference matchup. A month later, he was officiating the East/Warren Mott game, and made sure to check in with DeGrazia – a small gesture, but a meaningful one as well and another reminder of the interconnectedness of communities within educational athletics.
“When he heard my son wasn't able to play anymore, needed surgery and that he was a senior, he offered him kindness and a hug on the field,” Dante’s mother Dana DeGrazia wrote to East athletic director Greg Michaels. “As a parent whose son is going through a rough time dealing with losing his senior season, hearing this story from Dante means a lot to me and the support that was given to him and I wanted to reach out and tell him thank you.”
PHOTOS (Top) Kingsford football coach Mark Novara, far left, quarterback Nic Novara and Portland coach (and uncle) John Novara celebrate the Flivvers' District title. (Middle) South Lyon East's Dante DeGrazia (33) and official Chris Curtis meet for a quick hug during East's Week 5 game. (Photos courtesy of the Portland football program and DeGrazia family, respectively.)