Drive for Detroit: Week 6 in Review

October 5, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A dramatic event like an emotion-sapping comeback often will steer a team to greater heights as it moves toward the most important games of the season. 

That would be good news for some of this week's most impressive football winners.

Traverse City Central trailed 21-0 before beating Petoskey in overtime; Grand Rapids Christian was down 26-0 before winning in OT as well. Calumet trailed Iron River West Iron County 22-0 at halftime before unloading 40 unanswered points, while Northville came back from 14-0 and Muskegon Catholic Central 13-0 to win their likely league title-deciding games. 

Those five and a number of others are discussed below – as are a large handful of the 56 11-player teams that have clinched spots in this season's playoff field. 

Bay & Thumb

Flint Beecher 27, Lake Fenton 26 (OT)

While a 20-8 Week 5 loss to upstart Corunna no doubt stunned Beecher a bit, the reigning champ Buccaneers came right back to edge Lake Fenton to remain a half-win ahead of the pack in the Genesee Area Conference Red. Beecher is 4-1 in the league with rival Montrose remaining; Corunna, Goodrich and Lake Fenton all are 3-1 in league play with two more games. Beecher made a two-point conversion in overtime, then stopped Lake Fenton’s conversion attempt. Click for more from the Flint Journal.

Also noted:

Algonac 33, Croswell-Lexington 21 – The Muskrats (6-0) gave up their first points since Week 2, but stayed on pace to face Almont this week to decide the Blue Water Area Conference title while dropping Croswell-Lexington (4-2) to fourth place.

Sandusky 48, Marlette 6 – The Redskins (6-0) remained a game ahead of the pack in the Greater Thumb Conference East while putting Marlette (3-3) in a must-win situation to make the playoffs.

Vassar 56, Cass City 21 – The Vulcans (5-1) will face Unionville-Sebewaing this week for first place in the GTC West, but Cass City (4-2) still looks good to make the playoffs for the second straight season.

Burton Bendle 34, Flint Hamady 26 – The Tigers (5-1) pulled within a win of qualifying for the playoffs after going 3-6 a year ago, handing Hamady (5-1) the only loss during what has been its best season since 2012.

Greater Detroit 

Northville 24, Livonia Stevenson 14

Since the formation of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association in 2008, Northville is 32-6 in league games – with half of those losses coming to Stevenson. This avenging of last season’s 46-21 loss to the Spartans gave Northville (6-0) a share of the KLAA Central title, although Stevenson (5-1) can still hope for a claim with the Mustangs needing to beat also second-place Novi this week to finish an outright title run. Click for more from MLive-Detroit.

Also noted:

Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood 14, Riverview Gabriel Richard 13 – The Cranes (6-0) have equaled their most wins in a season since 2005 and remain tied with Waterford Our Lady atop the Detroit Catholic League C-D standings after pushing Gabriel Richard (5-1) to third.

Allen Park 23, Trenton 13 – The Downriver League is back to a three-team race, with this result bringing Trenton (5-1) back into a tie with Allen Park (5-1) and Wyandotte Roosevelt for first.

Walled Lake Western 34, Walled Lake Northern 31 – The Warriors (6-0) clinched a share of the KLAA North title but not before the Knights (4-2) provided their toughest test since opening night.

Sterling Heights 25, Marine City 19 – In three seasons as a league opponent, the closest Sterling Heights (5-1) had come to Marine City (3-3) was 24 points before claiming this victory to take a one-game lead over three teams in the Macomb Area Conference Gold.  


Hartland 14, Brighton 7

The KLAA West title will come down to this week thanks to the Eagles’ win over Brighton (5-1), which created a three-way tie atop the division standings with Howell. Hartland (4-2) shared the league title a year ago, but fell to Howell in this season’s West opener. Brighton gets Howell this week, while Hartland takes on reigning co-champion Grand Blanc. Click for more from the Livingston Daily.

Also noted:

Fowlerville 31, Williamston 28 – The Gladiators’ upset of the Hornets pushed them to 3-3, guaranteeing their most wins in a season since 2010, while putting Williamston (4-2) in a tougher spot with Portland, Haslett and Lake Fenton to finish. 

Holt 14, Lansing Sexton 13 – The Rams’ resurgence continued as they moved to 4-2, but it’s hard to not feel for the Big Reds, who are 1-5 but with two one-point losses and a third by two points.  

Ithaca 38, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 0 – The challenge didn’t come as expected, with Ithaca (6-0) handing MLS (5-1) its first loss and pulling within a win of clinching another Tri-Valley Conference West title.                                         

DeWitt 27, Haslett 10 – The Panthers (6-0) have yet to give up more than 14 points this season, although Haslett (3-3) did hold DeWitt to its season low on offense.

Northern Lower Peninsula

Traverse City Central 28, Petoskey 27 (OT)

The Trojans (6-0) came all the way back from three scores down and stopped a two-point conversion run in overtime to remain atop the Big North Conference, one game ahead of three teams including Petoskey (4-2). Traverse City Central’s last four wins have come by seven points or fewer, and it had lost to the Northmen the last two seasons. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Also noted:

Beal City 42, McBain 22 – The Aggies (5-1) bounced back from last week’s shocking loss to Evart to stay tied for first with McBain (4-2) in the Highland Conference with one league game left for both.

Traverse City St. Francis 63, Grayling 28 – The Gladiators (6-0) all but locked up the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders title with their win over Grayling (4-2) giving them victories over both second-place teams.

Reed City 22, Big Rapids 7 – The Coyotes (6-0) remain tied for first in the Central State Activities Association Gold, while Big Rapids (4-2) moved to third but with a chance to stay in the hunt this week against co-leader Remus Chippewa Hills.

Johannesburg-Lewiston 58, Detroit Consortium 30 – Logan Huff did a lot of everything for the Cardinals (5-1), running eight times for 245 yards and three touchdowns, leading the team with 11 tackles and grabbing an interception against Consortium (2-4). 

Southeast & Border 

Saline 37, Ann Arbor Pioneer 21

Saline remained in control of the Southeastern Conference Red winning a game that played much closer than the final 16-point margin. Pioneer (5-1) scored the first points the Hornets had given up since Week 3. But Saline (6-0) took advantage of a few key Pioneer errors to clinch a share of the league title with third-place Monroe the last team on the league schedule. Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.

Also noted:

Temperance Bedford 34, Monroe 28 – If the Mules (2-4) get into the playoffs with an at-large bid, edging the Trojans (3-3) might be a big reason why.

Parma Western 28, Battle Creek Harper Creek 25 – Defeating Harper Creek (3-3) could go down as the key victory of a milestone season for the Panthers; Western (4-2) needs two more wins to qualify for the playoffs for the first time, and its Week 8 and 9 opponents are a combined 0-12.

Homer 46, Springport 0 – The Trojans (5-1) pulled to within a win of clinching a share of the Big Eight Conference title, while putting Springport (3-3) into a must-win situation the rest of the way.

Ypsilanti Community 30, Ypsilanti Lincoln 12 – The Grizzlies (3-3) won their third straight and get a shot at first-place Chelsea this week to earn a share of the Southwestern Conference White championship; Lincoln (2-4) must win out to have a slim shot at making the playoffs for the third straight season. 

Southwest Corridor

Coldwater 26, Jackson Lumen Christi 7

The Cardinals (6-0) had lost at least 27 straight to Lumen Christi (4-2) and including the game that decided last season’s inaugural Interstate 8 Athletic Conference championship. But this historical win puts Coldwater only one from clinching a share of the league title and in the playoffs for the third straight season; the Cardinals only qualified for the first time in 2013. Click for more from the Coldwater Daily Reporter.

Also noted:

Climax-Scotts 36, Pittsford 0 – Make that 43 straight in the Southern Central Athletic Association for Climax-Scotts (6-0), plus a share of the league title with Pittsford (5-1) one of two teams in second place.

Watervliet 55, Constantine 34 – The Panthers (5-1) kept pace with Delton Kellogg atop the Southwestern Athletic Conference Division 1 while knocking Constantine (3-3) out of the title race.

Plainwell 17, Dowagiac 8 – The Trojans (4-2) have stayed in the upper half of a tough Wolverine B Conference that combined two divisions into one this fall, with Dowagiac (3-3) tied for fifth of 10 teams.

Schoolcraft 47, Lawton 0 – Schoolcraft (6-0) earned a second straight shutout, but this week's much more significant as Lawton (5-1) also entered undefeated and tied for first in the SAC Division 2.

Upper Peninsula

Calumet 40, Iron River West Iron County 22

Reigning Western Peninsula Athletic Conference champion West Iron (1-5) is not the same team this fall. But the Wykons still gave Calumet (4-2) all it could handle as the Copper Kings came back to give themselves a chance to claim the league title this week against co-leader L’Anse. Click for more from the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette.

Also noted:

Sault Ste. Marie 37, Gladstone 27 – The Blue Devils (4-2) continue to line themselves up to return to the playoffs, while Gladstone (2-4) must end a four-game slide to have an at-large shot.

Kingsford 49, Marquette 7 – The Flivvers (4-2) ended a two-game losing streak to Marquette, and may have ended any hope of the Redmen (2-4) returning to the playoffs.

Newberry 50, Gaylord St. Mary 26 – The Indians pulled within a win of tying last season’s total and two from its highest victory count since going 6-3 in 2005.

Hurley, Wis. 52, Bark River-Harris 34 – This didn’t have league implications, but was the first loss of an otherwise stellar season so far for the Broncos (5-1).

West Michigan

Muskegon Catholic Central 29, Fruitport 26

The Lakes 8 Conference championship will belong at least in part to MCC (4-1), which claimed a share against second-place Fruitport (3-3) on a go-ahead touchdown pass with less than a minute to play. The Crusaders have earned at least a share of the league title both seasons in the conference. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Also noted:

Grand Rapids Christian 39, East Grand Rapids 33 (OT) – The Eagles (4-2) made the biggest comeback of all teams mentioned above, and with it retained a first-place tie with Lowell while East Grand Rapids (4-2) fell into a tie for third in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White.

Hudsonville 22, East Kentwood 13 – Four teams including both of these still have a shot in the O-K Red, but sharing first with Rockford is a nice spot for Hudsonville (5-1), especially if East Kentwood (4-2) can help with the Rams this week.

Scottville Mason County Central 39, Manistee 6 – The Spartans (4-2) get overlooked a bit in the strong West Michigan Conference, but handing Manistee (5-1) its first loss is headline-worthy.

Cedar Springs 34, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 8 – The reigning O-K Bronze champion Red Hawks (4-2) are again tied with Forest Hills Eastern for first after delivering the first loss this fall to Forest Hills Northern (5-1), which was emerging as the favorite.


Posen 28, Cedarville 26

This is more than just the best win of Posen’s six-year 8-player history; it’s arguably the most momentous victory for the Vikings (6-0) in some time. Posen is 6-0, tying its most wins in a season total since going 8-4 in 2004, and joined Rapid River as the only teams to defeat reigning MHSAA runner-up Cedarville (4-2) during the regular season since 2011. Click for more from the Alpena News.

Also noted:

Battle Creek St. Philip 49, Webberville 0 – Webberville (4-2) continues to improve, but St. Philip (6-0) remains among a handful of championship contenders. 

Morrice 34, Deckerville 30 – This definitely is the most impressive win in two seasons of 8-player for the Orioles (5-1), as no opponent had come within 20 points of the Eagles (5-1) this fall.

PHOTO: Ithaca, in yellow, won a battle of undefeated teams by downing Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary on Friday. (Click for more from 

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.)