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 

Inspired by Dad's Memory, Lawrence's Vasquez Emerges After Family Losses

By Pam Shebest
Special for

January 16, 2024

LAWRENCE — While COVID-19 affected many students in different ways, it definitely made an impact on Austin Vasquez.

Southwest CorridorAs a freshman at Lawrence High School during the pandemic, Vasquez lost his grandmother Theresa Phillips to cancer on March 25, 2021.

Two days later, on March 27, his father Tom Vasquez, died of complications from COVID. And on April 19 that spring, his grandfather Darrell “Gene” Phillips also lost his fight against the coronavirus.

“There is no way (to cope). You just have to keep on moving,” Austin said. “It’s what (my dad) would want me to do.

“He was my biggest (influence) in sports. He talked to me about never giving up – leave everything you’ve got.”

That is just what Vasquez is doing in the midst of his three-sport senior year.

He is the top wrestler at the school, competing at 175 pounds with a goal of making the MHSAA Tournament. He was a versatile contributor on the football field this past fall, and he’s planning to join the baseball team this spring.

Vasquez works on gaining the advantage in a match against Mendon. He’s 8-3 with six pins on the mat this winter after a busy summer of camps and tournaments. Those experiences helped lessen the nerves he’d felt during matches previously, and now he’s wrestling with an outlook of “everything to gain and nothing to lose.”

And Vasquez said he feels his dad’s presence as he prepares for competition.

“Before every match, before every game, I just think about what my dad would be telling me,” he said. “Everything he’s always told me has taught me to get better. 

“In life, I still remember everything he taught me. He was definitely a great man, and I want to be like him someday.”

Wrestling also has made Vasquez more in tune with his health.

His sophomore season he went from 230 pounds to 215, and by his junior year was down to his current 175.

“I just wanted to be healthier, not just for wrestling,” he said. “I started going to the gym every night, watched my calories, and from there grew (taller).

“Now I’m at 6-(foot-)2, and I don’t know how that happened,” he laughed.

Lawrence coach Henry Payne said Vasquez always has a positive attitude and helps the other wrestlers in the program.

“When he notices a kid next to him doing a move wrong, he’ll go over and show him the right way,” Payne said. “We have a lot of young kids that this is their first year, and he’s been a good coach’s helper.”

The coach’s helper gig will continue after graduation.

"Next year we’re hoping to open up a youth program here, and I got him and an alumni that graduated last year and is helping the varsity team this year (Conner Tangeman) to take over the youth program for us,” Payne said.

 From left: Lawrence wrestling coach Henry Payne, athletic director John Guillean and football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. On the football team, Vasquez was a jack of all trades.

“He started at guard, went to tight end, went to our wingback, went to our running back. He was trying to get the quarterback spot,” football coach Derek Gribler laughed.

Vasquez said there is no other feeling like being on the field, especially during home games.

“Wrestling is my main sport, but I’d do anything to go back and play football again,” he said. “I just love it.”

Although the football team struggled through a 1-8 season, “It was still a really fun season,” Vasquez said. “Everybody was super close. Most of us never really talked before, but we instantly became like a family.”

Vasquez had the support of his mother, Heather, and four older sisters: Makaylah, Briahna, Ahlexis and Maryah. He also found his school family helped him get through the end of his freshman year.

“(My friends) were always there for me when everything was going on,” he said. “I took that last month off school because it was too hard to be around people at that time.

"Every single one of them reached out and said, ‘Hey, I know you’re going through a rough time.’ It really helped to hear that and get out of the house.”

Vasquez also was a standout on the football field. The family connection between Vasquez and Lawrence athletic director John Guillean goes back to the senior’s youth.

“I was girls basketball coach, so I coached his sisters,” Guillean said. “I remember him when he was pretty young. I knew the family pretty well. I knew his dad. He was pretty supportive and was there for everything.”

Vasquez said that freshman year experience has made him appreciate every day, and he gives the following advice: “Every time you’re wrestling, it could be your last time on the mat or last time on the field. Treat every game and every match as if it’s going to be your last. If you’re committed to the sport, take every chance you have to help your team be successful.”

Gribler has known Vasquez since he was in seventh grade and, as also the school’s varsity baseball coach, will work with Vasquez one more time with the senior planning to add baseball as his spring sport.

“When we talk about Tiger Pride, Austin’s a kid that you can put his face right on the logo. His work ethic is just unbelievable,” Gribler said. “Everything he does is with a smile. He could be having the worst day of his life, and he’d still have a smile on his face. He pushes through. It’s tough to do and amazing to see.”

The coach – who also starred at Lawrence as an athlete – noted the small community’s ability to rally around Vasquez and his family. Lawrence has about 150 students in the high school.

“It goes beyond sports,” Gribler said. “Austin knows when he needs something he can always reach out and we’ll have his back, we’ll have his family’s back. It’s not so much about winning as it is about the kids.”

Vasquez is already looking ahead to life after high school. He attends morning courses at Van Buren Tech, studying welding, and returns to the high school for afternoon classes. 

“I’d like to either work on the pipeline as a pipeline welder or be a lineman,” he said, adding, “possibly college. I would like to wrestle in college, but let’s see how this year goes.

“I’m ready to get out, but it’s going to be hard to leave this all behind.”

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Lawrence senior Andrew Vasquez, right, wrestles against Hartford this season. (2) Vasquez works on gaining the advantage in a match against Mendon. (3) From left: Lawrence wrestling coach Henry Payne, athletic director John Guillean and football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. (4) Vasquez also was a standout on the football field. (Wrestling and football photos courtesy of the Lawrence athletic department. Headshots by Pam Shebest.)