Drive for Detroit: Week 6 in Review

October 2, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

New powers continued to rise all over Michigan during Week 6 of the football regular season. 

A few did so with spectacular upsets, while others broke streaks that had grown to include multiple seasons – or in one case, stretched nearly two decades.

The Drive for Detroit report powered by MI Student Aid details the most intriguing 11-player results from eight regions across our state plus the best from 8-player every week – and this week’s headliners are the most riveting, as a group, so far in 2017. 

Bay & Thumb

Midland 39, Davison 25

Among the state’s elite in the near past, Midland entered this fall with two 4-5 finishes over the last three seasons (surrounding a 7-3 in 2015). But this win made lots of noise as Davison (5-1) hadn’t lost a regular-season game since 2015 and shut out the Chemics 20-0 last fall. Midland (5-1) and Lapeer now sit atop the Saginaw Valley League Blue standings and meet Week 8. Click for more from the Midland Daily News.

Also noted:

Goodrich 41, Corunna 27 – The Martians (5-1) held onto their chance to grab a share of the Genesee Area Conference Red title and will cheer for Corunna (3-3) this week as the Cavaliers take on leader Lake Fenton.

Richmond 17, Almont 7 – The Blue Water Area Conference is down to a two-team race as Richmond (6-0) and Algonac are in first and Almont (4-2) has lost to both; the leaders meet in Week 8.

Flint Carman-Ainsworth 41, Bay City Central 31 – These Cavaliers (4-2) have won three straight to move into first place alone in the SVL Red, with Central (3-3) and Week 8 opponent Midland Dow a win back.

Unionville-Sebewaing 30, Reese 14 – USA (4-2) put itself in position to create a two or even three-way tie for the Greater Thumb Conference West title with leader Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker up next; Reese (3-3) is fighting for a playoff spot. 

Greater Detroit

Belleville 35, Dearborn Fordson 7

Belleville not only clinched a share of the Western Wayne Athletic Conference Red title and earned a playoff berth by downing the co-leading Tractors (5-1), but the Tigers (6-0) make an even louder statement as a contender in Division 1. They are 6-0 for the first time since 2002 after also making the playoffs the last two seasons, and they’ve now given up just 13 points over their last five games. Fordson hadn’t given up more than 14 in a game this season. Click for more from the Detroit News.

Also noted:

Detroit Martin Luther King 27, Detroit Denby 6 – The Crusaders (5-1) earned a share of the Detroit Public School League Black division title while handing Denby (4-1) its first loss in league play and overall.

Rochester Adams 38, Southfield Arts & Technology 14 – The Highlanders (5-1) remain part of a three-team first-place tie in the Oakland Activities Association Red after handing this loss to what has to be one of the best 3-3 teams in the state in the Warriors.

Warren DeLaSalle 52, Dearborn Divine Child 14 – Both could finish first in their respective Detroit Catholic League divisions, and DeLaSalle (5-1) if it wins out would have little argument as the overall best after handing Divine Child (5-1) its only loss so far.

Romulus 31, Redford Thurston 22 – The Eagles (4-2), which finished second in the WWAC Red last year, clinched a share of the WWAC Blue title while sending Thurston (4-2) into a tie for second place


Olivet 34, Lake Odessa Lakewood 6

Lakewood (5-1) had won 15 straight league games and the last two championships after Olivet won the first-ever Greater Lansing Activities Conference title in 2014. The Eagles (6-0) have been on the verge though, with their only league losses the last two seasons to the Vikings. Olivet can clinch the championship outright this week against Stockbridge. Click for more from FOX17.

Also noted:

Alma 21, Freeland 7 – The Panthers (6-0) broke a four-game losing streak to the Falcons (4-2), keeping alive a Tri-Valley Conference Central title showdown possibility against Saginaw Swan Valley in Week 8.

Belding 35, Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 21 – The Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver race got whittled down this weekend and Belding (5-1) remains one of two co-leaders, while NorthPointe (5-1) is poised to claim a share if both falter over the final three games.

Breckenridge 27, Carson City-Crystal 26 – The Huskies (5-1) remain perfect in the Mid-State Activities Conference since joining the league last season; a win by Carson City-Crystal (3-3) would’ve created a three-way tie for first.

Pewamo-Westphalia 32, Laingsburg 11 – The Pirates (5-1) got one win away from clinching a third straight Central Michigan Athletic Conference title by upending the second-place Wolfpack (4-2).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Maple City Glen Lake 48, Frankfort 34

A five-point loss to Frankfort cost Glen Lake (3-2) the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders title in 2016, even as the Lakers went on to play at Ford Field and finish runner-up in Division 6. But they clinched a share of the 2017 league title with this victory, and with only winless Mancelona standing in the way of an outright championship. Frankfort (4-2) had won 11 straight league games dating to the start of the 2014 NMFC schedule. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Also noted:

Boyne City 34, Kalkaska 13 – The Ramblers (6-0) held on to a share of first place in the NMFC Legends division by handing Kalkaska (3-3) its third straight defeat.

Traverse City St. Francis 49, Grayling 22 – The Gladiators (6-0) kept pace with Boyne City, handing Grayling (4-2) a second straight loss as the leaders continued to point to a possible league decider in Week 9.

AuGres-Sims 54, Whittemore-Prescott 14 – The Wolverines (6-0) clinched a share of the North Star League title after finishing second a year ago, and may also have dealt the blow to end the Cardinals’ 10-year playoff streak; Whittemore-Prescott is 2-4 and must win out for a chance at an at-large bid.

Traverse City West 30, Benton Harbor 13 – The Titans (6-0) equaled their win total from last season and already their most victories since 2004, while also putting Benton Harbor (2-4) in a position where it must win out to have a hope of a third straight playoff berth. 

Southeast & Border

Reading 36, Union City 12

The Rangers, coming off back-to-back 3-6 seasons, are one win from claiming a share of the Big 8 Conference title after downing second-place Union City. Reading (5-1) hasn’t lost this season since opening night, and its final two league opponents are a combined 2-10. Union City also is 5-1 and enjoying a great rebound after going 2-7 last fall and 4-5 in 2015. Click for more from the Hillsdale Daily News.

Also noted:

Ottawa Lake Whiteford 51, Morenci 8 – Whiteford turned away what looked to be its most formidable challenge so far in the Tri-County Conference, sending Morenci to 3-3 overall and second place in the standings.

Clinton 28, Petersburg-Summerfield 24 – Clinton (4-2) is tied for second in the TCC and stayed in line for a Week 8 title-deciding date with Whiteford by jumping above the Bulldogs (4-2), who fell to fourth place.

Pinckney 35, Tecumseh 10 – The Pirates (5-1) held on to a tie for first in the Southeastern Conference White while putting Tecumseh (3-3) in a spot to win out to guarantee a playoff berth for the first time since 2014.

Saline 42, Monroe 14 – The Hornets (5-1) clinched a share of the SEC Red title and face co-second place Ann Arbor Pioneer this week; Monroe (3-3) is aiming to win out to make it back to the playoffs after missing a year ago.  

Southwest Corridor

Stevensville Lakeshore 30, Portage Northern 27

In its closest Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West game so far this season, Lakeshore clinched a share of the league title and avenged last season’s three-point loss to the Huskies. The Lancers also moved to 6-0 for the first time since 2012 and secured a 20th straight playoff berth. Northern (2-4) continued a heart-breaking string, with three of their losses by a combined nine points. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.

Also noted:

Climax-Scotts 60, Adrian Lenawee Christian 29 – The Panthers (5-1) remained tied for first in the Southern Central Athletic Association by handing Lenawee Christian (4-2) its second loss in three weeks.

Berrien Springs 59, Parchment 6 – The Shamrocks (5-1) clinched a share of the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph White title with their third game of 50 or more points; Parchment (4-2) remains two wins from guaranteeing its first playoff berth since 2013.

Schoolcraft 35, Constantine 8 – This rivalry win by the Eagles (5-1), combined with the result below, helped put Schoolcraft into a first-place tie with only Watervliet in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley; Constantine (3-3) must win out to guarantee adding to its 18-year playoff streak.

Kalamazoo United 28, Coloma 27 – After falling to Watervliet in Week 5, United (5-1) dealt a disappointing blow to the much-improved Comets (4-2). 

Upper Peninsula

Escanaba 42, Menominee 21

The streak is over; the Eskymos (5-1) downed Menominee for the first time since 1998 in the 122nd meeting between the Great Northern Conference rivals. And the win was impressive – the reigning champion Maroons hadn’t given up 42 points in a league game since 2008. Although it was the GNC opener for Menominee, Escanaba had already played two league games and with this win set up a potential league title matchup with Kingsford in Week 9 – although the Flivvers, 2-0 in GNC play, must first face the Maroons in Week 8. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

Also noted:

Iron River West Iron County 53, Calumet 20 – The Wykons (5-1) remain the only team undefeated in West Peninsula Athletic Conference play, while reigning champ Calumet (3-3) has lost three of four and needs to win out to extend a three-year playoff streak.

Bessemer Gogebic 26, L'Anse 7 – The first half of this season was tough for the Miners (2-4), but they’ve doubled last season’s win total and still have a playoff shot after stunning the Purple Hornets (4-2).

Negaunee 21, Ishpeming 14 – What a turnaround for these Miners; after opening 0-3, Negaunee is 3-3 and put Ishpeming (2-4) in a position of needing to win out for a chance at an at-large playoff bid.

Lake Linden-Hubbell 24, Bark River-Harris 12 – The Lakes also are riding a comeback wave; they opened 0-3, but after having no game Week 4 have won two straight and this time put Bark River-Harris (3-3) into a must-win playoff situation.  

West Michigan

East Grand Rapids 28, Grand Rapids Christian 7

Reigning champion East Grand Rapids (6-0) took command of the Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold again by beating the Eagles by an identical score as in last year’s game, which also ended up deciding the league title. EGR lowered its points allowed average to 8.2 per game this fall. Still, this may not be over. Christian (5-1) is one of three teams one win behind in the league standings, and the Pioneers still must play the other two. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Rockford 27, Grandville 0 – The Rams lined up an O-K Red battle for first place this week against Holland West Ottawa by handing Grandville (4-2) its first league loss; depending on how this week goes, all three could end up sharing the title after Rockford and Grandville did so with Hudsonville in 2016.

Cedar Springs 28, Lowell 14 – It’s odd to call this an upset when Cedar Springs is 4-2, but Lowell (also 4-2) hadn’t lost an O-K White game since 2014 and this season has wins over leaders of two other leagues.  

Kent City 28, Morley Stanwood 0 – The Eagles (6-0) not only won a matchup of undefeated teams, but in doing so clinched a share of the Central State Activities Association Silver title against the now second-place Mohawks (5-1); the teams shared the title in 2016.

Wyoming Kelloggsville 21, Wyoming Godwin Heights 20 – This was the other half of the paring down in the O-K Silver; both entered undefeated, but Kelloggsville (6-0) is now tied with Belding atop the standings while Godwin Heights (5-1) fell a game back in a league with four of seven teams at 5-1 or better. 


Morrice 33, Deckerville 32

Deckerville, last season’s 8-player MHSAA runner-up, has been considered a championship favorite all fall and still may be. But the Orioles (6-0) are in position to claim the North Central Thumb 8-Man League Stars division title after scoring a last-minute touchdown and converting a two-point conversion to hand the Eagles (5-1) their first league loss since 2014. Morrice must beat either Kingston this week or Lawrence in Week 8 to clinch a share NCTL Stars championship. Click for more from the Owosso Argus-Press.

Also noted:

Camden-Frontier 30, Bellevue 26 – The Redskins (6-0) have turned away both second-place teams in the Southern Central 8-Man Football League and can clinch a share of the title this week against Burr Oak; Bellevue (5-1) and Battle Creek St. Philip will be back in the mix with an upset.

Flint International Academy 78, Lawrence 74 – This set the MHSAA record for most points in an 8-player game when both teams score at least 40; Flint International (5-1) is tied for second in the NCTL Stars, but Lawrence (3-3) has scored the most points of any league team this season.

Kinde-North Huron 36, New Haven Merritt Academy 18 – The Warriors (5-1) held on to a first-place tie in the NCTL Stripes with Bay City All Saints; the Mustangs (3-3) have lost to both over the last three weeks.

Rudyard 30, Engadine 20 – The Bulldogs (5-1) still trail leaders Cedarville and Pickford in the Bridge Alliance Conference, but put themselves in position to earn a share of the league title if both falter over the next three weeks; Engadine (4-2) fell to fourth place but gets Cedarville next.

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid. 

PHOTO: Davison defenders chase a Midland ball carrier during Friday's Chemics win. (Photo by Terry Lyons.) 

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.)