Drive for Detroit: Week 6 in Review

October 1, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Start printing the tickets.

A total of 55 undefeated 11-player football teams have clinched spots in this season’s 256-team field, all but one doing so with wins during our latest highlight-filled weekend. (Jackson Lumen Christi, playing eight regular-season games, clinched a berth in Week 5.)

Our look below at 45 results from Friday and Saturday notes many of these, but focuses mostly on league races – some partially clinched, many still completely up for grabs with three weeks to play until the postseason begins.

“Drive for Detroit” is powered by MI Student Aid

Bay & Thumb

HEADLINER: Saginaw Swan Valley 34, Alma 6 The Vikings (6-0) clinched a share of the Tri-Valley Conference Central title for the second straight season with another stifling defensive performance. Swan Valley has given up 54 points total this season and no more than seven in four league games. Alma (5-1) hadn’t been held to so few points since Week 4 of 2016. Click for more from the Saginaw News and see highlights below from WJRT.

Also of note: North Branch 37, Richmond 0 This was the Broncos’ best win in … well, at least this decade and perhaps longer. North Branch (5-1) is on a major comeback after going 1-8 a year ago, and in its first season in the Blue Water Area Conference suddenly sits in second place after winning big against one of the yearly favorites. 

Remember this one: Flint Hamady 34, Goodrich 28 These teams are leading separate divisions of the Genesee Area Conference, but beating the Martians (4-2) will help Hamady (6-0) down the road. Six of the Hawks’ opponents are Class C, but Goodrich is Class B and provides a nice playoff point boost.

More shoutouts: Lapeer 42, Grand Blanc 10 With this win over the third-place Bobcats (4-2), Lapeer (6-0) guaranteed its Week 9 game against co-leader Davison will guarantee one of those teams at least a share of the Saginaw Valley League Blue title. Swartz Creek 49, Linden 28 The Dragons’ now-squashed losing streak against Linden (3-3) stretched 12 seasons to when the former joined the Flint Metro League in 2006. Swartz Creek (5-1) can earn its first playoff berth since 2012 next week and remains undefeated in league play.

Greater Detroit

HEADLINER: Belleville 29, Dearborn Fordson 26 The Tigers (6-0) went ahead for good in the fourth quarter and held on through a late Fordson drive to move into first place alone in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East – and take an upper hand at the statewide level as both stand to be Division 1 contenders when the playoff field is selected in three weeks. The Tractors (5-1) have lost only to Belleville over the last two regular seasons. Click for more from MLive-Detroit and see highlights below from State Champs Sports Network

Also of note: Detroit Loyola 20, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood 17 Loyola (4-2) sits atop the Detroit Catholic League AA standings by a half game with one more league win than Detroit U-D Jesuit, this week’s opponent. The Cranes fell to 4-2 with their losses by a combined 10 points. 

Remember this one: Detroit Osborn 12, Detroit Western International 6 The Knights, after going only 1-8 a year ago, clinched a share of the Detroit Public School League Gold title. Western (4-2), however, remains in position to secure its second straight playoff berth after making the postseason a year ago for the first time. 

More shoutouts: Detroit Community 30, Detroit University Prep Science & Math 8 Community won an outright division title in the Michigan Metro Athletic Conference, and also clinched the first playoff berth in the program's eight varsity seasons. Grosse Ile 33, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 14 The Red Devils (6-0) face both second-place teams in the Huron League over the next two weeks and need to beat one to clinch a share of the title. But that opportunity started with getting past the Falcons (4-2), who beat Grosse Ile 20-7 a year ago. Gibraltar Carlson 47, Allen Park 29 The Marauders (5-1), after finishing second in the Downriver League a year ago, are tied for first after beating the only team, Allen Park (4-2), that has beaten co-leader Brownstown Woodhaven (which defeated Carlson in Week 1). 


HEADLINER: Mount Pleasant 40, Midland 20 The Oilers (6-0) moved into a first-place tie with only Midland Dow in the SVL Red by sending Midland (3-3) into third place. All three teams still have three league games to play, but Mount Pleasant has guaranteed its best record and first playoff berth since 2015. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.

Also of note: Haslett 33, St. Johns 14 These two and Williamston are tied for first place in the Capital Area Activities Conference Red. The Vikings (5-1) finish with winless Lansing Eastern, while St. Johns (3-3) faces a challenge this week from Fowlerville and Williamston gets Mason.


Remember this one: Dansville 40, Fowler 9 It’s hard to get credit in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference when two-time reigning Division 7 champion Pewamo-Westphalia is dominating the headlines. But the Aggies (5-1) are tied for first heading into this week’s game with the Pirates and after going 3-6 a year ago. And Fowler (4-2) has equaled its win total from last season with three more games to play.


More shoutouts: Mason 19, Fowlerville 15 The Bulldogs (3-3) have rebounded from 2-7 a year ago and are a combined nine points from being 5-1 and tied for first in the CAAC Red as well. Olivet 56, Vermontville Maple Valley 8 The Eagles quietly are off to a second straight 6-0 start (and with a win over Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver leader Hopkins) heading into this week’s Greater Lansing Activities Conference title decider against reigning champion Lake Odessa Lakewood.

Northern Lower Peninsula

HEADLINER: Maple City Glen Lake 23, Elk Rapids 15 The Lakers (3-3) opened 0-2 and took a third tough defeat to Gladstone two weeks ago, but rallied to claim a share of the Northern Michigan Football League Leaders championship. Elk Rapids (4-2) and Frankfort are tied for second with a game to play for all three. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle and check out highlights below from MI Sports Now.

Also of note: Lake City 27, Leroy Pine River 0 The Trojans (6-0) clinched a share of a second straight Highland Conference title by downing an improved Pine River team that fell to 4-2 but would’ve created a three-way tie for first with a win. 

Remember this one: Traverse City West 19, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 13 Although a non-league win for Big North Conference leader West (4-2), it should be a key playoff confidence builder as the Cavaliers have played much better than their 3-3 record. 

More shoutouts: Manistee 39, Riverview Gabriel Richard 6 A week after clinching a share of the Lakes 8 Conference, Manistee (6-0) won big against the Catholic League Intersectional l-leading Pioneers (3-3). Oscoda 50, Tawas 15 Defeating rival Tawas (3-2) is always a plus, and the Owls (5-1) extended their winning streak to five with their fourth game of 50 or more points this fall.

Southeast & Border

HEADLINER: Jackson 39, Ypsilanti Lincoln 14 The Vikings (6-0) pulled a major step closer to earning their first league title since 1942, downing the second-place Railsplitters (4-2). Jackson finishes its league schedule against back-to-back opponents with 2-4 records. Click for more from the Jackson Citizen-Patriot and see highlights below from JTV.

Also of note: Grass Lake 14, Michigan Center 10 A year after Michigan Center and Napoleon shared the Cascades Conference title, Grass Lake (6-0) and Napoleon are tied for first with two league games to play and the Cardinals (5-1) now trailing by one win. Grass Lake and Napoleon play this week. 

Remember this one: Hillsdale 37, Blissfield 27 The final three games are going to be just as difficult, but getting past the Royals (4-2) put the Hornets (6-0) in first alone in the Lenawee County Athletic Association. 

More shoutouts: Pittsford 28, Athens 6 This win combined with Lenawee Christian’s loss gave the Wildcats (6-0) a share of the Southern Central Athletic Association title and dropped Athens (3-2) out of contention. Parma Western 30, Battle Creek Pennfield 13 The Panthers (5-1) moved into a second-place tie in the Interstate 8 Activities Conference by knocking Pennfield (4-2) out of a tie for first. 

Southwest Corridor

HEADLINER: Kalamazoo Central 26, Battle Creek Central 20 (OT) Meeting 115 between these century-old rivals was a classic and earned the Maroon Giants (4-2) a share of the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East title. The Bearcats (4-2) came back from two scores down after three quarters, but Kalamazoo Central made a last stand in overtime. The teams were a combined 5-13 just a year ago. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer and see below for highlights from FOX 17.

Also of note: St. Joseph 13, Portage Central 6 Despite a Week 4 loss to Stevensville Lakeshore, St. Joseph is back in the SMAC West hunt thanks to a second-straight win over formerly first place Portage Central (4-2). 

Remember this one: Centreville 20, Mendon 0 The Bulldogs (6-0) had been outscored by Mendon (3-3) a combined 145-0 over the last three seasons, but sit atop the Southwest 10 Conference thanks to this win. 

More shoutouts Climax-Scotts 62, Adrian Lenawee Christian 20 In its only home game this season and last as an 11-player team (C-S is switching to 8-player next season), the Panthers shook up the SCAA standings and kept their playoff hopes alive. Schoolcraft 63, Constantine 27 The Eagles (5-1) stayed tied for first in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley with a big win keyed by an MHSAA-record nine rushing touchdowns from junior Kobe Clark.

Upper Peninsula

HEADLINER: Ishpeming 44, Gwinn 8 The Hematites (6-0) set up a likely league-deciding matchup this week with Iron River West Iron County with a big win over former Western Peninsula Athletic Conference small-school co-leader Gwinn. The Modeltowners (4-2) still could figure into the race with a Week 8 meeting against West Iron also coming up. Click for more from ABC10.

Also of note: Marquette 21, Kingsford 20 The Redmen (3-3) have climbed back from an 0-2 start to move into first place alone in the Great Northern Conference. Kingsford (2-4) must win out for a chance at an at-large playoff bid. 

Remember this one: Escanaba 20, Menominee 12 The Eskymos (4-2) made it two in a row over the Maroons (1-5), and also formerly ended Menominee’s chances at making the playoffs for a 23rd straight season.

More shoutouts: Calumet 24, Iron Mountain 0 The Copper Kings (6-0) haven’t allowed a point in two weeks and have given up only 32 total – and Iron Mountain (4-2) was averaging 30 per game entering the night. Sault Ste. Marie 14, Gladstone 7 The Blue Devils (4-2) won their third game this season by seven points or fewer – and their four wins are as many as the last two seasons combined.

West Michigan

HEADLINER: Grand Rapids Christian 21, Middleville Thornapple Kellogg 14 The Eagles avenged last season’s four-point loss to the Trojans (5-1) by knocking them out of a tie for first place in the O-K Gold. Grand Rapids Christian (5-1) continues to share the top spot with East Grand Rapids. Click for more from FOX 17.

Also of note: Grand Rapids West Catholic 38, Spring Lake 21 The Falcons (3-3) aren’t done yet. With their playoff hopes on the line, reigning Division 5 champion West Catholic handed Spring Lake (5-1) its first loss – and moved into a tie for first in the O-K Blue.

Remember this one: Wyoming Godwin Heights 23, Wyoming Kelloggsville 14 Last season a one-point Kelloggsville win decided the O-K Silver. The Wolverines (3-3) broke a two-game losing streak to the Rockets (3-3) this time to push both into a second-place tie with Belding, one win behind leader Hopkins. 

More shoutouts: East Grand Rapids 42, Grand Rapids South Christian 29 EGR (4-2) shares first in the O-K Gold and likely will be cheering for the Sailors (3-3) this week against Grand Rapids Christian. Hudsonville 16, Grandville 13 (OT) The Eagles (5-1) just held on as one of two teams undefeated in the O-K Red, breaking a four-game losing streak to the Bulldogs (2-4). 


HEADLINER: Pickford 59, Stephenson 8 Will anyone catch the Panthers? No team has so far, as Pickford (6-0) has outscored its opponents by a combined 327-47. This big win came against a Stephenson team that while 4-2 could still push for a league title. Click for more from the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News.

Also of note: Colon 51, Camden-Frontier 0 The Magi (6-0) continued to impress in their first season of 8-player, handing the Redskins (4-2) their first shutout in three seasons playing this format.

Also of note: Powers North Central 52, Crystal Falls Forest Park 28 The Jets (5-1) moved into first place alone in the Great Lakes Conference West, a win away from clinching a share of the title while Forest Park (3-3) sits tied for second.

More shoutouts: Hillman 38, Posen 34 The Tigers (5-1) continued factoring into the Midwest Central Michigan Conference East race by knocking Posen (5-1) out of a tie for first. Peck 8, Mayville 0 The Pirates (5-1) moved into first place with Deckerville in the North Central Thumb League Blue by sending Mayville (4-2) into a tie for third.

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews and reviews 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: Saginaw Swan Valley locks down an Alma ball carrier during Friday's win over the Panthers. Click for more from

Working Together, with Neighbor's Help, Schoolcraft Teams Making Selves at 'Home'

By Pam Shebest
Special for

September 19, 2023

SCHOOLCRAFT — If it is a home game for the Schoolcraft football team, head over to Vicksburg.

Southwest CorridorIf it is soccer, go to Schoolcraft’s baseball field.

Things are a bit jumbled in the sports world for the Eagles this season.

With a new football field under construction and a new elementary school built on the site of the former practice fields, the two teams have been a bit displaced.

“Along with our football field, we had three practice fields that were utilized by a lot of our youth programs, Rocket football, youth soccer and our soccer and football programs,” Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin said. “It’s taken a lot of understanding and flexibility from our coaches, players and our community to make it work out, and it has.”

Meanwhile, all four Eagles home football games will be played at Vicksburg High School.

If Vicksburg is home on a Friday, then the Eagles will play Saturday, including their Homecoming game this Saturday against Galesburg-Augusta.

The Eagles won their only “home” game so far, 33-14 against Kalamazoo United, and take a 3-1 record into Saturday’s contest.

The soccer team gave up its field to the football team for practices and has been practicing and playing their matches in the outfield of the baseball stadium.

For the soccer team, “It’s kind of an upgrade,” Applin said. “The soccer field they traditionally play on, they don’t have a scoreboard, they don’t have a bathroom facility, so we’ve been able to use the (baseball) scoreboard, the PA system, open up the bathroom building.

Schoolcraft’s Kolby Lloyd (10) works to break away from a tackler during a “home” game played at Vicksburg this fall. “The goal at some point is to give soccer a home, and we’re very, very excited about that.”

This year definitely has been challenging for the first-year AD, who credits Vicksburg athletic director Mike Roy with being a tremendous help.

“Mike Roy has been nothing but accommodating to us,” Applin said. “He’s been super helpful to me stepping in and assuming this scenario.

“The communities are so close, it almost feels like home for us.”

Roy said Jeff Clark, former Schoolcraft AD, reached out once the bond was passed for the new stadium last year.

“We had to make small accommodations as did Schoolcraft to make the schedules work,” Roy said. “By moving (Schoolcraft’s) games to Saturday, Vicksburg had to work with our Rocket football organization to make sure games were completed” before the Eagles varsity games.

Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency said his team has been “rolling with the punches.

“These guys don’t care where it’s at; they just want to play football. We’re all taking care of each other. What a great place to be when everybody works together.”

When Jake Bailey heard the team would be playing at Vicksburg, “That got me excited,” the junior offensive tackle said. “They’ve got a really nice facility. I know the school will come out to support us no matter where we are, but it’s definitely different.

“Good thing we don’t play Vicksburg, although it would be fun because it would be both our home fields. The new facilities and being back at our home field at Roy Davis (Field next year) will be really fun.”

Vicksburg is Division 4, while Schoolcraft is Division 7.

Clockwise, from top left: Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency, Schoolcraft boys soccer coach Jeremy Mutchler, soccer player Jack Curtis and football player Jake Bailey.The soccer team was “just being a team player” in giving up its own field for football practice, second-year head coach Jeremy Mutchler said.

“For the soccer team to be a team player and get behind the football team will help the community get behind the soccer team as well,” he added.

The biggest drawback is that part of the current field includes a piece of the baseball infield.

“The only odd thing is it is a smaller field, still regulation size, but smaller,” Mutchler said. “Part of the field is in the diamond, so we have to play in the dirt and it gets tricky, especially when you’re trying to throw it in or just play down the line.”

The move has cost the team a few home games.

“At the beginning of the year, we allowed schools, if they didn’t want to play here, we would go to their house,” Mutchler said. “We had to go to a few schools we would have played at home.”

Maintenance supervisor Eric McGehee was instrumental in preparing the field.

“He laid out exactly the parameters, so I was able to send that to all the ADs that were going to visit to give them an opportunity to decide whether that’s something they wanted to help us out for our home games,” Applin said. “A lot of schools were more than willing to come and play us to give our boys some home games. A couple wanted to be cautious and play on a more traditional surface, and we were able to make those arrangements as well.”

In only its second year as a varsity sport, the boys soccer team is still finding its identity, posting a 2-5 record so far.

Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin has taken over the maneuvering of the teams’ home sites during his first year on the job.“We’re a very young team,” Mutchler said. “All juniors and freshmen. This is the juniors' second regular season. It’s all been a learning phase with maturity and sportsmanship.”

Junior captain Jack Curtis said he was a bit “bummed out” when he heard the team would move to the baseball field.

“The first practice, I drove over to our practice field,” he said. “No one was there.

“I drove over to the high school and saw everyone practicing (at the baseball field). I didn’t think a soccer field could fit on a baseball field.”

Curtis said in spite of the temporary move, “I’m just glad we can have some home games this year on Schoolcraft soil.”

As for Applin, he spent much of his career coaching basketball at both the high school and college levels and most recently worked as a salesman for Zeigler. His wife, Meredith, is an assistant coach for Western Michigan University’s women’s basketball team.

Ferency is appreciative of the work Clark and Applin have done to make this season’s changes relatively seamless.

“I’d like to highlight how great our athletic department is,” he said. “It takes a lot of moving pieces and parts to move people around and have a space for everybody.

“I’m really proud of our athletic department and all our coaches and kids for just rolling with the punches.”

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) Schoolcraft’s varsity boys soccer team, including Nyan Wonders (15), faces Comstock this season on its field in the outfield of the baseball stadium. (2) Schoolcraft’s Kolby Lloyd (10) works to break away from a tackler during a “home” game played at Vicksburg this fall. (3) Clockwise, from top left: Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency, Schoolcraft boys soccer coach Jeremy Mutchler, soccer player Jack Curtis and football player Jake Bailey. (4) Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin has taken over the maneuvering of the teams’ home sites during his first year on the job. (Action photos by Stephanie Blentlinger/Lingering Memories Photography. Headshots and Applin photo by Pam Shebest.)