Drive for Detroit: Week 7 Preview
October 5, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Week 7 has a couple of contrasting meanings in the grand scheme of Michigan high school football.
On one hand, we're drawing to a close of the regular season. On the other, we're just reaching the midpoint of the 14-week drive that carries us through the MHSAA Finals.
So here's where we sit. Fifty-one 11-player teams have qualified for the 11-player Playoffs. Another 94 are on the verge, needing one more victory. League titles will be decided all over Michigan again this weekend, and pairs of the best in all of the Upper Peninsula face off in both 11 and 8-player games.
Keep an eye on the statewide scene by following the MHSAA Score Center for scores as they come in tonight and Saturday, and check out MHSAA.tv for six live broadcasts – click here for the schedule. Drive for Detroit is powered by MI Student Aid.
Sidenote: With a win tonight against Oak Park (5-1) by his Hawks (4-2), Farmington Hills Harrison coach John Herrington would tie retired Birmingham Brother Rice coach Al Fracassa for the MHSAA record with 430 wins. Stay tuned.
Bay & Thumb
Frankenmuth (6-0) at Millington (6-0), Friday
This is the game, again, in the Tri-Valley Conference East as Frankenmuth has won 22 straight in the league dating to a loss to Millington in 2014. That season was the first of what is now four straight that these two have entered their annual meeting both undefeated. Coincidentally this time, both have scored 246 points this year, with Millington giving up 112 and Frankenmuth 102. And it gets closer still: In a projected Division 5 playoff field, Frankenmuth is third in playoff point average, with Millington next trailing by a mere 1.600. It’s fair to say a league title and possible home District Final are on the line.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Flushing (5-1) at Fenton (6-0), Lapeer (5-1) at Davison (5-1), Ortonville Brandon (4-2) at Linden (5-1), Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (5-1) at Unionville-Sebewaing (4-2).
Detroit Central (5-1) at Detroit Martin Luther King (5-1), Friday
Detroit Central is much smaller than even a decade ago when it had more than 1,000 students; the Trail Blazers played in the Division 6 playoffs last season. But they’ve got a chance to take a share of the Detroit Public School League Black division title from King, which has three times as many students these days and is the two-time reigning Division 2 champion. Both have talented offenses, but defense may reign; King has given up six points total over four league games, Central just 25. King is coming off a 27-6 win over previously-undefeated Denby, which handed Central its lone loss, 12-6, in Week 3.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (6-0) at Dearborn Divine Child (5-1), Warren Fitzgerald (5-1) at Madison Heights Madison (6-0), Clarkston Everest Collegiate (5-1) at Waterford Our Lady (4-1), Clarkston (5-1) at Rochester Adams (5-1).
DeWitt (5-1) at Haslett (5-1), Friday
For the first time in a decade, one of this region’s most heated rivalries is relevant again, as the Capital Area Activities Conference Red title is on the line. That’s hardly all. Six of these teams’ first 11 meetings this century were decided by seven or fewer points; only two of the last 10 have been that close, and DeWitt has won 16 straight. But Haslett is 5-1 for the first time since 2007 and already has one more win than all of last season, and DeWitt moves to the CAAC Blue next fall – making this the most significant regular-season meeting these two might enjoy against each other for a while.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Wyoming Godwin Heights (5-1) at Belding (5-1), Lansing Sexton (4-2) at Holt (3-3), Lake Fenton (5-1) at Corunna (3-3), Carrollton (5-1) at Alma (6-0).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Johannesburg-Lewiston (4-2) at Gaylord St. Mary (6-0), Friday
Despite a couple of nonleague losses, Johannesburg-Lewiston has bounced back nicely from last season’s 4-5 finish, which was its first below .500 since 2007. Although Harbor Springs could figure into the mix – both the Cardinals and St. Mary face the Rams over the final two weeks of the regular season – tonight’s matchup could go a long way in deciding the Northern Michigan Football Conference Legacy champ. St. Mary is enjoying that opportunity after starting 2016 5-0 and finishing it 1-4. But that one win was over Johannesburg-Lewiston and by 28 points, perhaps a bit of a confidence builder with these two now the main contenders.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Elk Rapids (5-1) at Grayling (4-2), Beal City (4-2) at McBain (5-1), Hillman (3-3) at Oscoda (4-2), Cheboygan (3-3) at Traverse City St. Francis (6-0).
Southeast & Border
Hudson (6-0) at Ida (5-1), Friday
The Tigers are looking to run through the Lenawee County Athletic Association schedule undefeated for the fifth time in nine seasons, but 2015 league champion Ida is standing in the way after both teams also shared last season’s title – Ida fell to Hudson by a point (and Hudson fell to Hillsdale). After a pair of impressive nonleague wins, the Tigers have won every LCAA game so far by at least 22. The Bluestreaks took an eight-point loss to Brooklyn Columbia Central two weeks ago and surely won’t mind sharing the title again as a result of handing Hudson its first defeat tonight.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Ann Arbor Pioneer (3-3) at Saline (5-1), Athens (5-1) at Pittsford (5-1), Parma Western (4-2) at Jackson Lumen Christi (5-1), Grass Lake (4-2) at Addison (5-1).
Edwardsburg (6-0) at Three Rivers (5-1), Friday
Edwardsburg’s 34-game Wolverine B Conference winning streak just keeps growing, but a few challengers are lined up. Three Rivers fell to the Eddies 38-0 just a year ago, but already has avenged its other 2016 league loss this season, flipping a 29-point defeat to Plainwell into a 20-point win on opening night. Granted, the Wildcats followed that with a 14-point loss to Dowagiac, which fell to the Eddies by eight two weeks later in giving them their first significant league challenge in two years. But if nothing else, this should be closer than a year ago – and Vicksburg (5-1) will be waiting for Edwardsburg in Week 8.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Coldwater (4-2) at Battle Creek Harper Creek (6-0), Schoolcraft (5-1) at Coloma (4-2), Cassopolis (6-0) at Hartford (5-1), Decatur (4-2) at Mendon (6-0).
Gladstone (6-0) at Escanaba (5-1), Friday
It’s an interesting coincidence that the season these two are considered arguably the best teams in the Upper Peninsula is also the first time they aren’t in the same league since the mid-1980s, but that hardly lessens the significance of this matchup. The Eskymos are laying claim to the top spot after doubling up annual top U.P. team Menominee last week. Gladstone is staring down its best season since at least 2008 – and it can only get better with this opportunity against its old Great Northern Conference foe.
Others that caught my eye: FIRDAY Newberry (3-2) at Norway (6-0), Calumet (3-3) at L'Anse (4-2), Charlevoix (2-4) at Munising (3-3), Bark River-Harris (3-3) at Bessemer Gogebic (2-4).
Rockford (4-2) at Holland West Ottawa (5-1)
Pick a league, any league, on the west side and it seems like there is a game that will determine a league champion either this week or eventually. These are the best from the elite Ottawa-Kent Conference Red; Rockford is 3-0 in the league and West Ottawa is 4-0. The Panthers especially have to be thinking historically; they haven’t beaten the Rams since 2002. But West Ottawa also has more wins this fall than the last two seasons combined and has yet to give up more than seven points in a league game – an impressive enough feat to make this look like a much closer matchup than last year’s 51-14 Rockford win.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Lowell (4-2) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (6-0), Comstock Park (4-2) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (6-0), Wyoming Kelloggsville (6-0) at Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian (5-1), Muskegon Oakridge (5-1) at Montague (6-0).
Stephenson (6-0) at Rapid River (6-0)
Similar to Powers North Central and Crystal Falls Forest Park in 2016, these two have an argument that they are the best in all of 8-player football even as relative neighbors. But only one (most likely) will finish as champion of the Western Eight Conference – although at this point, both could have a chance to finish as MHSAA champions as they project to play in different playoff divisions. Stephenson has two straight wins over the Rockets and hasn’t allowed an opponent closer than 24 points this season. Rapid River certainly has more experience in close games – with three wins by eight or fewer – and that could pay off.
Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Engadine (4-2) at Cedarville (6-0), Marion (5-1) at Manistee Catholic Central (2-3), Kingston (4-2) at Morrice (6-0), Pickford (6-0) at Onaway (3-3).
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PHOTO: DeWitt, here against Grand Ledge in Week 2, will try to win its 17th straight over rival Haslett. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
May 26, 2023
Mendon’s run to the Division 2 Final last fall included some of the strongest rushing performances over the history of 8-player football.
The Hornets ran for 4,317 yards, second-most all-time, on the second-most attempts (520) and with a record-setting 682 yards Oct. 14 against Marcellus. Mendon also set the record for total offense with 692 total in that game, and made the single-season touchdowns list with 76 including 66 rushing (also second on that list).
Junior Jack McCaw made the single-season scoring list with 212 points, most coming on 29 touchdowns, and Evan Lukeman made the single-game rushing list with 401 yards against Marcellus. Mendon’s defense also earned praise, twice making the fewest-first-downs-allowed list with a low of three.
See below for more recent additions to the 8-player portion of the football record book:
Athens’ Landon Bennett earned a pair of record book entries after reaching the end zone seven times during his team’s 72-0 win over Burr Oak on Sept. 8. His seven scores are tied for third-most in 8-player history and included three rushing, three on punt returns and one on an interception return. The three punt return touchdowns are a record. Bennett is a junior.
On the night Powers North Central broke its 8-player record for consecutive wins, claiming its 28th straight, senior Luke Gorzinski tied Jets great Jason Whitens for the record for interception touchdowns in a game with two, scoring on returns during the second and fourth quarters. Gorzinski has signed with Michigan Tech, and North Central’s winning streak is 37 games and counting.
A pair of Atlanta offensive playmakers and a top defensive lineman earned a total of seven entries in the record book for achievements last fall. Senior quarterback Tyler Currie threw for 30 touchdowns over eight games, and also made the records for six touchdowns and 419 passing yards against Whittemore-Prescott on Sept. 23; the passing yards are second-most for one 8-player game. Sophomore Landon Galea was added for 263 yards and five of those touchdowns against the Cardinals, and also for 1,418 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns over nine games. Junior teammate Tucker Kendrick made the tackles for loss list with five against Hillman on Oct. 6.
Adrian Lenawee Christian senior Brady McKelvey became the first to make the career extra points list in 8-player football this past fall. He bettered his previous single-season record making 64 of 66 extra-point attempts over 11 games and finishing his two-year varsity career with 123 extra points in 127 tries.
Sam McKissack reached the record book showcasing multiple skills for Crystal Falls Forest Park during the 2021 season – twice for rushing attempts in a game including with a record 59 against Ontonagon that Sept. 10, and then with a record 70-yard punt Oct. 30, 2021, against Lake Linden-Hubbell. Teammate Devon Basirico also made the record book with six fumble recoveries over 11 games that season. As a team, Forest Park was added twice for single-game rushing attempts – including 73 total in that Ontonagon game – and for 424 rushes over 11 games for the season. McKissack and Basirico are seniors this spring.
Nikolaus Lewis tied for eighth-most rushing touchdowns in an 8-player game when he reached the end zone six times for Carsonville-Port Sanilac in its win over Caseville on Oct. 7. He’s a senior this spring.
Bridgman has won 24 straight games over the last three seasons, and an exceptional offense – and exceptional offensive star – have played major roles. The Bees were added for 658 total yards in a win over Lawrence last season, that total ranking third all-time, and also 613 yards in a win over Eau Claire. Those included totals of 575 and 547 rushing yards, respectively, and Bridgman was added for 3,598 rushing yards (sixth on the list), 59 rushing touchdowns (fourth) and 76 total touchdowns (seventh). Senior Reid Haskins capped his four-year, 32-game varsity career with 13 record book entries, including for 254 points last season over nine games (tied for fifth all-time) and a record 620 career points, 41 touchdowns last season (fifth) and a record 95 for his career, 2,344 rushing yards last season (third) and a record 5,206 for his career, and 41 rushing touchdowns last season (third) and a record 94 for his career. Senior teammate Tanner Peters made the records three times including for 50 extra points last season (fourth) and 99 over 26 games and three seasons (second on the career list).
Mio's Austin Fox rewrote the 8-player passing record book this past fall, with his 621 yards in a game against Whittemore-Prescott setting a single-game record as he totaled four of the five-highest passing yardage totals. He also set a record with 3,516 over nine games for the season, another record with 289 passing attempts over those nine games and a third record for nine touchdown passes in that game against the Cardinals. His 41 touchdown passes total rank fourth. Teammates Gage Long and Nathan Hurst also earned several record book entries on the receiving end of those passes. Long’s 297 receiving yards against Whittemore-Prescott were tied for third most, and Hurst’s 266 against Alcona rank eighth. Long set a single-season record with 1,739 receiving yards, with Hurst sixth all-time at 1,321, and Long’s 14 receptions against the Cardinals and 70 for the season also rank second on those respective lists. Hurst set a record for longest 8-player kickoff return with a 99-yarder against St. Helen Charlton Heston. All three are seniors.
Peck was one of the first MHSAA 8-player champions, claiming the title in 2013, and Cody Abrego one of the state’s first 8-player stars. The Pirates were added to the MHSAA record book 52 times, and Abrego 14 times individually. Among the most notable entries for the 2015 graduate were for 462 points scored over his two-season career (ranking sixth all-time), 74 career touchdowns (sixth), 2,202 rushing yards in 2013 (fifth) and 35 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (sixth). Current senior Caleb Lentner was one of the stars statewide this past season, and he was added eight times including for 50 points scored in a game (ranking second), 272 points for a season last fall (fifth), eight touchdowns in a game (tied for second), 42 touchdowns in a season (fifth), an 8-player record of 2,694 rushing yards from last season, and 38 rushing touchdowns also last fall (fourth). Others to make the individual lists were Nathan Robar, Caleb Dudley, Steven VanConant, Kyle Abrego and Nathan Neihaus, Dudley for a record 20 career interceptions over two seasons and VanConant for a record 12 tackles for loss in a 2022 game and 36 tackles for loss for the season last fall. The Pirates also are all over the 8-player team record book, including for a record 97 touchdowns in 2013, a record 5,895 yards of total offense that season, 528 carries, 4,346 rushing yards and 73 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (all ranking second); and 24 interceptions in 2014, which ranks second on that list.
Senior quarterback JR Hildebrand was one of the most dynamic players in 8-player football in the fall in leading Martin to the Division 1 title. He had one of his most exciting nights in a playoff opener against Tekonsha, making the single-game touchdown pass list with six in a 68-6 victory.
PHOTO Mendon’s Jack McCaw (21) eludes a tackle during the 8-Player Division 2 Final in November at Northern Michigan University. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)