By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Two Michigan communities are celebrating football success like never before.
Swartz Creek two weeks ago and Grand Rapids Northview on Friday became two of three teams this season to earn MHSAA playoff berths for the first time. Both also are in first place in their respective conferences.
The third to earn a first-time berth is Detroit East English, although that comes with a bit of an asterisk. The school is made up mostly of students from the now-closed Detroit Crockett and Finney, and the former in particular was a frequent playoff qualifier of late. Still, it's an incredible way to begin a new legacy, as East English won its division of the Detroit Public School League and is one of four teams playing in a PSL Semifinal on Friday.
Following are a number of other significant results from Week 7 as the regular season stares down its final two weeks.
Thumb and Bay
Flint Powers Catholic 32, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 7
This might be the most impressive of victories so far for the reigning MHSAA Division 5 champion, which moved to 7-0 and a win away from claiming a share of the Saginaw Valley Association South title. Carman-Ainsworth (6-1) was riding two straight shutouts and hadn't give up more than 12 points in a game this fall, but a combination of five turnovers and Powers quarterback Garrett Pougnet made for a tough night. Click to read more from the Flint Journal.
Akron-Fairgrove 22, Owendale-Gagetown 20 – Owendale-Gagetown (5-2) won the first game beteween these two, but the second matchup counts toward the league title; Akron-Fairgrove (5-2) now owns the edge in the Mid-Michigan 8-Man League.
Hemlock 21, Freeland 7 – The Huskies (6-1) claimed the Tri-Valley Conference Central title, their first league championship since 1977; Freeland fell to 5-2.
Marine City 34, Marysville 13 – Marine City moved to 6-1 and remained tied for first in the Macomb Area Conference Gold, while Marysville fell to 5-2.
Bay City Western 34, Mount Pleasant 26 – Western improved to 7-0 to remain tied for first with Midland in the SVA North, and might’ve knocked Mount Pleasant (3-4) out of playoff contention.
Lansing Everett 22, Grand Ledge 21 (OT)
It took overtime and a gutsy call by Everett coach Marcelle Carruthers to follow his players’ request and run instead of pass for a two-point conversion to win. But the Vikings (7-0) need just one more victory to claim a share of the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue championship, which would be their first league title since 1986. The second-place Comets (5-2) are now faced with beating East Lansing or Holt, playoff contenders both, to earn that sixth win. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.
Fowler 14, Pewamo-Westphalia 0 – Both rivals made MHSAA Finals last season; Fowler (6-1) earned a share of the Central Michigan Athletic Conference title by beating the second-place Pirates (5-2).
Lansing Catholic 41, Portland 32 – Locally, Portland (6-1) seemed like the favorite, but Lansing Catholic (6-1) made it two CAAC White titles in a row.
Hartland 34, Grand Blanc 22 – The Eagles (7-0) continued their best season in at least two decades by beating second-place Grand Blanc (4-2) to win the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West title.
Haslett 35, St. Johns 32 – Both finished tied for second in the CAAC Red. But this had greater meaning for Haslett (4-3), which found itself in a must-win against the Redwings (5-2) as both pursue playoff berths.
Oak Park 26, Farmington Hills Harrison 21
Oak Park (7-0) won a share of the Oakland Activities Association White championship, its first league title since 1998, and did so coming off four straight losing seasons. The Knights can clinch outright this week against Oxford. Harrison, meanwhile, fell to 4-3 and finds itself needing to win out to guarantee a playoff berth. Click to read more from the Oakland Press.
Dearborn Heights Robichaud 34, Garden City 7 – Robichaud (7-0) avoided a three-way Western Wayne Athletic Conference Red title by winning it outright; Garden City (4-3) tied for second.
Detroit Loyola 28, Waterford Our Lady 18 – Loyola (7-0) claimed a share of the title in the Detroit Catholic League Intersectional, which still has five teams including Our Lady (5-2) up for automatic playoff berths.
Grosse Pointe South 17, Grosse Pointe North 15 – South (6-1) claimed a share of the Macomb Area Conference Blue title by edging the rival Norsemen (4-3).
Birmingham Seaholm 35, Bloomfield Hills Lahser 33 – Seaholm (6-1) edged a win closer to a league title by winning this battle of formerly first-place teams in the OAA Blue; Lahser remains in second place and is 5-2 overall.
Negaunee 20, Ishpeming 8
These were two of the six undefeated teams left in the Upper Peninsula; Negaunee remains now at 7-0 and owns a share of the Mid-Peninsula Conference title. The victory also improved on a recent run of six losses in seven meetings against Ishpeming (6-1). Click to read more from the Marquette Mining Journal.
Calumet 26, L'Anse 6 – The Purple Hornets (6-1) still own their destiny, and with a win over Northland Pines this week can earn a share of the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference title. Now, however, Calumet (4-3) also can earn a share too.
St. Ignace 39, Pickford 6 – The Saints (6-1) earned a share of the Ski Valley Conference North title, while Pickford (5-2) fell a game back.
Rapid River 30, Eben Junction Superior Central 27 – Cedarville likely won’t slip up in the Bridge Alliance 8-Man Conference, but if so Rapid River (6-1) can earn a share of the title. Superior Central fell to 4-2.
Kingsford 10, Iron Mountain 0 – The Flivvers (6-1) earned a playoff berth and remain in first place in the Great Northern U.P. Conference; Iron Mountain, at 4-3, must win out.
Grand Rapids Northview 34, Cedar Springs 14
Northview (6-1) became one of three teams so far this fall to earn a playoff berth for the first time, and remains tied for first in the O-K Bronze thanks to this win. With another this week, the Wildcats could face Grand Rapids West Catholic in Week 9 for the league title – unless Cedar Springs (4-3) gives some help by beating West Catholic this week. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central 37, Grand Rapids South Christian 17 – The Cougars (7-0) set up an O-K Gold-deciding game against Hastings this week by defeating the third-place Sailors (4-3).
Caledonia 28, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 6 – The Fighting Scots (6-1) earned a playoff berth, while Forest Hills Central (4-3) lost its third game in four weeks and needs to win out.
Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills 35, Muskegon Mona Shores 26 – Kenowa Hills (4-3) kept its playoff hopes alive while dealing a blow to Mona Shores (4-3) as it plays for a first berth ever.
Muskegon Oakridge 20, Shelby 9 – Oakridge (7-0) earned a share of the West Michigan Conference title; Shelby (5-2) needs to win one of its next two to earn a playoff berth.
Lower Up North
Traverse City St. Francis 13, Saginaw Nouvel 7
St. Francis’ state-best playoff berth streak of 22 straight seasons isn’t sure to continue yet, but the Gladiators (4-3) stayed alive with a big win over the reigning Division 7 champion Panthers (5-2). St. Francis must win out against Kingsley and Muskegon Catholic Central to earn an automatic berth, while Nouvel must beat either Detroit Edison or Freeland to do so. Click to read more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Maple City Glen Lake 15, Frankfort 12 – Glen Lake (7-0) edged Frankfort (3-4) to finish perfect in the Northwest Conference and continue its best season since 2001.
Traverse City Central 9, Detroit U-D Jesuit 7 – The Trojans (6-1) earned their first playoff berth since 2008 and their first automatic berth since 2005; Jesuit is 2-5 after a 2-1 start.
Cheboygan 28, Sault Ste. Marie 27 (OT) – Cheboygan (5-2) moved a win closer to its first playoff berth in three seasons, and Sault Ste. Marie (4-3) remains alive as well.
Grayling 33, Kalkaska 6 – The Ramblers (7-0) kept pace with Boyne City atop the Lake Michigan Conference, while pushing Kalkaska (5-2) into fourth place.
Southwest and Border
Mattawan 35, Portage Central 34
Mattawan (7-0) has won 13 straight games in the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference East, going back more than two seasons, but nearly lost the opportunity to face Stevensville Lakeshore this week to win another league championship. Portage Central (5-2) took advantage of two late on-side kick recoveries to put a scare into the Wildcats. Click to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Stevensville Lakeshore 28, St. Joseph 24 – Lakeshore (7-0) also had to escape rival St. Joseph (3-4) to keep next week’s SMAC West decider alive.
Climax-Scotts 34, Bellevue 18 – The Panthers improved to 7-0 and Bellevue fell to 3-4, but this got headlines because C-S earned its 100th win over the last 10 seasons.
Dowagiac 31, Three Rivers 28 – Dowagiac (7-0) will face Edwardsburg this week to decide the Wolverine B South title, but nearly tripped up against Three Rivers (4-3) on the way.
Edwardsburg 26, Berrien Springs 20 – The Eddies (6-1) also caught a scare before this week’s big matchup, needing to outlast the Shamrocks (1-6).
Every week, the MHSAA highlights trophy games played throughout the state. Here are three from Week 7:
- Baseline Jug – This trophy contested by Northville and Novi dates back to 1988, and this season Northville surivived a close call to claim it again, plus a share of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association Central title. Final: Northville 21, Novi 14 (OT).
- The Bell – The Bell was first awarded to the winner of Reading/Quincy in 1975, and the Rangers made it six straight over their rival. Final: Reading 34, Quincy 6.
- Skipper's Oar – Not only did Waterford Kettering celebrate getting this trophy back after a year in Mott's hands, but also the Captains earned their first win this fall. Final: Kettering 42, Mott 14.
PHOTO: Flint Powers senior Nick Sullivan blocks a punt by Carman-Ainsworth junior Connor Storms during the Chargers' 32-7 win Friday. (Click to see more at Terry McNamara Photography.)
DETROIT – Isaiah Marshall took a second Sunday night to think about the interception he’d just thrown that led to Belleville taking a late lead in the Division 1 Football Final.
But just a second.
When Marshall and his Southfield Arts & Technology teammates took the field down four points with 4 minutes, 47 seconds remaining at Ford Field, the interception wasn’t on his mind. Neither was the raucous Belleville crowd that had awoken on the home side of the stadium.
He wasn’t thinking about stopping a three-peat or snapping a 38-game Belleville win streak. He wasn’t thinking about the talk he’d heard during the week leading up to the game, that his team was on its way to getting blown out like so many of those previous 38 opponents.
All Marshall was focused on was doing his job.
“As soon as I threw the pick, I knew what I had to do differently,” Marshall said. “I just wasn’t thinking about that last play. As soon as I threw the pick, I just thought about it on the bench, then as soon as I came out, it wasn’t on my mind at all. I just knew I had to go down the field and score.”
Like he had all night, Marshall came through when the Warriors needed him most, leading his team on a 69-yard scoring drive, finishing the final 11 with his legs for the go-ahead score in Southfield A&T’s 36-32 victory against Belleville.
His defense finished the rest, as Dorian Freeman intercepted a pass during the final seconds, sealing the first Finals title for Southfield.
“It’s special,” A&T coach Aaron Marshall said. “It’s special for the community. It’s a long time coming. All week I’ve been getting calls from guys I’ve never met just congratulating the boys on making it. We had never even made it to the championship game, let alone won one. It’s real big for the community. I’m really proud.”
To do it, the Warriors needed to overcome the team that has dominated Division 1 for the past three seasons in Belleville (13-1). The Tigers had won the past two Division 1 Finals, and hadn’t dropped a game since Sept. 10, 2021.
They entered Sunday having outscored opponents this fall by an average of 49-7. They also featured the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2025 in quarterback Bryce Underwood.
But Sunday, none of that mattered to Marshall and the Warriors (13-1). Well, except maybe the last part.
“Just a little bit,” Marshall said when asked if he was out to prove he was the state’s top quarterback. “I do think I’m the best player in the state. Me proving that tonight, and showing what I can do on the big stage shows that, I think.”
He finished the night completing 20 of 31 passes for 281 yards with two touchdowns, as well as two interceptions. He also rushed for 134 yards and the go-ahead score, as well as the two-point conversion that put his team up four.
“He came out there and played like I thought he was going to play,” said Belleville star linebacker and running back Jeremiah Beasley, who has committed to Michigan. “He’s a real tough player. Since we were little, he’s always been tough. He came out there and played with all his heart, and they came out on top.”
Underwood certainly had his moments, finishing 11 for 24 for 164 yards and a touchdown to go along with one interception. He also had five rushes for 39 yards.
And A&T was certainly cognizant of what Underwood could do, especially when he got the ball back with 47 seconds to play and a chance to take the lead. But by playing coverage, they didn’t allow the Tigers to push the ball down the field, and eventually pressure from senior defensive tackle Reggie Gardner forced the throw that Freeman intercepted to clinch the game.
“My coaches just told me to spy the quarterback, and whatever he did, I would go,” Freeman said. “Then it was just right in my zone.”
A&T led for most of the game, getting a pair of rushing touchdowns from Mathias Davis during the first half, the second score giving them a 12-7 lead.
After a 31-yard field goal from Belleville’s Brayden Lane made the score 12-10, Marshall engineered an 80-yard drive over the final three minutes of the second quarter to give his team a 10-point lead at the half. He accounted for 79 of the 80 yards with either his legs or his arm, finishing it off with a 13-yard TD pass to Tashi Braceful with 13 seconds remaining in the half. Braceful finished the night with 10 catches for 152 yards.
The Warriors nearly added to that halftime lead, as well, recovering a squib kick at the Belleville 43. Marshall hit Tyjuan Esper for a 38-yard gain on the next play, but he was tackled as the first-half clock expired.
Early in the third quarter, Marshall and the Warriors did stretch their lead when he threw a 19-yard TD pass to Xavi Bowman on a 4th-and-14. DaMario Quarles’ conversion run put them up 28-10 with 3:39 to play in the third quarter.
Of course, Belleville didn’t go away.
The Tigers responded immediately with a 45-yard TD pass from Underwood to Jalen Johnson. And after stopping Marshall on a 4th-and-2 run near midfield, they needed just three plays and 30 seconds to pull within three points of the lead as Beasley scored on a 15-yard run.
On the next A&T possession, Marquis Peoples put Belleville right back in business with an interception that he returned to the 35-yard line. Beasley again cashed in three plays later, with a 22-yard TD run that gave Belleville a 33-27 lead with 4:47 remaining.
Beasley finished the night with 106 yards and the two touchdowns on the ground.
“He’s a senior ball player; he did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Belleville coach Calvin Norman said of Beasley. “He came through in the clutch. When he ran the ball, he did his thing. I have nothing but love for the young man.”
Belleville cornerback Adrian Walker made one of the more remarkable plays of the weekend late in the first quarter, intercepting a Marshall pass deep in A&T territory.
Walker got both hands on the pass, deflecting it up and toward himself as he was spinning up the field. The ball went over his head and Walker reached behind his back to make the catch at the A&T 26.
Four plays later, Belleville was on the board with a 16-yard Colbey Reed touchdown run, and the Tigers led 7-6.
PHOTOS (Top) Southfield A&T quarterback Isaiah Marshall stretches for the game-winning touchdown during Sunday’s Division 1 Final. (Middle) The Warriors ended the night by raising their first championship trophy. (Below) Belleville’s Adrian Walker (2) makes a stunning behind-the-back interception. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)