By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Numbers are part of most conversations at the end of high school football season. We keep an eye on movements within league standings, monitor daily playoff point averages and watch in awe as some of our biggest stars put up incredible statistical performances.
Consider a few numbers from Week 7 that fascinate:
- Lawrence and Kingston combined for 132 points in their 8-player game, won 88-48 by the Tigers.
- In Detroit Cesar Chavez's 64-41 win over Mayville, receiver Nate Drew caught 17 passes for 459 yards and seven touchdowns. Once confirmed, the 459 yards would be a national single-game record.
- Cesar Chavez quarterback Omar Salih completed 32 of 52 passes for 689 yards and nine touchdowns. The yards and touchdowns would be MHSAA records.
- With all results in, there are 71 teams qualified for the 11-player playoffs, but another 231 that have the opportunity to make the 256-team field by winning the rest of their regular season games.
Those scratched the surface of significant numbers put up as champions continued to be crowned and postseason berths were earned.
Read on for more of those reports from all over the state.
Greater Detroit and Southeast
Canton 34, Plymouth 23
If recent history is an indication, these neighbors will see each other again in a few weeks – they’ve met in the playoffs as well the last five seasons. But Canton has bragging rights for now after moving to 7-0 overall and claiming the Kensington Lakes Activities Association South title outright by edging the second-place Wildcats (5-2). Click to read more from MLive Detroit.
Farmington Hills Harrison 60, Oak Park 52: Although Harrison (6-1) has only a dim chance of catching Southfield in the Oakland Activities Association White, the Hawks did make the playoffs with this win while leaving Oak Park (5-2) needing one more victory to qualify.
Detroit Cass Tech 41, Detroit Mumford 6: The Technicians (7-0) claimed their fourth straight league championship, earning the Detroit Public School League West title by one win thanks to this victory over second-place Mumford (6-1).
Belleville 20, Dearborn Fordson 17: Belleville (5-2) earned a share of the Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue title, with Fordson (4-3) now needing to beat Edsel Ford this week to also claim a share.
Clinton Township Clintondale 37, Mount Clemens 22: The Dragons (7-0) solidified at least a share of the Macomb Area Conference Bronze title with Mount Clemens (3-4) falling into a second-place tie with Clawson, its opponent this week.
Muskegon Mona Shores 49, Zeeland East 26
One of our favorite watch lists is made up of teams seeking their first appearance in the MHSAA playoffs, which began in 1975. Cross off Mona Shores, which improved to 6-1 and earned its first postseason berth thanks to this victory. The Sailors also remain only one win back of the co-leaders in the O-K Black. Despite falling out of that race, Zeeland East (5-2) still can extend its three-year postseason streak with one more win. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Spring Lake 36, Ludington 26: The Lakers (6-1) can do no worse than share the Lakes Eight Conference title and can win it outright this week; Ludington (4-3) must win out to guarantee a playoff bid.
Allendale 38, Sparta 7: The Falcons (6-1) beat Sparta to earn a playoff berth, and would love the Spartans (5-2) to join them in the postseason if it means Sparta beats O-K Blue frontrunner Comstock Park in Week 9 – which could then give Allendale a share of the league title.
East Kentwood 34, Holland West Ottawa 18: The Falcons (5-2) guaranteed their first winning regular season since 2009 and remain atop the O-K Red, tied with Rockford, while West Ottawa (4-3) fell to fourth.
Lowell 53, Caledonia 25: The Red Arrows (7-0) needed to survive a challenge from Caledonia (5-2) to set up this week’s O-K White decider against also first-place Grand Rapids Christian.
Southwest and Border
Paw Paw 15, Plainwell 13
These teams have dominated defensively all fall, and that remained the theme when they met with a share of the Wolverine B East on the line. The win gave the Redskins (7-0) nine in nine games over Plainwell (6-1) since the two became league foes in 2006 – although Paw Paw has to beat co-second place Otsego this week to win the league title outright. Click to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Battle Creek Pennfield 15, Olivet 14: This turned the Kalamazoo Valley Association race back into a three-team battle with Pennfield, Olivet and Schoolcraft all 6-1 and having played each other; fourth place Constantine plays Olivet and then Pennfield and could have a giant impact on the final order.
Dowagiac 14, Three Rivers 7: The Chieftains (6-1) needed to beat third-place Three Rivers (4-3) to remain undefeated in the league heading into this week’s Wolverine B West deciding game against also first-place Edwardsburg.
Hartford 17, Decatur 14: It’s still possible for four of five teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference South to earn playoff berths, but Hartford (4-3) needed this win over Decatur (5-2) to keep that hope alive.
Niles Brandywine 24, St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic 6: With seven wins, Brandywine (7-0) equaled last season’s total and its most since winning eight 1997, while handing the Lakers (5-1) their first loss of the season.
Lower Up North
Cadillac 26, Traverse City West 21
This Big North Conference showdown literally came down to the final seconds and a few yards, with Cadillac’s defense making a final stand at its 3-yard line to stay ahead as the game ended. By doing so, the Vikings (7-0) claimed a share of the Big North championship while dropping Traverse City West (4-3) one win back with one more league game to play. Click to read more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Grayling 35, Kalkaska 18: Three of seven teams in the Lake Michigan Conference could still have a hand in the league title, but Grayling (6-1) remained tied for first while eliminating Kalkaska (5-2) from contention.
Evart 31, McBain 28: The Wildcats (6-1) earned a second straight playoff berth while leaving McBain (4-3) needing to win out to qualify.
Ogemaw Heights 41, Standish-Sterling 28: Ogemaw Heights (5-2) pulled within one more win of making the playoffs by handing Standish-Sterling (6-1) its first loss.
Maple City Glen Lake 55, Suttons Bay 14: By beating third-place Suttons Bay (3-4), Glen Lake (7-0) finished a second straight undefeated run through the Northwest Conference.
Thumb and Bay
Montrose 34, Flint Beecher 18
The Rams (7-0) ran their Genesee Area Conference Red winning streak to 17 over the last three-plus seasons and set themselves up well to play for a third straight league title, with seventh-place Perry up next before a face-off with also first-place Lake Fenton in Week 9. Beecher (5-2) fell two games back and needs one more win to make the playoffs, with opponents a combined 9-5 left on the schedule. Click to read more from the Flint Journal.
Reese 55, Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port 13: This decider in the Greater Thumb Conference West didn’t end up close, as Reese (6-1) claimed a share of the title and the Lakers (5-2) fell one game back with one to play.
Saginaw Nouvel 28, Traverse City St. Francis 14: The Panthers (6-1) made it six straight wins since falling on opening night, while putting St. Francis (4-3) in position of having to win out to avoid missing the playoffs for the second straight season.
Gladwin 19, Sanford Meridian 14: The Flying G’s (5-2) are back in the Jack Pine Conference title hunt, tied with Sanford Meridian at one game behind leader Clare, with Clare and Meridian (6-1) set to meet in Week 9.
Grand Blanc 17, Hartland 7: Grand Blanc (6-1) missed out on the KLAA West title last year by falling to eventual champion Hartland (2-5) in the final league game of the schedule; this time the title belongs to the Bobcats thanks in part to a win over the Eagles.
Ishpeming 28, Negaunee 24
This one had been circled since the end of last season, even as Ishpeming claimed the MHSAA Division 7 championship despite losing out on the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference title to Negaunee earlier in the fall. Alex Briones, who quarterbacked that MHSAA title run, was the star of this one for the Hematites (7-0), who clinched a share of the league title and need to beat only fourth-place Gwinn in Week 9 to claim it outright. Negaunee (6-1) will be cheering Gwinn on in hopes of still claiming a share. Click to read more from the Marquette Mining Journal.
Iron River West Iron County 30, Eagle River Northland Pines, Wis. 6: The Wykons (7-0) remained undefeated in winning a share of their second West Peninsula Athletic Conference title in three seasons.
Felch North Dickinson 36, Powers North Central 20: The Nordics (6-1) finished a second straight perfect run through the Mid-Eastern Conference schedule by beating the second-place Jets (5-2).
Sault Ste. Marie 34, Cheboygan 14: The Blue Devils (4-3) kept playoff hopes alive by beating a likely qualifier in Cheboygan (5-2).
Houghton 32, Lake Linden-Hubbell 26 (OT): The Gremlins (4-3) needed overtime to keep their playoff hopes alive against another team in Lake Linden-Hubbell (4-3) that also must now win out.
Beal City 42, Lake City 35 (OT)
One of the most highly-anticipated small-school games this season lived up to the billing, with Beal City not taking its first lead until earning the advantage for good in overtime. In what was certainly the toughest test this season so far for both teams, the Aggies’ offensive prowess proved superior to Lake City’s stingy defense. Beal City (7-0) claimed a share of the Highland Conference title, while Lake City (6-1) fell to second place. Click to read more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.
Carson City-Crystal 51, Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 49: The Eagles (7-0) hung on after opening a big early lead to not only beat Sacred Heart (5-2) but claim the Mid-State Activities Conference South title, its first league title since 1961.
Pewamo-Westphalia 25, Fowler 0: The Pirates (7-0) avenged last season’s loss to their biggest rival and in the process won a share of the Central Michigan Athletic Conference title; Fowler (5-2) remains in second place, a game back with one to play.
Hillsdale 31, Ida 14: Four teams are tied atop the Lenawee County Athletic Association standings with two games to play, and that’s thanks to Hillsdale (4-3), which toppled Ida (5-2) from its former spot in first place alone.
Grand Ledge 41, Lansing Everett 19: The Comets (4-3) continue to battle back from an 0-3 start and now are a game behind first-place Lansing Sexton in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue, with Everett (5-2) facing the Big Reds this week.
Each week the MHSAA highlights trophy games across the state. Last week’s slate included:
Little Brown Jug: Brighton vs. Howell. These KLAA rivals have faced each other every season but one dating to 1977. Final: Brighton 27, Howell 20.
Baseline Jug: Northville vs. Novi. In the KLAA Central, Northville won this rivalry game to claim the league title outright. Final: Northville 40, Novi 13.
Cedar Log: Menominee vs. Marinette, Wis. These old rivals played for the 107th time, with Menominee tying the series record at 50-50-7. Final: Menominee 56, Marinette 27.
Champions of the North: Traverse City Central vs. Alpena. The Trojans claimed this trophy game for the fourth consecutive season. Final: Traverse City Central 45, Alpena 0.
Ford Cup: Newberry vs. Manistique: This series restarted in 2012 after eight seasons off with a big Manistique win, now followed by a close one by Newberry. Final: Newberry 7, Manistique 6.
Pioneer-Thunderbird Spirit Bowl: Dearborn vs. Dearborn Edsel Ford. The Pioneers own a four-game winning streak in this city rivalry game between teams 2.5 miles apart. Final: Dearborn 41, Edsel Ford 14.
Battle of Bogie Lake Road: White Lake Lakeland vs. Walled Lake Northern. These two both sit, logically, on Bogie Lake Road separated by a 1.6-mile trip around said lake. Final: Walled Lake Northern 45, Lakeland 26.
Skipper's Oar: Waterford Mott vs. Waterford Kettering. The Captains have claimed five of the last six against their rivals located a mere 3.9 miles away. Final: Kettering 27, Mott 0.
PHOTO: Beal City (white jerseys) remained undefeated and claimed a share of the Highland Conference championship by edging Lake City in overtime. (Click to see more from High School Sports Scene.)
Kingsley football fans have become pretty familiar with VIP parking for home games over the last couple of seasons.
They may just start looking for a Kingsley VIP lot at Ford Field. The Stags just captured the MHSAA Division 6 championship trophy with a 38-24 victory over Almont, their second Finals championship and first since 2005.
The road to the Finals started with Kingsley hosting two playoff games, allowing great use of the VIP Parking of Trina’s Touchdown Club. The lot is adjacent to the school’s Rodes Field and provided in loving memory of Katrina “Trina” Kay Schueller, who passed away Oct. 21, 2021, at Munson Medical Center.
Those playoff games filling Trina’s Touchdown Club’s parking lot featured wins over Mason County Central 61-12 and Manistee 37-18, and 51-27 over Gladstone in the Regional Final. Kingsley then traveled down the road and defeated Reed City 37-7 in the Semifinal.
There may not have been designated VIP parking in Cadillac and Ford Field for the Stags’ followers, but there were a lot of VIPs at both stadiums with Schueller on their minds. Pretty much everyone with an affiliation with the highly-successful program or familiarity with the community’s struggles have become VIPs to the Kingsley coaching staff and many others.
Most certainly among the VIPs are head coach Tim Wooer, assistant coach Conner Schueller, his brother Carter Schueller, and his father Mike Schueller.
Conner was set to play the biggest regular-season game of his career the day after his mom passed. It was the regular-season finale against rival Traverse City St. Francis.
Wooer vividly remembers the moments leading up to that matchup, noting how difficult it was for Conner. But his then-fullback and now-assistant coach demonstrated amazing strength and maturity he stills exhibits today.
“He’s in his senior football season, and his mom is in the hospital for four weeks — he’s balancing that playing football and going to school,” Wooer recalled. “And then she passes, and he has the strength to come back to school and deliver the news to our team.
“I am sobbing watching this kid, and I’m just amazed,” Wooer continued. “The next night is Parents Night, and he’s on the field with his dad and brother without his mom.”
Conner still played, making a 4th-down goal line tackle to prevent a St. Francis touchdown. The Gladiators won the game, but Conner won the day, conquering much just to dress for the game.
The Stags went on to playoff wins over Kingsford 28-10 and Clare 32-6. They bowed out with a 33-18 Regional loss to Frankenmuth.
Conner’s junior year of 2020 had been cut short as the Kingsley was forced to forfeit its District Final to Reed City because several players and coaching staff tested positive for COVID-19. The Stags had Ford Field in their minds that season too after playoff wins over 38-13 Standish-Sterling 38-13 and Gladwin 63-16.
Conner, who celebrated his 20th birthday at Saturday’s Final, remembers his playing days and the challenges presented him.
“At the time it was ‘she’s not there,’ especially my senior year she wasn’t there to watch me and finish it out, but I know she’s watching above,” he said. “We were about to go play Reed City my junior year for Regionals, and everyone got sick and it ended our season unfortunately.”
Those challenges were on his mind at Ford Field, and running through his mind when he saw his brother and father in the stands. Carter, now a senior at Kingsley, had been unable to play football due to injuries.
“I thought about my brother – he unfortunately didn’t play this year due to his injuries, and I don’t really blame him for that,” Conner said. “I thought about him as well because it was just me and my dad and my brother now.
“It was very emotional,” Conner continued. “I got a glimpse of him in the strands.”
Carter also was filled with gratitude for the coaching staff for welcoming and mentoring him. He had become keenly aware of the amount of time coaches spend away from family at practices and going through film.
In addition to his family, Conner was thinking about many others in the Kingsley community – and other senior classes like his that didn’t get the chance to celebrate a championship.
He also was thinking about Justin Hansen, a 2003 graduate of Kingsley. Hansen was a captain on the 2002 conference championship team. He went on to become a special-operations Marine sergeant and was killed in action July 24, 2012, while deployed in Afghanistan. Hansen was on patrol as part of an operation in search of a high-value target when his team was hit with small arms fire.
On Saturday, Wooer was wearing a red T-shirt with the letters “USA” on the front and the name “Hansen” on the back. It also featured the number 54, Hansen’s in high school.
Wooer, who turned 54 in July, wore the shirt in Hansen’s memory knowing Hansen would be on the veteran coach’s mind and symbolizing Hansen’s presence with the team at Ford Field.
Wooer wants to make sure Hanson is never forgotten and reminds the soldier’s family the entire community remains behind them.
“I believe it is part of our job as a community to show our love to this family and help in any way possible to help them get through this process,” Wooers said. “After the funeral, we all went about life.
“We certainly still think about Justin and feel the pain,” he continued. “But nothing like a family does.”
Hansen’s tragic passing led to the creation of the annual Patriot Game in Traverse City in 2012 while Wooer was coaching Traverse City West. The game features crosstown rivals West and Traverse City Central every year and strives to honor veterans, first responders, active duty military, and area heroes who died while serving their country.
Saturday’s win over Almont left Wooer emotionally exhausted after all the preparations to do it right for the senior class, the school, the Kingsley community, the Schueller family and Hansen. Collectively, they’ve really become more like a family to the Stags coaching staff and many, many others.
“In terms of emotions, there is no doubt Justin was on my mind throughout the game,” Wooer said. “Trina and Conner have been – those are two huge pieces.
“And, a lot of my thoughts are with the seniors,” he continued. “You want to win the game, but also it is your last time with them.”
Wooer has learned a lot from his former players and coaches over the years. He’s become close friends with many of them, going back to his early days of coaching as a student-teacher at Elk Rapids. He also coached at Farewell and Traverse City West, the latter from 2008-2017 after a first tenure at Kingsley. He returned to Kingsley in 2018.
Schueller is among several former players and coaches who have been on Wooer’s coaching staffs over the years. Several continue today.
“I could give you lots of other stories about kids I have had,” Wooer said. “There comes this transition where they turn into such amazing men, you catch yourself every once in a while saying, ‘I want to be like him.’
“You get this huge smile on your face because you’re so proud of them, just like a mother or father would,” Wooer continued. “A coach always looks at his players like they’re part of his family.”
In addition to Conner, current assistants with long-term relationships with Wooer are Tom Kaleita, Kyle Smith, Ryan Zenner, Dan Goethals, Josh Merchant, Jordan Bradford, Steve Klinge, Connor Schueller, Mike Arlt, Larry Mikowski, Bobby Howell, Rob Whims and Jason Morrow.
This year’s seniors were Jon Pearson, Eli Graves, Skylar Workman, Gavyn Merchant, Max Goethals, Evan Trafford, Bode Bielas, Grant Kolbusz, James Person, Caleb Bott, Trenton Peacock, Noah Scribner and Gavin Dear. They and the coaching staff will be the center of attention as the community celebrates the football team at 7 p.m. this evening in the high school gymnasium.
The seniors probably won’t need VIP parking tonight. But if it would help, Conner would surely make arrangements to utilize Trina’s Touchdown Club. He’d have to add a shuttle though as Rodes Field is about a mile away from the school.
“It feels amazing — I don’t think it really hit any one yet, but I am sure it will,” Conner said. “After we won, it is truly something – it is something else I can’t explain.
“The seniors finally won it the way they were supposed to,” he continued. “It was a good class of seniors.”
Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Kingsley students support their classmates during Saturday’s Division 6 Final at Ford Field. (2) Stags assistant coach Conner Schueller watches from the sideline during an Almont run back. (3) Kingsley coach Tim Wooer, in red, prepares to present the championship trophy to his team including Schueller, far right. (4) Trina’s Touchdown Club welcomes members to the VIP lot adjacent to the Kingsley stadium. (Ford Field photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos; touchdown club photo courtesy of the Kingsley football program.)