Drive for Detroit: Week 7 in Review

October 15, 2013

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.

Also noted:

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.

West Michigan

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.

Also noted:

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.

Also noted:

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.

Also noted:

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.

Also noted:

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.

Upper Peninsula

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.

Also noted:

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.

Also noted:

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.

Trophy Games

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.)

Constantine Football All-Stater, Wrestling Champ Aiming for Grand Finale

By Scott Hassinger
Special for

April 30, 2024

CONSTANTINE – Bennett VandenBerg has earned many accolades over the last four years as a three-sport athlete at Constantine.

Southwest CorridorBut the awards aren't what the 6-foot-3, 240-pound standout will remember most when reflecting on his memories as an all-state football player, state champion wrestler and record-breaking throwing specialist on the Falcons' track & field squad.

"I'll remember how I represented our school and pushed myself to be the best I could be in each sport that I played," said VandenBerg, who has earned 12 varsity letters.

VandenBerg has evolved into one of the most accomplished athletes in the state this school year as a senior, especially standing out among those from smaller communities.

This past fall he was named first-team Division 5-6 all-state at defensive end in football before winning the Division 3 Individual Finals wrestling title at 285 pounds in early March at Ford Field.

VandenBerg's final goal is to win the discus title at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals on Saturday, June 1, in Kent City to end his Constantine career all-state in all three sports.

He broke the school record in the discus his junior year with a throw of 158 feet, 1 inch; the previous mark of 156-6 had been held by Doug Polasek since 1986. VandenBerg has eclipsed his school record twice this spring, most recently with a personal-best toss of 170-9 in a Southwestern Athletic Conference double dual meet with Schoolcraft and Kalamazoo Christian. He ranks No. 4 statewide in the event regardless of enrollment division. Lawton junior Mason Mayne at 175-4 is the only Division 3 competitor with a better throw than VandenBerg.

"It's really cool to have your name up on the school record board, but I'd like to make that mark more untouchable before I'm done," VandenBerg said. "My goal is to be a state discus champion. I've put in the necessary work for it. It would be nice to end my career that way."

Kyle Rimer, Constantine's veteran boys track & field coach, is most impressed with VandenBerg's leadership and presence in working with the Falcons' younger athletes.

VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. "Bennett loves to compete. Ever since he was a freshman, we've also had him on our 400-meter relay team. That's something he really enjoys doing. He's not just a thrower, but a good overall athlete with lots of drive,” Rimer said. “There's a lot of individuality in track & field, but I think he does a great job of leading the younger kids. He has the drive, accountability and technique to achieve his goal of being a state champion in his throwing events.”

VandenBerg is already a two-time Finals placer in the discus, earning sixth as a junior and seventh his sophomore year. He admits being a little disappointed with his distance at the 2023 state meet.

"In that particular event (discus) you need lots of focus and determination because there are a ton of tiny things you can mess up on that affect your throw. To become better you need to be consistent, show up every day and be willing to put in the work," VandenBerg said. "Right now I'm working on my speed in the circle and quickness in my follow-through."

VandenBerg also has been pleased with his improvement this spring in the shot put. He's increased his distance by over five feet and hopes to break the school record in that event as well. John Kampars (1967) holds Constantine's shot put record at 54-8¼, and VandenBerg's personal best is 48-10 in a double-dual meet this season against Parchment and Centreville.

"Shot put is a difficult event. You need power, but your form has to be top-notch – otherwise it's tough to move that 12-pound ball," VandenBerg said. "I would love to qualify for state in both the discus and shot put and be all-state in each. That would be amazing if I could be a state champion in either of those events."

VandenBerg has put in extra work in the offseason with special instruction from Bill Griffey of Next Throw in Plainwell, along with working with Constantine assistant track & field and head football coach Shawn Griffith.

"Bennett puts a lot of time into working on his throwing. He spends a lot of time in the weight room, and he's a bigger kid who is not afraid to be coached and listens to what other people tell him," Griffith said. "We're excited to see what he can do now that we've had warmer weather recently."

VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft.VandenBerg's motivation this spring follows a tremendous wrestling season that saw him finish 54-0 and capture the 285 championship with a 3-0 win in the title match over Reed City junior Wyatt Spalo.

"I gained 20 pounds of muscle and did everything you need to do to become a better athlete to wrestle the heavyweight division. Winning the title was overwhelming. It was everything I ever wanted, and the first 20 minutes after winning it was relief, especially after losing in the Finals as a junior. I just went into that last match and wrestled smart and confident," VandenBerg said. "My speed and strength gave me an advantage over the bigger heavyweights I faced this year."

Vandenberg, 188-22 with 104 career pins, became the 10th Finals champion in Constantine wrestling history and the first to achieve the feat since Kevin Watkins won a 152-pound crown in 2000.

VandenBerg competed at 189 as a freshman and sophomore. He was a Regional qualifier as a freshman and finished sixth in Division 3 as a sophomore before ending his junior campaign as the Finals runner-up at 215. 

"Bennett is a competitor who hates to lose, and if he does he learns from it. He had a lot of good practice partners on the team his first three years, and he wasn't going to be denied after losing in the Finals as a junior," said Constantine wrestling coach Dale Davidhizar Jr.

VandenBerg played on Constantine's varsity football team for four years. He got a lot of extra playing time as a freshman when Constantine reached the Division 6 Semifinals during in the COVID-shortened season. He led the Falcons in rushing as a sophomore before switching to tight end as a junior. Out of necessity, VandenBerg returned to lead Constantine in rushing and scoring again as a senior.

"Bennett learned a great deal from the older guys on the team his first three varsity seasons. He learned leadership qualities and is a very unselfish kid who is willing to do what's best for his team," Griffith said.

VandenBerg is most proud of Constantine winning a District crown last fall, especially after his senior class went 0-5-1 as eighth graders. VandenBerg posted 164 solo tackles at defensive end during his final high school season and was Constantine's main offensive weapon with 1,354 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing on 186 carries.

"Winning Districts as seniors in football was a special moment. As eighth graders, we weren't exactly the most athletic team, but we put in the work as we got older to become successful," VandenBerg said.

VandenBerg has been invited to play for the West team at the annual Michigan High School Football Coaches Association's East-West All-Star Game this summer.

College coaches have shown interest in VandenBerg in all three sports, especially football and wrestling. VandenBerg, who carries a cumulative GPA of 3.989 and scored 1110 on his SAT, is weighing his options in athletics but knows he wants to study either ecology or forestry in college.

"I love being outdoors and doing what I love to do," VandenBerg said.

Scott HassingerScott Hassinger is a contributing sportswriter for Leader Publications and previously served as the sports editor for the Three Rivers Commercial-News from 1994-2022. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Constantine’s Bennett VandenBerg competes in the discus during a home meet his junior season. (Middle) VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. (Below) VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft. (Photos by Brandon Watson/Sturgis Journal.)