Drive for Detroit: Week 7 in Review

October 13, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Just as things are finishing up this MHSAA football regular season, plenty is getting started.

The 11-player playoff field is nearly half full with two weeks to play – 126 teams have earned automatic berths, with 66 more one win from joining them.

Two leagues – the Kensington Lakes Activities Association and Detroit Public School League – finished their league schedules over the weekend but will play one and two weeks of playoff games, respectively, to finish the regular season. The Detroit Catholic League will finish its league schedule this week in advance of its Prep Bowl games during Week 9.

And there's plenty more to come. Read on for some of the results that helped further shape the scene all over the state last week.  


The deciding game in the Capital Area Activities Conference White didn’t end up much of one after halftime. Cougars junior quarterback Tony Poljan averaged 20 yards a completion in throwing for 404 total with four touchdowns, and he also ran for a score as Lansing Catholic (7-0) broke away with a 22-0 third-quarter run. Williamston is 6-1 and has a slim chance of seeing the Cougars again in the playoffs if both fall into Division 4. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Hartland 29, Grand Blanc 26 – The Eagles (6-1) battled back from a loss in the league opener to take a share of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West title from co-champ Grand Blanc (5-2) in the final league game of the season.

Okemos 27, Holt 20 – The Chieftains (4-3) reached four wins for the first time since 2011 and should make the playoffs for the first time since that season with their final two opponents owning a combined two wins this fall.

Lansing Everett 38, Grand Ledge 24 – The Vikings (5-2) set themselves up to face Sexton this week with a chance to share the CAAC Blue title, while knocking third-place Grand Ledge (4-3) out of contention.

Charlotte 39, Battle Creek Pennfield 36 – A 39-yard field goal by Sy Barnett with 20 seconds to play kept Charlotte (4-3) in the hunt for a third straight playoff berth. 

Greater Detroit

Walled Lake Western 31, Walled Lake Central 14

Western, Central and Waterford Mott all split the KLAA North championship thanks to the Warriors (6-1), who earned a fourth-straight win over their local rivals. Western scored 21 unanswered second-half points to earn the opportunity to play Hartland this week for the Lakes Conference championship. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

Also noted:

Berkley 32, Birmingham Groves 29 – Berkley dealt Groves (6-1) a painful blow heading into Groves' game this week against Oakland Activities Association Blue leader Farmington that could decide the league title; Berkley (6-1) will now root for Groves to win and make all three teams co-champions.

Canton 30, Plymouth 20 – Canton (6-1) outlasted the rival Wildcats (5-2) to claim the KLAA South championship for the second straight season.

Hudson 12, Ida 7 – The Tigers (6-1) avenged last season’s loss to Ida (6-1) that led to a shared Lenawee County Athletic Association title to keep pace with co-leader Hillsdale, Hudson’s Week 9 opponent.  

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett 26, Lutheran Westland 6 – The Knights (6-1) finished off their fourth Michigan Independent Athletic Conference title in five seasons by defeating second-place Westland (5-2).

Bay and Thumb

Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker 32, Bad Axe 30

The Lakers (7-0) needed a second-half comeback to keep their best start since 2002 alive, but also came away with a share of the Greater Thumb Conference West championship and can clinch it outright next week against 1-6 Reese. The Lakers, league runners-up to Reese last season, rode more than 300 yards rushing by Dustin Kady to edge Bad Axe (4-3) – which has already guaranteed its best finish since 2001. Click for more from The Saginaw News.

Also noted:

Goodrich 37, Lake Fenton 36 – After claiming a nail-biter over Lake Fenton (1-6), second-place Goodrich (6-1) will be rooting for Montrose this week as the Rams face Genesee Area Conference Red leader Flint Beecher in the final game on the league schedule.

Harrison 57, Beaverton 28 – Harrison (7-0) avoided a potential Jack Pine Conference spoiler in Beaverton (4-3) and now will face reigning champion Clare for the league championship.

Bay City John Glenn 33, Saginaw Nouvel 6 – The Bobcats (5-2) have more wins this fall than in 2012 and 2013 combined and need one more to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2011; Nouvel has a slim postseason hope at 3-4 but will need to win out including a big win over Freeland in Week 9.

St. Clair 25, Warren Woods Tower 21 – St. Clair (6-1) knocked Woods Tower (6-1) out of a tie for first place with Marine City in the Macomb Area Conference Gold, but will root for the Titans to beat the Mariners this week and make all three teams co-champions. 

Lower Up North

Cadillac 17, Traverse City West 12

The Big North Conference was the source of most of the north's significant action this weekend, although by Sunday leader Cadillac remained atop the league standings and with a share of the championship – after its second straight win by a less than a touchdown. Cadillac (7-0) got up 17-0 in the third quarter before West (3-4) – playing to remain in the playoff hunt – took advantage of Vikings turnovers to pull within striking distance. Click for more from the Cadillac News.

Also noted:

Traverse City Central 14, Alpena 7 (OT) – Central (5-2) kept its shared Big North Conference title hopes alive by a sliver, edging Alpena (3-4) to remain one win back with Cadillac coming up in Week 9.

Gaylord 49, Petoskey 42 – The Blue Devils (5-2) scored twice during the fourth quarter to ruin Petoskey’s chances at remaining in Big North contention while inching closer to a first playoff berth since 2007; Petoskey (5-2) can earn a return to the postseason for the first time since 2011 against Alpena this week.

Manton 30, Leroy Pine River 27 – The Rangers may be out of the Highland Conference title chase, but they secured their best record since 2005 and need one more win for a first playoff berth since 1994; Pine River (4-3) has its best record since 2007 and by winning out can make the postseason for the first time since 2005.

Elk Rapids 70, Grayling 26 – The Elks (4-3) remain alive for the playoffs although they’ll next face undefeated Boyne City; at 3-4, Grayling will need help to grab an at-large bid. 

West Michigan

Cedar Springs 14, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 8

Most of Cedar Springs’ last 15 seasons have ended in the 4 to 6-win range with a hint of league title contention on occasion. But this one is shaking up as special for the Red Hawks (6-1), who sit alone atop the Ottawa-Kent Conference Bronze after sending Forest Hills Northern (6-1) into a second place tie with Grand Rapids Northview. Cedar Springs can clinch a share of the league title next week against Greenville (4-3) or in Week 9 vs. Forest Hills Eastern (3-4). Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

East Kentwood 35, Hudsonville 28 – The Falcons (6-1) scored with less than two minutes to play to remain a game behind Rockford in the O-K Red and drop Hudsonville (4-3) out of title contention.

Rockford 27, Grand Haven 21 (OT) – The Rams (6-1) needed overtime against a Grand Haven (3-4) team trying to stay alive for the postseason and now playing for an at-large bid.

Grandville 54, Holland West Ottawa 14 – Grandville (3-4) kept a small playoff hope alive by winning big over former O-K Red co-leader West Ottawa (5-2).

Muskegon Oakridge 50, Whitehall 22 – Oakridge (6-1) regained a share of the West Michigan Conference title and can clinch outright this week; Whitehall (6-1), now tied for second with Ravenna, needs Mason County Central to come through with an upset. 

Upper Peninsula

Marquette 35, Constantine 10

Even at 5-1 entering last weekend, Marquette’s chances of extending its playoff streak to five seasons looked a tad shaky – Constantine was 6-0, and together the Redmen’s final three regular-season opponents were 16-3. But Marquette held Constantine to its fewest points this season (by 21) and tied its biggest offensive output to remain undefeated since falling to Traverse City Central on opening night. Click for more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Also noted:

Ishpeming 28, Negaunee 0 – The Hematites earned a share of their second straight Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference title and haven’t given up a point since Week 4; Negaunee (4-3) faces two more tough opponents as it works to earn a playoff berth.  

Munising 42, Bark River-Harris 0 – The Mustangs (6-1) secured a share of the Mid-Eastern Football Conference title by dominating second-place Bark River-Harris (5-2); Munising also hasn’t given up a point since Week 4.

Kingsford 10, Iron Mountain 0 – Kingsford’s at-large playoff bid hope got stronger as the Flivvers (3-4) shut out the Mountaineers (4-3), who are second in the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference.

Powers North Central 48, Felch North Dickinson 44 – North Central’s playoff hopes are slim at 2-4, but beating North Dickinson (3-4) for the first time since 1993 is a nice consolation. 

Southwest and Border

Plainwell 34, Three Rivers 28

It seems like most of Plainwell’s games this season have been among the best of the southwest – and the Trojans (6-1) are now one more win from locking up a share of the Wolverine B Conference East title. They ran Three Rivers (4-3) into second place on the legs of Jacob Geter, who rushed for 316 yards on 50 carries. Click for more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Also noted:

Saugatuck 26, Fennville 20 – The Indians (5-2) kept pace atop the Southwestern Athletic Conference North with Week 9 opponent Gobles while dropping Fennville (4-3) into third.

Bridgman 62, Centreville 7 – The Bees (5-1) are inaugural champs of the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Blue and have scored at least 40 points in all but one victory.

Niles 27, St. Joseph 21 – The Vikings (5-2) locked up their best record since 2003 by beating St. Joseph (4-3) for the first time since 2005.

Union City 41, Reading 34 – The Chargers (7-0) guaranteed themselves a share of the Big 8 Conference title with second-place Homer the only league opponent remaining; Reading (3-4) will hope to win out and earn an at-large playoff bid after losing its second straight game. 


Kingston 64, Owendale-Gagetown 34

Kingston quarterback – and MHSAA Student Advisory Council senior – Aaron Van Horn carried his team back into the playoff hunt with three touchdown passes and two touchdown runs as the Cardinals handed Owendale-Gagetown (6-1) its first loss. Kingston is 4-3 and faces opponents who are a combined 4-10 to finish the regular season. Click for more from The Saginaw News

Also noted: 

Big Rapids Crossroads 21, Akron-Fairgrove 20 – The Cougars have won three straight since opening 0-4 against four teams still undefeated; they look good to make the playoffs with two winnable games left. 

Bellaire 38, Engadine 6 – The Eagles (7-0) may not get mentioned as much as other favorites Cedarville and Rapid River, but are lined up perfectly to make a run at the Bridge Football Alliance title with those two up next over the next two weeks; Engadine (3-4) is hanging on to the 16th spot in the playoff field. 

PHOTO: Lansing Catholic's Zac Baker was among recipients of quarterback Tony Poljan's 20 completions Friday as the Cougars defeated Williamston. (Photo courtesy of the Lansing State Journal.)

Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing

By Geoff Kimmerly 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:

8-Player Football

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.)