Drive for Detroit: Week 7 in Review

October 12, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Every game night provides the opportunity for teams and athletes to make history. From 11-player to 8, Week 7 saw its share of those moments. 

In last week's preview, we noted at least 20 leagues with games that had immediate championship implications. As we now review, we touch on a number of those below. 

Bay & Thumb

Algonac 21, Almont 7

Algonac continued its history-making run, clinching a share of the Blue Water Area Conference title, its first league championship since 1972. The Muskrats (7-0), also celebrating a first winning season and playoff berth since 2005, grabbed the title share against an Almont team that had won 17 straight league games and hadn’t been held to single-digit scoring since Week 3 of 2012. Almont (6-1) is now tied for second place with Richmond, Algonac’s opponent this week. Click for more from the Port Huron Times-Herald.

Also noted:

Vassar 36, Unionville-Sebewaing 24 – The Vulcans (6-1) clinched a share of the Greater Thumb Conference West title by outlasting second-place USA (5-2) and moved to 8-0 against the Patriots since they’ve been in the same league.

Marysville 48, Sterling Heights 21 – The Vikings (5-2) turned the Macomb Area Conference Gold race into a three-team battle with a league game to play by handing Sterling Heights (5-2) its first league loss; those two are tied with Marine City for first place.

Lapeer 49, Midland 21 – The Lightning (7-0) remains perfect for the regular season over its two-year history and earned a share of the Saginaw Valley League Red title by downing the second-place Chemics (6-1).

Sanford Meridian 30, Harrison 8 – The Mustangs (7-0) can clinch a share of the Jack Pine Conference title this week now that they’ve beaten both second-place teams, Clare and Harrison (5-2). 

Greater Detroit

Plymouth 31, Canton 20

Plymouth broke a two-game losing streak to the rival Chiefs (5-2) to close out an outright championship in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association South, and after trailing Canton 20-10 at halftime. This was the eighth straight game between the two decided by 12 points or fewer, and earned Plymouth (6-1) the opportunity to host Northville in this week’s KLAA Kensington title game. Click for more from Observer & Eccentric.

Also noted:

Farmington Hills Harrison 13, Farmington 12 – Harrison (6-1) edged one neighbor, Farmington (4-3), to earn a share of the Oakland Activities Association White title, and can finish the run against another, North Farmington, this week.

Birmingham Groves 47, Berkley 14 – A 6-0 start for Groves last season turned into a 1-4 finish beginning with a three-point loss to Berkley (5-2), but the 2015 meeting was all Groves (7-0) as it earned a share of the OAA Blue title. 

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 14, Detroit Catholic Central 7 – The Shamrocks (5-2) and Warren DeLaSalle meet this week to figure out the rest, but those two and St. Mary’s (6-1) are all in the Prep Bowl mix.

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 33, River Rouge 30 – Notre Dame Prep’s bounce-back from 3-6 last season to 6-1 this fall has included four wins by seven points or fewer including this one over previously-undefeated River Rouge (6-1). 


Brighton 14, Howell 11

These KLAA West rivals both played without key contributors and traded their share of momentum-stopping fumbles and interceptions before Brighton (6-1) closed out the win to earn a share of the division championship. The teams have split their last six games. Brighton also clinched a playoff spot, and Howell (5-2) remains alive for what would be a first playoff berth since 2012. Click for more from the Livingston Daily.

Also noted:

Hartland 30, Grand Blanc 27 (OT) – The Eagles (5-2) earned the other share of the KLAA West title by outlasting last season’s champion, Grand Blanc (4-3), and thanks to a win over Brighton two weeks ago also will play for the Lakes Conference title.

DeWitt 49, St. Johns 21 – It’s time to stop talking about DeWitt (7-0) being inexperienced and under the radar after it clinched an outright Capital Area Activities Conference Red title over three others still alive for playoff berths, including the Redwings (5-2).

East Lansing 14, Lansing Sexton 8 – The Trojans (4-3) are staying alive for the playoffs after going 1-8 only a year ago, although they face undefeated Grand Ledge next; Sexton (1-6) suffered its fifth loss by eight points or fewer.          

Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 48, Vestaburg 7 – The Irish’s win-out campaign to make the playoffs after an 0-3 start now includes claiming a share of the Mid-State Activities Conference title with this win over second-place Vestaburg (5-2) that put Sacred Heart at 4-3 overall.

Northern Lower Peninsula

Frankfort 27, Harbor Springs 7

The Panthers quietly are putting up one of the most impressive defensive stands in the state this fall. Since giving up 10 points on opening night in a four-point loss to Maple City Glen Lake, Frankfort (6-1) hasn’t given up more than one score in a game and 32 more points total. This win allowed the Panthers to equal their total for all of last season and got them within another of clinching the Northern Michigan Football League Legends title, while dropping fourth-place Harbor Springs to 4-3. Click for more from the Benzie County Record Patriot.

Also noted:

McBain 34, Lake City 13 – McBain (5-2) closed out a share of the Highland Conference championship with Beal City by downing third-place Lake City (3-4)

Whittemore-Prescott 30, Rogers City 22 – The Cardinals (4-3) are North Star Big Dipper champions for the second straight season but must beat Little Dipper champ Hillman this week to keep on track for an automatic playoff berth.

Hillman 46, Oscoda 39 – The Tigers (6-1) just survived Oscoda (4-3) to earn a playoff appearance for the 10th straight season.

Johannesburg-Lewiston 48, Lincoln Alcona 22 – Another impressive run continues for Johannesburg-Lewiston, which downed Alcona (5-2) thanks to two touchdown runs and 225 yards (plus 17 tackles) by Logan Huff and four scoring runs by cousin Brandon Huff. 

Southeast & Border

Ypsilanti Community 34, Chelsea 24

The third-year Ypsilanti Community program, which emerged from the former Ypsilanti High, has beaten Chelsea all three times the teams have met – although this might be the best win in the young Grizzlies’ history. After opening 0-3 this fall, Community has won four straight and with this victory clinched a shared Southeastern Conference White championship with the Bulldogs (6-1). Click for more from

Also noted:

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 41, Milan 14 – The Falcons (7-0) clinched a share of the Huron League by winning this matchup of first-place teams, with Milan (5-2) needing help from Monroe Jefferson this week to also earn a share.

Homer 44, Quincy 18 – This win, combined with Concord’s overtime loss to Springport, gave Homer (6-1) the outright championship in the Big 8 Conference.

Saline 28, Monroe 0 – The Hornets (7-0) closed out an outright title in the Southeastern Conference Red while pushing Monroe (3-4) into the pool of those hoping to make the playoffs with an at-large bid.

Ottawa Lake-Whiteford 34, Morenci 6 – The Bobcats (6-1) nearly reversed last season’s 49-0 loss to Morenci (5-2) to move into second place in the Tri-County Conference with first-place Clinton coming up in Week 9. 

Southwest Corridor

Benton Harbor 10, Stevensville Lakeshore 7 (OT)

Benton Harbor (4-3) can’t win the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West title and is tied for third place. But many statewide eyes have turned toward the Tigers, who are in pursuit of their first playoff berth and went 0-18 over the last two seasons – and 4-68 over the last eight. Benton Harbor held Lakeshore (4-3) scoreless to start overtime, then won on a 22-yard field goal. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.

Also noted:

Mattawan 21, Battle Creek Central 18 – This turned the SMAC East into a three-team battle with one league game left to play; Mattawan, Central and Battle Creek Lakeview all are tied for first and none play each other the rest of the way.

Watervliet 56, Delton Kellogg 35 – The Panthers (6-1) won this matchup of first-place teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore and earned an outright title; Delton (5-2) now must beat an undefeated team over the next two weeks to earn a first playoff berth since 2001.

Dowagiac 16, Sturgis 7 – The Chieftains (4-3) gave Wolverine B Conference leader Edwardsburg a hand, handing second-place Sturgis (5-2) a second loss that resulted in the Eddies gaining a share of the league title.

Schoolcraft 41, Gobles 12 – The Eagles (7-0) are enjoying their move to the new SAC Central; they earned the title outright with this win and gave up a total of 30 points over five league games. Gobles (4-3) was one of two opponents to put up more than one score. 

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming 22, Negaunee 16

The numbers got more incredible for Ishpeming: 38 wins over its last 39 regular-season games, three straight Mid-Peninsula Conference titles and only 49 points given up in six games this fall. The Hematites (6-0) earned a share of the league title and ended Negaunee’s final drive with an interception to run their latest string of success against the Miners (6-1) to six wins in their last seven meetings.

Also noted:

Kingsford 14, Iron Mountain 12 – The Flivvers (5-2) moved a win closer to returning to the playoffs after missing last season, while Iron Mountain (4-3) must now win out to ensure a second straight bid.

Calumet 34, L’Anse 14 – The Copper Kings (5-2) guaranteed a share of the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference title for the second time in four seasons by downing second-place L’Anse (4-3).

Munising 19, Bark River-Harris 12 – Munising (6-1) must beat Crystal Falls Forest Park this week to guarantee a piece of the Mid-Eastern Conference title, but earned the opportunity by handing Bark River-Harris (5-2) its second straight loss.

Lake Linden-Hubbell 46, Houghton 34 – The Lakes (7-0) continue to cruise, with this win equaling last season’s total and setting the team up to earn its best finish since 2010 with another victory.  

West Michigan

Grand Rapids West Catholic 42, Comstock Park 35

This didn’t clinch the Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue for West Catholic (5-2), but it did give the Falcons a one-win lead and victories over both second-place teams, Comstock Park (5-2) and Allendale. West Catholic trailed by two touchdowns during the first half and then withstood a fourth-quarter blitz by the Panthers. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

East Kentwood 30, Rockford 29 – After two straight losses, the Falcons (5-2) bounced back to stay out of must-win territory while forcing Rockford (4-3) to win out to guarantee extending a 20-year playoff streak.

Caledonia 52, Grand Rapids Christian 31 – Considering the Fighting Scots (3-4) have lost to East Grand Rapids, Muskegon Mona Shores, Rockford and Lowell, beating Grand Rapids Christian (4-3) seems like less of an upset.

Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 47, Wyoming Godwin Heights 6 – The Mustangs (7-0) earned a share of the O-K Silver title after finishing second each of the last two seasons, while sending Godwin Heights (4-3) into second place after the two entered tied for first.

Hesperia 47, Lakeview 20 – Hesperia’s best season since 2002 now includes a Central State Activities Association Silver championship and first winning record since 2007, and after the team finished just 1-8 a year ago; a win by Lakeview (4-3) would’ve split the title three ways.


Stephenson 76, Rapid River 38

Suddenly it’s Stephenson (5-2), not Rapid River (5-2), that stands as Powers North Central’s top competition in the Western Upper Peninsula Conference. Eight-player football appears to be to the Eagles’ liking; they finished 1-8 a year ago in 11-player and appear to be reclaiming the success they enjoyed in the former format during the 1990s and 2000s. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

Also noted:

Battle Creek St. Philip 55, Waldron 16 – The Tigers (7-0) have won three straight Southern Michigan League Titles and every league game since falling to Waldron (6-1) in 2012.

Cedarville 29, Bellaire 28 – A week after falling by two to Posen, Cedarville (5-2) bounced back to edge rival Bellaire (4-3) in Bridge Alliance play. 

PHOTO: DeWitt defenders swarm a St. Johns ball-carrier during Friday's league title-clinching victory. (Click for more from 

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.)