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 

Inspired by Dad's Memory, Lawrence's Vasquez Emerges After Family Losses

By Pam Shebest
Special for

January 16, 2024

LAWRENCE — While COVID-19 affected many students in different ways, it definitely made an impact on Austin Vasquez.

Southwest CorridorAs a freshman at Lawrence High School during the pandemic, Vasquez lost his grandmother Theresa Phillips to cancer on March 25, 2021.

Two days later, on March 27, his father Tom Vasquez, died of complications from COVID. And on April 19 that spring, his grandfather Darrell “Gene” Phillips also lost his fight against the coronavirus.

“There is no way (to cope). You just have to keep on moving,” Austin said. “It’s what (my dad) would want me to do.

“He was my biggest (influence) in sports. He talked to me about never giving up – leave everything you’ve got.”

That is just what Vasquez is doing in the midst of his three-sport senior year.

He is the top wrestler at the school, competing at 175 pounds with a goal of making the MHSAA Tournament. He was a versatile contributor on the football field this past fall, and he’s planning to join the baseball team this spring.

Vasquez works on gaining the advantage in a match against Mendon. He’s 8-3 with six pins on the mat this winter after a busy summer of camps and tournaments. Those experiences helped lessen the nerves he’d felt during matches previously, and now he’s wrestling with an outlook of “everything to gain and nothing to lose.”

And Vasquez said he feels his dad’s presence as he prepares for competition.

“Before every match, before every game, I just think about what my dad would be telling me,” he said. “Everything he’s always told me has taught me to get better. 

“In life, I still remember everything he taught me. He was definitely a great man, and I want to be like him someday.”

Wrestling also has made Vasquez more in tune with his health.

His sophomore season he went from 230 pounds to 215, and by his junior year was down to his current 175.

“I just wanted to be healthier, not just for wrestling,” he said. “I started going to the gym every night, watched my calories, and from there grew (taller).

“Now I’m at 6-(foot-)2, and I don’t know how that happened,” he laughed.

Lawrence coach Henry Payne said Vasquez always has a positive attitude and helps the other wrestlers in the program.

“When he notices a kid next to him doing a move wrong, he’ll go over and show him the right way,” Payne said. “We have a lot of young kids that this is their first year, and he’s been a good coach’s helper.”

The coach’s helper gig will continue after graduation.

"Next year we’re hoping to open up a youth program here, and I got him and an alumni that graduated last year and is helping the varsity team this year (Conner Tangeman) to take over the youth program for us,” Payne said.

 From left: Lawrence wrestling coach Henry Payne, athletic director John Guillean and football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. On the football team, Vasquez was a jack of all trades.

“He started at guard, went to tight end, went to our wingback, went to our running back. He was trying to get the quarterback spot,” football coach Derek Gribler laughed.

Vasquez said there is no other feeling like being on the field, especially during home games.

“Wrestling is my main sport, but I’d do anything to go back and play football again,” he said. “I just love it.”

Although the football team struggled through a 1-8 season, “It was still a really fun season,” Vasquez said. “Everybody was super close. Most of us never really talked before, but we instantly became like a family.”

Vasquez had the support of his mother, Heather, and four older sisters: Makaylah, Briahna, Ahlexis and Maryah. He also found his school family helped him get through the end of his freshman year.

“(My friends) were always there for me when everything was going on,” he said. “I took that last month off school because it was too hard to be around people at that time.

"Every single one of them reached out and said, ‘Hey, I know you’re going through a rough time.’ It really helped to hear that and get out of the house.”

Vasquez also was a standout on the football field. The family connection between Vasquez and Lawrence athletic director John Guillean goes back to the senior’s youth.

“I was girls basketball coach, so I coached his sisters,” Guillean said. “I remember him when he was pretty young. I knew the family pretty well. I knew his dad. He was pretty supportive and was there for everything.”

Vasquez said that freshman year experience has made him appreciate every day, and he gives the following advice: “Every time you’re wrestling, it could be your last time on the mat or last time on the field. Treat every game and every match as if it’s going to be your last. If you’re committed to the sport, take every chance you have to help your team be successful.”

Gribler has known Vasquez since he was in seventh grade and, as also the school’s varsity baseball coach, will work with Vasquez one more time with the senior planning to add baseball as his spring sport.

“When we talk about Tiger Pride, Austin’s a kid that you can put his face right on the logo. His work ethic is just unbelievable,” Gribler said. “Everything he does is with a smile. He could be having the worst day of his life, and he’d still have a smile on his face. He pushes through. It’s tough to do and amazing to see.”

The coach – who also starred at Lawrence as an athlete – noted the small community’s ability to rally around Vasquez and his family. Lawrence has about 150 students in the high school.

“It goes beyond sports,” Gribler said. “Austin knows when he needs something he can always reach out and we’ll have his back, we’ll have his family’s back. It’s not so much about winning as it is about the kids.”

Vasquez is already looking ahead to life after high school. He attends morning courses at Van Buren Tech, studying welding, and returns to the high school for afternoon classes. 

“I’d like to either work on the pipeline as a pipeline welder or be a lineman,” he said, adding, “possibly college. I would like to wrestle in college, but let’s see how this year goes.

“I’m ready to get out, but it’s going to be hard to leave this all behind.”

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Lawrence senior Andrew Vasquez, right, wrestles against Hartford this season. (2) Vasquez works on gaining the advantage in a match against Mendon. (3) From left: Lawrence wrestling coach Henry Payne, athletic director John Guillean and football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. (4) Vasquez also was a standout on the football field. (Wrestling and football photos courtesy of the Lawrence athletic department. Headshots by Pam Shebest.)