Drive for Detroit: Week 8 Preview

October 13, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor 

The MHSAA football playoff picture should become much clearer by the time the cooled-off dirt and grass settle at the end of this weekend.

So far, 115 teams have earned automatic berths for the 256-team 11-player postseason field. A total of 91 teams can earn automatic berths this weekend, although, in at least a few cases, hopefuls will face off.

We look at some of those matchups and many more below in the Week 8 edition of Drive for Detroit, powered by MI Student Aid. Remember to follow the MHSAA Score Center for up-to-date scores, standings and playoff point rankings as results come in. All games below are Friday unless noted.

Bay & Thumb

Richmond (6-1) at Algonac (7-0)

The only loss between these two this season was by Richmond on opening night to Marysville, which can win the Macomb Area Conference Gold title outright tonight. And the only regular-season loss Algonac suffered during its miraculous turnaround last fall from 1-8 in 2014 to 10-2 was 15-14 to Richmond in the final game of the Blue Water Area Conference schedule. That defeat created a shared title between the two; the winner of this rematch will take the BWAC championship outright.

Others that caught my eye: Ubly (7-0) at Harbor Beach (4-3), Midland (4-3) at Lapeer (5-2), Flint Carman-Ainsworth (5-2) at Midland Dow (7-0), Pinconning (5-2) at Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (5-2).

Greater Detroit

Warren Mott (6-1) at Utica Eisenhower (7-0)

Mott’s unexpected 31-8 loss to Romeo last week took a bit of wind out of this anticipated matchup – but it could return if Mott does win to force a shared Macomb Area Conference Red championship with Eisenhower and possibly Romeo as well. Mott has lost all five meetings with Eisenhower over the last six seasons, but knows winning well with six straight playoff berths. The Eagles, meanwhile, clinched their 17th playoff berth over the last 18 seasons with their best start since 2004 – and haven’t allowed more than 14 points in a game despite playing in one of the most respected leagues in the state.

Others that caught my eye: Berkley (5-2) at Bloomfield Hills (7-0), Dearborn (6-1) at Dearborn Fordson (7-0), Clarkston (5-2) at Lake Orion (5-2), Harper Woods Chandler Park (5-2) at Warren Michigan Collegiate (6-1).


Brighton (6-1) at Howell (5-2)

This rivalry game between old Kensington Valley Conference neighbors hasn’t carried much in league title significance during their near-decade in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West – but tonight’s game can either cement an outright championship for Brighton or give Howell a share. The Highlanders own a 5-3 advantage in those KLAA West meetings and also beat Brighton in a 2010 rematch in the playoffs, but the Bulldogs have navigated the league a little more carefully this fall with a four-point win over Pinckney (which beat Howell) and a one-pointer over Grand Blanc.

Others that caught my eye: Wyoming Kelloggsville (6-1) at Belding (5-2), Menominee (7-0) at DeWitt (6-1), Grand Ledge (6-1) at East Lansing (5-2), Pewamo-Westphalia (7-0) at Fowler (5-2).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Frankfort (7-0) at Charlevoix (6-1)

Frankfort has two league games remaining but can clinch a share of the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders championship with a win tonight. Charlevoix and Maple City Glen Lake both have a loss in the league, so the Rayders could really shake things up. Their only loss this season was to Glen Lake, by 42, in Week 5; Frankfort beat Glen Lake by five a week later. Charlevoix and Frankfort both were undefeated in the league when they played each other last year, and the Panthers won 20-0 to claim the title outright.

Others that caught my eye: Cadillac (5-2) at Manistee (4-3), Johannesburg-Lewiston (3-4) at East Jordan (4-3), Hillman (4-3) at Whittemore-Prescott (4-3), Kalkaska (6-1) at Traverse City St. Francis (7-0) on Saturday.

Southeast & Border

Ottawa Lake Whiteford (7-0) at Sand Creek (7-0)

Six of eight teams in the Tri-County Conference are at least 4-3 and can still clinch automatic playoff berths, but the title race has finally been whittled down to Whiteford and Sand Creek. Whiteford has had its share of success over the years and this season qualified for the playoffs for the fifth straight, but has never gone undefeated in the league dating back to its first year, 1975. Sand Creek had a perfect TCC run in 2011 but then won a combined eight games over the next four seasons – a total they can equal just this season with another win tonight.

Others that caught my eye: Hillsdale (4-3) at Ida (6-1), Battle Creek Pennfield (4-3) at Jackson Lumen Christi (5-2), Adrian Madison (4-3) at Petersburg-Summerfield (4-3), Dundee (3-4) at Brooklyn Columbia Central (5-2).

Southwest Corridor

Three Rivers (6-1) at Edwardsburg (7-0)

It seems like the Eddies have had only one or two games of consequence during a four-year undefeated run in the Wolverine Conference, but this will be one of those games. This meeting could look a lot more like Edwardsburg’s 42-40 win in 2014 than its 65-21 defeat of Three Rivers a year ago. The Eddies can clinch a share of the league title with a 27th straight conference win. But a Three Rivers victory could create a three-team tie for first (along with Vicksburg) with a week to play. The Wildcats’ lone loss was the Plainwell on opening night.

Others that caught my eye: Marshall (4-3) at Battle Creek Harper Creek (6-1), Berrien Springs (4-2) at Buchanan (4-2), Kalamazoo Central (4-3) at Portage Central (6-1), Springport (6-1) at Quincy (5-2).

Upper Peninsula

Felch North Dickinson (5-2) at Lake Linden-Hubbell (7-0), Saturday

North Dickinson is reportedly taking its long history of success to 8-player next season, and there would be little better way to finish in 11 than by knocking newcomer Lake Linden-Hubbell off its roost atop the Mid-Eastern Conference. The Lakes are working toward a second straight perfect regular season and haven’t allowed an opponent closer than 14 points since opening night. But the Nordics, on the verge of securing their first winning season and playoff berth in three years, could move into first place in the league with a victory and set up an opportunity to share the title for the first time since winning five straight from 2009-13.

Others that caught my eye: Norway (6-1) at Gwinn (5-2), Hancock (4-3) at Iron River West Iron County (4-3), St. Ignace (6-1) at Ishpeming (3-3), Gladstone (3-4) at Kingford (5-2)

West Michigan

Grand Rapids West Catholic (6-1) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (7-0)

This rivalry will play out for the first time since 2009 because these teams are now together in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue – and tied for first with two league games to play. The winner claims a share of the league title, which would be a repeat performance for both – West Catholic won the last two Blue titles, and GRCC came over after winning the O-K Green last fall. The Falcons have given up a total of 14 points over four league games, but haven’t yet faced third-place Allendale, which put 20 on a GRCC defense that otherwise hasn’t given up more than 15 in a game.

Others that caught my eye: Rockford (5-2) at East Kentwood (4-3), Hudsonville Unity Christian (6-1) at Hamilton (5-2), Muskegon Mona Shores (4-3) at Muskegon (6-1), Byron Center (6-1) at Zeeland East (6-1).


Fife Lake Forest Area (6-1) at Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (7-0)

The inaugural Midwest Central 8-Player Conference championship comes down to this game as both teams are undefeated in league play heading into the finale. Tri-unity has been stellar giving up only 36 points in winning more games this fall than the last four seasons combined. Fife Lake Forest Area has a similar story with six wins for the first time since 2008. The Warriors made the move to 8-player this fall after winning 11 games total over the last five seasons.

Others that caught my eye: Morrice (4-3) at Webberville (5-2), Pickford (6-1) at Cedarville (6-1).

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid. 

PHOTOS: A Clarkston ball carrier prepares to collide with a Lapeer defender during their Week 1 game this season at the University of Michigan. (Click to see more from

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.)