Drive for Detroit: Week 8 Preview

October 12, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This is the way it’s supposed to finish.

With the random ordering or yearly rotating that spits out most league schedules, any week of the regular season might feature the game that ends up deciding those conferences’ championships. But this fall, we’re lucky.

At least 19 games among those listed in our Week 8 preview below have the opportunity to affect league title. Three of our nine featured matchups pit teams that haven’t lost yet with only two games left until the playoffs begin. And undefeated Pickford kicked off the week Thursday with a 47-8 title share-clinching win over Cedarville in the 8-player Bridge Alliance League. 

Continue to follow all the results, league standings and real-time updating of playoff point averages with our MHSAA Score Center, and check out for nine live broadcasts tonight – click here for the schedule. Drive for Detroit is powered by MI Student Aid.

Bay & Thumb

Midland Dow (6-1) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (5-2), Friday

At the end of the day, figuratively speaking, the one-time favorites in the Saginaw Valley League Red are playing for the championship after all and for the second straight season. Carman-Ainsworth opened this fall 1-2, but both losses were nonleague – and it will finish the weekend with a share of the title regardless of this outcome. But Dow, which dropped its league opener to Bay City Central by a point on Sept. 1, can also gain a share by avenging last year’s seven-point loss to the Cavaliers that also decided the Red winner.  

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Algonac (6-1) at Richmond (7-0), Lapeer (5-2) at Midland (6-1), Alma (6-1) at Saginaw Swan Valley (6-1), Warren Woods Tower (6-1) at Port Huron Northern (6-1).

Greater Detroit

Detroit Cass Tech (5-1) vs. Detroit Martin Luther King (6-1) at Detroit Northwestern, Saturday

Although this is just a semifinal in the Detroit Public School League tournament, these two may be the best of the field – although undefeated East English and Detroit Renaissance, the other semifinalists, surely will put up an argument over the next two weeks as well. After two years in the same PSL division, King and Cass Tech were split up again this fall, and both won division titles and remain MHSAA title contenders as well after Cass Tech won Division 1 last year and King Division 2 in 2016 and 2015. Their only losses this season are to out-of-state teams, and together they’ve given up only 60 points over a combined nine games of league play.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Detroit Catholic Central (5-2) at Warren DeLaSalle (5-2), Macomb Dakota (5-2) at Romeo (5-2), Redford Thurston (5-2) at Dearborn Fordson (6-1), SATURDAY Detroit Mumford (5-2) vs. Detroit Central (5-2) at Detroit Northwestern.


Beaverton (7-0) at Harrison (5-2), Friday

Beaverton must dominate the best of Clare County over the next two weeks to do something no Beavers team has done this century. They sit tied with Week 9 opponent Clare for first place in the Jack Pine Conference while pursuing a first league title since 1989. Next week’s tilt with the Pioneers could be one of the state’s most intriguing regular-season finales – but will fall back to just one of many important games if Beaverton can’t get past third-place Harrison first. The Hornets’ only league loss was to Clare in Week 5.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Berrien Springs (6-1) at Olivet (7-0), East Lansing (5-2) at Lansing Sexton (5-2), Morley Stanwood (6-1) at Beal City (4-3), Haslett (5-2) at Williamston (5-2).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Gaylord St. Mary (7-0) at Harbor Springs (4-3), Friday

The winner tonight claims a share of the Northern Michigan Football League Legacy championship, and host Harbor Springs shouldn’t be considered too much of an underdog despite the disparity in overall records. The Rams finished second in the Legacy last season and have made the playoffs in two straight, and earned that 2016 runner-up finish in part with a 38-24 win over the Snowbirds. That said, St. Mary turned back a good challenge from rival Johannesburg-Lewiston last week and has had only one opponent come within double digits – recently surging Newberry in Week 2.  

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Lincoln Alcona (6-1) at Lake City (7-0), Boyne City (7-0) at Elk Rapids (6-1), Traverse City West (7-0) at Gaylord (4-3), Birmingham Brother Rice (4-3) at Traverse City Central (5-2).

Southeast & Border

Ottawa Lake Whiteford (7-0) at Clinton (5-2), Friday

With four league opponents still alive for playoff bids, Whiteford wasn’t going to get much of a break this season coming off last year’s Division 8 runner-up finish. But the Bobcats have handled every challenge with complete success, beating all seven opponents this season by at least 32 points. Clinton was the last team to hand Whiteford a league loss, in Week 9 of 2015, and the Redskins are tied for second in the TCC and riding a three-game winning streak. A win tonight will guarantee Whiteford a share of the league title, but a victory could eventually mean one for Clinton too with a winless opponent coming up in Week 9.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Michigan Center (6-1) at Grass Lake (4-3), Ida (6-1) at Hillsdale (3-4), Detroit U-D Jesuit (3-4) at Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (6-1), Ann Arbor Pioneer (3-4) at Adrian (3-4).

Southwest Corridor

Mendon (7-0) at Cassopolis (7-0), Friday

The first season of the Southwest 10 Conference has seen some parity, with five of 10 teams between 3-4 and 5-2. But these two are clearly at the top with a two-win edge on the rest and nearly identical numbers to tout that dominance. Cassopolis has given up 28 points; Mendon has given up 21. Cassopolis has scored 344; Mendon is right behind with 327. Both came from the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Red, won by Cassopolis last year as a result of a 33-14 Week 2 downing of the Hornets – the Rangers’ second straight in this emerging rivalry.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Vicksburg (6-1) at Edwardsburg (6-1), Pittsford (6-1) at Climax-Scotts (6-1), Battle Creek Harper Creek (7-0) at Marshall (4-3), Watervliet (7-0) at Schoolcraft (5-2).

Upper Peninsula

Iron River West Iron County (6-1) at Hancock (6-1), Friday

The Wykons can clinch a share of their third Western Peninsula Athletic Conference title in five seasons and are just a two-point opening-night loss to Bark River-Harris from perfection this fall. Hancock is a little unfamiliar with this spot but also is a two-point loss from perfection in 2016. A win tonight would line the Bulldogs up to claim a shared league title next week and add another highlight to a rejuvenation that has seen a second straight winning season after a decade with only one, plus the clinching of their first playoff berth this fall since 2006.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Kingsford (5-1) at Menominee (5-2), Lake Linden-Hubbell (3-3) at Norway (6-1), Marquette (3-4) at Negaunee (4-3), Bessemer Gogebic (3-4) at Calumet (4-3).

West Michigan

Muskegon (7-0) at Muskegon Mona Shores (7-0), Friday

The west side of the state is loaded with annually important rivalry games, and this Muskegon matchup has bulled its way into consideration among the best of them. Mona Shores won the Ottawa-Kent Conference in 2014 and 2015 with wins over the Big Reds, but Muskegon has taken the last three meetings starting with a rematch win in the District Final three weeks after that 2015 loss. Few teams in the state this season have dominated like Muskegon, which sits with a playoff average of 100.571 – ninth highest among all teams. Mona Shores, however, sits atop a projected Division 2 at 109.714 – second-highest in Michigan with a chance to jump even higher.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Grand Rapids Catholic Central (7-0) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (6-1), Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (7-0) at Cedar Springs (5-2), Belding (6-1) at Wyoming Kelloggsville (7-0), East Kentwood (5-2) at Rockford (4-3).


Onekama (7-0) at Central Lake (7-0), Friday

The Midwest Central Michigan Conference is half filled with first-year 8-player teams and is putting forth at least two that could be MHSAA title contenders. If the season ended after last week, Onekama would be entering the 8-Player Division 2 playoffs with the highest playoff point average in the division and home games until the Final. Central Lake would be ranked third in 8-Player Division 1 by playoff point average – not too shabby, considering especially that Central Lake was 2-7 in 11-player in 2016 (while Onekama made the playoffs but as part of a co-operative program with Bear Lake). With both teams winning every game this season by at least 24 points, it’s deserved and lucky this league finale also will decide the league championship.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Deckerville (6-1) at Peck (4-3), Mayville (4-3) at Bay City All Saints (6-1), Webberville (5-2) at Camden-Frontier (7-0), SATURDAY Marion (6-1) at Portland St. Patrick (6-1).

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PHOTO: Warren DeLaSalle, on offense, faced Birmingham Brother Rice in Week 4 and won 36-14. The Pilots will play this week for the Detroit Catholic League Central title. (Click for 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.)