By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
How much should fans enjoy the final two weeks of this football regular season?
There are 93 leagues for the sport statewide, and 35 championships remain completely up for grabs. Another 35 leagues have had one team clinch a share of the title but still have the possibility for another to join the celebration.
And the playoff picture is similarly a slightly-filled canvas. A total of 346 teams (out of 531 total) remain eligible for at least an additional qualifier berth in the 256-team 11-player field. A total of 110 teams have secured their spots – but 86 more teams can clinch with a win this week.
On the 8-player side, the 32 playoff spots will remain in flux through Week 9 – and it looks like up to 55 teams still have a chance to make that field.
Below again is a look at many games that will tilt these numbers this weekend. The MHSAA.tv live streaming schedule includes 33 games – click for the full listing and links to each game. All games below are Friday unless noted.
"Drive for Detroit" is sponsored by MI Student Aid.
Bay & Thumb
Marine City (7-0) at Marysville (5-2)
The Mariners handed St. Clair its lone league loss last week to earn a share of the Macomb Area Conference Silver title, and will finish the league schedule against the other team tied for second in Marysville. If the Vikings are able to break a two-game losing streak in this series, it will create a three-way shared Silver championship. But they will have to crack a Marine City defense giving up just 8.4 points per game.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Fenton (6-1) at Goodrich (6-1), Flint Powers Catholic (5-2) at Grand Blanc (5-2), Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (5-2) at Lapeer (6-1), Montrose (6-1) at Byron (5-2).
Romeo (6-1) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (7-0)
For the second straight season, Chippewa Valley enters this Macomb Area Conference Red finale with a perfect record and Romeo has a chance to break up the league title with a win. The Bulldogs and Utica Eisenhower are tied for second, one game behind the Big Reds, and Romeo fell only 41-34 last season in giving Chippewa Valley one of the toughest games of its undefeated Division 1 championship run.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Royal Oak Shrine (6-1) at Clarkston Everest Collegiate (6-0), Clawson (4-3) at Clinton Township Clintondale (5-2), Farmington (7-0) at North Farmington (7-0), Belleville (7-0) at Livonia Franklin (6-1), Detroit Catholic Central (4-3) at River Rouge (6-1).
Fowler (7-0) at Pewamo-Westphalia (7-0)
This season has been a little unfair to the Eagles, and be sure they’ll use that as motivation tonight. It’s hard to not talk about Pewamo-Westphalia – a lot – when the Pirates are outscoring their opponents by a combined 312-14 with five shutouts, including one over reigning Division 8 champion Reading (which is otherwise averaging 52 points per game). But a few miles over from that all-out domination, rival Fowler is outscoring its opponents 295-70, giving up more than 13 points in a game just once, and with a chance to take the Central Michigan Athletic Conference title outright if they get past the rival Pirates for the first time since 2014.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Portland (7-0) at Mason (7-0), St. Joseph (6-1) at DeWitt (5-2), Fowlerville (6-1) at Lansing Catholic (6-1), Olivet (7-0) at Williamston (4-3).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Maple City Glen Lake (6-1) at Charlevoix (5-2)
The leaders of the Northern Michigan Football League Leaders division will meet for the outright championship tonight. A win would give Glen Lake its third straight league title, and of course it would be celebrated – especially bouncing back from last week’s loss to Kingsley. But a win for Charlevoix would be historic; the Rayders not only would clinch a first playoff berth since 2016, but the league title would be the program’s first since 1987 and after a number of runner-up finishes over the years. Glen Lake has won the last six meetings between these teams, including three over the last three years in NMFL play.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Breckenridge (6-1) at Oscoda (7-0), Beal City (7-0) at McBain (4-3), Johannesburg-Lewiston (7-0) at Frankfort (3-4), Ogemaw Heights (5-2) at Grayling (3-4).
Southeast & Border
Milan (7-0) at Carleton Airport (5-2)
Milan claimed a share of the Huron League championship last week. And although third-place Airport can’t win a share as well whatever happens tonight, second-place Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central surely is cheering the Jets on. Milan has won the last eight against Airport, including once in the playoffs, but four of those games were decided by eight or fewer points – including last season’s when the Big Reds won 35-30.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Ann Arbor Pioneer (4-3) at Saline (6-1), Manchester (5-2) at Grass Lake (6-1), Britton Deerfield (4-3) at Ottawa Lake Whiteford (4-3), Jackson (5-2) at Pinckney (5-2).
Kalamazoo United (4-3) at Constantine (5-2)
As we consider what United will try to accomplish over the next two weeks – defeating Constantine and then unbeaten Schoolcraft to earn a third-straight playoff berth and repeat as Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley champion – it’s important to keep in mind the Titans’ start this fall. They began 0-3 – but the first loss was by two to still-unbeaten Jackson Lumen Christi, and the third defeat by just nine to still-undefeated Berrien Springs. Constantine is in a similar place, however – its losses to Berrien Springs and Schoolcraft were by a combined eight points.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Muskegon Catholic Central (4-2) at Benton Harbor (4-3), Parma Western (5-2) at Marshall (4-3), White Pigeon (6-1) at Mendon (6-1), Dowagiac (4-3) at Vicksburg (5-2).
Traverse City Central (6-1) at Escanaba (6-1)
The Eskymos’ chances of getting some help to climb back into the Great Northern Conference title race are getting slimmer by the week as a three-point Week 4 loss to Marquette still stands as the lone decider for first in that league. But Escanaba can continue to gear up for the playoffs and a run at a fourth-straight District title, and playing much larger Central is a great way to get ready. The Trojans have clinched a share of the Big North Conference title and haven’t lost since Week 1. Interestingly, their six-game winning streak started against Marquette – and they’d surely love to go 2-0 against the GNC’s best after falling to Escanaba by 17 a year ago.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Hancock (4-3) at Calumet (6-1), Iron Mountain (7-0) at L’Anse (4-3), Kingsford (4-3) at Menominee (4-3), Lake Linden-Hubbell (4-3) at Bark River-Harris (5-2).
Muskegon (7-0) at Muskegon Mona Shores (6-1)
Championships could be decided all over the Ottawa-Kent Conference this weekend, but this annual matchup in the Black always is one of the most-hyped games in the state and again deserves lots of attention after both teams reached Ford Field last season. Since falling in the 2018 Division 3 Final, Muskegon has been challenged only by East Grand Rapids in a five-point Week 3 win. The reigning Division 2 runner-up Sailors fell to still-unbeaten Rockford by 13 in Week 4 but otherwise have won all of their games by at least 20 points. The Big Reds have won the last four in this series, and regardless of the outcome this latest chapter will be entertaining – the total points scored has increased every game over the last four, with Muskegon winning 55-35 in 2018.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Rockford (7-0) at Grandville (6-1), Ravenna (6-1) at Muskegon Oakridge (7-0), Grand Rapids Christian (5-2) at East Grand Rapids (5-2), Byron Center (7-0) vs. Hudsonville Unity Christian (5-2) at Hope College.
Deckerville (7-0) at Kingston (6-1)
A share of the North Central Thumb League Blue championship goes to the victor, and in Deckerville’s case would guarantee a fourth consecutive league title. Two of the last five years this matchup determined the league champion, and a third time Kingston defeated Morrice to help Deckerville take back a share of first place after falling to the Orioles a week earlier in 2017. The Eagles have won all 12 against the Cardinals since the teams began playing each other regularly in 2010, including a pair of victories last season as they also met in the playoffs.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Burr Oak (5-2) at Climax-Scotts (6-1), Onekama (5-2) at Suttons Bay (7-0). SATURDAY Morrice (7-0) vs. Crystal Falls Forest Park (5-2) at Pickford, Mio (7-0) at Gaylord St. Mary (2-5).
Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning 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. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO: Mason works the ground game during a 21-14 league title-deciding win over Fowlerville on Oct. 4. (Click to see more from High School Sports Scene.)
Five showdowns of undefeated teams highlight this week's Michigan high school statewide schedule as we begin our second-half buildup toward the end of the regular season.
If you're not watching in person, check out most of the matchups highlighted below, and several others, on MHSAA.tv. Check in as well with the MHSAA Scores page for all of them as they come in. (Games below are Friday unless noted.)
Bay & Thumb
Croswell-Lexington (5-0) at Almont (5-0) - Watch
Just past halfway through the Blue Water Area Conference schedule, half the teams are 3-1 or 4-0 in league play – with these the co-leaders. Croswell-Lexington hasn’t played a game closer than 19 points this fall, but did lose last year’s meeting with Almont 37-26. The Raiders, meanwhile, have won the last two weeks by seven and one point, respectively – but opened the season with three straight shutouts as the stifling defense they’ve become known for has given up only 34 points total.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Lapeer (4-1) at Grand Blanc (3-2) - Watch, Linden (4-1) at Fenton (4-1) - Watch, Birch Run (4-1) at Freeland (5-0) - Watch, Madison Heights Lamphere (4-1) at Marine City (4-1).
Westland John Glenn (5-0) at Belleville (5-0) - Watch
Belleville’s 42-3 victory over Livonia Franklin last week was the team’s 30th straight, and the Tigers now own the state’s longest active winning streak with Powers North Central’s coming to an end at 41 on the same night. Belleville’s next challenger is John Glenn, which under second-year coach Jason Mensing has as many victories this fall as the last two combined and has nearly guaranteed its first winning season since 2014. Mensing guided his former team Ottawa Lake Whiteford through several memorable moments, and this will be the Rockets’ biggest so far under his leadership.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Gibraltar Carlson (4-1) at Trenton (4-1) - Watch, Romeo (3-2) at Macomb Dakota (4-1) - Watch, Lake Orion (5-0) at Rochester Adams (3-2) - Watch, Marine City Cardinal Mooney (3-2) at Clarkston Everest Collegiate (3-2) - Watch.
Goodrich (5-0) at Corunna (5-0) - Watch
The winner of this matchup clinches a share of the Flint Metro League Stars championship, similar to last season when Goodrich won the league and Corunna was second thanks to the Martians’ 42-7 win in their Week 5 matchup. Both arguably have been even better this fall. Goodrich has handed the only losses this season to Frankenmuth and Linden, and Corunna has given up only 31 points this season and no more than 17 in a game while scoring at least 38 every time out.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Evart (4-1) at Beal City (5-0) - Watch, Grand Ledge (5-0) at DeWitt (2-2) - Watch, Fowler (5-0) at Pewamo-Westphalia (4-1) - Watch, Montrose (4-1) at New Lothrop (4-1) - Watch.
Northern Lower Peninsula
Charlevoix (4-1) at Elk Rapids (2-3)
There’s more riding here than the initial glance my indicate. Charlevoix, with a win, would clinch a share of the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders title – its first since 2020 and after finishing second to Boyne City both of the past two seasons. The Rayders haven’t had a game closer than 13 points since falling to Traverse City St. Francis by one in their season opener. Elk Rapids got off to a tough start but has won two straight – both in shutouts – and is looking for its first win over Charlevoix since 2018.
Southeast & Border
Jackson (4-1) at Adrian (4-1) - Watch
Jackson has a chance to set up a Week 7 winner-take-all matchup with Chelsea for the Southeastern Conference White championship – a nice jump after finishing third last season. The Vikings haven’t defeated Chelsea since 2018 but lost by a respectable 17-0 last fall. But they can’t overlook Adrian, still enjoying its best season since 2016 despite falling to Chelsea 28-18 last week. The Maples would love to hand Jackson a loss tonight and cheer for the Vikings next week with a title share possible.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Michigan Center (4-1) at Grass Lake (4-1) - Watch, Flat Rock (4-1) at Milan (3-2) - Watch, Ann Arbor Huron (3-2) at Saline (5-0) - Watch, Hudson (5-0) at Blissfield (3-2) - Watch.
Parma Western (5-0) at Battle Creek Harper Creek (4-1)
We’re halfway through the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference schedule, and this has emerged as an important matchup with Parma Western tied with Hastings for first and Harper Creek only a game back after falling to the Saxons 34-6 last week. The Beavers struggled to 3-6 a year ago but already have avenged 2022 losses to Battle Creek Lakeview, Battle Creek Central and Marshall – and Western defeated them 34-0 last season before Harper Creek went 2-1 to finish the fall. Western’s defense is a notable strength again, giving up only 37 points total this season despite taking on Dearborn Divine Child and Detroit Country Day over the first two weeks.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Paw Paw (5-0) at Edwardsburg (3-2) - Watch, Constantine (4-1) at Allegan (4-1) - Watch, St. Joseph (3-2) at Portage Northern (5-0) - Watch, Muskegon Catholic Central (3-2) at Schoolcraft (4-1) - Watch.
Gladstone (4-1) at Menominee (5-0)
This is the first of three games that will tell a lot about Menominee’s season as the Maroons enter this stretch alone atop the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper at 4-0 but with Gladstone, Week 7 opponent Negaunee and Week 8 opponent Kingsford all 3-1 in league play. While this is a new conference for the Maroons this season, they have plenty of history with Gladstone as both came from the Great Northern Conference – and Menominee had won three straight in the series before Gladstone’s 28-6 victory last fall. Gladstone’s lone defeat this year came Week 3 to Kingsford, 35-12.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Maple City Glen Lake (3-2) at Sault Ste. Marie (3-2) - Watch, Manistique (3-2) at Iron Mountain (5-0) - Watch, Marquette (2-2) at Escanaba (1-4) - Watch, Houghton (2-3) at Calumet (1-4) - Watch.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (4-1) at East Grand Rapids (5-0)
We’ve been watching East Grand Rapids’ rejuvenation this fall with this among games circled for special attention, and Forest Hills Central’s 15-14 loss to Byron Center last week hardly lessens the intrigue. The Rangers are still among favorites statewide in Division 3, ranked No. 2, and East Grand Rapids is right behind them this week at No. 3 (while Byron Center is No. 2 in Division 2). The Ottawa-Kent Conference White title won’t be decided with this matchup, but it surely will be impacted – and the Rangers have defeated EGR all three times they’ve met since the Pioneers rejoined the division in 2020.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Allendale (5-0) at Spring Lake (4-1), Lowell (4-1) at Byron Center (5-0), Caledonia (4-1) at Hudsonville (4-1) - Watch, Zeeland East (4-1) at Muskegon (3-2).
Mendon (5-0) at Adrian Lenawee Christian (5-0) - Watch
Movement on the overall 8-player enrollment list have made this a matchup we’ll see just this once this fall, as Mendon – last year’s Division 2 runner-up – has moved to Division 1 and is ranked No. 2, while Lenawee Christian is top-ranked in Division 2 after winning Division 1 titles in 2020 and 2021 and reaching a Regional Final last year. Still, many 8-player eyes will be watching. The Cougars have given up just 32 points this season and no more than 12 in a game, and that defense should be part of the key matchup within the matchup because Mendon is scoring 52 per contest and coming off an 80-point performance.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Carson City-Crystal (5-0) at Coleman (4-1) - Watch, Brown City (5-0) at Mayville (5-0) - Watch, St. Ignace (5-0) at Newberry (4-1), Norway (4-1) at Ontonagon (4-1) - Watch.
Second Half’s weekly “1st & Goal” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning 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. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and X (Twitter) @mistudentaid.
PHOTO Muskegon Catholic Central and Orchard View players reach to get a hand on the ball during their meeting this season. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)