Drive for Detroit: Week 8 in Review

October 20, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Just when we think we’ve got this season figured out … Week 8 happens.

How are these for scores that command a double-take?

  • Mattawan, fighting for a playoff berth, beats a league champion in Stevensville Lakeshore 12-10.

  • Caledonia hands Lowell its first shutout in 16 years, 33-0.

  • Dearborn, also fighting for a playoff berth, delivers local rival Robichaud its first loss, 28-12.

The second-to-last week of the regular season did have more happy than sad as another batch of automatic qualifiers was added and the group of possible at-large teams grew:

  • Felch North Dickinson saw the longest playoff streak in MHSAA history officially end as it fell to 3-5; the team no longer can qualify for the postseason for the 24th straight season.

  • But in New Boston, there was celebration as the team set a school record for wins in moving to 7-1.

  • And Burton Atherton backers surely enjoyed clinching their first playoff berth ever after missing by a win two of the last four years.

Read on for details behind more of the most intriguing results to emerge from Week 8 from all over the state:

Bay and Thumb

Flint Beecher 19, Montrose 14

The long-anticipated Genesee Area Conference Red finale played to its billing, with Beecher scoring with 17 seconds left on the clock to earn its first league title since 2009. Montrose (6-2), league champs the last three seasons, could’ve forced a three-way share of this season’s title with a win – Goodrich would’ve been the third team, but finished second. Beecher can finish the regular season undefeated also for the first time since 2009 with a win over Byron on Friday. Click for more from the Flint Journal.

Also noted:

Marine City 39, Warren Woods Tower 14 – Marine City (8-0) got back the Macomb Area Conference Gold championship, keeping second-place Warren Woods-Tower (6-2) from gaining a share.  

Bay City Central 26, Mount Pleasant 22 – The Wolves (4-4) can still earn a first playoff berth since 2007 after beating the Oilers (5-3) for the first time in their recent eight-game series.

Lapeer 34, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 31 (OT) – The Lightning (8-0) finished a perfect run through the Saginaw Valley Association Red, but not without some necessary extra work against Carman-Ainsworth (6-2).

Birch Run 27, Millington 21 – The Panthers (7-1) edged the Cardinals (7-1) in the final game on the Tri-Valley East Conference schedule to make those two and Frankenmuth tri-champions after Millington led by a win coming in.

Lower Up North

Whittemore-Prescott 31, Hillman 14

While not a league game, this one unofficially recognized the top team on the northeast side of the Lower Peninsula – and once again it’s Whittemore-Prescott (8-0), which is one more winnable game from its first perfect regular season since 2002. Hillman (7-1) also entered undefeated and a league champion. Click for more from the Bay City Times.

Also noted:

Traverse City West 22, Gaylord 7 – Gaylord (5-3) has been working toward its first playoff berth since 2007, but had to put its celebration off while West (4-4) kept itself in the mix for an at-large bid.

Boyne City 28, Elk Rapids 23 – The Ramblers (8-0) won their eighth game for the third straight season and need one more for a first perfect regular season since 2001; Elk Rapids (4-4) will need help to return to the playoffs.

Mancelona 30, Central Lake 22 – Mancelona (5-3) is still alive for an automatic playoff berth, while Central Lake (4-4) is not and must win this week for a chance at an at-large bid.

Charlevoix 27, Frankfort 6 – The Rayders (5-3) quietly have won three straight to set up for their first playoff appearance since 2009, while forcing Frankfort (5-2) into a must-win situation to return to the postseason after missing the last two years.

Southwest and Border

Watervliet 28, Decatur 19

Make that six straight wins for Watervliet over Decatur, this one for the Southwestern Athletic Conference South championship. The Panthers (7-1) earned a share, giving them at least part of the league title for four straight seasons and seven straight wins this fall after opening with a one-point loss at Gobles. Decatur (7-1) will have more to play for next month, having already qualified for the playoffs as well. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.

Also noted:

Union City 42, Homer 19 – The Chargers (8-0) finished their second Big 8 Conference title in four years, winning big to keep second-place Homer (6-2) from earning a share.

Fennville 22, Gobles 12 – This, combined with Bangor’s upset of Saugatuck, created a three-team tie atop the SAC North standings between Saugatuck (5-3), Fennville (5-3) and Gobles (6-2).

Constantine 35, Olivet 14 – The Kalamazoo Valley Association champ Falcons (7-1) bounced back from its first loss by doubling up former league rival Olivet (6-2), the champ in the first-year Greater Lansing Activities Conference.

Edwardsburg 42, Berrien Springs 21 – The Eddies earned a share of the Wolverine B Conference West championship against second-place Berrien Springs (5-3), which will need a major upset of Edwardsburg by Coloma this week to also gain a share.

Upper Peninsula

Marquette 9, Negaunee 8

The wind and rain couldn’t distract Marquette kicker Max Bednarek, who drilled a game-winning 22-yard field goal as time ran out to push the Redmen to 7-1. Marquette trailed 8-0 and went for two unsuccessfully after scoring its lone touchdown. Negaunee has now lost three games this season by five points or fewer, and at 4-4 will need some help to earn an at-large playoff bid. Click for more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Also noted:

Lake Linden-Hubbell 36, Felch North Dickinson 30 – The Lakes (7-1) have built their best record since 2010 with three wins by eight or fewer points, while North Dickinson (3-5) officially won’t make the playoffs for the first time since 1990 after its third loss of six points or fewer.

Bark River-Harris 44, Powers North Central 22 – The Broncos (6-2) bounced back from a disappointing loss to Mid-Eastern Football Conference champ Munising to earn its first playoff appearance since 2009.

Iron Mountain 23, Hurley, Wis. 22 – The Moutaineers (5-3) put themselves in a win-and-in playoff scenario this week in part by going for two after a late score against Hurley (7-2) to create a two-possession game, and then holding the ball until nearly the end so Hurley didn’t get another chance.

Crystal Falls Forest Park 53, Bessemer 14 – The Trojans (6-1) can’t win the Great Western Conference this time, but are undefeated in Michigan with their lone loss to Hurley; Bessemer, at 4-3 but playing only eight 11-player games, can still qualify with a win this week against Ironwood.


Clare 30, Harrison 29

Clare (6-2) has come up with the right recipe for winning the Jack Pine Conference. For the third straight season, the Pioneers have opened 0-2 against top nonleague competition and gone on to win the league, and can clinch it outright this week against Roscommon. But Harrison gave Clare its toughest challenge of any team during this eight-season title run – Clare trailed by as many as 16, and a potential game-winning field goal for the Hornets (7-1) fell just short. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.

Also noted:

Fowler 20, Pewamo-Westphalia 13 – One of the best rivalries in this region decided a league championship again; Fowler (8-0) claimed the Central Michigan Athletic Conference title, while Pewamo-Westphalia (6-2) fell to second place.

Lansing Sexton 21, Lansing Everett 12 – This was all a neighborly rivalry game should be, with Everett holding Sexton to its second-fewest points this season and the Big Reds (8-0) keeping the Vikings (5-3) to their fewest.

Haslett 43, Williamston 23 – The Vikings (4-4) looked likely to miss the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, but upsetting Williamston (6-2) helps their at-large chances significantly.

Hanover-Horton 34, Grass Lake 28 – Not only had Hanover-Horton not beaten Grass Lake (5-3) since 2005, the Comets (7-1) had scored only a combined 15 points in their last five losses to the Warriors.

West Michigan

Caledonia 33, Lowell 0

The Fighting Scots just keep piling up impressive wins. After Caledonia (6-2) lost to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central by 12 in Week 3, there probably weren't many who would've believed the Scots would go on to beat Rockford and now Lowell by a combined 75-0. Because of that Forest Hills Central loss, Caledonia only shares first place in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White with the Red Arrows (7-1), but both can clinch a share of the title this week. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Reed City 60, Remus Chippewa Hills 32 – The Coyotes (7-1) earned a share of the Central State Activities Association Gold title while keeping Chippewa Hills (6-2) from the same.

Cedar Springs 48, Greenville 16 – The Red Hawks (7-1) earned a share of the O-K Bronze title, its first league championship since 1978, while forcing Greenville (4-4) into an at-large playoff scenario.

East Kentwood 35, Rockford 3 – The Falcons (7-1) looked capable of beating Rockford (6-2) to push both into a tie atop the O-K Red standings, but the final margin was much more unexpected.

East Grand Rapids 31, Grand Rapids Christian 7 – The Pioneers (5-3) look good for the playoffs with 1-7 Jenison up this week, and left Christian (5-3) in a tougher position with the Eagles now facing Caledonia.

Greater Detroit

Southfield 20, Oak Park 16

The Bluejays (6-2) swooped in for a share of their second straight Oakland Activities Association White championship after falling a game behind with a Week 5 loss to Farmington Hills Harrison. Oak Park (6-2) had beaten Harrison and entered Week 8 atop the league, but couldn’t break Southfield’s defense – which held the Knights 22 points below their average. Harrison ended up with a share of the league title as well with Oak Park’s loss. Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.

Also noted:

Harper Woods Chandler Park 22, Warren Michigan Collegiate 13 – Chandler Park (6-2) won this deciding game in the Charter School Conference, sending Michigan Collegiate (7-1) into second place; Chandler Park is 34-1 in league play since its start in 2009.

Farmington 24, Birmingham Groves 20 – The Falcons (7-1) finished their bounce-back from 2-7 last season to OAA Blue champs this fall by edging second-place Groves (6-2).

Ypsilanti Lincoln 28, Ypsilanti Community 27 – Lincoln (6-2) won the Southeastern Conference White outright for the second straight year despite trailing Community (5-3) at one point by three scores.

Detroit Cass Tech 19, Detroit East English 12 – The Technicians (8-0) advanced to meet Martin Luther King in the Detroit Public School League Final thanks to three fourth-quarter touchdowns by standout running back Mike Weber; East English (5-3) must win this week to guarantee an MHSAA playoff berth.  


Peck 30, Deckerville 28 (OT)

This has become arguably the best rivalry in 8-player football (the argument being against Rapid River/Cedarville). Peck (8-0) made it 21 straight wins including three straight over Deckerville, although the Eagles made it plenty tough by scoring first in overtime and also leading into the fourth quarter. The win gives Peck the North Central Thumb League title outright while dropping Deckerville (6-2) into second place.

Also noted: 

Battle Creek St. Philip 48, Portland St. Patrick 0 – This battle of undefeateds didn't match up to that expectation, but these two have history of meeting again during the playoffs.

Cedarville 57, Bellaire 14 – This one too didn't necessarily match up to a matchup of teams with a combined one loss, with Cedarville dominating to match Bellaire at 7-1 overall and second place in the Bridge Football Alliance.

PHOTO: Beal City, carrying the ball, defeated McBain on Friday to claim a share of the championship in the Highland Conference. (Click to see 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.)