Drive for Detroit: Week 9 Preview

October 24, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Sadly, thousands of Michigan high school football players will play the final game of their seasons – and in many cases their careers – this weekend.

The sunnier news: A few thousand more may still have control over whether they will suit up again for the MHSAA Playoffs.

Week 9, the last of this regular season, began Thursday with a handful of games and will conclude around 8 p.m. Saturday with the last of the Detroit Catholic League championship games. Entering Thursday, 166 teams had clinched playoff berths in the 256-team 11-player field – with 139 hopefuls still with a chance to advance. Of that 139, 60 simply need to win this weekend to qualify – but it’s also anticipated that a record number of additional qualifiers – with 5-4 or 4-4 records – will make the field when it is selected and introduced Sunday.

Our weekly preview below highlights many contests you might expect, and many you might not. There are still five league title races completely up for grabs, and 23 where one team has clinched but another (or more) may still share the championship. Games with league titles or playoff berths are on the line were given priority over otherwise great matchups that will still be fun to watch but won’t figure in as much into what happens beyond this weekend.

Remember to tune in to FOX Sports Detroit PLUS at 7 p.m. Sunday for the “Selection Sunday Show” announcement of brackets in every division for both 11 and 8-player. The show also can be viewed on FOXSportsDetroit.com or via FOX Sports Go! Additionally, 34 games will be streamed live Friday and Saturday on MHSAA.tv – click for listings and links.

"Drive for Detroit" is sponsored by MI Student Aid.

Bay & Thumb

Lapeer (7-1) at Davison (7-1)

Just like a year ago, the Saginaw Valley League Blue title comes down to this regular-season finale. Last season, Lapeer emerged with a 28-6 win and the outright league championship. The Lightning’s only regular-season loss the last two seasons came to Lake Orion this year in Week 1, and that’s looked better every week as the Dragons stand 7-1. Also for the second straight year, Davison’s lone loss heading into this game has come to Warren De La Salle Collegiate. The Cardinals also have a notable win over Flint Metro League “Upper” champion Fenton, while Lapeer beat SVL Red second-place Midland Dow and last week Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Ubly (7-1) at Cass City (7-1), Central Montcalm (7-1) at Millington (4-4), New Lothrop (8-0) at Frankenmuth (8-0), Midland (8-0) at Midland Dow (5-3).

Greater Detroit

Detroit Catholic Central (4-4) vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary's (7-1), Saturday at Eastern Michigan University

The Bishop division championship game at Rynearson Stadium will match up the co-champions from the Detroit Catholic League Central – but this means more than another trophy for the Shamrocks. DCC is one of two league champions statewide facing the prospect of ending with a sub-.500 overall record. And if history holds, DCC also would look good to qualify for the playoffs at 5-4 due to its strong schedule. But the Eaglets are not without added motivation too – they fell to DCC 20-14 two weeks ago to create that shared league title.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Dearborn Fordson (7-1) at Brighton (7-1), Birmingham Groves (7-1) at Brownstown Woodhaven (8-0), Detroit Martin Luther King (6-2) vs. Detroit Denby (7-1) at Detroit Renaissance, West Bloomfield (7-1) at Warren De La Salle Collegiate (5-3).

Mid-Michigan

Pewamo-Westphalia (8-0) at Williamston (5-3)

The Pirates locked up the Central Michigan Athletic Conference title last week and can extend their regular-season winning streak to 26. One of the few close victories during that run came in Week 9 last season when P-W edged Williamston 28-27. The Hornets need this one to qualify for the playoffs automatically, and having that chance is impressive on its own considering they entered Week 7 with three undefeated teams left on the schedule. Williamston then fell close to still-unbeaten Mason, but last week handed Olivet its only loss, 35-28.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Okemos (1-7) at East Lansing (6-2), Lansing Waverly (3-5) at DeWitt (6-2), Grand Ledge (2-6) at Holt (6-2), Bath (3-5) at Perry (4-4).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Cadillac (5-3) at Traverse City Central (7-1), Saturday

The Trojans led the Big North Conference all season, winning all of their games since falling to DeWitt by five in Week 1. They claimed a share of the title last week, but a fifth-straight win over Cadillac to make the championship outright won’t be automatic by any means. The Vikings have bounced way back from going 1-8 last year after finishing 2-7 in 2017, and two of those three losses this fall were by a combined four points.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Charlevoix (5-3) at Harbor Springs (6-2), Clare (7-1) at McBain (5-3), Kingsley (8-0) at Boyne City (4-4), Johannesburg-Lewiston (8-0) at Indian River Inland Lakes (8-0).

Southeast & Border

Livonia Clarenceville (5-3) at Whitmore Lake (6-2)

The Trojans moved into the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference this fall after decades in the Tri-County Conference, and they couldn’t have hoped for a better football outcome. Whitmore Lake is guaranteed its first winning regular season in this sport since 2013, and it claimed a share of the MIAC title last week. But that could turn into a three-team shared championship if Clarenceville – tied with Auburn Hills Oakland Christian for second place – downs Whitmore Lake in this league finale.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Jonesville (6-2) at Grass Lake (7-1), Hillsdale (8-0) at Dundee (5-3), Homer (6-2) at Manchester (5-3). SATURDAY Reading (7-1) at Addison (7-1).

Southwest Corridor

Edwardsburg (8-0) at Paw Paw (8-0)

The reigning Wolverine Conference and statewide Division 4 champion Eddies are putting a 22-game winning streak on the line, having last lost in the 2017 Division 4 Final. In fact, Edwardsburg has only two league defeats since joining the Wolverine in 2012. The Eddies defeated Paw Paw twice last season, also in a District Final – but the Redskins rarely have been slowed this fall and enter this matchup with nearly the same defensive points-against average as Edwardsburg after playing the same opponents. Not counting South Haven, which forfeited to Edwardsburg and fell to Paw Paw 56-0, the Eddies are scoring 52 points per game and giving up 6.4. Paw Paw is scoring 39 points and giving up 6.9.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY St. Joseph (6-2) at Portage Northern (7-1), Stevensville Lakeshore (4-4) at Mattawan (4-4), Kalamazoo United (4-4) at Schoolcraft (8-0), Vicksburg (5-3) at Otsego (5-3).

Upper Peninsula

Kingsford (4-4) at Marquette (4-4)

Marquette joins Detroit Catholic Central as the other league champion also playing for an overall winning record and playoff berth this week. The Redmen have earned a share of the Great Northern Conference title and can clinch it outright against the Flivvers. But Kingsford has a lot to play for as well – a win could mean an additional qualifier playoff berth after the team just missed the postseason a year ago. Additionally, Escanaba would claim a share of the league title as well if the Flivvers are victorious.

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Bark River-Harris (5-3) at Ishpeming (6-2). FRIDAY L'Anse (4-4) at Calumet (7-1), Negaunee (6-2) at Ishpeming Westwood (6-2), Bessemer (0-8) at Iron Mountain (8-0).

West Michigan

East Kentwood (5-3) at Rockford (7-1)

The Ottawa-Kent Conference Red is full of possibilities after Grandville defeated Rockford 30-3 last week to move into a tie for first place with the Rams. The first option would see Rockford win this game and Grandville defeat Caledonia so they would share the title – or just one of the two could win tonight and claim the championship outright. Or, East Kentwood and Caledonia could win this weekend, with the Falcons and then perhaps Hudsonville (with a win over last-place Holland West Ottawa) making it a four-team shared championship. East Kentwood defeated Rockford 28-17 last season, and fell to Grandville by just a point four weeks ago.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Portland (7-1) at Montague (6-2), Traverse City St. Francis (6-2) at Muskegon Oakridge (8-0), Hudsonville Unity Christian (5-3) at Zeeland East (5-3), Grandville (7-1) at Caledonia (3-5).

8-Player

Martin (8-0) at Climax-Scotts (7-1)

At one point in Martin history, the Clippers posted six straight 0-9 seasons from 2008-13. It’s only worth bringing those up because Martin this weekend can finish the regular season undefeated for the first time since 1987, when it won the 11-player Class D title. Climax-Scotts, like Martin, is enjoying an excellent first year of 8-player – and if the playoffs started today, they’d both be considered MHSAA championship contenders with the Clippers in Division 1 and the Panthers in Division 2.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Gaylord St. Mary (3-5) at Brethren (5-3), Suttons Bay (8-0) at Mesick (7-1), Burr Oak (5-3) at Portland St. Patrick (8-0), Pickford (7-1) at Brimley (5-3).

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: Southfield Arts & Technology defenders, in red, stop an Oxford ball carrier during a Week 7 win. The Warriors are among teams needing a victory this weekend to potentially qualify for the playoffs. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)

Record-Setting Viney Gained Lifelong Confidence at Marine City

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

July 17, 2024

Olivia Viney didn’t have to look far for inspiration while taking on the challenge of applying to veterinary school.

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosThe 2015 Marine City graduate and record-setting placekicker simply drew from her own experience as a high school athlete.

“It just really taught me that I could do hard things,” Viney said. “I was very involved when I was in school. I did soccer, theater, travel soccer and then football. Especially with football, I learned that if I put my mind to it, I can do it. That helped me to excel in undergrad. When it came time to get accepted to vet school, it was like, ‘This is what I have to do,’ and I did it. That was very confidence-building. It taught me that I really can do hard things.”

Viney, who graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2019 and Michigan State Veterinary School in 2023, is now working as an associate veterinarian at Deporre Veterinary Hospital in West Bloomfield. 

Accomplishing her goals is nothing new to Viney, and not at all a surprise to those who watched her come through the Mariners athletic program.

“She was very serious, she was focused and she was dialed in,” said Dave Frendt, who coached Viney in both football and soccer at Marine City. “She knew what she wanted to accomplish, and she set out to do that. She was a fierce competitor and very driven. She was a good leader in that way where she was kind of feisty, but the team would follow that.”

Viney was an all-state soccer player for the Mariners, leading them to a pair of District titles and a Macomb Area Conference Gold title during her four years as a varsity player. It’s the sport she grew up playing, but the one she was most known for after graduation was football. American football.

The 5-foot-1-ish center attacking midfielder found herself in the MHSAA football record book after hitting all seven of her extra point attempts in the Mariners’ 2013 Division 4 Final victory against Grand Rapids South Christian.

“I think it makes sense,” she said. “There were lots of great soccer players, even that I played with. Great players that had gone through school, so I don’t think it’s weird that people remember me for that. When I talk with people, they’ll connect the dots – ‘Oh, you played football.’

“I was more accomplished as a soccer player and had more accolades. But I’m prouder of my football accomplishments, because it was really setting a pathway for girls that wanted to get into that. It’s so much more common now, or accepted. Even though it’s been almost 11 years since we won at Ford Field, I’m so proud of high school Olivia and what she did, the courage she had. She wasn’t scared of anything.”

Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. Viney joined Marine City’s football program as a sophomore, playing on the junior varsity squad. While she was there only to kick, she was all in when it came to practicing.

“Coach (Joe) Fregetto made me do tackling drills and drills in the mud – I really did earn my spot on the team,” Viney said. “I think it was mostly because he didn’t know what to do with me, so I guess just do everything that the guys do.”

She handled varsity kicking duties the next two years, setting the school record in 2013 for most extra points made during a single season – a record that still stands. Former Mariners coach Ron Glodich said that Viney actually never missed an extra point that season, as the four failed attempts were never even kicked.

It was her performance in the Division 4 Final that gained her statewide acclaim, as she hit 7 of 7 attempts, tying a record for most extra points made in a Finals game. It stood until a pair of kickers hit eight in 2022.

One record that never will be broken, however, is Viney becoming the first female to score a point at the Finals.

“Everything was so surreal, I was so nervous,” Viney said. “One of my most vivid memories was that day, or maybe the day before, Coach Glodich said, ‘Just so you know, when you get to the field, the goal posts are two feet narrower on each side. But that doesn’t matter if you kick it in the middle.’

“We got there and watched the team before us so we could get used to it, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re so narrow.’ … Seeing myself up on the big screen was kind of almost a little embarrassing, because I knew people were talking about me being the girl. But once we were in the game, it was a lot like any other game. I was just waiting for my turn to go on the field and do my job.”

Viney later was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” – ironically, right below current U.S. Women’s National Team forward Mallory Pugh – but she wasn’t looked at any differently by her teammates, and she wouldn’t have wanted to be.

“That team was all about sacrifice for the team,” Frendt said. “For them to realize, ‘None of us can do what she does, so we better embrace it, because no one else can do it.’ They really made her feel like part of the team. They wanted to protect her, too. But she was tough. She wasn’t going to take anything.”

Viney went to SVSU to study biology and played for its club soccer team. During her time there, she volunteered at an animal shelter and made the decision she wanted to help animals in her career. She works in general practice at Deporre, and would eventually like to work in shelter medicine.

She and her husband Matt, who were married in May, live with their three dogs. She’s not far from home, and in the spring of 2023 she visited Frendt’s college and career readiness class to speak with students at her alma mater. Her presentation and the attention to detail and hard work she put into it, Frendt said, blew his students away. Not that it surprised him.

“That’s poured into her life after sports,” he said of her work ethic. “She just kept plugging away. She’s awesome.”

July 11: High School 'Hoop Squad' Close to Heart as Hughes Continues Coaching Climb - Read
July 10: 
Nightingale Embarking on 1st Season as College Football Head Coach - Read
June 28:
 E-TC's Witt Bulldozing Path from Small Town to Football's Biggest Stage - Read

PHOTOS (Top) Marine City’s Olivia Viney kicks at the 2013 11-Player Football Finals, also during her spring soccer season, and cares for one of her patients as an associate veterinarian. (Middle) Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. (Photos courtesy of Olivia Viney.)