By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Three months ago, more than 600 MHSAA football teams began this season with expectations. During the last nine weeks, many were realized.
So before diving full on into the playoffs, let’s take a few minutes to review the last of those regular-season feats.
Here’s a look at the Week 9 edition of our most significant results from every corner of Michigan:
Greater Detroit and Southeast
Detroit Cass Tech 20, Detroit Martin Luther King 14
Revenge belongs to Cass Tech, which fell to King in last season’s Detroit Public School League semifinals but handed the Crusaders (7-1) their first loss in this fall’s championship game. As expected, this turned into the closest either has played since the early weeks of this season. And it likely served as final preparation as both now pursue MHSAA championships and a PSL first – Cass Tech (9-0) is in Division 1 and King Division 2 for the playoffs, and there have never been multiple PSL MHSAA champs in the same season. Click to read more from the Detroit Free Press.
Clarkston 20, Southfield 10: Clarkston (8-1) won this clash of Oakland Activities Association champions and looks like an MHSAA Division 1 contender; Southfield (7-2) also looks good to make a Division 2 run.
Birmingham Brother Rice 20, Detroit Catholic Central 7: Both losses for DCC (7-2) this fall have come to Brother Rice (9-0) – this one in the Catholic League Central Prep Bowl.
Detroit U-D Jesuit 20, Birmingham Seaholm 17: The Cubs (5-4) broke a three-game losing streak to finish with a winning regular-season record for the first time since 2002 and earn their first playoff berth since 2001 – and did so by handing the first loss this season to OOA Blue champion Seaholm (8-1).
Northville 38, Walled Lake Western 31 (OT): Northville (8-1) has won 21 of its last 22 Kensington Lakes Activities Association games, but this overall KLAA championship game win caps what could be the team’s most impressive recent run. Western (8-1) could see the Mustangs again if both win their playoff openers.
Thumb and Bay
Lapeer West 14, Fenton 13
The final Lapeer West (7-2) football team claimed a share of the Flint Metro League title thanks to this win that included a blocked extra point. West, which will combine with Lapeer East next summer, ended Fenton’s 19-game league winning streak, although the Tigers (8-1) did also earn a share of the league title. Click to read more from the Flint Journal.
Clare 24, Sanford Meridian 13: Clare (7-2) started slowly with two losses this fall, but that didn’t change much in the Jack Pine Conference as the Pioneers ran their league winning streak to 26 and league title streak to seven straight; Sanford Meridian (7-2) is another of three teams from the conference that made the playoffs.
Montrose 37, Lake Fenton 0: Make that 20 straight Genesee Area Conference Red wins for Montrose (9-0) which claimed the title again by beating second-place Lake Fenton (7-2).
New Lothrop 47, Pewamo-Westphalia 33: The GAC Blue switched up its scheduling format this fall specifically so teams could face some tough nonleague opponents – and New Lothrop (9-0) took advantage of the opportunity and dealt P-W (8-1) its first loss.
Flint Carman-Ainsworth 42, Davison 0: After finishing second in the Saginaw Valley Association South last season, Carman-Ainsworth (8-1) moved up to first this fall thanks to this win over second-place Davison (4-5).
Muskegon 20, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer 7
These teams were tied for first in the O-K Black entering this matchup, and this was the closest game between the two since 2005 – although Muskegon ran its winning streak over Reeths-Puffer to 10 straight and will see the Rockets (7-2) again in this weekend’s Division 2 District opener. The victory clinched for the Big Reds (8-1) their first league title since 2008. Click to read more from the Muskegon Chronicle.
Grand Rapids West Catholic 21, Ada Forest Hills Eastern 20: The reigning MHSAA Division 5 runner-up Falcons (5-4) were able to earn a share of the O-K Bronze title and a playoff berth with this one-point edging of Forest Hills Eastern (4-5).
Grand Rapids Catholic Central 36, Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills 6: Both entered 5-3, with GRCC getting the necessary sixth win to make the playoffs and Ottawa Hills finishing 5-4 and missing out on an at-large bid.
Saugatuck 58, Gobles 13: The Indians (8-1) claimed the Southwestern Athletic Conference North title outright and made the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons; Gobles (5-4) fell just short of its third straight postseason appearance.
Spring Lake 27, Shelby 0: The Lakers (8-1) followed up winning the Lakes 8 Conference title by handing the lone loss this fall to West Michigan Conference champion Shelby (8-1).
Southwest and Border
Watervliet 54, Lawton 20
The tie-breaker goes to Watervliet after these teams split the SAC South title last season. This is the fifth straight year that one of these two won the league championship. The Panthers are a combined 25-2 over the last three regular seasons, with this their first perfect run since 1999. Click to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Edwardsburg 56, Paw Paw 48: In arguably the best matchup in the state this week that didn't decide a league champion, the Eddies (9-0), winners of the Wolverine B West, handed the first loss to Wolverine B East champ Paw Paw (8-1)
Battle Creek St. Philip 54, Lawrence 50: These might be two of the top four 8-player teams in the state, and St. Philip (9-0) would host Lawrence (6-2) next week if both win their playoff openers.
Coldwater 54, Marshall 27: Not only did Coldwater gain toward its first playoff berth ever, but the Cardinals (5-4) also guaranteed their first winning regular season since 1989.
Hillsdale 42, Dundee 7: Hillsdale, Hudson and Ida all split the title in the competitive Lenawee County Activities Association, but this win also earned the Hornets (6-3) a spot in the playoffs while likely keeping the Vikings (5-4) out.
Lower Up North
Grayling 51, Boyne City 13
For the second straight season these Lake Michigan Conference rivals came into their Week 9 matchup undefeated, and for the second straight season Grayling came away a big winner and league champ. In fact, the Vikings are 33-3 over their last four regular seasons. Click to read more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Lincoln Alcona 50, Mio 12: Alcona (9-0) won big in this matchup of champions from the North Star League, although Mio (7-2) also will continue on to the playoffs –
for the 13th straight season.
Cadillac 14, Traverse City Central 7: The Vikings (9-0) clinched the Big North Conference title outright and finished perfect for the regular season for the first time since 2000, while keeping Traverse City Central (5-4) from gaining a playoff berth.
Elk Rapids 13, Kalkaska 12: The Elks (6-3) squeezed back into the playoffs for the first time since 2010, and Kalkaska (6-3) will continue as well for the second straight season.
Ogemaw Heights 13, Petoskey 12: One point got Ogemaw Heights (6-3) into the playoffs and kept Petoskey (5-4) out.
Menominee 51, Marquette 7
Menominee secured its fifth straight season with at least nine wins and first perfect regular season since its last MHSAA title-winning fall in 2007. The Maroons scored 51 straight points on Marquette, which also made the playoffs at 5-3 but had to settle for a tie for second place in the Greater Northern UP Conference behind the Maroons (9-0). Click to read more from the Marquette Mining Journal.
Houghton 26, Hancock 22: The Gremlins (6-3) pushed past their rivals from across the Portage River to earn a playoff bid and win the Copper Bowl; Hancock finished 3-6 for the third straight season.
Kingsford 28, Escanaba 21: Kingsford (7-2) beat its traditional Week 9 opponent Eskymos (3-6) for the 14th straight season.
Munising 17, L'Anse 10: Munising (6-3) got back into the playoffs after missing last season, and impressively with a win over a L’Anse (7-2) team that hadn’t lost since Week 2.
Powers North Central 27, Stephenson 22: The Jets (7-2) ended a four-year losing streak to Stephenson (4-5), and in doing so kept the Eagles out of the playoffs.
Holt 45, Grand Ledge 30
Holt’s playoff hopes took a big hit with a 13-point loss to Jackson in Week 8, but the Rams (5-4) rebounded against the rival Comets (4-5) in a must-win game for both. Holt did get in – after Grand Ledge’s Week 9 win kept the Rams out in 2012 – and also ended up in second place in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.
Grass Lake 17, Homer 14: Grass Lake (8-1) looks playoff-ready emerging from a strong Cascades Conference and then beating Homer (8-1) in the showcase game of the crossover series with the Big 8.
Eaton Rapids 41, Owosso 21: The Greyhounds (5-3) finished with their first winning regular season since 1993 – and thanks in part to beating Owosso (1-8), earned their first playoff berth as well.
Jackson Lumen Christi 42, Howell 35: After a Week 9 loss to Howell kept Lumen Christi (9-0) from an undefeated regular season in 2012, the Titans held off the Highlanders (5-4) in a game Howell needed to win to make the playoffs.
Ionia 20, Lake Odessa Lakewood 13: The Bulldogs (7-2) are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and finished off the regular season by edging the rival Vikings (0-9).
Each week the MHSAA highlights trophy games from around the state. Here are two in addition to the Copper Bowl mentioned above:
Little Brown Jug: Newberry vs. Sault Ste. Marie. This is the longest-running of the Little Brown Jug games in Michigan. Final: Sault Ste. Marie 41, Newberry 6.
Firefighter's Trumpet: Bay City Western vs. Bay City Central. The trophy for this matchup was created in 1990 but disappeared after the 2003 game until this fall. Final: Central 43, Western 20.
PHOTO: Detroit Cass Tech quarterback Jayru Campbell eludes the Detroit Martin Luther King defense during the PSL championship game. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit Public School League.)
SOUTHFIELD — Normally, having students come up and say they won’t be in school the next day might have a school administrator seething and ready to reserve seats in the detention room.
But if there ever was a time to allow it, this was the moment.
Following a 36-32 upset of Belleville that stunned many around the state in the MHSAA Division 1 Football Final on Nov. 26, Southfield Arts & Technology senior quarterback Isaiah Marshall said he and other players made it known, “Don’t expect us in school on Monday.”
After all, the game was played and ended late on a Sunday night, the team achieved something nobody else in the community had done, and there were celebrations that needed to begin.
And for the record, the players were back in school Tuesday.
Whether it’s been in school or outside the halls of Southfield A&T, it’s been a week of historic celebrations and congratulations after the Warriors captured the first MHSAA Finals championship in school history.
Marshall said that remained the case when he attended the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis on Saturday.
“Everywhere I go, there is someone congratulating me,” he said.
Over their final decades before the schools merged in 2016, Southfield High School and Southfield-Lathrup High School had plenty of talented teams with numerous players who went on to play big-time college football and even in the NFL.
But none of those good teams was able to advance to a state championship game, let alone win it all.
“There was a lot of people that texted me and talked to me and said they graduated from the 1980s,” said Marshall, pointing out that one former player who reached out was Nic Jones, currently a member of the Kansas City Chiefs who graduated from Southfield High. “There were a lot of older people that used to go to Southfield that told me that they couldn’t do the job. They were proud of us that we could do it for them.”
Marshall said that after the game was over Sunday, he and other teammates congregated at his house at 3 a.m. to watch a replay of the game.
It was only the first time this week the replay was watched.
“We watched it that day and the day after,” Marshall said. “I think we’ve been watching it the whole week.”
A parade Saturday will start at noon at the building that housed the old Southfield-Lathrup and finish at the current school, which was the home of Southfield High before the merger. A&T then will host a celebration in the school gymnasium from 1:15-2:30 p.m.
Players will certainly soak it all in while they can, because it won’t be long before they split up.
Marshall will soon sign to play in college for Kansas and will be enrolling early there. He plans to take his last final exams at Southfield A&T next week and head to Lawrence the first week of January.
Teammate Jalen Todd will do the same as he is also committed to Kansas, while Tashi Braceful will enroll early at Toledo.
But long after this year, it’s a group that won’t be forgotten in the community, or the state after it pulled off the upset of a Belleville team that was riding a 38-game winning streak and was two-time reigning Division 1 champion.
No doubt, future reunions should be memorable and festive.
Even Marshall admitted his still rubs his eyes in amazement over what his team did.
“Yes, I still do,” he said.
Keith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties
PHOTOS (Top) Southfield A&T players enjoy the first moments after their Division 1 championship win at Ford Field. (Middle) The A&T band plays during a break in the action. (Below) Fans celebrate in the stands during the victory over Belleville. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)