By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Week 9 of the football regular season brings with it a Twitter feed full of gems like these:
Enjoy perfection? Northville finished 9-0 for the first time since 1961. Portland did so for the first time since 1969. Birmingham Groves posted its first flawless regular-season finish since 1978. For Buchanan, it was the first since 1988.
How about streaks? Rockford continued a 20-season playoff streak, and Stevensville Lakeshore clinched 18 years in a row heading to the postseason. And of course there was at least one stat line worth a double take – like Pewamo-Westphalia running back Jared Smith finishing the regular season with 2,065 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns for the undefeated Pirates.
Those are just highlights. As we begin to focus on the first week of the playoffs, let's not forget the rest of the best from the final week of the regular season.
Bay & Thumb
Fenton 30, Linden 27 (OT)
Fenton upped its Flint Metro League winning streak to 29 straight games and its league title streak to five seasons either sharing the championship or winning it outright thanks to this victory over second-place Linden. The Tigers ended the regular season at 8-1 while Linden is 7-2; Fenton’s lone loss came on opening night to Davison by three points. Click for more from the Flint Journal.
Freeland 42, Frankenmuth 7 – The Falcons (9-0) won the only matchup between undefeated teams in the state this weekend, but could see Frankenmuth (8-1) again in a Division 5 District Final.
Midland Dow 49, Midland 28 – The Chargers (8-1) won this crosstown rivalry game for the second straight season … and earned a rematch with the Chemics (7-2) in a Division 2 opener.
New Lothrop 41, Montrose 0 – The Hornets (9-0) completed their sixth straight undefeated regular season and in the process gave Montrose (5-4) a boost that helped the Rams into the playoffs as an at-large team.
Saginaw Swan Valley 28, Bay City John Glenn 21 – The Vikings (6-3) secured a fourth-straight playoff berth, but John Glenn (5-4) also made the postseason for a second straight season.
Detroit Martin Luther King 27, Detroit Cass Tech 25
It wouldn’t surprise many if both of these teams ended up back at Ford Field in five weeks playing for MHSAA titles in Division 2 and Division 1, respectively. This Detroit Public League Division I Final was their second matchup this season and both were decided by a field goal or less; King won the Sept. 25 meeting 31-28. The Crusaders (9-0) locked down Cass Tech’s passing game in this one, holding the Technicians (7-2) to their season low in points. Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.
Orchard Lake St. Mary's 38, Warren DeLaSalle 0 – The Eaglets (7-1) look like strong favorites in Division 3 after defeating reigning Division 2 champ DeLaSalle (6-3) big in the Prep Bowl to avenge their only loss this season.
Utica Eisenhower 17, Romeo 14 – The Eagles (6-3) are one of the state’s hottest teams, beating opponents the last three weeks that are a combined 21-6 including handing Romeo (8-1) its only loss.
Detroit Collegiate Prep 26, Detroit Central Collegiate 12 – The Colts (9-0) won the PSL Division II title game to register their first perfect regular season in at least 65 years; Central Collegiate (6-3) is headed to the playoffs for the second straight season after going 0-9 in 2013.
West Bloomfield 20, Farmington Hills Harrison 14 – The Lakers (9-0) tied their school record for wins set last season with their first perfect regular season since going 8-0 in 1960; Harrison (7-2) is headed back to the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons.
Lansing Catholic 35, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 10
Reigning Division 6 champion Monroe St. Mary (8-1) has looked ready for another run since putting up 62 points on Tecumseh on opening night, but Lansing Catholic (8-1) reminded the rest of Michigan it’s one of the dangerous teams in Division 5 by going on the road and handing the Falcons their first regular-season loss since 2013. The Cougars rattled off 28 unanswered points during the second half. Click for more from MLive-Lansing.
Portland 25, Marshall 16 – The Raiders finished 9-0 for the first time since 1969, which was a lot easier said than done considering Marshall (7-2) was one of five playoff teams on the schedule.
Harrison 40, Clare 20 – The Hornets (7-2) locked down second place in the Jack Pine Conference with their first win over Clare since 2010, and in the process kept the Pioneers (5-4) out of the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
Grand Ledge 42, Holt 0 – The Comets (9-0) completed their outright Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title, finished their third perfect regular season over the last eight and in the process kept rival Holt (5-4) from making the playoffs (although the Rams did improve from 3-6 a year ago).
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 13, Mendon 7 – The Irish (6-3) ran off six straight wins after opening 0-3 against teams that finished a combined 25-2 to return to the playoffs for the eighth straight season; Mendon (5-4) also earned its ninth straight postseason bid despite the loss and after starting 1-3.
Northern Lower Peninsula
Harbor Springs 22, Charlevoix 20
The winner was guaranteed a playoff spot. And Harbor Springs had plenty to celebrate with its move to 6-3 earning both the first playoff berth since 2000 but also its first winning record in 16 years. Senior Mitch Hoffman drilled a last-second field goal to put his team over the top – and keep the Red Rayders out of the playoffs as they did not end up with enough playoff points to qualify as an at-large team despite finishing 5-4. Click for more from the Petoskey News.
Boyne City 35, Grayling 20 – Boyne City may have finished behind Traverse City St. Francis in the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders standings, but beating third-place Grayling (6-3) helped the Vikings (8-1) secure up to two home playoff games – with St. Francis likely awaiting in the Regional Final.
Lake City 28, Newberry 21 – The Trojans made quite a bounce-back from last season’s 2-7 finish and beat two straight playoffs teams in Lincoln Alcona and Newberry (6-3) the last two weeks to get back to the playoffs at 5-4.
Oscoda 48, AuGres-Sims 22 – The Owls (6-3) also are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2000 after finishing the regular season with two straight wins.
Onekama 21, Frankfort 8 – Before last season, Onekama hadn’t beaten Frankfort since 1994; now, the Portagers (8-1) have won two straight over the Panthers (7-2) and could see them again in a Division 8 District Final.
Southeast & Border
Jackson 35, Jackson Lumen Christi 34 (OT)
This season just keeps getting better for Jackson. By moving to 7-2, the Vikings equaled their wins from 2010-2014 combined. And although they didn’t play most seasons in between, it’s worth noting this was Jackson’s first win over Lumen Christi since 1988 – and after 27, 29 and 34-point defeats to the Titans (6-3) the last three years. Click for more from the Jackson Citizen-Patriot.
Grass Lake 19, Union City 16 – The Warriors (5-4) survived a three-game losing streak midseason to earn an at-large playoff bid, and with this win knocked Union City (4-5) out of the running.
Clinton 36, Ottawa Lake Whiteford 18 – The Redskins (9-0) finished their fourth straight perfect regular season and fourth straight Tri-County Conference title by beating Whiteford (7-2), one of three other playoff teams from the league.
Manchester 45, Homer 38 – The Flying Dutchmen (8-1) claimed this meeting of first-place teams in the Cascades and Big 8 conferences for the second straight season, putting up a season high points total while also giving up their most this season to Homer (7-2).
Parma Western 28, Dexter 0 – After missing by a win twice over the last six seasons, Western (6-3) finally has its first MHSAA playoff berth thanks to two straight victories to close the regular season.
Benton Harbor 29, Portage Northern 23 (OT)
Benton Harbor is one of the best stories of this season. The Tigers (5-4) didn’t win a game in 2013 or 2014 and went a combined 4-68 over the last eight seasons, but with a new coach and new athletic director posted their first winning season since 1989 – and earned their first playoff berth ever. It took this overtime win over Portage Northern (4-5), which hadn’t lost to Benton Harbor since 1996. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.
Dowagiac 49, Paw Paw 46 – The Chieftains (6-3) reversed their record of a year ago but needed a second straight win by three points or fewer to return to the playoffs.
Constantine 21, Hartford 6 – The Falcons kept their playoff streak alive for a 17th straight season by bouncing back from a Week 8 loss to finish 5-4; Hartford also made the playoffs at 5-4.
St. Joseph 22, Portage Central 6 – The Bears (8-1) gained a share of the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East title by breaking a three-year losing streak against the Mustangs (8-1).
Schoolcraft 41, Delton Kellogg 15 – The Eagles (9-0) finished a perfect regular season for the second time in four and won all but one of their games by at least 18 points; Delton (5-4) still made the playoffs for the first time since 2001 with its first winning record since 2009.
Escanaba 18, Kingsford 14
Escanaba was riding high this fall after opening with two wins under a new coach. Then came four straight losses against a string of opponents that ended up including three playoff teams. But the Eskymos (5-4) didn’t fold, instead finishing with three wins including two over playoff teams to earn their first postseason berth since 2011. Kingsford (6-3) ended up with a home game this week despite the loss. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.
St. Ignace 14, Fowler 7 – The Saints (8-1) deserve a lot of credit for stacking their nonleague schedule with undefeated Ishpeming last week and annual Division 8 power Fowler (6-3).
Negaunee 35, Ishepming Westwood 0 – Westwood (5-4) claimed a playoff spot for a second straight season despite the loss, but Negaunee (7-2) hopes it regained some momentum after two straight defeats by a combined seven points.
Munising 41, L'Anse 8 – The reigning Division 8 runner-up Mustangs (7-2) bounced back from a Week 8 loss by ending the playoff hopes for L’Anse (5-4).
Lake Linden-Hubbell 34, Crystal Falls Forest Park 28 – The Lakes (9-0) broke a five-game losing streak against Forest Park (5-3) to finish perfect for the regular season for the first time since 2009 … and earn a rematch with Forest Park this week.
Rockford 28, Hudsonville 27
At stake Friday was a share of the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red title – four teams were tied for first place, guaranteeing multiple champions. But also at stake was Rockford’s 20-season playoff streak, the longest-running in Michigan and third-longest in MHSAA history. A blocked extra point by a back-up quarterback and a pair of field goals by the back-up kicker were among contributions that paid off nicely for the Rams (6-3), who could see Hudsonville (6-3) again in a Division 1 District Final. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Grandville 18, East Kentwood 8 – This decided the other half of the O-K Red title, with the Bulldogs (6-3) not only earning a share but posting a sixth win for the first time since 2006; East Kentwood also is 6-3 and gets also third-place Hudsonville in the playoffs.
Lowell 28, Grand Rapids Christian 14 – The Red Arrows (8-1) finished a perfect run in the O-K White for the second time in three seasons and won their fourth straight against the Eagles (5-4).
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 26, Ada Forest Hills Eastern 24 – The Huskies (7-2) fell shy in the O-K Bronze after a 5-0 start, but forcing rival Forest Hills Eastern (8-1) to share the title probably lessened any lingering disappointment.
Big Rapids 20, Morley-Stanwood 10 – After seasons of three and one win over the last two, Big Rapids is back in the playoffs thanks to two straight wins, this one over a Mohawks team also 6-3.
Battle Creek St. Philip 47, Lawrence 44
St. Philip (9-0) got the better of Lawrence for the first time in their last four meetings, handing those Tigers (7-2) their first in-state loss since 2013 and cementing the top spot overall in the 8-player tournament with the highest final playoff-point average. The two could meet again in a Regional Final next week. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.
Pickford 62, Onaway 28 – It was this simple: Pickford (6-3) won and got into the playoffs, and Onaway (5-4) fell out of the top 16 with the loss.
Morrice 58, Portland St. Patrick 42 – The Orioles (8-1) still aren't getting much mention as a contender, but they haven’t lost since falling to St. Philip on opening night and clinched the Central Michigan 8-Man League title with this win over the Shamrocks (6-3).
PHOTO: A Detroit Martin Luther King ball-carrier follows his blocker during the Crusaders' Detroit Public School League Division I championship win. (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.)