Farnums Taking Lead as Young Shores Navigates Way Among D2 Elite

By Tom Kendra
Special for MHSAA.com

October 5, 2022

Dahmir Farnum takes his role as a captain on the Muskegon Mona Shores football team VERY seriously.

“As a captain, my teammates are following my energy, so every time I touch the ball I’m trying to score a touchdown,” said Dahmir, who is averaging 120 rushing yards per game, despite playing less than a half in three this fall.

He nearly achieved his goal Sept. 23 against visiting Grand Rapids Union, scoring four touchdowns on his first five carries (all in the first quarter) in a 64-14 victory.

While Dahmir was running wild in that game, his brother – fellow senior Ke’Waun Farnum – was equally dominant in that same first quarter on defense with two interceptions, the second one going for a pick-six.

“It’s a blessing to have two kids who are not only great athletes, but unselfish teammates and hard-workers,” said 12th-year Mona Shores coach Matt Koziak. “Their roles have been elevated on both sides of the ball this year. They almost never come off the field.”

The Farnums have brought stability and leadership to the young Sailors, who are breaking in new sophomore quarterback Jonathan Pittman as well as many new faces on the offensive and defensive lines.

Mona Shores, 5-1 and ranked No. 3 in Division 2, has been dominant in every game this fall – except for the final 16 minutes against undefeated Rockford, when the host Rams rallied from a 27-7 deficit for 24 straight points in a 31-27 win.

“We have to keep that high level of play for four quarters and not take our foot off of the pedal,” explained Ke’Waun.

The Sailors appear to have learned their lesson, impressively defeating quality opponents the past two weeks. Against Union, the offense took center stage, scoring 43 points in the first quarter. Last week at Zeeland West, Shores allowed a long touchdown drive on the opening possession, then completely shut down the Dux’ wing-T the rest of the night in a 34-6 win.

The Farnum brothers showed their versatility and strength in that win at Zeeland West, which was undefeated and ranked No. 4 in Division 3 at the time. Dahmir, who plays outside linebacker, was moved inside due to an injury, and Ke’Waun was shifted from cornerback to his brother’s outside backer spot.

“They both played lights-out,” explained Koziak, who works primarily with the offense along with offensive coordinator Aaron James, while Dave Check is the defensive coordinator. “People talk about their speed all the time, but they are both big-time weight room kids who are very strong. They proved against Zeeland West that they are both willing to do anything that we ask them to help our team win.”

Dahmir (5-foot-9, 200 pounds), who Koziak calls the best running back he has coached in 12 years at Shores, has carried 66 times for 715 yards, an average of 10.8 yards per carry, with 12 touchdowns. He also has 21 tackles and one sack.

Ke’Waun (5-9, 175), who Koziak ranks as one of the best cover cornerbacks he’s had at Shores, has 10 receptions for 177 yards and three TDs from his slot receiver position. He also has two rushing touchdowns and returns punts and kickoffs. On defense, he has 11 tackles and two interceptions.

“They are two totally different players,” explained Koziak. “It is unbelievable, as a coach, to have two brothers like these two who give you so much. They do whatever we ask them to do.”

The Farnums are both three-year starters who played key roles as sophomores during the Sailors’ undefeated 2020 season, which culminated with a 25-19 win over Warren De La Salle Collegiate for their second-consecutive Division 2 championship. That season was particularly special, as Dahmir and Ke’Waun played on the same team with their older brother, Elijah.

Last season was disappointing, at least by Mona Shores’ current lofty standards, as the defense allowed too many big plays and 40-plus points in losses to Detroit Martin Luther King, Muskegon and Caledonia. The Sailors’ season ended with that defeat against Caledonia in a Division 2 District Final.

“I was out for that (Caledonia) game with COVID, and it was a helpless feeling watching them take it to us,” said Ke’Waun. “We started getting ready for this year as soon as that game was over.”

Shores hosts Zeeland East this week, then closes the regular season on the road with crosstown rivalry games against resurgent Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (5-1) and Muskegon (4-2).

Dahmir is the more vocal of the two brothers, while Ke’Waun keeps to himself and leads more by example.

Both are considered Division II college football prospects – Dahmir as a running back and Ke’Waun as a cornerback. They know it is a possibility that they could end up at the same college, but chances are their many years of playing on the same team – going all the way back to elementary youth football – will likely be coming to an end next month.

“I love everything about high school football, including being able to play with my brother,” said Dahmir, who goes to Buffalo Wild Wings with his brother and their father, Willie Farnum, after every game. “We are very close and we are very competitive. We are going to enjoy every minute that we get playing together.”

Tom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.

PHOTO Mona Shores senior Ke'Waun Farnum, left, celebrates his first-quarter interception against Grand Rapids Union on Sept. 23, along with his brother, Dahmir Farnum. (Photo by Eric Sturr, courtesy of the Local Sports Journal.)

Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

May 26, 2023

Mendon’s run to the Division 2 Final last fall included some of the strongest rushing performances over the history of 8-player football.

The Hornets ran for 4,317 yards, second-most all-time, on the second-most attempts (520) and with a record-setting 682 yards Oct. 14 against Marcellus. Mendon also set the record for total offense with 692 total in that game, and made the single-season touchdowns list with 76 including 66 rushing (also second on that list).

Junior Jack McCaw made the single-season scoring list with 212 points, most coming on 29 touchdowns, and Evan Lukeman made the single-game rushing list with 401 yards against Marcellus. Mendon’s defense also earned praise, twice making the fewest-first-downs-allowed list with a low of three.

See below for more recent additions to the 8-player portion of the football record book:

8-Player Football

Athens’ Landon Bennett earned a pair of record book entries after reaching the end zone seven times during his team’s 72-0 win over Burr Oak on Sept. 8. His seven scores are tied for third-most in 8-player history and included three rushing, three on punt returns and one on an interception return. The three punt return touchdowns are a record. Bennett is a junior.

On the night Powers North Central broke its 8-player record for consecutive wins, claiming its 28th straight, senior Luke Gorzinski tied Jets great Jason Whitens for the record for interception touchdowns in a game with two, scoring on returns during the second and fourth quarters. Gorzinski has signed with Michigan Tech, and North Central’s winning streak is 37 games and counting.

A pair of Atlanta offensive playmakers and a top defensive lineman earned a total of seven entries in the record book for achievements last fall. Senior quarterback Tyler Currie threw for 30 touchdowns over eight games, and also made the records for six touchdowns and 419 passing yards against Whittemore-Prescott on Sept. 23; the passing yards are second-most for one 8-player game. Sophomore Landon Galea was added for 263 yards and five of those touchdowns against the Cardinals, and also for 1,418 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns over nine games. Junior teammate Tucker Kendrick made the tackles for loss list with five against Hillman on Oct. 6.

Adrian Lenawee Christian senior Brady McKelvey became the first to make the career extra points list in 8-player football this past fall. He bettered his previous single-season record making 64 of 66 extra-point attempts over 11 games and finishing his two-year varsity career with 123 extra points in 127 tries.

Sam McKissack reached the record book showcasing multiple skills for Crystal Falls Forest Park during the 2021 season – twice for rushing attempts in a game including with a record 59 against Ontonagon that Sept. 10, and then with a record 70-yard punt Oct. 30, 2021, against Lake Linden-Hubbell. Teammate Devon Basirico also made the record book with six fumble recoveries over 11 games that season. As a team, Forest Park was added twice for single-game rushing attempts – including 73 total in that Ontonagon game – and for 424 rushes over 11 games for the season. McKissack and Basirico are seniors this spring.

Nikolaus Lewis tied for eighth-most rushing touchdowns in an 8-player game when he reached the end zone six times for Carsonville-Port Sanilac in its win over Caseville on Oct. 7. He’s a senior this spring.

Bridgman has won 24 straight games over the last three seasons, and an exceptional offense – and exceptional offensive star – have played major roles. The Bees were added for 658 total yards in a win over Lawrence last season, that total ranking third all-time, and also 613 yards in a win over Eau Claire. Those included totals of 575 and 547 rushing yards, respectively, and Bridgman was added for 3,598 rushing yards (sixth on the list), 59 rushing touchdowns (fourth) and 76 total touchdowns (seventh). Senior Reid Haskins capped his four-year, 32-game varsity career with 13 record book entries, including for 254 points last season over nine games (tied for fifth all-time) and a record 620 career points, 41 touchdowns last season (fifth) and a record 95 for his career, 2,344 rushing yards last season (third) and a record 5,206 for his career, and 41 rushing touchdowns last season (third) and a record 94 for his career. Senior teammate Tanner Peters made the records three times including for 50 extra points last season (fourth) and 99 over 26 games and three seasons (second on the career list).

Mio's Austin Fox rewrote the 8-player passing record book this past fall, with his 621 yards in a game against Whittemore-Prescott setting a single-game record as he totaled four of the five-highest passing yardage totals. He also set a record with 3,516 over nine games for the season, another record with 289 passing attempts over those nine games and a third record for nine touchdown passes in that game against the Cardinals. His 41 touchdown passes total rank fourth. Teammates Gage Long and Nathan Hurst also earned several record book entries on the receiving end of those passes. Long’s 297 receiving yards against Whittemore-Prescott were tied for third most, and Hurst’s 266 against Alcona rank eighth. Long set a single-season record with 1,739 receiving yards, with Hurst sixth all-time at 1,321, and Long’s 14 receptions against the Cardinals and 70 for the season also rank second on those respective lists. Hurst set a record for longest 8-player kickoff return with a 99-yarder against St. Helen Charlton Heston. All three are seniors.

Peck was one of the first MHSAA 8-player champions, claiming the title in 2013, and Cody Abrego one of the state’s first 8-player stars. The Pirates were added to the MHSAA record book 52 times, and Abrego 14 times individually. Among the most notable entries for the 2015 graduate were for 462 points scored over his two-season career (ranking sixth all-time), 74 career touchdowns (sixth), 2,202 rushing yards in 2013 (fifth) and 35 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (sixth). Current senior Caleb Lentner was one of the stars statewide this past season, and he was added eight times including for 50 points scored in a game (ranking second), 272 points for a season last fall (fifth), eight touchdowns in a game (tied for second), 42 touchdowns in a season (fifth), an 8-player record of 2,694 rushing yards from last season, and 38 rushing touchdowns also last fall (fourth). Others to make the individual lists were Nathan Robar, Caleb Dudley, Steven VanConant, Kyle Abrego and Nathan Neihaus, Dudley for a record 20 career interceptions over two seasons and VanConant for a record 12 tackles for loss in a 2022 game and 36 tackles for loss for the season last fall. The Pirates also are all over the 8-player team record book, including for a record 97 touchdowns in 2013, a record 5,895 yards of total offense that season, 528 carries, 4,346 rushing yards and 73 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (all ranking second); and 24 interceptions in 2014, which ranks second on that list.

Senior quarterback JR Hildebrand was one of the most dynamic players in 8-player football in the fall in leading Martin to the Division 1 title. He had one of his most exciting nights in a playoff opener against Tekonsha, making the single-game touchdown pass list with six in a 68-6 victory.

PHOTO Mendon’s Jack McCaw (21) eludes a tackle during the 8-Player Division 2 Final in November at Northern Michigan University. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)