A Game for Every Fan: District Finals
November 1, 2012
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Time is running out on the 2012 MHSAA football season.
And that's why it's the favorite time of year for fans all over the state.
The field that began with 272 teams has been cut in half. Seven teams that entered the postseason undefeated suffered their first and only losses last week. And for a number of other contenders, things are about to get much more serious as the matchups get tougher and the first playoff trophies are handed out.
Four games again will be streamed live on FoxSportsDetroit.com's Prep Zone: Constantine at Schoolcraft, Traverse City Central at Midland, Macomb L'Anse Creuse North at Macomb Dakota and Plymouth at Livonia Churchill.
Below are some of the District Finals that could have the most bearing on championship races in each division. Visit the MHSAA Score Center for game times and dates, and all weekend for updated scores and standings.
Plymouth (8-2) at Livonia Churchill (10-0)
This is a rematch of the deciding game in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association South, although Livonia Churchill’s 35-31 win came all the way back in Week 3. The Wildcats rebounded nicely off a Week 9 loss to Grand Blanc with a 40-28 win over Canton last week, while the Chargers, with their 10th win, extended their best season in program history.
Others that caught my eye: Holland West Ottawa (8-2) at Rockford (8-2), Utica Eisenhower (8-2) at Lake Orion (9-1), Grand Blanc (6-4) at Clarkston (10-0).
Lowell (8-2) at Muskegon (9-1)
When these two met in Week 4, they were considered the top two teams in Division 2. They’re still among the elite despite a few bumps since, but Lowell might have an upward battle to keep its string of three straight MHSAA championship game appearances alive. The reigning Division 2 runner-up fell to the Big Reds 36-21 in that earlier meeting.
Others that caught my eye: Traverse City Central (9-1) at Midland (10-0), Walled Lake Western (7-3) at Mattawan (9-1), Wyandotte Roosevelt (9-1) at Taylor Truman (9-1).
Auburn Hills Avondale (9-1) at Orchard Lake St. Mary (8-2)
Avondale has its most wins since 1995 and won the Oakland Activities Association Blue championship before surviving with a two-point rematch win over Bloomfield Hills Lahser last week. The last time these two met turned into one of the wildest games of the 2010 playoffs – a 71-44 Eaglets win in the District Final. Beating St. Mary this time would give Avondale arguably its best playoff victory ever.
Others that caught my eye: DeWitt (8-2) at Linden (9-1), Zeeland West (7-3) at Grand Rapids Christian (9-1), Detroit East English (8-2) at St. Clair (9-1).
Richmond (7-3) at Croswell-Lexington (10-0)
Richmond has come back after two straight losing seasons to return to the playoffs, but has to be smarting a bit after missing out on the Blue Water Conference title by a combined 11 points over three losses. The first was to Croswell-Lexington, 27-24 in Week 2, and the Pioneers have won every game but one since by at least 15 points.
Others that caught my eye: Comstock Park (9-1) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (10-0), Grand Rapids South Christian (7-3) at Dowagiac (10-0), Detroit Country Day (8-2) at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (9-1).
Frankenmuth (10-0) at Flint Powers Catholic (10-0)
This is the Eagles’ best run since making a Class B Semifinal in 1997 and has included its first league title since 2007. Frankenmuth is outscoring opponents by an average of 34-7. But reigning MHSAA champion Powers has won 18 straight games and has been one of the most impressive teams in the state all season.
Others that caught my eye: Kingsford (9-1) at Menominee (9-1), Grand Rapids West Catholic (7-3) at Muskegon Oakridge (10-0), Lake Fenton (8-2) at Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (9-1).
Millington (9-1) at Montrose (9-1)
Montrose got the scare of its season in the District Semifinal before edging Vassar 7-6. Millington had a much better time last week, cruising to a 66-18 win over Byron, the Cardinals' fourth straight game scoring at least 60 points. That sounds like bad news for the Rams, but consider: Montrose is giving up 14 points per game, and has faced five playoff teams including a pair still alive in Divisions 4 and 5.
Others that caught my eye: Constantine (8-2) at Schoolcraft (10-0), Detroit Consortium (7-3) at Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (8-2), Hemlock (9-1) at Ithaca (10-0).
Saginaw Nouvel (8-2) at Reese (10-0)
The Rockets have a strong football tradition, and this is their fourth season with at least 10 wins over the last 13. But beating the reigning MHSAA champion would add another degree of credibility to an already impressive run. The Panthers played teams from all over the Lower Peninsula again this fall, with their only losses to Flint Powers and Traverse City St. Francis.
Others that caught my eye: Mancelona (10-0) at Ishpeming (9-1), Decatur (8-2) at Lawton (9-1), Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (8-2) at Detroit Loyola (10-0).
Climax-Scotts (10-0) at Mendon (10-0)
This might be the most anticipated game in the state this weekend. Mendon has been untouchable the last two seasons and is riding a 24-game winning streak. There were two close calls over the last three weeks, and Climax-Scotts is built to provide another. This is the Panthers’ fourth straight season with at least 10 wins, and their ninth over the last decade. But Mendon beat Climax-Scotts 35-10 in last season’s Regional Final.
Others that caught my eye: Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (9-1) at Beal City (10-0), Muskegon Catholic Central (7-3) at Fowler (9-1), Harbor Beach (9-1) at New Lothrop (10-0).
Rapid River (9-1) at Cedarville (10-0)
Cedarville entered the postseason with the highest playoff point average in this division, and this game will be a big step regardless of what happened the first time these teams met this fall. Rapid River finished runner-up in last season’s inaugural Final, and should give the Trojans a much better game than the Cedarville's 72-12 win on Sept. 28.
Other Regional Finals: Owendale-Gagetown (8-2) at Bellaire (7-3), Kinde-North Huron (6-4) at Deckerville (9-1), Battle Creek St. Philip (7-3) at Portland St. Patrick (10-0).
PHOTO: Montrose survived a tough challenge from Vassar to win last week's District Semifinal, 7-6. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com).
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:
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.)