A Game for Every Fan: District Finals
November 7, 2013
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
If last week's first round of the MHSAA football playoffs was one of the most unpredictable we've seen in years, why bother setting expectations for the encore?
But this weekend should be just as entertaining with rematches the theme, including some second versions of the best games from the regular season and the closest from the 2012 playoffs.
Be sure to follow the scores and schedules all weekend on the MHSAA Score Center, and see below for our games to watch in every division.
Warren Mott (10-0) at Detroit Cass Tech (10-0)
Mott has played football since 1992, and this certainly has been the Marauders' best run as it has included its first perfect regular season, the Macomb Area Conference White title and 10 wins for the first time. Mott's league was competitive this season, but Saturday it gets to see how it matches up against the elite – two-time reigning MHSAA champion Detroit Cass Tech, which has given up only 46 points this season and has 16 straight wins.
Others that caught my eye: Hudsonville (7-3) at Rockford (9-1), Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (9-1) at Macomb Dakota (10-0), Saline (9-1) at Temperance Bedford (10-0).
Muskegon (9-1) at Lowell (10-0)
The best set of games this weekend is in Division 2, and Portage Central/Battle Creek Lakeview also has an argument as the biggest game in the state overall. But the Muskegon/Lowell rivalry has been simply too good of late. They've faced off in the playoffs the last five seasons, with Lowell holding a 3-2 advantage but falling 15-13 to the Big Reds in 2012. Muskegon went on to finish Division 2 runner-up, but then suffered its only loss this fall to the Red Arrows 31-20 in Week 4. This game features two of the state's most dynamic quarterbacks in Muskegon's Deshaun Thrower and Lowell's Kyler Shurlow.
Others that caught my eye: Battle Creek Lakeview (10-0) at Portage Central (10-0), Birmingham Seaholm (9-1) at Birmingham Brother Rice (10-0), Detroit East English (7-3) at Detroit Martin Luther King (8-1).
Grand Rapids Christian (8-2) at Zeeland West (9-1)
This is a rematch of one of last season's most high-scoring playoff games; Grand Rapids Christian beat West 68-44 in a District Final on the way to winning the MHSAA title. The Eagles' defense has stuck out a little more throughout this season, but the Dux have scored at least 44 points in eight of their 10 games. And it's a decent prediction that the winner of this game again could be playing for the title in four weeks.
Others that caught my eye: Detroit Mumford (8-2) at St. Clair (9-1), Stevensville Lakeshore (7-3) at St. Joseph (9-1), Melvindale (8-2) at Milan (10-0).
Detroit Country Day (7-3) at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (8-2)
This is another rematch of a 2012 game that helped decide an eventual MHSAA championship contender. Country Day defeated Notre Dame Prep in the District Final 14-12 on the way to finishing division runner-up at Ford Field, and quarterback Tyler Wiegers is back and committed to play for Rutgers next season. The Yellowjackets haven't lost since opening 0-3, but the Fighting Irish also are riding high with four straight wins after two straight midseason losses.
Others that caught my eye: Richmond (9-1) at Marine City (9-1), Dowagiac (7-3) at Battle Creek Pennfield (9-1), Belding (7-3) at Comstock Park (10-0).
Muskegon Oakridge (9-1) at Reed City (10-0)
Oakridge hasn't allowed an opponent to come within three touchdowns since suffering its lone loss of the season, to Shelby, in Week 6. Oakridge has won at least nine games in each of the last four seasons, but is riding its strongest offense since the 14-0 team in 2008. Reed City is 10-0 for the third straight season thanks in part to its highest-scoring offense ever and shooting for its first District title after falling by a point to Newaygo in last season's Final.
Others that caught my eye: Millington (8-2) at Frankenmuth (9-1), Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (8-2) at Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (9-1), Grayling (9-1) at Menominee (10-0).
Saginaw Nouvel (9-1) at Montrose (10-0)
These two along with Madison Heights Madison and Flint Beecher make up arguably the most competitive Region in the playoffs, with the winner likely earning the right to face national winning-streak leader Ithaca in a Semifinal. Nouvel is back in Division 6 after playing in Division 7 the last three seasons and winning the championship in 2011, while Montrose long has been a contender in this division and no doubt would like another shot at the Yellowjackets.
Others that caught my eye: Grass Lake (9-1) at Clinton (10-0), Schoolcraft (9-1) at Watervliet (10-0), Maple City Glen Lake (9-1) at Ithaca (10-0).
Ishpeming (10-0) at Iron River West Iron Country (10-0)
This is the biggest game in the Upper Peninsula this week. Reigning MHSAA champion Ishpeming is riding two straight shutouts with five total this season, and West Iron is looking for its first District title since 2008. The Wykons earned a little more notice statewide by opening the playoffs with a 14-point win over perennial power Traverse City St. Francis last week. This should be one of Ishpeming's first challenges this season as only rival Negaunee has come within 36 points of the Hematites.
Others that caught my eye: Lake City (9-1) at Lincoln Alcona (10-0), Pewamo-Westphalia (9-1) at Carson City-Crystal (10-0), Lawton (9-1) at Homer (9-1).
Climax-Scotts (9-1) at Mendon (10-0)
How did annual championship contender Mendon bounce back from ending last season in the Regional Final? The Hornets have outscored opponents 513-19 in arguably the most impressive run of any team statewide. Mendon has beaten Climax-Scotts in the playoffs the last two seasons, so the Panthers have plenty of additional motivation. Their only loss this fall was to much larger Flint Powers Catholic.
Others that caught my eye: Waterford Our Lady (8-2) at New Lothrop (10-0), Fowler (8-2) at Muskegon Catholic Central (8-2), Powers North Central (8-2) at Felch North Dickinson (7-2).
Lawrence (7-2) at Battle Creek St. Philip (10-0)
The 8-player playoffs are in their Regional Finals, and these two are plenty familiar with each other after a titanic 54-50 battle won by St. Philip only two weeks ago. In that game, the two traded touchdowns until the end, and this Saturday afternoon rematch could be one of the highest-scoring of the weekend.
Other Regional Finals: Engadine (6-4) at Rapid River (10-0), Owendale-Gagetown (9-1) at Kinde-North Huron (7-3), Carsonville-Port Sanilac (7-3) at Peck (10-0).
PHOTO: DeWitt, carrying the ball, survived with a 14-6 win over rival Haslett last week to advance to tonight's District Final against Linden. (Photo courtesy of Matt Stehouwer.)
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.)