A Game for Every Fan - District Openers

October 25, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

What started as more than 600 MHSAA football teams is down to a mere 272.

And eight are no doubt enjoying a whirlwind this week they've never experienced before.

Detroit Consortium, Detroit East English, Grand Rapids Northview, Mayville, Saginaw Valley Lutheran, South Lyon East, Swartz Creek and Walled Lake Northern will make their first playoff appearances this weekend. Only East English can claim to know what that's like, with the first-year school made up mostly of students who formerly attended now-closed Detroit Crockett and Finney.

In case you're wondering, that leaves 30 schools that have never made the MHSAA playoffs. But this week is about those still alive -- and 136 games that will be played all over the state.

See below for a few of the most intriguing matchups from each division. Visit the MHSAA Score Center all weekend for updated scores and standings, and if you're not attending a game tonight, make sure to check in at FoxSportsDetroit.com for one of four live-streamed contests: Lapeer West at DeWitt, Farmington Hills Harrison at Fenton, Leslie at Portland and Howell at Walled Lake Northern.

Division 1

Detroit Catholic Central (5-4) at Hartland (8-1)

To no one’s surprise, reigning MHSAA runner-up Detroit Catholic Central made the playoffs at 5-4, thanks to its tough schedule and high playoff point average. The Shamrocks have reached the postseason 16 of the last 18 seasons. Hartland is back for the third time in five – and coming off a league title, can also tie its school record for wins set in 2008.

Others that caught my eye: Grand Ledge (7-2) at Holland West Ottawa (7-2), Livonia Stevenson (6-3) at Livonia Churchill (9-0), Canton (6-3) at Plymouth (7-2), Dearborn (6-3) at Dearborn Fordson (7-2).

Division 2

Birmingham Brother Rice (7-2) at Port Huron (7-2)

The reigning MHSAA runner-up in this division, Brother Rice didn’t make last week’s Catholic League Prep Bowl but has been considered among the state’s handful of elite teams since the first week of practice. Port Huron hasn’t gotten nearly the same hype, but won two playoff games last season and is led by quarterback Mark Chapman – who has committed to sign with Central Michigan this winter.

Others that caught my eye: Wyandotte Roosevelt (8-1) at Brownstown Woodhaven (8-1), Detroit Martin Luther King (6-3) at Southfield (6-3), Portage Central (6-3) at Portage Northern (7-2), Grand Rapids Northview (7-2) at Lowell (7-2).

Division 3

Zeeland West (6-3) at Zeeland East (9-0)

It’s hard to believe it’s been two months since these two squared off for what ended up a 60-52 East win. The Chix have continued to rise, and now look like the favorite in Division 3 after downing Muskegon by a point last week. But West – last season’s Division 4 champion – knows a few things about winning in the playoffs, and would love nothing better than to end its rival’s season abruptly.

Others that caught my eye: Carleton Airport (6-3) at Milan (9-0), Marysville (6-3) at Detroit East English (7-2), Charlotte (6-3) at Battle Creek Harper Creek (7-2), Fruitport (8-1) at Grand Rapids Christian (8-1).

Division 4

Williamston (6-3) at Marshall (6-3), Saturday

It hasn’t been long enough for Williamston supporters to forget the 2009 District Final between these two, a 27-26 Marshall win after which the Redhawks went on to win the Division 4 championship. The Hornets advanced to the Final the next season before falling by four to Grand Rapids Catholic Central. Both won to set up this week’s opportunity – the Redhawks their last two games and Williamston its last three.

Others that caught my eye: Otsego (6-3) at Dowagiac (9-0), Comstock Park (8-1) at Allendale (8-1), Saginaw Valley Lutheran (6-3) at Saginaw Swan Valley (7-2), Richmond (6-3) at Marine City (8-1).

Division 5

Leslie (8-1) at Portland (8-1)

Both have become staples of the postseason – Leslie is in the playoffs for the ninth time in 13 seasons and Portland for the 10th straight. The difference for the Blackhawks is those previous appearances, including a run to Ford Field in 2008, came in Division 6. Portland is arguably more used to this level of competition – and has wins over Division 3 playoff teams Owosso, DeWitt and Charlotte this fall.

Others that caught my eye: Lake Fenton (7-2) at Jackson Lumen Christi (8-1), Buchanan (7-2) at Muskegon Oakridge (9-0), Grand Rapids West Catholic (6-3) at Hopkins (9-0), Carrollton (8-1) at Frankenmuth (9-0).

Division 6

Detroit Consortium (6-3) at Madison Heights Madison (8-1)

In its fourth season, Consortium earned its first winning record and first playoff berth. The Cougars earned the opportunity to face Madison, a playoff veteran with eight straight appearances and four straight seasons with at least eight wins. The Eagles built their record against a number of much larger schools, with their only loss by three to Warren Fitzgerald way back on Aug. 31.

Others that caught my eye: Maple City Glen Lake (8-1) at Boyne City (8-1), Montague (8-1) at Hemlock (8-1), Constantine (7-2) at Watervliet (8-1), Michigan Center (8-1) at Grass Lake (8-1).

Division 7

Royal Oak Shrine (5-4) vs. Detroit Loyola (9-0), Saturday at U-D Jesuit

It’s easy to predict Loyola will finish this season with a championship after advancing to the Regional round in 2011 and running all over everyone but Catholic League rival Waterford Our Lady this fall (the Bulldogs beat the Lakers by only 10). Shrine lost to Loyola 51-20 just two weeks ago – but the Knights closed with a shutout of playoff qualifier Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett and could make this rematch much closer.

Others that caught my eye: Union City (6-3) at Pewamo-Westphalia (6-3), Bridgman (6-3) at Lawton (8-1), Dansville (7-2) at Ottawa Lake Whiteford (8-1), Flint Hamady (6-3) at Burton Bendle (7-2).

Division 8

St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic (7-1) at Climax-Scotts (9-0)

A win would give Climax-Scotts its fourth straight 10-win season and ninth over the last decade – and only Bellevue got within 20 points of the Panthers during the regular season. But Lake Michigan Catholic quietly has made the playoffs three straight years, and actually has eight wins this fall – it beat rival Michigan Lutheran in an 8-player game that did not count toward its 11-player playoff point average.

Others that caught my eye: Bessemer (6-2) at Felch North Dickinson (8-0), Pittsford (7-2) at Waterford Our Lady (7-2), Stephenson (7-2) at Pickford (7-2), Crystal Falls Forest Park (7-2) at L’Anse (7-2).


Akron-Fairgrove (7-2) at Owendale-Gagetown (7-2)

These two have been rivals going back to nearly their beginnings on the football field and long before they became 8-player programs in 2009. Both play in the Mid-Michigan 8-Man League, and this is the third time they’ll play each other this season. And there’s some intrigue in that – Owendale-Gagetown won the first game, but Akron-Fairgrove won the second, which counted toward the league standings and eventually gave the Vikings the championship.

Others that caught my eye: Waldron (6-3) at Battle Creek St. Philip (6-3), Eben Junction Superior Central (6-2) at Rapid River (7-2).

PHOTO: Saginaw Valley Lutheran quarterback Logan Gatza drops back to pass against Ithaca on Sept. 7. (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:

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.)