A Game for Every Fan: Regional Finals
November 15, 2013
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
It’s both notable, yet logical, that 25 undefeated teams remain among the 68 still alive in the MHSAA football playoffs heading into this weekend.
At this point in the season, the best teams rise to the top. But maintaining perfection over 11 weeks is something worth celebrating regardless – even as at least three of those teams are guaranteed to fall this weekend.
Three of 32 11-player Regional Finals will feature matchups of undefeateds this weekend. Both 8-player Semifinals also feature one team that hasn't lost.
A total of 13 games will be played tonight, with the other 21 – including both 8-player games – kicking off Saturday. See below for all 34 matchups, plus a little extra on the headliner from each 11-player division and both 8-Player semis.
Remember to follow all of the action again on MHSAA Score Center. And check out our four games live on Fox Sports Detroit’s Prep Zone: Battle Creek Pennfield at Grand Rapids South Christian, Saginaw Swan Valley at Lansing Sexton, Melvindale at St. Clair and St. Ignace at Beal City.
Macomb Dakota (11-0) at Detroit Cass Tech (11-0)
Cass Tech has won three games by 10 or fewer points, and might need to draw on that experience again in this Regional Final. Dakota’s success coming out of the solid Macomb Area Conference Red mirrors that of the Technicians, even as its stars are a little less known statewide. Cass Tech has won the last two Division 1 titles, and that know-how no doubt will come in handy in this titanic clash.
Other Regional Finals: Hudsonville (8-3) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (10-1), Rochester Adams (8-3) at Clarkston (10-1), Detroit Catholic Central (9-2) at Temperance Bedford (11-0).
Detroit Martin Luther King (9-1) at Wyandotte Roosevelt (11-0)
This is Roosevelt’s third straight Regional Final and it is playing for a second straight Semifinal berth against a team that lost only to Cass Tech this fall. The difference this time might be the Bears’ offense, which is averaging 45 points per game and already has scored 100 more than in any season of its modern history. They’ll need to light up the board to keep up with King playmakers Jalen Embry and Avonte Maddox, who both will play at high-major schools at the college level.
Other Regional Finals: Midland (10-1) at Muskegon (10-1), Farmington Hills Harrison (10-1) at Portage Central (11-0), Detroit U-D Jesuit (7-4) at Birmingham Brother Rice (11-0).
Zeeland West (10-1) at Mount Pleasant (10-1)
This has the feel of a Semifinal, with these two having survived wild runs already to get to this point. West avenged a Week 2 loss to Zeeland East to start the playoffs and then eliminated reigning champion Grand Rapids Christian last week – after closing the regular season with a 36-13 win over Byron Center, a possible opponent next week. Mount Pleasant bounced back this fall after finishing Division 3 runner-up in 2011 and then falling to 2-7 a year ago. The Oilers’ only loss was on opening night to DeWitt, which has emerged as the favorite in this division.
Other Regional Finals: Byron Center (8-3) at Stevensville Lakeshore (8-3), Eaton Rapids (7-4) at DeWitt (11-0), Melvindale (9-2) at St. Clair (10-1).
Saginaw Swan Valley (11-0) at Lansing Sexton (11-0)
This game could be over in less than two hours with the way these two run the ball. Swan Valley junior Alex Grace is approaching the MHSAA single-season rushing record of 2,890 yards after also topping 2,000 last season. Sexton, meanwhile, hasn't scored fewer than 32 points since September and blends a strong inside running game with plenty of speed on the perimeter.
Other Regional Finals: Cadillac (11-0) at Comstock Park (11-0), Battle Creek Pennfield (10-1), at Grand Rapids South Christian (10-1), Detroit Country Day (8-3) at Marine City (10-1).
Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (10-1) at Livonia Clarenceville (11-0)
The last time Clarenceville made this kind of run was in 2001, when superstar Tim Shaw was finishing off a record-setting effort that would take him to Penn State and then the NFL. The Trojans have been rolling since opening this fall with three wins by seven or fewer points during the season’s first five weeks, although they had to survive a tough test in the District Final against Detroit University Prep. This is usual territory for St. Mary, which has won 10 games for the fifth time in six seasons and is playing for its second straight Semifinal berth.
Other Regional Finals: Standish-Sterling (9-1) at Menominee (11-0), Millington (9-2) at Muskegon Oakridge (10-1), Grand Rapids West Catholic (7-4) at Olivet (10-1).
Madison Heights Madison (11-0) at Montrose (11-0)
Since the brackets came out four weeks ago, this has been seen as the likely matchup to decide which team might have the best chance to end Ithaca’s national-best winning streak (53 games). Coming off four straight shutouts, Madison barely survived last week against Flint Beecher, which plays in Montrose’s league and lost to the Rams by 16 in their matchup this fall. Montrose has crushed two strong opponents – Reese and Saginaw Nouvel – to start the playoffs and no doubt would love to see the Yellowjackets again after falling to them in the playoffs the last three years.
Other Regional Finals: Negaunee (10-1) at Ithaca (11-0), Schoolcraft (10-1) at Shelby (10-1), Constantine (7-4) at Clinton (11-0).
Pewamo-Westphalia (10-1) at Harbor Beach (10-1)
Keyed by veteran quarterback Eli Kraft and a sturdy defense, Harbor Beach has made a nice jump into Division 7 after winning Division 8 in 2012. But Pewamo-Westphalia likely will be Harbor Beach’s strongest test to this point. P-W had to come back at the end last week to beat Carson City-Crystal but also beat a league champion the week before in Saugatuck.
Other Regional Finals: Lake City (10-1) at Ishpeming (11-0), Decatur (8-3) at Homer (10-1), Southfield Christian (10-1) at Detroit Loyola (11-0).
Muskegon Catholic Central (9-2) at Mendon (11-0)
These southwestern powers are plenty familiar with each other – this will be their third straight playoff meeting and fifth in seven seasons. Muskegon Catholic hasn't lost since Week 2, also the last time it scored fewer than 40 points or gave up more than 16. Mendon is riding double figure wins for the seventh straight season with a combined score of 526-19 against its 11 opponents. That defensive effort is headed toward going down as one of the best in Michigan history.
Other Regional Finals: Felch North Dickinson (8-2) at Crystal Falls Forest Park (11-0), St. Ignace (9-2) at Beal City (11-0), Ottawa Lake Whiteford (9-2) at New Lothrop (11-0).
Kinde-North Huron (8-3) at Rapid River (11-0)
Rapid River has become an 8-player power, going 31-5 since making the switch three seasons ago. The Rockets are keyed by quarterback Jake Pearson, who has run for 2,166 yards and 39 touchdowns and throw for 963 yards and 13 more scores. North Huron is a great story as well; the Warriors were 0-9 in 2011 before improving to 6-5 last fall and then adding two more wins this season.
Lawrence (8-2) at Peck (11-0)
Peck rivals Rapid River as the most dominant team in 8-player this season, with all but two games decided by 20 points or more despite a schedule that included two matchups each against the first two 8-player MHSAA champions – Carsonville-Port Sanilac and Deckerville. The Pirates did beat Lawrence 61-38 all the way back in Week 4 – but the Tigers are primed to avenge. Last week they beat Battle Creek St. Philip after falling to St. Phil only two weeks prior.
PHOTO: Mount Pleasant (blue jerseys) ran away from Sault Ste. Marie 42-27 last week to earn this weekend’s matchup against Zeeland West. (Click to see more from High School Sports Scene.)
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.)