A Game for Every Fan: Week 1

August 23, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A few scenarios remain unique to high school football’s opening weekend, the newest of which begins again tonight all over Michigan.

If the casual fan with no ties to a particular team is going to check out a game, this is probably the time.

And while there are great matchups and major storylines all nine weeks of the regular season, this first one features so many that East Grand Rapids vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central – which eventually could be remembered as one of the best games in the state this entire season – arguably isn’t the biggest this weekend in the Grand Rapids area alone.

Each week, Second Half will give you an idea of top games to watch near your community, or the extended surrounding area. 

I’ve broken down the state into seven regions – hopefully you’ll be able to figure out which is where by the nicknames, or at least the games I’ve listed under each. I’ve done so by where the game will be played.

Click on Score Center to see game dates and times, and after the clocks run out, final scores from all over the state.

Greater Detroit                                                         

Detroit Cass Tech vs. Birmingham Brother Rice

This Saturday night matchup is the final game of the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State, which will host six Detroit-area matchups on opening weekend. And it will be tough for any game before November at Ford Field to match the prestige of this opener featuring the reigning MHSAA Division 1 and 2 champions. The last time Cass Tech quarterback Jayru Campbell dressed for the Technicians, he threw five touchdown passes as a freshman in last fall’s Division 1 Final win over Detroit Catholic Central. Brother Rice quarterback Cheyne Lacanaria also is back after leading the Warriors to the Division 2 title, although they must replace graduated standout running back Devin Church. But Brother Rice can counter Campbell and an offense loaded with Division I college prospects with linebacker Jon Reschke, who has committed to Michigan State.

Others that caught my eye: Midland at Canton, Dearborn Fordson at Macomb Dakota, Warren DeLaSalle at Ann Arbor Pioneer, Bloomfield Hills Andover at Bloomfield Hills Lahser, Rochester Adams at Clarkston.

Southwest and Border

Battle Creek Central at Kalamazoo Central

This is one of the longest-running football rivalries in MHSAA history and will move into a tie for eighth all-time with this 109th straight meeting. Battle Creek Central leads the series 59-45-4, although Kalamazoo Central won 28-22 last fall. The Bearcats are hoping to open with their first win since 2010, while the Maroon Giants have gone 4-5 in each of the last four seasons and hope to push for their first playoff berth since 2004.

Others that caught my eye: Carleton Airport at Adrian, St. Joseph at Marshall, Portage Central at Battle Creek Harper Creek.


Pewamo-Westphalia at Lansing Catholic

While the Saturday night game in Detroit features two teams that won titles at Ford Field last season, this matchup features two teams that finished as runners-up in their respective divisions – Division 7 and Division 5 – and are hoping to get back to Detroit with much different lineups. Both graduated standout quarterbacks and their best defenders from 2011, but both also will test new players early and often against top competition. Each plays in a tough league and will also face a reigning MHSAA champion later this fall. The Cougars get Division 7 champ Saginaw Nouvel next week, and the Pirates finish the regular season against Division 8 winner Mendon.

Others that caught my eye: Brighton at Novi, Jackson Lumen Christi at Chelsea, Mount Pleasant at DeWitt, Mendon at Fowler.

West Michigan

Lowell at Rockford

Last season, these two renewed a rivalry that previously had ended in 1973, before the playoff era had begun. These days, the Red Arrows and Rams are two of the state’s annual elite. Lowell won the 2011 game 28-7 on the way to its sixth straight season with at least 10 victories and the runner-up finish in Division 2. But Rockford won 11 straight after last season’s loss, and similarly has won at least that many games in seven of the last eight seasons.

Others that caught my eye: Grand Rapids Catholic Central at East Grand Rapids, Holt at Hudsonville, Orchard Lake St. Mary at Muskegon.

Bay and Thumb

Richmond at Marine City

New Marine City coach Ronald Glodich begins a new era but with hopes of similar success as had by retired coach Anthony Scarcelli, who led the Mariners to eight straight seasons of at least 10 wins and last season’s Division 4 runner-up finish. But Glodich will start with an immediate test in Richmond, which is coming off two straight losing seasons but improved by three wins from 2010 to 2011 and before the down streak made the playoffs 10 times in 11 seasons. 

Others that caught my eye:  Saginaw Swan Valley at St. Charles, Bay City Western at Flint Northern, Montrose at Reese.

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming at Iron Mountain

There was a not-so-recent past when Ishpeming struggled to win this annual opening night matchup – Iron Mountain has been the victor in 15 of the last 20. But these two have split the last four openers, and both won District championships last season after Iron Mountain won and Ishpeming finished second in the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference.

Others that caught my eye: Detroit Denby at Marquette, Ishpeming Westwood at Stephenson, Pittsford at Iron River West Iron County.

Lower Up North

Traverse City St. Francis at Kingsley

Traverse City St. Francis isn’t in a league this season, but is playing six of the same opponents as in 2011 – when it advanced to a Division 7 Semifinal. The Gladiators open against Kingsley after beating the Stags 57-8 in last season’s opener. But Kingsley won six of its next eight games after that loss to make the playoffs, and were only a combined 12 points from an 8-1 finish.

Others that caught my eye: Elk Rapids at Mancelona, Manistee at Ludington, St. Ignace at Charlevoix.

PHOTO: Mendon and Fowler played for last season's Division 8 championship at Ford Field, and meet again Friday at Fowler in the season opener for both. (See more at Terry McNamara Photography.)

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.)