A Game for Every Fan: Week 2

August 29, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

It's part of the intrigue of high school football: At no other level of the sport is there as much roster turnover from year to year, or so many teams with the potential to shine when August begins.   

The latest proof? Last season's MHSAA finalists (11 and 8-player) went a combined 9-9 last weekend in their first games of this fall.

Not that those results will mean much by the time November rolls around. But this week, we'll find out a little bit more about which could be in the mix as league races ramp up in September.

Remember to visit the MHSAA Score Center early and often on game nights for updated scores and standings, and eventually playoff points as soon as results come in.

These are the games you should go see first – something within somewhat close proximity, no matter where in Michigan you call home.

(All are tonight unless noted. Go to Score Center for additional dates and kickoff times.)

West Michigan

Zeeland West (0-1) at Zeeland East (1-0)

West leads this rivalry 5-2 since the schools split in 2005, with a 26-21 win last season on the way to winning the MHSAA Division 4 title. But the Dux lost Friday for the first time since 2010, 59-58 to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, and the Chix appear to have another high-powered offense after putting up 64 points in an opening-night win over Holland Christian.

Others that caught my eye: Grand Rapids Catholic Central at Muskegon Catholic Central, East Grand Rapids at East Kentwood, Comstock Park at Grand Rapids West Catholic (Fri.), Grand Rapids Christian at Cincinnati (OH) Moeller (Sat.)

Southwest and Border

Schoolcraft (1-0) at Constantine (1-0)

These former St. Joseph Valley rivals came to the Kalamazoo Valley Association together in 2008, and Constantine has continued to own this matchup with seven straight wins including two last season – both by seven points, in the regular-season finale and then the District Final on the way to finishing Division 6 runner-up. But the Eagles’ Benny Clark III made some of the largest waves in the state last week with 215 yards rushing and four touchdowns in a win over Parchment, and he should be tough to stop.

Others that caught my eye: Sturgis at Mattawan, Kalamazoo Central at Kalamazoo Loy Norrix, Fenton at Adrian, Battle Creek Harper Creek at Stevensville Lakeshore.


DeWitt (1-0) at Lansing Everett (1-0)

These are arguably the top two teams in the Greater Lansing area, and this should be much closer than last season’s 48-7 Panthers win. DeWitt’s newest group of standouts – led by sophomore quarterback Jacob Johnson – showed they’re up to the usual tasks last week with a 38-14 win over reigning Division 3 runner-up Mount Pleasant. But the majority of Everett’s lineup has started for three seasons and appears ready to shine, led by quarterback Lucas Barner, receiver Jaleel Canty (Cincinnati University prospect) and linebacker James Mills.

Others that caught my eye: Rockford at Holt, Chelsea at East Lansing, Laingsburg at Fowler, Haslett at Okemos, Jackson Lumen Christi at Jackson (Fri.), Flint Powers at Mount Pleasant (Fri).

Greater Detroit

Detroit East English (0-1) at Detroit Martin Luther King (0-1) (Fri.)

These two lost by a combined eight points in their games at last weekend’s Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State University, but both should finish among the best in the Detroit Public School League. East English is a new school replacing Crockett and Finney, and the former especially had been a strong playoff contender of late. King fell last week by a point to a solid Southfield team, but might rival Cass Tech again to be called best in the city led by standout quarterback Da'Vaun Williams. Winning tonight will go a long way toward giving the Crusaders that opportunity.

Others that caught my eye: Brighton at Canton, Dearborn Fordson at Redford Thurston, Oxford at North Farmington (Fri.), Farmington at Southfield (Fri.), Detroit Catholic Central at Toledo Whitmer (Fri.).

Bay and Thumb

Davison (1-0) at Midland (1-0)

Both needed overtime last week to start with a win – Davison against Lapeer West and Midland against Canton – but both also stand as potential favorites in their divisions of the newly-split Saginaw Valley League. Davison’s opening-night victory avenged one of its six 2011 losses, and the SVL South stacks up well for the Cardinals to get back to their usual playoff ways. Midland will likely have a little tougher road in the North, but set the tone by beating the frequently highly-ranked Chiefs. A win in this one would provide another boost of momentum.

Others that caught my eye: Cedarville at Deckerville, Midland Dow at Flushing, Croswell-Lexington at Richmond, Lansing Catholic at Saginaw Nouvel.

Upper Peninsula

Newberry (1-0) at Iron Mountain North Dickinson (1-0)

Newberry made this the game to watch with last week’s 34-6 rumbling over Rudyard, which hadn’t lost on opening night since 2003. The Indians are in their first season in the Mid-Eastern Conference after previously playing in the Straits Area Conference, and can make a strong impression by beating the reigning MEC champ Nordics. This is the first of a tough three-game string for North Dickinson, which next faces 2011 league third-place Munising and runner-up Stephenson over the following two weeks, respectively.

Others that caught my eye: Mancelona at Rudyard, Negaunee at Calumet, Traverse City Central at Escanaba, Lake Linden-Hubbell at Hurley (WI) (Fri.).

Lower Up North

Marquette (1-0) at Cheboygan (1-0)

These teams have met five times over the last 13 seasons, including in each of the last three. The three times Cheboygan won, it made the playoffs, and the two times the Chiefs lost to the Redmen, they didn’t qualify. That’s probably just an odd coincidence. But Cheboygan can start 2-0 for the first time since 2009, its last playoff year. That won’t be easy, as Marquette is coming off a solid 34-12 win over Detroit Denby.

Others that caught my eye: Pellston at Gaylord St. Mary, Kent City at Boyne City, Bay City John Glenn at Cadillac, Kingsley at Elk Rapids.

PHOTO: Detroit Martin Luther King quarterback Da'Vaun Williams (14) prepares to hand off during last week's 21-20 overtime loss to Southfield. (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.)