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.)
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).
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.
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.)
Jhace Massey ♦ Gladwin
Senior ♦ Football
Massey, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound starting receiver for the reigning Division 5 champion, moved to quarterback after the team’s starter and top backup were injured against rival Clare on Friday. He went on to run 18 times for 183 yards and three touchdowns, throw for 61 yards and two scores and snag a fourth-quarter interception to help land the Flying Gs a 44-28 victory after they’d trailed 21-3.
The win put Gladwin in first place alone in the Jack Pine Conference halfway through the league schedule. The Flying Gs entered the game ranked No. 4 in Division 5 by the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association, and Clare was ranked No. 8 in Division 6. Although football has become his favorite sport, Massey also is a top contributor on the basketball team and ran primarily the 100 and 200 meters and on relays during track season in the spring.
@mhsaasports POW: Jhace Massey #football #quarterback #gladwin #letsgo #touchdown #interception #part1 #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA
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Past 2023-24 Honorees
(Top photo by Mike Kolleth. Headshot provided by the Gladwin football program.)