A Game for Every Fan: Week 2
September 5, 2014
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Week 2 of the MHSAA football season generally means the start of league play for schools across Michigan.
Five leagues were formed and nine reshuffled significantly for 2014 – so we’ll do our best to guide you through some of the new names and title chases as they unfold over the next two months.
Also new for this week’s look at the best games from every corner of the state – by request from one of our readers – a look at top 8-player games to be played (previously those were included in regional outlooks with the 11-player matchups.)
See below for the places to be this Friday and Saturday. All games are Friday unless noted.
Zeeland West (1-0) at Zeeland East (0-1)
These rivals – literally neighbors on the same piece of property – continued an intriguing trend in 2013 when for the second straight season Zeeland East won the regular-season matchup and West then eliminated the Chix in the playoffs with a victory of 30-plus points. West went on last season to win the MHSAA Division 3 championship.
Others that caught my eye: Caledonia (1-0) at Grand Rapids South Christian (0-1), Fruitport (0-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (1-0), Montague (0-1) at Muskegon Oakridge (0-1), Grand Rapids Christian (1-0) at Muskegon (1-0).
Eaton Rapids (1-0) at Mason (0-1)
Eaton Rapids burst onto the scene in 2013, ending a streak of 19 losing seasons by making the playoffs for the first time and then winning a District championship as well. The positive vibes continued with a 34-14 win over Jackson Northwest last week, while Mason – an annual Lansing-area power with five playoff appearances in the last six seasons – fell to rival Okemos by two scores. The Bulldogs have won 20 straight over the Greyhounds, but this should be the best tilt between the two in some time.
Others that caught my eye: Holland West Ottawa (0-1) at Grand Ledge (1-0), Clare (0-1) at Beal City (1-0), Rockford (1-0) at Holt (0-1), Grandville (1-0) at Okemos (1-0).
Southwest and Border
Schoolcraft (1-0) at Constantine (1-0)
This is another pair with a history of multiple meetings in the same season. They are clear favorites in the Kalamazoo Valley Association again this fall – and also have faced each other in the playoffs four of the last eight seasons. Schoolcraft has won the last two regular-season meetings, including 37-28 in 2013. But Constantine has won all five times they’ve met in the postseason.
Others that caught my eye: Decatur (1-0) at Fennville (1-0), Gobles (1-0) at Hartford (1-0), Battle Creek Lakeview (0-1) at Portage Central (1-0), St. Joseph (1-0) at Richland Gull Lake (1-0).
Traverse City Central (1-0) at Escanaba (1-0)
These two faced off the last two seasons, and it wasn’t really close – Central won by 44 and 21 points, respectively. Another victory would put the Trojans in nice position heading into Big North Conference play after missing the playoffs a year ago. But Escanaba also won last week and would love to take another step toward a first winning season since 2011, especially with 2013 playoff teams Cheboygan, Detroit Country Day and Sault Ste. Marie still coming up on the nonleague schedule.
Others that caught my eye: Negaunee (1-0) at Calumet (1-0), DeWitt (1-0) at Kingsford (1-0), Munising (0-1) at Powers North Central (1-0), Alpena (0-1) at Sault Ste. Marie (0-1).
Macomb Dakota (0-1) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (1-0)
These Macomb Area Conference Red rivals are front-loaded this fall with high-profile games – Dakota opened with a three-point loss to reigning MHSAA Division 1 champion Clarkston, while Chippewa Valley survived a three-point victory over perennial power Lake Orion. And the Big Reds definitely have been waiting for this one, having lost the league title by falling to Dakota 52-7 in Week 8 last season, and then seeing their season end against Dakota 34-14 in the District Final.
Others that caught my eye: Detroit U-D Jesuit (1-0) at Detroit Country Day (0-1), Rochester Hills Stoney Creek (1-0) at Oxford (1-0), Utica Eisenhower (0-1) at Sterling Heights Stevenson (1-0), Detroit Douglass (0-1) at Detroit Mumford (0-1).
Lower Up North
Grayling (1-0) at Gaylord (1-0)
These two, located a mere 27 miles apart on I-75, were regular opponents for decades – but this is their first matchup since 1996. Back then, Grayling was in the midst of a decade-long string of losing seasons; now they’ve had 11 straight above-.500 finishes. Gaylord had a nice run of success soon after these two suspended their series – but more recently won a combined four games over the last five seasons. The Blue Devils equaled last fall’s victory total last week by beating Cheboygan 40-0.
Others that caught my eye: Pickford (1-0) at Indian River Inland Lakes (1-0), Hudsonville (1-0) at Traverse City West (1-0), Oscoda (1-0) at Whittemore-Prescott (1-0), McBain (0-1) at Traverse City St. Francis (0-1) on Saturday.
Bay and Thumb
Marine City (1-0) at St. Clair (1-0)
These two decided the MAC Gold title in Week 8 last season – St. Clair winning 43-33 – but they face off in the league opener this time. St. Clair renewed a series with Croswell-Lexington last week for the first time since 1993 and won 26-21, while the reigning MHSAA Division 4 champ Mariners continued their high-scoring ways beating Algonac 49-28.
Others that caught my eye: Yale (1-0) at Richmond (1-0), Harbor Beach (1-0) at Vassar (1-0), Lansing Catholic (1-0) at Saginaw Nouvel (0-1), Ovid-Elsie (0-1) at Freeland (1-0).
Carsonville-Port Sanilac (0-1) vs. Lawrence (1-0), Saturday at Webberville
The inaugural MHSAA champion in 2012, Carsonville-Port Sanilac was an early standard-setter for the 8-player game – and Lawrence, a semifinalist last season, has helped raise the level of play since joining the scene a year ago. CPS is coming off an opening loss to Morrice, a program new to 8-player this fall.
Others that caught my eye: Dryden (1-0) at Caseville (1-0), Burr Oak (1-0) at Waldron (1-0).
PHOTO: Bessemer’s Gogebic Miners opened this season with a 36-14 win over Hancock. (Photo courtesy of Norman Tesch/Wakefield.)
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.)