A Game for Every Fan: Week 2
September 2, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Most of this week’s MHSAA varsity football games will again be played over both Thursday and Friday, similar to last week and this time in anticipation of travelers leaving town for an extended Labor Day break. In fact, nearly 80 percent of games will be played tonight.
But unlike last week, there aren’t a ton of matchups that jump out and announce, “You can’t miss this.” And that’s where we come into the mix.
See below for some of the possible jewels from this weekend’s schedule, all to be played tonight unless noted. And remember to follow all of the results as they come in at the MHSAA Score Center.
Bay & Thumb
Freeland (1-0) at Chesaning (1-0)
It’s tough to believe once-powerful Chesaning hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007. But the Indians finished with a winning record last fall for the first time since that season, and debuted a snazzy synthetic turf field last week. Anticipation is high, and they now host Freeland, which is coming off a 10-2 finish in 2014 and beat Chesaning 42-0 a year ago.
Others that caught my eye: Frankenmuth (1-0) at Birch Run (0-1), Bad Axe (1-0) at Marlette (1-0), Richmond (1-0) at Yale (0-1), St. Clair (0-1) at Marine City (0-1).
Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (1-0) at Macomb Dakota (1-0)
This continues to be the most exciting rivalry in Macomb County after a third straight season of multiple matchups a year ago – the teams split, with Dakota winning in Week 2 by 21 points and the Big Reds claiming the District Final 28-27. The Cougars are coming off arguably the most notable victory of Week 1, a 35-10 defeat of reigning MHSAA Division 1 champion Clarkston. But Chippewa Valley downed generally-strong Lake Orion top open for the second season in a row and is plenty capable of making this the state’s best matchup of the week.
Others that caught my eye: Detroit Country Day (1-0) at Detroit U-D Jesuit (1-0), Grosse Pointe South (1-0) at Romeo (1-0), Sterling Heights Stevenson (1-0) at Utica Eisenhower (1-0), Allen Park (1-0) at Wyandotte Roosevelt (1-0).
Mason (1-0) at Eaton Rapids (1-0)
Mason’s experienced offense showed the difference a year can make by putting up 56 points in a win over Okemos last week after scoring only 14 against the Chieftains on opening night 2014. The Bulldogs went on last year to score a season-low 10 points in three games – including in a Week 2 10-7 win over Eaton Rapids. The Greyhounds are seeking to take the next step in their revival with a first win over Mason since 1993.
Others that caught my eye: Laingsburg (1-0) at Fowler (1-0), Sand Creek (1-0) at Stockbridge (1-0), Beal City (1-0) at Clare (0-1) (Fri.), Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian (1-0) at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (0-1) (Fri.).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Escanaba (1-0) at Petoskey (1-0)
The coach Dave Howes era at Escanaba began last week with a win over Alpena, which actually counts as the team’s third victory in four games going back to last fall. That’s something to build on for a program seeking its first winning season since 2011 and facing an opponent that has won 14 of its last 18 games. Petoskey could be a Big North Conference contender and would love to enter league play 2-0 for the third straight season.
Others that caught my eye: Boyne City (1-0) at Charlevoix (1-0), Gaylord (1-0) at Grayling (1-0), Whittemore-Prescott (0-1) at Oscoda (1-0), Traverse City St. Francis (1-0) at McBain (1-0).
Southeast & Border
Morenci (1-0) at Hudson (1-0)
Morenci burst back among this area’s elite last fall with its best finish (10-2) since 1996, and continued by beating another 2014 playoff team, Pittsford, 44-6 last week. The 21-16 victory over Hudson in Week 2 last season got momentum rolling in a big way for the Bulldogs and could do so again – but also was Hudson’s only regular-season loss, meaning the Tigers will be more than ready for the rematch.
Others that caught my eye: Portland (1-0) at Hillsdale (1-0), Concord (1-0) at Union City (1-0), Onsted (1-0) at Adrian Madison (1-0), Detroit Cesar Chavez (1-0) at Ida (1-0).
Portage Central (1-0) at Battle Creek Lakeview (1-0)
After facing each other in a 2013 District Final, these two Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference contenders didn’t get to play each other last fall because weather washed the Week 2 game out. Lakeview went on to win the SMAC East and Portage Central was second in the SMAC West, and this should again be a matchup of contenders in their respective divisions.
Others that caught my eye: Decatur (1-0) at Constantine (0-1), Vicksburg (1-0) at Edwardsburg (1-0), Paw Paw (1-0) at Plainwell (1-0), Richland Gull Lake (1-0) at St. Joseph (1-0).
Calumet (1-0) at Negaunee (1-0)
These northern U.P. neighbors re-started their series three seasons ago, and two of the first three games have been decided by eight or fewer points – although Negaunee has won all three of their matchups. Last season’s 31-22 win was a big reason why the Miners were able to qualify for the playoffs at 5-4 – and also ended up the closest loss for the Copper Kings, who ended 7-4.
Others that caught my eye: L’Anse (1-0) at Iron River West Iron County (1-0), Traverse City Central (1-0) at Marquette (0-1) (Fri.), Bark River-Harris (1-0) at Gogebic (1-0) (Fri.), Hurley, Wis. (2-0) at Lake Linden-Hubbell (1-0) (Sat.).
Detroit Loyola (0-1) at Muskegon Oakridge (1-0), Friday
Oakridge loaded its schedule with two reigning MHSAA champions to start things off this fall and last week ended Division 8 champ Muskegon Catholic Central’s 26-game winning streak. Like MCC, Loyola – the reigning winner in Division 7 – graduated many of its top contributors from the last few seasons. But the Bulldogs looked capable again in falling to reigning Division 3 champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 24-12 in their opener.
Others that caught my eye: Grand Rapids South Christian (0-1) at Caledonia (1-0), Ravenna (1-0) at Montague (1-0), Holt (0-1) at Rockford (0-1), Muskegon (0-1) at Grand Rapids Christian (1-0) (Fri.)
Engadine (1-0) at Powers North Central (1-0), Friday
North Central, home to the reigning Class D boys basketball champion as well, is new to 8-player this season and put up a basketball-like 82 points last week. The Jets are only two seasons removed from an 8-3 record in 11-player, but should get more of a test from Engadine, a playoff team in 8-player three of the last four seasons.
Others that caught my eye: Onaway (0-1) at Brimley (0-1), Tekonsha (1-0) at Webberville (1-0).
PHOTO: Beal City quarterback Tucker Gross prepares to receive the snap during Friday’s win over Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart.
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.)