A Game for Every Fan: Week 3
September 11, 2014
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Gone is the rain (at least, apparently, for this week). But here comes the storm of league play.
By the end of this weekend, all but a handful of conferences schedules will be underway.
Some of the best league openers highlight the most significant games in the state this week:
Lowell (2-0) at East Grand Rapids (2-0)
After two uncharacteristic seasons of finishing a combined 9-9, East Grand Rapids looks on the way back up with wins over two teams – Grand Rapids Catholic Central and Ottawa Hills – that finished above .500 in 2013. The Pioneers played another strong Lowell team to within three points just a year ago, and the Red Arrows again look like favorites in the ultra-competitive Ottawa-Kent White after two wins against out-of-state opponents to open this fall.
Others that caught my eye: Grand Rapids West Catholic (2-0) at Ada Forest Hills Eastern (2-0), Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (2-0) at Grand Haven (2-0), Grand Rapids South Christian (0-2) at Hudsonville Unity Christian (2-0), Muskegon Mona Shores (2-0) at Rockford (2-0).
Lansing Sexton (2-0) at Grand Ledge (1-1)
Although the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue looks like a possibility for up to four playoff teams, the league title could be decided tonight. Sexton has continued to build an impressive argument as an MHSAA title favorite with road wins over Detroit East English and Monroe, while Grand Ledge might be the league’s other top contender after a win over Forest Hills Central and then a loss last week to Holland West Ottawa after the Comets led by two scores.
Others that caught my eye: Jackson Lumen Christi (2-0) at Battle Creek Harper Creek (1-1), St. Johns (2-0) at Haslett (1-1), DeWitt (2-0) at Mason (1-1), Lansing Catholic (2-0) at Portland (2-0).
Hurley, Wis. (3-0) at Crystal Falls Forest Park (2-0)
The Great Western Conference is one of only two during football season that includes both MHSAA and Wisconsin teams, and this continues to be the game that ends up deciding the champion. This is the fourth straight season these two have opened the league schedule against each other, with Forest Park coming off two straight victories in the series. The Trojans have a new coach after the retirement of Bill Santilli, one of the most highly-respected in either peninsula, but opened with a pair of wins of at least 27 points apiece.
Others that caught my eye: Iron Mountain (1-1) at Iron River West Iron County (2-0), Felch North Dickinson (2-0) at Munising (1-1), Gladstone (2-0) at Negaunee (2-0), L'Anse (1-1) at Lake Linden-Hubbell (1-1).
Oak Park (1-1) at Farmington Hills Harrison (2-0)
Harrison was second and Oak Park tied for third in the Oakland Activities Association White last season, and they’re contenders again if not favorites. They played one of the most exciting games in the entire OAA in 2013, a 60-52 Harrison win after Oak Park edged the Hawks 26-21 in 2012. The Knights enter with the lone loss between the two so far this fall – but it’s a 27-26 defeat to Detroit Cass Tech in arguably the best game of opening weekend.
Others that caught my eye: Warren Mott (2-0) at Macomb Dakota (1-1), New Boston Huron (2-0) at Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (2-0), Detroit Country Day (1-1) at Detroit Loyola (2-0), Clinton (2-0) at Ottawa Lake Whiteford (2-0).
Southwest and Border
Stevensville Lakeshore (2-0) at Portage Central (1-0)
Beating Lakeshore 38-28 in Week 4 last season was the biggest early win on Portage Central’s way to its best finish ever – 12-1. The Mustangs are coming off an unexpected off week, as they were not able to reschedule against Battle Creek Lakeview after storms prevented the game Friday night. Lakeshore’s start is anything but a typical 2-0 , as last week’s 35-7 win over Kalamazoo Loy Norrix was preceded by a 2-0 victory by a safety over Battle Creek Central on opening night.
Others that caught my eye: Portage Northern (2-0) at St. Joseph (2-0), Kalamazoo Central (0-2) at Kalamazoo Loy Norrix (0-2), Mendon (2-0) at Watervliet (1-1), Battle Creek Central (1-1) at Battle Creek Lakeview (0-1).
Lower Up North
Traverse City West (1-1) at Traverse City Central (2-0)
These rivals emerged from the former Traverse City High in 1997, and West owns a 12-5 advantage in the series although they have split the last two match-ups. West's 17-14 win in Week 3 last season helped get the Titans into the playoffs and helped keep Central out with the same record. They play to open the Big North Conference season at neutral Thirlby Field, and it should be packed again.
Others that caught my eye: Cadillac (2-0) at Petoskey (2-0), Traverse City St. Francis (1-1) at Elk Rapids (1-1), Rogers City (2-0) at Lincoln Alcona (2-0), Manton (2-0) at Evart (1-1).
Bay and Thumb
Montrose (2-0) at Lake Fenton (1-1)
Montrose hasn't lost a Genesee Area Conference Red game since Week 3 of 2010. But last week's one-score victory over Corunna made the Rams look at least a little less invincible, and Lake Fenton is sure to try to pounce. The Blue Devils finished second to Montrose the last two seasons and bounced back from a bad opening-night loss to Freeland with a similarly big win over Durand.
Others that caught my eye: Davison (1-1) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (1-1), Reese (1-1) at Marlette (1-1), Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port (2-0) at Ubly (1-1), Croswell-Lexington (1-1) at Richmond (2-0).
Carsonville-Port Sanilac (0-2) at Deckerville (2-0)
Carsonville-Port Sanilac has never found itself in this position during the short history of 8-player football, or at all since 2008. But a win over rival Deckerville – 4-0 against the Tigers since moving to 8-player in 2012 – would certainly be a jumpstart to CPS's season. Carsonville-Port Sanilac was the inaugural MHSAA 8-player champion in 2011, and Deckerville kept the title in the Thumb by winning in 2012.
Others that caught my eye: Akron-Fairgrove (1-1) at Owendale-Gagetown (2-0), Waldron (2-0) at Portland St. Patrick (2-0).
PHOTO: Midland (blue helmet) is 1-1 after a 31-15 victory last week over Bay City Central. (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:
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.)