A Game for Every Fan: Week 3
September 10, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
League play begins this week for many teams across Michigan – and with favorites facing off immediately in games that eventually could decide who wins those conference titles.
The highlighted matchups below include a few of those, but mostly some of the last titanic nonleague battles we'll see this fall – at least, until we reach the MHSAA playoffs.
All games below are tonight unless noted. Follow all of the results as they come in at the MHSAA Score Center. And keep an eye on Muskegon vs. Grandville; with their next win, the Big Reds will become the first program in state history with 800 victories.
Bay & Thumb
Millington (2-0) at Essexville Garber (1-1)
This might not seem the caliber of a “best game of the week” from this area, but it’s been a sneaky-good matchup the last few years as Garber won in 2013 and Millington came back with a 28-19 victory on opening night in 2014. The Cardinals’ opening-night victory over Vassar this fall was a solid start, and the Dukes have scored 80 points total despite splitting their first two matchups.
Others that caught my eye: Marine City (1-1) at Marysville (1-1), Sandusky (2-0) at Bad Axe (1-1), Ortonville-Brandon (2-0) at Clio (2-0), Corunna (2-0) at Goodrich (1-1).
Detroit East English (2-0) at Detroit Martin Luther King (2-0)
King is expected by many to be the team to beat from the Detroit Public School League this season, and its first five opponents include reigning Division 2 champion Warren DeLaSalle (a 12-10 win), now East English and in two weeks rival Cass Tech. East English has opened with victories over 2014 playoff teams Walled Lake Central and Detroit Renaissance.
Others that caught my eye: Southfield (1-1) at Farmington (2-0), Lincoln Park (2-0) at Trenton (2-0), Clarkston (1-1) at West Bloomfield (2-0), Farmington Hills Harrison (1-1) at Oak Park (0-2).
Grand Ledge (2-0) at Lansing Sexton (0-2)
While Grand Ledge looks early like possibly the Lansing area’s best team (Lansing Catholic is on the other side of that argument), the Comets can't look past an old rival. Sexton graduated a lot from last season’s Division 4 runner-up team, including the majority of its skill players on offense, but a new group is coming along – with the 0-2 start coming against two 2014 playoff teams.
Others that caught my eye: Lansing Catholic (2-0) at Williamston (2-0), Jackson (2-0) at East Lansing (0-2), Oscoda (1-1) at Vestaburg (2-0), Eaton Rapids (1-1) at Ionia (1-1).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Escanaba (2-0) at Gaylord (2-0)
There’s tons of excitement surrounding these programs as we head toward the middle of September. Escanaba is off to its first 2-0 start since 2011 and a win away from equaling its total from each of the last two seasons. Gaylord missed the playoffs a year ago and came back by starting this fall outscoring its first two opponents 94-6 – and won all three meetings the last time these teams had a series, from 2008-10.
Others that caught my eye: Lincoln Alcona (2-0) at Rogers City (2-0), Fife Lake Forest Area (1-1) at Indian River Inland Lakes (2-0), Grayling (1-1) at Maple City Glen Lake (2-0), Traverse City Central (2-0) at Traverse City West (0-2).
Southeast & Border
Saline (2-0) at Ann Arbor Skyline (2-0)
This might be the most highly-anticipated game in Michigan this weekend. Saline is playing like a team with arguably the state’s top quarterback (Josh Jackson) and coming off finishing runner-up in Division 1 – the Hornets then beat Rockford by 13 on opening night. And Skyline is playing like a team with two of the state’s most dynamic players in Daelin Hayes and Hunter Rison, opening with a pair of double-digit wins after entering the season with 12 straight losses.
Others that caught my eye: Morenci (2-0) at Petersburg-Summerfield (2-0), Hillsdale (1-1) at Brooklyn Columbia Central (2-0), Climax-Scotts (2-0) at Adrian Lenawee Christian (2-0), Homer (1-1) at Concord (2-0).
Portage Central (2-0) at Stevensville Lakeshore (2-0)
These Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference West rivals again kick off the league schedule against each other after last season’s 20-17 Lakeshore win in Week 3 eventually decided the title. Five of their six meetings since joining the same SMAC division have been decided by 10 points or fewer – and those six meetings have resulted in three wins for each team.
Others that caught my eye: New Buffalo (1-1) at Cassopolis (2-0), Battle Creek Pennfield (1-1) at Coldwater (2-0), Paw Paw (2-0) at Sturgis (1-1), Kalamazoo Loy Norrix (1-1) at Kalamazoo Central (2-0), Battle Creek Lakeview (1-1) at Battle Creek Central (0-2).
Negaunee (2-0) at Gladstone (2-0)
Gladstone likely was feeling similarly excited this time last fall when it ended a 22-game losing streak with a 3-0 start, only to drop its final six games. But the Braves have bounced back again and hope to follow last fall’s 24-19 win over Negaunee, which had to be considered an upset then and after as the Miners made the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons. They’re 2-0 after surviving a tough test last week from Calumet.
Others that caught my eye: Munising (2-0) at Felch North Dickinson (1-1), Ishpeming (2-0) at Calumet (1-1), Iron River West Iron County (2-0) at Iron Mountain (1-1), Marquette (0-2) at Sault Ste. Marie (1-1).
Rockford (1-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (2-0)
The Rams are taking on their second 2014 MHSAA runner-up already this season, having fallen to Saline in Week 1 and now taking on the second-place team from Division 2. Rockford handed the Sailors their only pre-Ford Field loss in 2014, 10-7 in Week 3. But Mona Shores has had no problem putting points on the board despite replacing a Division I college quarterback – the Sailors have scored 55 in each of their first two games.
Others that caught my eye: East Grand Rapids (2-0) at Caledonia (2-0), Hudsonville (2-0) at Zeeland East (2-0), Grandville (2-0) at Muskegon (1-1), Scottville Mason County Central (2-0) at Whitehall (2-0).
Rapid River (2-0) at Cedarville (2-0)
Together these two have played in three of the first four MHSAA 8-player Finals, and they’ll continue this growing rivalry game despite playing in different leagues for the first time since making the format switch. Cedarville's only regular-season losses of the last three years have come, twice, to the Rockets, who won 20-19 a year ago and haven’t lost a regular-season game since Week 9 of 2012.
Others that caught my eye: Peck (1-1) at Kinde-North Huron (1-1), Powers North Central (2-0) at Bellaire (2-0) (Sat.).
PHOTO: Grand Ledge’s 2-0 start included a 38-7 win over Holland West Ottawa in Week 2. (Click for 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.)