A Game for Every Fan: Week 4

September 18, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

How much does each game of the MHSAA football season count?

It’s only Week 4. But on one hand, 108 teams enter this weekend winless and one more loss from missing their chance at automatic playoff qualification. On the other hand, the elite already are beginning to separate – with six of our eight featured matchups pitting a pair of 3-0 teams.

That said, each of the last five weeks of the regular season matter just as much as well – little is decided before the midpoint. But the following should help set the paths for many as we reach halfway next week. 

West Michigan

Rockford (3-0) at Hudsonville (3-0)

From 2003-08, this was one of the best matchups in the entire Ottawa-Kent Conference and on more than one occasion THE game in West Michigan for that particular season – all six were decided by eight or fewer points, with Hudsonville claiming a 4-2 advantage. Rockford has won the last four meetings, all by multiple scores – but this one has the feel of another potential classic.

Others that caught my eye: Grand Haven (3-0) at Holland West Ottawa (2-1), Whitehall (3-0) at Mason County Central (2-1), Caledonia (2-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (2-1), Muskegon Catholic Central (3-0) at Spring Lake (2-1).

Greater Detroit

Plymouth (3-0) at Livonia Churchill (3-0)

This pair of Kensington Lakes Activities Association South foes has played a pair of classics over the last two seasons – Plymouth winning 23-22 last season and Churchill claiming a 35-31 victory in 2012. Churchill is surging again after winning two games last season, beating returning playoff teams Brighton and Westland John Glenn over the last two weeks. Plymouth also missed the playoffs last season but owns an impressive three-point win over Pinckney.

Others that caught my eye: Birmingham Brother Rice (3-0) at Warren DeLaSalle (3-0), Detroit Cody (2-1) at Detroit Martin Luther King (3-0) on Saturday, Warren Michigan Collegiate (3-0) vs. Detroit University Prep (3-0) on Saturday at Detroit Osborn, Lake Orion (2-1) at Oxford (3-0).


Coldwater (3-0) at Parma Western (2-1)

This matchup is overflowing with storylines. Parma Western has had two winning seasons over its last 24 and few games of consequence over that time – but has blown into 2014 with two early wins including over Battle Creek Pennfield, and the Panthers barely fell to Marshall last week, 45-44. Parma Wester also has never made the MHSAA playoffs, even starting 5-1 in 2009 before finishing 5-4. Enter this week’s opponent, Coldwater, coming off its first playoff berth ever last season and outscoring its first three 2014 opponents – including Pennfield and Marshall as well – by a combined 97-6.

Others that caught my eye: Mason (1-2) at St. Johns (3-0), Eaton Rapids (2-1) at Williamston (3-0), Portland (2-1) at Ionia (2-1), Grand Ledge (1-2) at Okemos (2-1).

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming (3-0) at Ishpeming Westwood (3-0)

This game has been similarly highly anticipated a few other times in recent history – although Ishpeming won the 2008, 2009 and 2011 games, Westwood entered all of those undefeated. This one has to have Patriots supporters just as amped – Westwood hasn’t beaten Ishpeming since 1998, is coming off two losing seasons and has outscored its first three opponents by a combined 140-30. Ishpeming? The two-time reigning MHSAA Division 7 champion has run its winning streak to 24 while beating this season’s first three opponents by a combined 126-32.

Others that caught my eye: Lake Linden-Hubbell (2-1) at Bessemer (3-0), Escanaba (1-2) at Marquette (2-1), Gladstone (3-0) at Menominee (3-0), Newberry (1-2) at Munising (2-1).

Lower Up North

Detroit Catholic Central (1-2) at Traverse City Central (3-0)

The Trojans have momentum after last week’s 20-13 win over rival Traverse City West, and this week could claim arguably their most impressive nonleague win since the schools split in 1997. Detroit Catholic’s Central’s lone win this fall came against a Canadian team, but its losses are to Muskegon by seven and Ohio power Toledo Whitmer – and there’s no reason to think the Shamrocks won’t be in Division 1 title contention again in two months.

Others that caught my eye: Traverse City West (1-2) at Petoskey (2-1), Alpena (2-1) at Cadillac (3-0), Charlevoix (2-1) at Grayling (1-2), Standish-Sterling (1-2) at Whittemore-Prescott (3-0).

Southwest and Border

St. Joseph (3-0) at Stevensville Lakeshore (3-0)

Niles also is undefeated to give the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference West three 3-0 teams to open the season, but St. Joseph and Lakeshore are annual favorites and own the most impressive victories so far. St. Joseph, last season’s league runner-up, got a leg up last week by beating 2013 third-place Portage Northern by 10. Lakeshore, last season’s fourth-place team and an eventual District winner, beat reigning league champ Portage Central last week 20-17.

Others that caught my eye: Parchment (1-2) at Constantine (3-0), Gobles (3-0) at Decatur (3-0), Plainwell (3-0) at Edwardsburg (2-1), Vicksburg (3-0) at Paw Paw (3-0).

Bay and Thumb

Millington (3-0) at Frankenmuth (3-0)

Frankenmuth has turned a four-game losing streak to the Cardinals into a two-game winning streak, with the victor going on to claim the Tri-Valley Conference East championship the last four seasons. Millington’s opening-night win over Essexville-Garber is the most impressive by either so far, but Frankenmuth did avenge last season’s loss to Hemlock and beat a returning playoff qualifier in North Branch.

Others that caught my eye: Flint Beecher (3-0) at Goodrich (3-0), Brighton (2-1) at Grand Blanc (2-1), Mount Pleasant (2-1) at Midland (2-1), Grosse Pointe South (2-1) at Port Huron (2-1).


Dryden (3-0) at Peck (3-0)

Dryden is a Class C school and as such cannot qualify for the MHSAA playoffs in 8-player. But the Cardinals are making a run at the North Central Thumb 8-Man League title as one of three undefeated teams atop the league – Peck and Deckerville are the others. Dryden has scored an incredible 176 points in three games; Peck, however, is the reigning MHSAA champion and has outscored its first three opponents by a combined 149-0.

Others that caught my eye: Engadine (2-1) vs. Cedarville (3-0) at DeTour, Morrice (2-1) at Deckerville (3-0), Burr Oak (2-1) at Battle Creek St. Philip (3-0) on Saturday.

PHOTO: Beal City (carrying the ball) hopes to be among those moving to 4-0 this week after earning its second win two weeks ago, 15-14 over Clare. (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:

8-Player Football

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.)