A Game for Every Fan: Week 5
September 24, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Halftime of this weekend’s games will mark the midway point of the 2015 football regular season.
And the final results this Friday and Saturday could prove to be turning points for a number of teams playing for league titles all over the state.
The Week 5 slate is filled with matchups of teams tied for first place in their respective leagues, plus others pitting leaders against those in second and hoping to move up. The report below touches on many, but not all of these – tune in to the Score Center this weekend for scores and updated standings as those games are decided.
Bay & Thumb
Frankenmuth (4-0) at Millington (4-0)
The latest chapter in this Tri-Valley Conference East rivalry should again decide the champion. Millington handed the Eagles their only loss of the 2014 regular season – although these two then shared the title with Birch Run after the Panthers beat the Cardinals. Millington has won nine of the last 15 meetings, but Frankenmuth holds a slim 22-20 edge going back to their first reported meeting in 1956.
Others that caught my eye: Almont (4-0) at Richmond (4-0), Mount Pleasant (3-1) at Lapeer (4-0), Flint Powers Catholic (3-1) at Midland Dow (3-1), St. Clair Shores South Lake (4-0) at Marine City (3-1).
Detroit Cass Tech (4-0) at Detroit Martin Luther King (4-0)
This Detroit Public School League rivalry game always is anticipated, but this season more than most. King’s only regular-season loss last season was to Cass Tech, in the PSL championship game; the Crusaders then saw their season end in the first round of the playoffs the next week. However, they opened this fall by beating reigning Division 2 champion Warren DeLaSalle. Cass Tech hasn’t lost a regular-season game since Week 8 of 2012 – to King – but despite dominating four opponents that had winning records a year ago, might be behind the Crusaders in terms of generating statewide buzz.
Others that caught my eye: Warren Mott (4-0) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (3-1), Belleville (3-1) at Dearborn Heights Robichaud (4-0), Southfield (3-1) at Farmington Hills Harrison (3-1), Warren DeLaSalle (3-1) at Orchard Lake St. Mary's (4-0).
Olivet (3-1) at Lake Odessa Lakewood (4-0)
Lakewood has plenty of history it would like to still make, but consider this from the Vikings’ start: they are 4-0 for the first time since 1974. Those four wins tie the total for all of last season and tie the team’s most for a season since 2005. Lakewood’s 176 points through four games is more than they scored during 14 of the last 20 seasons. But Olivet certainly can dampen the excitement by winning tonight’s Greater Lansing Activities Conference matchup, like the Eagles did last season 42-9 on the way to winning the league title.
Others that caught my eye: Jackson (3-1) at Grand Ledge (4-0), Flint Beecher (4-0) at Corunna (3-1), Haslett (3-1) at Mason (2-2), Holt (2-2) at East Lansing (2-2).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Boyne City (4-0) at Traverse City St. Francis (4-0)
By the smallest of margins, this game gets top billing over two others matching undefeated teams. For starters, Boyne City won the matchup last season 28-27 – and eventually, the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders division title. The Ramblers then made the Division 6 Semifinals, and then graduated a significant group of contributors – but has come back to shut out two of its first four opponents. Then again, St. Francis didn’t give up a point this season until last week and is sparking statewide chatter like its contending teams of a few years ago.
Others that caught my eye: Gaylord (4-0) at Traverse City Central (4-0), St. Ignace (4-0) at Johannesburg-Lewiston (4-0), Onekama (4-0) at Maple City Glen Lake (3-1), McBain (3-1) at Manton (2-2).
Southeast & Border
Clinton (4-0) at Morenci (4-0)
Morenci won 10 games last fall for the first time since 1996 – but the only blemish on an otherwise incredible regular-season run was a 28-26 loss to Clinton that ended up deciding the Tri-County Conference championship. All four of the Bulldogs’ wins this season are against teams .500 or better so far, lining this up as again a likely league title decider – Clinton has shut out two of its first four opponents and won 31 straight regular-season games.
Others that caught my eye: Brooklyn Columbia Central (4-0) at Ida (4-0), Monroe (3-1) at Ann Arbor Pioneer (4-0), Chelsea (4-0) at Tecumseh (2-2), New Boston Huron (2-2) at Milan (3-1).
Berrien Springs (4-0) at Bridgman (4-0)
Both of these programs have enjoyed recent success; Bridgman has made the playoffs three straight seasons, and Berrien Springs made the postseason last year and two of the last four. But there’s a little more intrigue although these teams don’t play in the same division of the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference. Bridgman has never started 4-0 – and looks like the BCS Blue favorite. Berrien Springs likely will battle Buchanan in the BCS White and hasn’t allowed a point in two weeks, most recently shutting out BCS Red favorite Cassopolis.
Others that caught my eye: Saugatuck (4-0) at Decatur (3-1), Dowagiac (3-1) at Edwardsburg (4-0), Jackson Lumen Christi (4-0) at Marshall (3-1), Sturgis (3-1) at Vicksburg (3-1).
Lake Linden-Hubbell (4-0) at L'Anse (3-1)
The Lakes are used to success and have made the playoffs nine of the last 11 seasons – but are 4-0 for the first time since winning 10 games in 2009 and on pace to score their most points since 1997. L’Anse has bounced back from 4-5 a year ago but has a tough schedule over the season’s second half – and would enjoy the momentum from playing a tough opponent well this weekend.
Others that caught my eye: Crystal Falls Forest Park (2-2) at Newberry (3-1), Detroit Country Day (3-1) at Escanaba (2-2), Ishpeming Westwood (2-2) at Iron Mountain (2-2), Felch North Dickinson (1-3) at Bark River-Harris (4-0).
Montague (4-0) at Whitehall (3-1)
The season’s first half has been one of resurgence for Montague, one of the state’s most successful programs during the first decade of the 2000s. The Wildcats are 4-0 for the first time since 2010 and after going only 2-7 a year ago. They’re giving up points, but scoring more including 70 on Ravenna and 55 against Shelby. Whitehall did fall by a score to undefeated Traverse City Central last week, but otherwise navigated well a solid nonleague slate – and beat Montague 48-20 a year ago.
Others that caught my eye: Hudsonville Unity Christian (3-1) at Byron Center (3-1), Grand Rapids Christian (3-1) at Hudsonville (3-1), Zeeland East (3-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (4-0), Caledonia (2-2) at Rockford (2-2).
Posen (4-0) at Pickford (3-1)
Pickford should be finding 8-player football to its liking so far. The Panthers, in their first season, have one more win than they earned all of 2014 and have lost this fall only to reigning MHSAA runner-up Cedarville. Posen has shown to be in a similar elite class so far, especially after last week’s 30-point win over always-tough Bellaire – and the Vikings have guaranteed tying their best finish since 2010.
Others that caught my eye: Webberville (4-0) at Waldron (4-0), Owendale-Gagetown (4-0) at Akron-Fairgrove (3-1).
PHOTO: A Detroit Cass Tech ball carrier breaks through during the Technicians’ win this season against Detroit Renaissance. (Photo courtesy of Detroit Public School League.)
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.)