A Game for Every Fan: Week 6

September 27, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Time isn't running out yet on the 2012 MHSAA football season.

But for those with high aspirations, the time has come to make months of preparation pay off.

Four weeks remain in the regular season, meaning every team with at least two wins still has a shot to qualify for the playoffs automatically. It also means most league titles are still in play – although a lot of those opportunities will be lost by the time Saturday's games are done.

Following are this week's best matchups from your corner of the state. And remember to visit the MHSAA Score Center all weekend for updated scores and standings.

(All are tonight unless noted. Go to Score Center for additional dates and kickoff times.)


Carrollton (5-0) at Ithaca (5-0)

It’s not that Ithaca has laid low during this season’s extension to its 33-game winning streak. It’s just that before this week, none of the games was an intriguing enough matchup to mention here – the Yellowjackets beat their strongest opponents so far, Williamston and Saginaw Valley Lutheran, 46-0 and 55-0, respectively. Quarterback Travis Smith, a hero from last season’s Division 6 Final win, has completed 66 percent of his passes for 865 yards and 12 touchdowns and run for eight scores. He’s tough to stop, but Ithaca’s defense might have the bigger challenge this time – Carrollton running back Derrick Nash, who has committed to Central Michigan, is averaging 10 yards per carry with 1,048 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing this fall.

Others that caught my eye: Manchester (4-1) at Grass Lake (4-1), Lake City (5-0) at Beal City (5-0), Lansing Waverly (4-1) at Charlotte (3-2), East Lansing (4-1) at Lansing Everett (5-0).

Southwest and Border

Battle Creek Pennfield (5-0) at Schoolcraft (5-0)

These two have taken slightly different routes to this point, making this game a true test for both. Pennfield has beaten five of the bottom six teams in the Kalamazoo Valley Association standings (two are among three tied for fifth), and those opponents have combined for five wins so far this season. But the Panthers also are the reigning league champions. Schoolcraft owns wins over likely playoff qualifiers Olivet and Constantine, but hasn’t beaten Pennfield since 2009.

Others that caught my eye: Niles Brandywine (4-1) at Buchanan (4-1), Mattawan (5-0) at St. Joseph (3-2), Climax-Scotts (5-0) at Pittsford (4-1), Marcellus (5-0) at Watervliet (5-0).

Greater Detroit

Orchard Lake St. Mary (4-1) at Birmingham Brother Rice (4-1), Saturday

Of all the great matchups that take place in the Detroit Catholic League Central every season, this one might be the best of 2012. Both still must face Detroit Catholic Central – the reigning MHSAA Division 1 runner-up. But so far, thes Eaglets and the Warriors have made the biggest waves and done so coming off MHSAA championships last fall – St. Mary in Division 3 and Brother Rice in Division 2. The Warriors fell to reigning Division 1 champ Detroit Cass Tech 25-18 on opening night in what looked then like the potential game of 2012 in the Detroit area. Then St. Mary beat Cass Tech 13-6 last week. If all of that doesn’t provide enough hype, there’s always the result of last season’s game – a 10-9 Eaglets victory.

Others that caught my eye: Rochester (4-1) at Lake Orion (5-0), Allen Park Cabrini (4-1) at Royal Oak Shrine (4-1), Detroit Central Collegiate (3-2) at Detroit East English (4-1), Ottawa Lake Whiteford (4-1) at Petersburg-Summerfield (4-1).

West Michigan

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (4-1) at Lowell (4-1)

Wins over traditional powers Zeeland West (59-58) and East Grand Rapids (43-17) have made this a solid season so far for Forest Hills Central – but this week, the Rangers can take it up another level. Lowell continues to be Lowell – its only loss was to Muskegon, arguably the best team in the state regardless of division, and no other opponent has scored more than seven points. Standout linebackers Colin Schlosser and Nick Lamica may need to come up big again for Forest Hills Central to break an eight-game losing streak against the Red Arrows.

Others that caught my eye: Grand Rapids Christian (4-1) at East Grand Rapids (2-3), Shelby (5-0) at Montague (4-1), Grandville Calvin Christian (4-1) at Hopkins (5-0), Muskegon Mona Shores (4-1) at Muskegon (5-0).

Lower Up North

Traverse City West (4-1) at Traverse City Central (4-1)

West owns an 11-4 edge in this series since the schools split in 1997. But a Central win this time would erase some of those memories – or at least push the one-sidedness out of the conversation for a while. The Trojans’ only loss this season was by three to Grand Haven on opening night, and they’ve already equaled last season’s win total with only two more needed for their most since 1991. This also could eventually decide the Big North Conference title – West has been a power since two divisions combined in 2000, but Central hasn’t won a league title since the schools were still one, in 1996.  West’s only loss this season was by four to Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills, also on opening night.

Others that caught my eye: Grayling (5-0) at Elk Rapids (3-2), Pickford (5-0) at Mancelona (5-0), Kingsley (4-1) at Maple City Glen Lake (5-0), Onaway (4-1) at Pellston (4-1).

Upper Peninsula

Crystal Falls Forest Park (5-0) at Iron Mountain North Dickinson (5-0)

North Dickinson, playing only eight regular-season games this season, became the first team in 2012 to qualify for the playoffs. Now Forest Park can do the same by beating the Nordics for a ninth straight time, a streak that has included two playoff victories. This is a clash of likely eventual league champions – North Dickinson needs only a win over Powers North Central next week to claim the Mid-Eastern Football Conference title, while the Trojans already own a win over 2011 Great Western Conference champion Hurley, Wis., and have a one-game lead on two teams in that league.

Others that caught my eye: Menominee (4-1) at Escanaba (2-3), Marquette (4-1) at Kingsford (4-1), Powers North Central (3-2) at Newberry (3-2), Cedarville (5-0) at Rapid River (5-0).

Thumb and Bay

Goodrich (4-1) at Lake Fenton (4-1)

The Blue Devils are tied with Montrose atop the Genesee Area Conference Red standings and playing for their first league title since sharing with the Rams in 2007. They’ve outscored their last four opponents 203-20 since opening this season with a 42-39 loss to Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard. Goodrich fell to Montrose by a point two weeks ago, and would love to jump back into this race with a third-straight win over Lake Fenton – the Martians won last season 27-7.

Others that caught my eye: Midland Dow (3-2) at Bay City Western (5-0), Lapeer East (3-2) at Fenton (4-1), Davison (4-1) at Flint Powers Catholic (5-0), Hemlock (4-1) at Saginaw Swan Valley (4-1).

PHOTO: Ithaca quarterback Travis Smith focuses in on a target during last week's win at Merrill. (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.)