A Game for Every Fan: Week 6

October 4, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Admittedly, a number of teams show up regularly in this weekly look at the best high school football games to be played around the state. Their frequent mentions are the product of tough competition they schedule, their past histories of making it to the highest levels of our playoffs, and because of both the overall statewide interest in how those teams fare. 

But this week, many of those teams are absent from this list – replaced by some others with similarly strong resumes this season that many probably aren't as used to following.  

See below for our best matchups from each region of the state, including four 5-0 vs. 5-0 face-offs. 

Some additional fun with numbers: Two teams (Portland and Felch North Dickinson) have qualified for the 11-player playoffs. A total of 76 can qualify with a win tonight. Counting 8-player teams as well, there are 79 teams still undefeated.


Jonesville (5-0) at Homer (5-0)

Neither team has won the Big 8 Conference title since Homer did so in 2005 (although Jonesville finished one game back last season). In fact, Homer hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006 and Jonesville was 1-8 only two seasons ago. But they’re both dominating this fall, and both already have big wins over last season’s league champion, Reading. The winner tonight earns a playoff berth and strong upper hand in the league race with two conference games remaining.

Others that caught my eye: Lansing Everett (4-1) at East Lansing (3-2), Lansing Sexton (5-0) at Holt (3-2), Jackson Lumen Christi (4-1) at Mason (5-0), Williamston (4-1) at Portland (5-0).

West Michigan

Shelby (5-0) at Muskegon Oakridge (5-0)

Oakridge’s 18-game regular-season winning streak is on the line against a team it has beaten in four straight – but also, like Oakridge, a Shelby team that won 10 games last season. The Tigers have romped through its first four games in the West Michigan Conference this fall, while Oakridge did get a scare last week before beating Ravenna 31-27. The winner of this one claims a playoff berth, and Oakridge – with its final league opponents a combined 2-8 – will be touch to catch in the league race if it can prevail. 

Others that caught my eye: Allendale (4-1) at Belding (4-1), Lowell (5-0) at East Grand Rapids (3-2), Hudsonville (3-2) at Rockford (4-1), Wyoming Godwin Heights (4-1) at Wyoming Kelloggsville (3-2).

Upper Peninsula

Rapid River (5-0) at Cedarville (5-0)

This has become the regular-season game of the year during the short history of 8-player football in Michigan. Cedarville is tied for the highest playoff points average in 8-player and Rapid River is just behind the three co-leaders. The winner takes a commanding one-game lead in the Bridge-Alliance Conference, but Cedarville has additional motivation: The Trojans beat Rapid River 72-12 during the 2012 regular season and were a heavy favorite to at least make the MHSAA Final – but Rapid River came back to eliminate Cedarville 22-14 in their Regional Final.

Others that caught my eye: Felch North Dickinson (5-0) at Crystal Falls Forest Park (5-0), Lake Linden-Hubbell (3-2) at Hancock (2-3), Kingsford (4-1) at Marquette (4-1), Eagle River Northland Pines, Wis. (5-1) at Houghton (3-2).

Greater Detroit and Southeast

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (5-0) at Milan (5-0)

This kind of game has become an annual rite of fall for St. Mary, which has at least 10 wins four of the last five seasons and is used to being in Huron League contention. Milan is getting used to this too; after a dismal 1-8 finish in 2011, the Big Reds ran the table last season and have a 14-game regular-season winning streak on the line. Beating Grosse Ile 21-14 and then St. Mary 35-20 over consecutive weeks last season put the rest of the league on notice, but the rematch of the latter could be both closer and more low-scoring – the Falcons have given up only 22 points this season.

Others that caught my eye: Birmingham Brother Rice (5-0) at Orchard Lake St. Mary's (3-2), Hudson (5-0) at Ida (4-1), Waterford Our Lady (3-2) at Royal Oak Shrine Catholic (5-0), Grass Lake (5-0) at Manchester (4-1).

Lower Up North

McBain (4-1) at Lake City (5-0)

Granted, a giant matchup against reigning MHSAA Division 8 runner-up Beal City looms for Lake City in Week 7. But few teams statewide have been as impressive so far as the Trojans, who have outscored their opponents by a combined 262-6 – yes, 6 – in setting up for another Highland Conference title-deciding showdown with the Aggies. McBain would love to ruin that possibility. The Ramblers did fall to Lake City 28-13 last season, but have beaten Trojans in three of their last five games and already have equaled last season’s win total.

Others that caught my eye: Elk Rapids (4-1) at Grayling (4-1), Mio (4-1) at Rogers City (3-2), Mancelona (3-2) at Pickford (4-1), East Jordan (3-2) at Boyne City (4-1).

Southwest and Border

Schoolcraft (4-1) at Battle Creek Pennfield (5-0)

Did you know? ... Pennfield has qualified for the playoffs 14 straight seasons and can make it 15 tonight. The Panthers have to be careful, however, not to look ahead to next week’s matchup with Olivet – the other team tied for first in the Kalamazoo Valley Association. That shouldn’t be an issue, however, given Schoolcraft won the league last season thanks in large part to a 19-16 win over Pennfield. Schoolcraft already has fallen to Olivet this season, three weeks ago, and likely must win tonight to keep hopes of a shared title alive.

Others that caught my eye: Lawton (5-0) at Hartford (3-2), Mattawan (2-3) at Portage Northern (3-2), Deckerville (3-2) at Lawrence (3-1), Battle Creek Harper Creek (4-1) at Sturgis (3-2).

Bay and Thumb

Frankenmuth (4-1) at Millington (4-1)

The layers of this rivalry stack high, and this game no doubt is the one both have had circled all fall. After three seasons falling to the Cardinals, Frankenmuth broke through for a 12-8 win in the Tri-Valley Conference East opener last season and hung on to win the league title while Millington also didn’t lose again until the District Finals. The Cardinals have fallen to Essexville-Garber in league play this season and trail the Eagles by a win in the standings with two more games to play after tonight.

Others that caught my eye: Vassar (3-2) at Marlette (5-0), Bay City Western (2-3) at Midland Dow (4-1), Cass City (3-2) at Reese (4-1), Fenton (5-0) at Lapeer East (3-2).

PHOTO: Carson City Crystal – here against Vestaburg in Week 4 – is one of 76 teams statewide that can qualify for the playoffs with a win tonight. The Eagles made the postseason last fall for the first time since 1999. (Click to see more from High School Sports Scene.)

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.)