A Game for Every Fan: Week 6
October 1, 2014
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
We’ve reached October, and that means two things – league titles and lots of numbers.
We’ll cover the former by telling you which teams are winning what in our weekly Drive for Detroit reports posted each Monday. As for those piles of numbers, here are a few: Ishpeming is the first to qualify for the 2014 MHSAA playoffs because it started 5-0 and is playing eight games this season; 66 more teams have started 5-0 and can qualify with victories this weekend.
Below are some of the best games from every corner of the state, most of which will help define those league title races while giving us more numbers to crunch with playoff selection only four weeks away. (All games are Friday unless noted.)
Detroit East English (4-1) at Detroit Cass Tech (5-0), Saturday
All 16 Detroit Public School League football teams are playing in one division this season after being split into multiple the past many years. The top six contenders have begun to separate from the pack – with East English, Cass Tech and Martin Luther King the only three with perfect league records. Because of the way the schedule fell, neither East English nor Cass Tech plays King in a league game – so whichever wins this weekend’s matchup should receive a top seed in the PSL playoffs that begin Week 8. East English is a nine-point nonleague loss to Lansing Sexton from being undefeated, but hasn’t given up a point since that opening weekend defeat.
Others that caught my eye: Waterford Mott (4-1) at Walled Lake Central (4-1) on Thursday, Orchard Lake St. Mary's (5-0) at Birmingham Brother Rice (5-0), Morenci (5-0) at Clinton (5-0), Monroe (4-1) at Saline (4-1).
DeWitt (5-0) at St. Johns (5-0)
This feels a lot like the rivals’ matchup in 2010, when DeWitt came into Week 9 undefeated and dominating everyone and left with a 49-35 loss (the Panthers went on to make the Division 3 Semifinals). Once again, the Panthers are likely considered heavy favorites despite the teams’ matching records – but St. Johns has enough speed to try to match DeWitt’s high-octane offensive attack. There’s another big difference from 2010– this time, both are in the same league, the Capital Area Activities Conference Red.
Others that caught my eye: Coldwater (5-0) at Jackson Lumen Christi (5-0) on Saturday, Stockbridge (4-1) at Olivet (4-1), Manchester (4-1) at Grass Lake (5-0), Portland (3-2) at Williamston (5-0).
Lower Up North
Ishpeming (5-0) vs. Beal City (5-0) at Gaylord
Although technically neither of these teams is from the counties of the northern Lower Peninsula, this game will be played in between them at Gaylord – and could be the most entertaining game of the weekend. Beal City has finished Division 8 runner-up the last two seasons and hasn’t given up a point in the last two games. Ishpeming has won the last two Division 7 championships and hasn’t allowed an opponent this season within 26 points.
Others that caught my eye: Gaylord (4-1) at Cadillac (5-0), Whittemore-Prescott (5-0) at Tawas (4-1), St. Ignace (5-0) at Mancelona (3-2), Petoskey (4-1) at Traverse City Central (4-1).
Southwest and Border
Niles (4-1) at Portage Central (3-1)
It’s time to give Niles a look and some credit for a solid turnaround; the Vikings are 4-1 after winning two games last season and no more than four since 2003. They did fall to Portage Northern two weeks ago – but can cement themselves as a probable playoff team and possible Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference West spoiler for some other contenders by beating reigning champion Portage Central.
Others that caught my eye: Portage Northern (4-1) at Stevensville Lakeshore (4-1), Paw Paw (3-2) at Berrien Springs (3-2), South Haven (2-3) at Edwardsburg (4-1), Buchanan (2-3) at Mendon (4-1).
Grand Rapids Christian (4-1) at Lowell (5-0)
The Ottawa-Kent Conference White includes these two plus a Caledonia (3-2) team that beat Rockford 42-0 last week, improved East Grand Rapids (3-2), and a Forest Hills Central team that is 1-4 but beat Caledonia and has losses to teams that are a combined 14-6. Lowell already has gotten EGR out of the way, and a win over the Eagles – 35-34 winners over the Red Arrows a year ago – would solidify its frontrunner status in arguably the state’s most competitive conference.
Others that caught my eye: East Kentwood (5-0) at Holland West Ottawa (4-1), Stanton Central Montcalm (3-2) at Remus Chippewa Hills (5-0), North Muskegon (3-2) at Ravenna (4-1), Holland Christian (2-3) at Holland (3-2).
Bay and Thumb
Saginaw Swan Valley (5-0) at Freeland (5-0)
Alex Grace is up to 994 yards rushing this fall and more than 6,100 for his three-year varsity career, and as such Swan Valley remains one of the scariest Class B teams in the state. But Freeland actually has outscored the Vikings by seven points this fall – although Swan Valley also has given up only 22 to Freeland’s 83. The last seven matchups between the two have been decided by 15 points or fewer, which could make a standout runner and his offensive line the difference-makers once again.
Others that caught my eye: Birch Run (5-0) at Frankenmuth (4-1), Warren Woods-Tower (5-0) at Marysville (3-2), Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (4-1) at St. Charles (3-2), Lake Fenton (2-3) at Flint Beecher (5-0).
Crystal Falls Forest Park (3-1) at Felch North Dickinson (3-2)
While these two remain in different leagues, this remains one of the best annual matchups in the Upper Peninsula. Forest Park came back from a 2012 28-point loss to North Dickinson by sweeping the Nordics in two games in 2013, including 24-20 in a Regional Final. North Dickinson also is trying to avoid losing three regular-season games for the first time since 2008. Both are playing only eight games this fall, so both need only two more wins to qualify for the postseason and the potential to face off again.
Others that caught my eye: Iron River West Iron County (5-0) at Calumet (3-2), Gladstone (3-2) at Sault Ste. Marie (2-3), Marquette (4-1) at Kingsford (2-3), Rudyard (2-3) at Munising (4-1).
Cedarville (5-0) at Rapid River (5-0)
Lawrence (5-0) at Deckerville (5-0) on Saturday
It’s impossible to separate these two – Friday’s game matches the top two 8-player programs in the Upper Peninsula, while Saturday’s matches arguably the two best from the Lower Peninsula not including reigning MHSAA champion Peck and last week’s 89-point scorer Battle Creek St. Philip. Needless to say, the results could mean a lot when playoffs are drawn up and home teams for Regionals are assigned at the end of this month.
Others that caught my eye: Battle Creek St. Philip (5-0) at Webberville (3-2), Peck (5-0) at Kingston (3-2).
PHOTO: Detroit East English (in blue) fell to Lansing Sexton during opening weekend but hasn’t given up a point since that Saturday afternoon. (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:
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.)