A Game for Every Fan: Week 6
October 1, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Week 6 annually is one of celebration and sadness for Michigan high school football teams.
A total of 66 can clinch automatic playoff berths with a victory this weekend, joining Ishpeming, which qualified by winning the fifth game of its eight-game schedule a week ago. Meanwhile, 122 teams are 2-3 and can't afford another loss as they attempt to win out and clinch an automatic berth.
See below for some of the most intriguing games from each region of the state, and as always, follow results as they come in on the MHSAA Score Center.
Bay & Thumb
Ithaca (5-0) at Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (5-0)
Ithaca’s regular-season challenges are generally few; the Yellowjackets haven’t lost a regular-season game since Week 8 of 2009. But Michigan Lutheran Seminary gave Ithaca an early challenge last fall on the way to playing in a Division 7 Semifinal and is especially strong on defense again – Ithaca is one of only three teams over the last two seasons to score more than 15 points on the Cardinals.
Others that caught my eye: Flint Beecher (4-1) at Lake Fenton (4-1), Sterling Heights (4-1) at Marine City (3-2), Flint Carman-Ainsworth (3-2) at Midland (5-0), Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (3-2) at Unionville-Sebewaing (4-1).
Detroit Cass Tech (4-1) at Detroit East English (5-0)
The Technicians are looking to bounce back from their first regular-season loss since 2012, by three last week to Detroit Martin Luther King. East English is no doubt ready to extend Cass Tech's new streak to two. The Bulldogs, who fell to King in Week 3 by five points, lost to Cass Tech twice last season by a combined 12 points – and like Cass Tech have had little trouble this season aside from the Crusaders.
Others that caught my eye: Walled Lake Northern (4-1) at Walled Lake Western (5-0), Allen Park (4-1) at Trenton (5-0), Northville (5-0) at Livonia Stevenson (5-0), Romeo (5-0) at Macomb Dakota (4-1).
DeWitt (5-0) at Haslett (3-2)
This grand rivalry hasn’t been as much with DeWitt winning the last 12 meetings including multiple during the playoffs. But despite the Panthers’ 39-0 victory a year ago, the 2015 version should be much closer. Rebuilt DeWitt has done well against a solid schedule, but Haslett hasn’t been far behind with losses the last two weeks by a combined seven points. The Vikings should slow the tempo enough to stay within striking distance.
Others that caught my eye: Brighton (5-0) at Hartland (3-2), Lansing Sexton (1-4) at Holt (3-2), Olivet (3-2) at Stockbridge (4-1), Eaton Rapids (2-3) at Portland (5-0).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Beal City (4-1) at McBain (4-1)
Beal City has owned the Highland Conference for most of the last four seasons with 21 straight wins dating to a 2011 loss – to McBain. The Ramblers are hoping to break that streak as they continue toward what should be their best finish since at least 2011 – they’ve already equaled last season’s win total and avenged two of its five losses.
Others that caught my eye: Traverse City St. Francis (5-0) at Grayling (4-1), Boyne City (4-1) at Maple City Glen Lake (4-1), Lincoln Alcona (4-1) at Oscoda (4-1), Traverse City Central (5-0) at Petoskey (4-1).
Southeast & Border
Ann Arbor Pioneer (5-0) at Saline (5-0)
The last two meetings between these two haven’t been competitive, with Saline winning both by a combined score of 68-10. The Hornets haven’t given up a point in two weeks and can clinch a share of the Southeastern Conference Red title with a victory tonight. But this is Pioneer’s best team since 2012, when it split two games with Saline. The Pioneers have equaled last season’s five wins and come through in a pair of close games – good experience if this one goes to the wire as well.
Others that caught my eye: Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (4-1) at Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (4-1), Ida (5-0) at Dundee (3-2), Homer (4-1) at Springport (3-2), Ypsilanti Lincoln (2-3) at Ypsilanti Community (2-3).
Pittsford (4-1) at Climax-Scotts (5-0)
Climax-Scotts has won an incredible 42 straight games in the Southern Central Athletic Association, dating to a 2008 loss to Pittsford. The Wildcats are the team that most recently has come close to snapping that streak, in 2013, and fell to Climax-Scotts twice a year ago – but might be the only league team capable of slowing a Panthers attack averaging nearly 53 points per game.
Others that caught my eye: Jackson Lumen Christi (4-1) at Coldwater (5-0), Watervliet (4-1) at Constantine (3-2), Dowagiac (3-2) at Plainwell (3-2), Benton Harbor (3-2) at St. Joseph (4-1).
Kingsford (3-2) at Marquette (2-3)
The Flivvers last week become one of the few of the past few seasons to come close to beating Menominee. But despite that three-point loss, Kingsford is driving toward a return to the playoffs after a season away and needs only one more win to equal last season’s total. Marquette has won two straight over the Flivvers, but this meeting is the most urgent of late because of an 0-3 start and tough games to finish against Negaunee and the Maroons.
Others that caught my eye: Escanaba (2-3) at Menominee (5-0), Hurley, Wis. (5-1) at Bark River-Harris (5-0), Iron River West Iron County (1-4) at Calumet (3-2), Sault Ste. Marie (3-2) at Gladstone (2-3).
Reed City (5-0) at Big Rapids (4-1)
Reed City gets overlooked a bit at the intersection between the Grand Rapids powers and the Big North Conference. But the Coyotes have won 36 of their last 37 games in the Central State Activities Association and can keep step with a sixth straight win over Big Rapids. That won't be as easy a task this fall, however; the Cardinals won four games total over 2013 and 2014, but are only a seven-point loss to Bay City John Glenn last week from perfection in 2015.
Others that caught my eye: East Grand Rapids (4-1) at Grand Rapids Christian (3-2), East Kentwood (4-1) at Hudsonville (4-1), Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (3-2) at Muskegon Mona Shores (5-0), Zeeland East (3-2) at Muskegon (5-0).
Cedarville (4-1) at Posen (5-0)
Cedarville has lost only four games in five seasons of 8-player football, and to no one but rival Rapid River since 2011. But Posen could change things up in the Bridge Alliance Conference if it can continue a defensive performance rare for the 8-player game – the Vikings give up only 15 points per – and come back from the 52-0 loss to Cedarville on opening night a year ago.
Others that caught my eye: Deckerville (5-0) at Morrice (4-1), New Haven Merritt (4-1) at Owendale-Gagetown (5-0), Webberville (4-1) at Battle Creek St. Philip (5-0).
PHOTO: Ithaca’s Jake Smith tries to break the grasp of a Breckenridge tackler during a Week 4 win over the Huskies. (Click for 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.)