A Game for Every Fan: Week 8
October 15, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
All but one of the top-billed games of this week’s statewide football preview will decide a league champion. There are great ones to watch, no matter where you call home.
At the same time, we’re turning an eye to the growing 11-player playoff field, which includes 109 teams with 86 more able to qualify with a win this weekend. For that reason, you’ll see below a few more games than usual featuring teams with three-loss records – because those teams’ seasons are on the line as they attempt to win out and guarantee a postseason spot.
Read on for games that could carry the most impact from every region of the state during Week 8. And remember to check MHSAA Score Center this weekend for results as they come in, updated standings and playoff-point averages.
Bay & Thumb
Algonac (7-0) at Richmond (6-1)
Algonac, 1-8 a year ago, can finish its first league title run since 1972 after clinching a share of the Blue Water Area Conference championship last week against previously-undefeated Almont. But don’t forget Richmond, a regular in this kind of game and a one-point loss to Almont from being undefeated. The Blue Devils would love to spoil the party; they beat Algonac 42-21 in 2014.
Others that caught my eye: Montrose (4-3) at Flint Beecher (5-1), New Lothrop (7-0) at Flint Hamady (6-1), Corunna (6-1) at Lake Fenton (4-3), Holly (4-3) at Swartz Creek (4-3).
Sterling Heights Stevenson (6-1) at Macomb Dakota (5-2)
The Macomb Area Conference Red race has been one of the state’s most exciting this season, with five of six teams in the league still in the hunt for a share of the title and for automatic playoff berths as well. These two carry one-win leads into this weekend’s final league games; both are 3-1, while Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, Utica Eisenhower and Warren Mott are all 2-2 in league play. Dakota has won the league three straight seasons, including last fall despite a 19-12 loss to Stevenson.
Others that caught my eye: St. Clair Shores South Lake (7-0) at Madison Heights Madison (6-1), Northville (7-0) at Plymouth (6-1), Hartland (5-2) at Walled Lake Western (7-0), Detroit Catholic Central (5-2) at Warren DeLaSalle (6-1).
Fowler (6-1) at Pewamo-Westphalia (7-0)
This will be the 50th game between these neighbors and rivals, with Fowler holding a 27-22 advantage. This matchup has decided the last three Central Michigan Athletic Conference championships, with Fowler taking two of those three, and the Eagles hope to gain a share this time as P-W has a one-win edge with this the final week of the conference season. This has been a special one overall for the Pirates, who on opening night handed Madison Heights Madison its only loss and since have outscored six teams by a combined 340-27.
Others that caught my eye: Haslett (4-3) at Williamston (4-3), East Lansing (4-3) at Grand Ledge (7-0), Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (4-3) at Lansing Catholic (6-1), Fruitport (4-3) at St. Johns (5-2).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Frankfort (6-1) at Charlevoix (5-2)
The Panthers will play the region’s game to watch for the second straight week, with both of these teams undefeated in the Northern Michigan Football League Legends division and Frankfort a half-win ahead in the standings with one more league game played. A conference title would be the Panthers’ first since 2008 and Charlevoix’s first since 2000 – and the Red Rayders won this matchup 27-6 a year ago.
Others that caught my eye: Hillman (6-1) at Whittemore-Prescott (4-3), Traverse City St. Francis (7-0) at Kalkaska (4-3), Lincoln Alcona (5-2) at Lake City (3-4), Maple City Glen Lake (4-3) at Kingsley (4-3).
Southeast & Border
Vandercook Lake (7-0) at Manchester (6-1)
The Cascades Conference championship is on the line with both teams undefeated in league play. Vandercook Lake has its most wins since 1996 and is chasing its first undefeated regular season since 1970 after surviving a three-point victory over Michigan Center last week. This is much more familiar territory for Manchester, which has won outright or shared the Cascades title the last three seasons.
Others that caught my eye: Ypsilanti Community (4-3) at Saline (7-0), Brooklyn Columbia Central (6-1) at Dundee (4-3), Ida (7-0) at Hillsdale (5-2), Holt (5-2) at Jackson (5-2).
Buchanan (7-0) at Berrien Springs (7-0)
The victor will remain perfect and become the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference White champion. That should be enough to sell this tilt, but there are additional details of note. Berrien Springs finished second in the Wolverine B Conference West last season and has its most wins since 2011 with a shot at its best finish since 2004. Buchanan is coming off two losing seasons and has its most wins since 2012, when it won the Lakeland Conference. This also is the first game between the longtime rivals since 2011.
Others that caught my eye: Bridgman (6-1) at Niles Brandywine (5-2), Saugatuck (7-0) at Delton Kellogg (5-2), Watervliet (6-1) at Decatur (5-2), Battle Creek Lakeview (5-2) at St. Joseph (6-1).
Ishpeming (6-0) at St. Ignace (7-0)
This game means nothing from a league race perspective and everything from a Peninsula pride point of view. St. Ignace locked up the Ski Valley Conference title with a perfect run it finished two weeks ago, while Ishpeming owns a share of the Mid-Peninsula Conference title and can finish the outright championship next week against two-win Gwinn. What makes this game intriguing is that Ishpeming hasn’t lost a regular-season game since Week 7 of 2012 and St. Ignace is perfect for the regular season since Week 9 of 2013 – and these two powers have played each other only once, in 1988.
Others that caught my eye: Munising (6-1) at Crystal Falls Forest Park (5-2), DeWitt (7-0) at Menominee (7-0), Sault Ste. Marie (5-2) at Escanaba (3-4), Hurley, Wis. (7-1) at Iron Mountain (4-3).
Muskegon (6-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (7-0)
Before last season, when the Sailors won 48-27, they hadn’t beaten the Big Reds since 1982. Could they extend the streak to two? This latest chapter is at Mona Shores, the crowd should be huge, and the Sailors are reigning Division 2 runners-up and backed by a defense that hasn’t given up more than 14 points in a game while facing the likes of Fruitport, Rockford, Caledonia and Zeeland East. Then again, Muskegon remains what we’ve grown to expect – the Big Reds look like contenders to reach a fourth-straight MHSAA Final with wins over Grand Rapids Christian, East Grand Rapids and Zeeland East and the only loss to Detroit Catholic Central after Muskegon led by two touchdowns during the third quarter.
Others that caught my eye: Muskegon Oakridge (6-1) at Montague (7-0), East Grand Rapids (5-2) at Lowell (6-1), Remus Chippewa Hills (6-1) at Reed City (7-0), Cedar Springs (5-2) at Ada Forest Hills Eastern (7-0).
Deckerville (6-1) at Peck (6-1)
Michigan’s thumb is a hub for 8-player football, thanks in large part to these two past MHSAA champions. Peck has a half-win lead over Deckerville in the North Central Thumb 8-Man League standings because it has played one more league game, but this likely will decide the championship. Deckerville hasn’t beaten the Pirates since its 2012 MHSAA title season, and would love to avenge last season’s 30-28 loss that gave Peck the league title.
Others that caught my eye: Battle Creek St. Philip (7-0) at Portland St. Patrick (6-1), Engadine (5-2) at Stephenson (5-2).
PHOTO: Walled Lake Western and Lowell, which faced off earlier this season, both face tough opponents in Week 8. (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.)