A Game for Every Fan: Week 9
October 25, 2013
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The final Friday of the MHSAA football regular season always is one of the most celebratory and at the same time heart-breaking days of the entire school year.
For many, practice will continue Monday. But for the majority, tonight will mark the end of another season – or a high school career.
Fortunately for a number of those athletes, they and their teams still have control over how they'll be feeling when this night, and this weekend, is done. A total of 187 teams have qualified for the 256-team 11-player playoff field – including six teams that won their sixth games Thursday night – and 76 more can clinch a berth with a win tonight or Saturday. The 8-player field is more set, although movement could still occur among those in contention for the final spots in that 16-team field.
Here's a look at some of the games to keep an eye on this weekend, including league title games in the Detroit Public School League, Catholic League and Kensington Lakes Activities Association. And make sure to check in throughout the weekend to Score Center and then Sunday when playoff pairings are posted at 8 p.m.
Detroit and Southeast
Detroit Martin Luther King (7-0) vs. Detroit Cass Tech (8-0), Ford Field
This title decider at Ford Field has been among the most highly-anticipated games in Detroit since before the first kickoff of this season. Although this was the second since the 1990s that these schools played in different divisions of the Detroit PSL, that separation arguably has made the rivalry even bigger – especially with King stunning the reigning MHSAA Division 1 champ with a 44-13 win during last season’s PSL semifinals. Neither has come to losing since the early weeks of this season; Cass Tech hasn't given up more than six points in a game since opening night, and King hasn't let an opponent come closer than 28 points since Week 2.
Others that caught my eye: Birmingham Brother Rice (8-0) vs. Detroit Catholic Central (7-1), Saturday at Ford Field; Southfield (7-1) at Clarkston (7-1), Britton Deerfield (6-2) at Clinton (8-0), Walled Lake Western (8-0) at Northville (7-1).
Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (7-1) at Muskegon (7-1)
This isn't as annual a scenario for Muskegon as most might think: The Big Reds did fall to Zeeland East by a point in Week 9 last season to finish second to the Chix in the O-K Black standings, but are still seeking their first league title since 2008. This is the first time Reeths-Puffer has posted a winning record since 2007, and it’s done so in impressive fashion with victories over one playoff qualifier and three more that can earn bids tonight. Still, Reeths-Puffer is seeking its first win over the Big Reds since 1999.
Others that caught my eye: Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills (5-3) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (5-3), Holland West Ottawa (5-3) at Hudsonville (5-3), East Kentwood (5-3) at Rockford (7-1), Zeeland West (7-1) at Byron Center (6-2).
Menominee (8-0) at Marquette (5-2)
Marquette fell big to Menominee in 2012, but has won two of the last three between the Greater Northern UP Conference rivals – and can force a three-way tie for the league title by beating the Maroons tonight. Menominee has yet to be challenged significantly – only reigning Division 8 champion Harbor Beach has gotten within 20 points of the Maroons this season as they've built the second-highest playoff point average among teams expected to fall into Division 5.
Others that caught my eye: St. Ignace (7-1) at Cheboygan (6-2), L'Anse (7-1) at Munising (5-3), Crystal Falls Forest Park (8-0) at Lake Linden-Hubbell (5-3), Newberry (3-5) at Sault Ste. Marie (5-3).
Bay and Thumb
Fenton (8-0) at Lapeer West (7-1)
Beating second-place Lapeer West tonight would give Fenton 20 straight Flint Metro League victories and make outright another league title, the Tigers’ third straight. But Lapeer West also has a fine football tradition stretching back into the late 1980s, and the Panthers would love nothing more in their final regular season game than to win a share of one more league title. Lapeer West will combine with Lapeer East next fall.
Others that caught my eye: Lake Fenton (7-1) at Montrose (8-0), Davison (4-4) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (7-1), Sanford Meridian (7-1) at Clare (6-2), Plymouth (5-3) at Grand Blanc (6-2).
Southwest and Border
Watervliet (8-0) at Lawton (8-0)
This trumps Edwardsburg/Paw Paw as the top game from the southwest and border areas because a league title is on the line. Watervliet and Lawton split the Southwestern Athletic Conference South title last season, and one of the two has won the league the last four seasons – with Lawton also finishing second the two times Watervliet finished first. The Panthers survived a three-point scare last week against Decatur and can finish their first perfect regular season since 1999.
Others that caught my eye: Edwardsburg (8-0) at Paw Paw (8-0), Battle Creek Pennfield (7-1) at Constantine (5-3), Saugatuck (7-1) at Gobles (5-3), Battle Creek St. Philip (8-0) at Lawrence (6-1).
Lower Up North
Boyne City (7-1) at Grayling (7-1)
This highly-anticipated Lake Michigan Conference deciding game has come to fruition thanks to some close calls including two Grayling wins by a touchdown or less and Boyne City’s victory last week over motivated Elk Rapids. This is a repeat of the 2012 scenario; both also entered that Week 9 game undefeated before Grayling won 21-0.
Others that caught my eye: Mio (7-1) at Lincoln Alcona (8-0), Kalkaska (6-2) at Elk Rapids (5-3), Cadillac (8-0) at Traverse City Central (5-3), Petoskey (5-3) at Ogemaw Heights (5-3).
Homer (8-0) at Grass Lake (7-1)
This is the showcase game of the Cascades/Big 8 Conference crossover series, with Grass Lake one of three that shared the Cascades title and Homer the outright champion in the Big 8. The Trojans also are attempting to finish their first perfect regular season since 2005. The last time these teams met was in 2004.
Others that caught my eye: Jackson Lumen Christi (8-0) at Howell (5-3), Grand Ledge (4-4) at Holt (4-4), New Lothrop (8-0) vs. Pewamo-Westphalia (8-0) at Alma College, Chelsea (2-6) at Haslett (5-3).
PHOTO: Detroit Cass Tech (green jerseys) will attempt to avenge last season's Detroit Public School League playoff loss to Martin Luther King when those teams meet tonight in this season's championship game. (Photo courtesy of Detroit PSL.)
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.)