Harris Flies Like a Record-Setting Eagle

November 30, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Drake Harris may not have expected the full force of the performance he put up Saturday to cap an incredible junior season for Grand Rapids Christian.

But he had a pretty good idea at the start that it could turn into a special night.

When Orchard Lake St. Mary’s attempted to cover him with just one player – and continued to do so frequently throughout the Division 3 Final at Ford Field – the 6-foot-4, 180-pound Harris found himself in a dream come true.

“I kinda figured they would come out like that and play me like that. My coach knew that, and he just put me in the right position to make plays,” Harris said. “And I was happy they came out like that.

“I’m not the type to brag on myself. But when I see that, man-to-man coverage, that’s my dream. I love when people go man, and no safety over the top. It’s just me and the DB. The better man wins.”

Harris gets a Second Half High 5 this week after probably the most victorious day in his young career.

He grabbed eight passes for an MHSAA Finals record 243 yards and a touchdown as the Eagles beat St. Mary’s 40-37 in overtime to claim their first football championship.

Saturday’s numbers gave him, unofficially, 91 catches for 2,015 yards and 25 scores this fall. While those totals still must be confirmed for record book purposes, the yardage will be the most in MHSAA history for one season and rank 12thnationally. His yards per game this fall will rank fourth nationally and his yards per catch sixth. His catches will rank fourth in MHSAA history and his touchdown catches second.  

Harris has committed to sign next fall with Michigan State for basketball and then the following February for football too. He’s expected to do big things again this winter for a Grand Rapids Christian basketball team that advanced to the Class A Quarterfinals last season.

Hoops always was his sport – he wasn't sure at one point that he’d even play football in high school. But Harris said Spartans men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo told him he loves players who are on their football teams as well. And Harris said he is starting to realize his football future might be the brighter of the two.

Saturday couldn't have hurt that observation.

Harris caught passes of 49 and 22 yards before hauling in a 74-yard scoring strike early in the second quarter. He had an 85-yarder called back during the third quarter, but caught passes of 24 and 38 yards to set up a touchdown early in the fourth. He then caught his final three passes during the team’s final possession of regulation, gaining a total of 36 yards in helping to set up Joel Schipper’s 28-yard game-tying field goal with four seconds left.

One catch will live on in Finals memory for years to come. In the fourth quarter, Harris went so high as to nearly jump over his defensive back. The defender tackled his legs mid-air, dumping Harris back-first into the turf. But Harris held on, and the Eagles continued to move.

After gaining more than 1,000 yards receiving as a sophomore too, Harris will need only 609 as a senior to set that MHSAA career record. He needs 66 catches and four for touchdowns to tie those records. And if a record was kept for highlight-reel catches, he might already be the holder.

“People don’t necessarily think he’s tough or something. But to have a guy go up 3-4 feet in the air and get flipped, catch the ball and land on his back or head; that’s pretty tough in my book,” Grand Rapids Christian senior quarterback Alex VanDeVusse said. “I’d take him on my team every single day. He’s amazing.” 

PHOTO: Drake Harris went high to make this grab during the fourth quarter of Saturday's Division 3 Final against Orchard Lake St. Mary's. (Click for more from Terry McNamara Photography.)

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.)