Lumen Christi Grinds, then Rises in D6

November 25, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

DETROIT – The low was never that low, given the circumstances Jackson Lumen Christi played through during a 1-2 start this season.

But the high was definitely up there Friday as the Titans reached a peak they hadn’t visited since 2009.

Reminiscent of the teams that won three MHSAA championships during the first decade of this century, Lumen Christi’s latest contender rattled off 11 straight wins this fall, eliminated two top-three ranked favorites during the playoffs and finished with a workmanlike 26-14 win over Maple City Glen Lake in the Division 6 Final.

The title was the prize, of course, but the journey is worth celebrating as well. The Titans opened this season with a 17-point loss to Grand Rapids West Catholic, which will play for the Division 5 title Saturday. Two weeks later, Lumen fell to another eventual playoff team in Battle Creek Harper Creek. But the ensuing win streak included a run through the rest of the competitive Interstate 8 Athletic Conference and playoff wins over No. 2 Schoolcraft and No. 3 Millington before the fifth-ranked Titans took down the No. 6 Lakers.

“We were just so determined to get to this point, and we did,” Lumen junior fullback/linebacker Kyle Minder said. “After starting off 1-2, we were kinda down. We still had faith that we were going to make the playoffs. We had some tough games coming up; it was going to be a battle just to get into the playoffs.

"(But) we were on a roll, and it just never stopped.”

The Titans ran for 298 yards and held the Lakers to a mere four on the ground, overpowering them at times on the line and pounding with Minder on both sides of the ball while senior Bo Bell rattled off one of the busiest rushing games in MHSAA Finals history.

Bell ran 40 times for 238 yards – 11th-most for a championship game – to finish this fall unofficially with 2,666 yards, 16th most in MHSAA history for one season. His 340 carries ranked seventh, and he ran for a touchdown as well to give him 33 total, which is tied for 21st on that single-season list.

“I like putting the team on my back, but I can’t do this on my own,” said Bell, as he pointed out the contributions of his offensive line, Minder and junior quarterback Troy Kutcha. “All the hard work’s worth it; that’s all I can say,” Bell added.

Lumen Christi had 13 seniors on its roster. Although all but a couple were starters or second string by the end of the season, only about half had seen the field at the beginning – and the Titans also started three sophomores and a freshman.

But the 24-14 Harper Creek loss left longtime coach Herb Brogan optimistic.

“I said to the coaches, ‘I’m not down, because we really competed hard against a good football team, and we’re going to get better,’” said Brogan, who has led Lumen Christi to 331 wins – fifth all-time – and seven of its nine championships since taking over the program in 1980. “The next two games, we pulled out games that were critical games going in.

“The kids, they really like each other, and not every team likes each other. It’s difficult when you have a small senior group. … When you get a mix of young kids in there, you have to have a special senior group to make that thing jell. That’s what I give a lot of credit to our seniors for; they gave us the leadership we needed.”

Minder, who ran for 66 yards on 21 carries, chugged in for his first of three touchdowns to start the scoring with 4:36 left in the first quarter. He added his second score 4:31 into the second, and picked up the third with 10 seconds left in the first half to make the score 20-7.

Along the way, Glen Lake junior quarterback Cade Peterson found junior Nick Rice for a 57-yard touchdown strike down the right side, and his 9-yard scoring pass to junior Nick Apsey brought the Lakers to within 26-13 with 9:47 to play.

But as a team that runs well is able to do, Lumen Christi (12-2) ground 8:04 off the clock going only 50 yards but on 17 plays, leaving Glen Lake little time to attempt a final rally.

The Lakers (11-3) were playing their first MHSAA Final since 1996 and after also eliminating top-eight teams in Calumet and Roscommon along the way.

“We didn’t get it done on two 4th-and-1s, or 4th-and-inches, which really was the surprising part,” Glen Lake coach Jerry Angers said. “And of course, they rushed the ball well. We blew some assignments. We made a couple big mistakes and didn’t get our run fits correctly, and it opened up the door for those guys.”

Peterson completed 15 of 20 passes for 254 yards, especially impressive because of Glen Lake’s troubles balancing things on the ground. Rice caught five passes for 116 yards.

Apsey, senior linebacker Tony Duperon and senior safety Jared Jackson had 11 tackles apiece for the Lakers.

“I’m just so grateful that we came down here with our team. A lot of people didn’t really expect this out of us,” Peterson said. “Obviously, we proved them wrong and we gave these guys a good fight.

“I’m going to miss these seniors a lot. They’re a great group of guys. But we’re coming back next year.”

Click for the full box score.

The MHSAA Football Finals are sponsored by the Michigan National Guard. 

PHOTOS: (Top) Jackson Lumen Christi players hoist the championship trophy after winning Division 6 on Friday. (Middle) Titans running back Bo Bell follows the blocking of teammate Kyle Minder. 

Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.)