Playoff Berth Adds to Lincoln Park Surge

By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half

October 28, 2015

LINCOLN PARK – Steve Glenn has played baseball since he was 10 years old. It’s always been his favorite sport.

Not anymore. This football season changed things.

Glenn is the starting quarterback at Lincoln Park. Though he doesn’t look like one. At 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, Glenn is taller and weighs more than any of the starting offensive linemen. He started last season, too, as junior. It wasn’t as much fun then. Lincoln Park was 3-6 in 2014, the program’s 12th consecutive losing season.

This season, Glenn is having a blast. Last Friday, Lincoln Park (6-3) clinched it first playoff appearance since 2002 when the Railsplitters defeated a team also in search of a playoff spot, Downriver League rival Gibraltar Carlson, 21-19.

Lincoln Park will play another Downriver League team, Wyandotte Roosevelt (7-2), at 7 p.m. Friday in a Division 2 Pre-District game. On Sept. 18, Lincoln Park shocked Roosevelt and the rest of their league with an 18-15 victory.

This is the same program that set the state record for consecutive losses (66) from 2006-13, but this Lincoln Park team is different. This team has grit. It has determination.

“We did it differently,” Glenn said. “We communicate with our teammates. We are always positive. We have a no-lose attitude.”

In half of its victories this season, Lincoln Park trailed during the second half. Against Wyandotte Roosevelt, it scored on its final possession to win. Lincoln Park trailed Melvindale by 13 points with six minutes left before coming back to win, 38-35. And against Taylor Truman, it trailed by seven points before winning in double overtime, 40-34.

The turnaround began in 2013 when Jamie Grignon returned to the program as head coach. Grignon coached Lincoln Park from 1994-99 before leaving to become the offensive coordinator at Dearborn. His son, Alex, attended Dearborn, played football for coach Dave Mifsud, and Grignon was to be a part of his son’s development.

Lincoln Park ended its losing streak in Grignon’s first season back with a 34-20 win over Taylor Kennedy that Oct. 4, and changes started to happen. The players didn’t have to give excuses. No longer did they have to listen to the negatively that resonated in the halls and community.

Perceptions changed, too.

“After we broke that streak,” Grignon said. “I said my biggest challenge was to keep Lincoln Park kids in the program. Now we’re reaping the benefits.

“After we beat a team this year that had three Lincoln Park kids, some of my kids said it was tough to see Lincoln Park kids on the other team crying, saying they wished they had stayed.”

Open enrollment contributed to Lincoln Park’s downturn. Students who attended middle school and junior high and played football often would go elsewhere to play and avoid being a part of a program seeking respect.

That thought never occurred to Glenn.

Without naming names, Glenn pointed to four players, two each at two other schools, who were teammates with him in middle school.

“Growing up, I was raised where I wouldn’t leave the city I grew up in,” he said.

He’s one of 12 seniors on the team of 32 players total, and one of three captains. The other two are two-way back Trevor Anderson and center Kalani Kapiko. Lincoln Park runs the read option to take advantage of Glenn’s size and surprisingly good speed for that size (4.7 second in the 40-yard dash). He’s rushed for nine touchdowns and passed for 10 more.

But those three are the only returning starters from a year ago. This is still a young team. Four starting offensive linemen and seven defensive starters are underclassmen. But it’s a team that’s athletic and likes to plays fast.

Still, it’s the seniors who lead the way.

“For the first time, Lincoln Park has that,” Grignon said. “Before they were afraid to motivate others by saying something.

“We had an OK four-way (preseason scrimmage), and once we beat Woodhaven in the opener that started it. 

“We’re excited about being in the playoffs. We’re excited about the program. I don’t see us being a one-time team and going backwards.”

Tom Markowski is a columnist and directs website coverage for the State Champs! Sports Network. He previously covered primarily high school sports for the The Detroit News from 1984-2014, focusing on the Detroit area and contributing to statewide coverage of football and basketball. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Lincoln Park’s Elijah Cross (23) breaks away from a would-be tackler during his team’s Homecoming game against Southgate Anderson. (Middle) The Railsplitters prepare to run a play during that 25-13 loss. (Photos courtesy of Lynsey Schweizer.)

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.)