Playoffs: District Finals in Review
December 16, 2011
Three weeks remain in this MHSAA football season, and just two for our 8-player teams. That means we’re down to 68 total still practicing and pursuing championships either in two weeks at the Superior Dome or three at Ford Field.
Here’s a look at some of the best from the playoffs' second weekend, plus links to coverage from the biggest games and my take on those to watch in every division this weekend.
Again, if I missed a game or a highlight I should've mentioned, post below and let us know. And click here for results, schedules and more. (Rankings below by The Associated Press' panel of media voters.)
DIVISON 1: Detroit Catholic Central 21, Canton 14 – This has become something of an expected matchup, with these two facing off in the playoffs four times over the last 10 seasons, including two of the last three. DCC has won all four matchups, and this time the Shamrocks were ranked No. 2 and Canton No. 6.
DIVISION 2: Lowell 36, Muskegon 7 – The Red Arrows increased their playoff winning streak over Muskegon to three straight. Lowell came in No. 2 and Muskegon No. 3, and the Red Arrows now become the heavy state favorite with No. 1 Farmington Hills Harrison also losing (see below).
DIVISION 3: East Grand Rapids 45, Grand Rapids Christian 27 – Their 50-49 game in Week 9 (which Grand Rapids Christian won) made statewide waves, but this one was not nearly as close. The Pioneers have three losses this season, but appear to be hitting the gear that has resulted in five straight MHSAA titles.
DIVISION 4: Battle Creek Pennfield 14, Lansing Sexton 6 – By rankings this wasn’t an upset. But considering Sexton shared a league title with three Class A schools – including one still alive in Division 3 – and that the Big Reds beat Pennfield 47-14 in last year’s District final, there’s a lot here with which to be impressed.
DIVISION 5: Flint Powers 28, Millington 7 – This arguably was the stunner of the weekend – Millington was ranked No. 2, Powers unranked – but maybe shouldn’t be as big of a shock. The Cardinals indeed were undefeated, and Powers has three losses. But those came to No. 1 Lansing Catholic, Division 7 No. 1 Saginaw Nouvel, and Class A Davison.
DIVISION 6: Ithaca 28, Montrose Hill-McCloy 13 – Despite some close games elsewhere in this bracket, this one wins out because Ithaca is ranked No. 1 and Montrose came in No. 2. The Yellowjackets also knocked out the Rams last season on the way to winning the MHSAA title.
DIVISION 7: Hudson 22, Union City 14 – Both came in undefeated, with Hudson No. 3 and Union City tied for No. 7 in the final Associated Press poll. But Hudson ended Union City’s best season in a decade.
DIVISION 8: Mendon 28, Muskegon Catholic Central 21 – The conclusion of this incredibly competitive district pitted the teams that were tied for the top spot in the state poll heading into the playoffs. But the schedule won’t get too much easier for Mendon with five more of the top 10 still alive.
8-PLAYER: Carsonville-Port Sanilac 53, Bellaire 22 – The rematch of last season’s unofficial championship game went the Tigers’ way again. The teams also met in the regular-season finale last season after winning their respective leagues in something of an 8-player title game because the MHSAA didn’t begin sponsoring playoffs until this fall.
1 – Number of District championships won by Hemlock, thanks to Friday’s 27-20 win over Freeland in Division 5. The Huskies made the playoffs for the first time in 2005, and had fallen in first-round games three times before opening this postseason with a win over Carrollton two weeks ago.
519 – Carsonville-Port Sanilac’s points scored this season in 10 games (not counting the 1-0 result from another win by forfeit). That’s nearly 52 points per game, and has included outputs of 53, 57, 62, 70 and 91.
5 – Overtimes combined needed to determine two Division 6 District finals. Iron Mountain outlasted McBain 36-35 in three extra periods, while Constantine downed Schoolcraft 37-30 in two.
27 – East Grand Rapids’ consecutive playoff wins. The run has included five straight MHSAA championships. The last postseason loss came in 2005 to Caledonia, which then went on to win the Division 3 title.
MORE FANTASTIC FINISHES
Port Huron 27, Rochester Adams 21 – A late 85-yard scoring run following a goal-line stand helped Port Huron advance in Division 3 and win its 10th game for the first time in program history. Click for more from the Port Huron Times-Herald.
Birmingham Brother Rice 30, Farmington Hills Harrison 7 – Not quite close, but significant. Reigning MHSAA champion Harrison was again the favorite, and did play without its starting quarterback. But No. 7 Brother Rice will be a popular choice now to reach its first final since 2005.Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.
Mount Pleasant 35, Petoskey 28 – The Oilers trailed by two touchdowns on three occasions before coming away with a season-extending – and upset-avoiding – victory. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.
Grass Lake 23, Leslie 22 – One of our Prep Zone games on FoxSportsDetroit.com, this one went down to the final minute. At the end, undefeated Grass Lake prevailed – but not without a scare. Click for more from the Jackson Citizen-Patriot.
Fowler 24, Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 21 – Fowler was certainly the favorite, and tied for the No. 9 spot in the state poll. But the Eagles did have to outlast a fast start and then late run by the Irish, last season’s MHSAA champion. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
UP NEXT – REGIONAL FINALS and 8-player SEMIS
DIVISION 1: Detroit Cass Tech (8-3) at Warren DeLaSalle (9-2) – 7 p.m. Friday at SCS Lake Shore – DeLaSalle can reach 10 wins for the third time in six seasons, and its list of fallen foes is, as usual, impressive. But Cass Tech ranks well with the best the Pilots have seen. The Technicians own a win over Detroit Martin Luther King (see below) with losses to Division 2 No. 1 Farmington Hills Harrison and twice to Detroit Crockett (also mentioned below).
DIVISION 2: Detroit Martin Luther King (8-3) at Wyandotte Roosevelt (10-1) – 7 p.m. Friday – Roosevelt is 10-1 for the second straight season, and tied for the No. 7 spot in the state poll. But unranked King might be the best three-loss team this side of East Grand Rapids. All three of King’s this fall were to teams still alive, and by a combined 11 points.
DIVISION 3: East Grand Rapids (8-3) at Holland (9-2) – 1 p.m. Saturday – A tremor was felt all the way from the lake shore when Holland knocked off East Grand Rapids 30-22 in Week 2. And that was just the start, as Holland has gone on to earn its second playoff berth ever and first postseason win. Still, the Pioneers came into the postseason ranked No. 9, while Holland is unranked and at least some people’s underdog.
DIVISION 4: Detroit Crockett (10-1) at Marine City (11-0) – 7 p.m. Friday – Top-ranked Marine City has taken out Nos. 6 and 8 from the top 10 so far, and now will try to do the same with No. 5 Crockett. But Crockett’s only loss was to Division 2 District champ King, which Crockett then beat in a rematch. The Rockets and strong-armed quarterback Brian Blackburn made the Semifinals last season, and won’t go quietly.
DIVISION 5: Menominee (9-2) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (9-2) – 3 p.m. Saturday – West Catholic is the reigning Division 5 champion, but had to escape Menominee 24-20 in a Semifinal along the way last fall. The Maroons always are a point of curiousity because of their thriving single wing offense, and come in ranked No. 5 to West Catholic’s No. 7.
DIVISION 6: Morley-Stanwood (10-1) at Iron Mountain (10-0) – 1 p.m. Saturday – Morley-Stanwood has double figures wins for the third straight season, and already has taken out No. 6 Shelby and No. 8 Clare. Now the Mohawks will attempt the same against No. 3 Iron Mountain, which survived a close one against McBain to reach 10 wins for the fourth time in five seasons.
DIVISION 7: Hudson (11-0) at Detroit Loyola (11-0) – 1 p.m. Saturday at Madison Heights Bishop Foley – Reigning champion Hudson has won its last seven playoff games and 11 of its last 12, but comes into this as a rare underdog ranked No. 3 with Loyola No. 2. That said, the Tigers have scored at least 35 points in all but two games this season. But Loyola has posted shutouts in five of its last six.
DIVISION 8: Crystal Falls Forest Park (9-1) at St. Ignace La Salle (11-0) – 7 p.m. Friday – It’s a rare day when Forest Park isn’t the heavy favorite to get down state – the No. 6 Trojans have played in seven of the last 11 Division 8 Finals. But No. 3 St. Ignace is having its best season since 1988 and dropped a season-high 55 points on Rudyard in the District final win.
8-PLAYER: Engadine (7-4) at Rapid River (10-1) – 1 p.m. Saturday --- These two are in the same league and faced each other during the regular season; Rapid River won 50-32. With all of the points scored in 8-player games, that’s not as wide a margin as it might seem. But Engadine still must slow down a Rapid River offense averaging 52 points per game – just as the Eagles did in upsetting Cedarville 36-14 last week in another rematch.
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.)