Portland Makes Right Moves for March

November 29, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Dylan Carroll and Adam Goodman knew the request was coming long before coach John Novara asked them to make a big change for their senior seasons on the Portland football team.

The writing was on the scale, so to say. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Carroll was among the three most sizable players on the Raiders’ roster this fall. And Goodman, at a solid 6-0, 200, wasn't far behind.

Still, it’s fair to assume not a lot of players want to trade in the opportunity to carry the ball for a jersey in the 50s. But Novara had no choice but to ask; he needed two new guards, and the best fits were tight end Carroll and the fullback, Goodman.  

“At first, it was block, block, block. But after that, you get to pancake guys when you pull. Especially in this offense, guard is one of the best positions that we run,” Goodman said. “At first, it wasn't so exciting. But after that, it’s the best position. I would've played it all four years if I’d had the chance.”

Their one season on the line helped the Raiders produce unprecedented results.

Portland gets a Second Half High 5 this week after finishing a 13-1 season with its first trip to the MHSAA Finals – and first championship, thanks to a 12-9 win over Grand Rapids West Catholic.

The Raiders won in the same way they've made the playoffs every season over the last decade – with a mix of physical play up front, tough running and stout defense. That style often has been made possible by big bodies up front – a standout or two like alum and recently-graduated Eastern Michigan University 300-pounder Bridger Buche have been more the usual than occasional for Portland of late.

Not this season. For the Raiders to win again like they always have, it took the sacrifices of a couple smaller but just as tough seniors to be the catalysts.

“I think that was one of the keys to our success, offensively,” Novara said. “They graciously moved there. Without them moving to guards, I don’t know that we could've done this.”

Portland scored 500 points this season, likely its most ever (Michigan-football.com records date back to 1950). No other Raiders team had scored even 400.

Carroll and Goodman also were two of only three Portland players who pulled double duty, with Carroll also a starting defensive end and Goodman a starting linebacker. They helped key a defense that gave up just 13 points per game.

That defense gave up more than 14 points only once during the regular season – in a 41-32 loss to 2011 Division 5 runner-up Lansing Catholic. It gave up more than 20 twice in the playoffs, but hung on when it counted in a 45-28 win over reigning champion Flint Powers Catholic in the Regional Final and then the next week in a 28-23 nail-biter against Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard.

Portland scored all of its points of the MHSAA Final during the game's first 15 minutes. But the defense came up with three interceptions and two turnovers on downs, plus blocked a field goal attempt. The Raiders ended West Catholic’s final drive with a fourth-down stop on their 12-yard-line.

“The defense had been there all season, and we were just happy to make that one last play to win a state championship,” Goodman said.

And if he and Carroll’s moves to the offensive line hadn't been worth it completely before, they certainly became so that afternoon. As Carroll said after, he and most of his teammates are three-sport athletes who grew up together in their small town midway between Lansing and Grand Rapids. A position change hardly qualified as a sacrifice for an opportunity like this.  

“I wasn't going to go out without a state championship this year. Our seniors deserved it,” Carroll said.

“We kept our mouths shut. We did whatever was best for the team, and we still worked as hard as we could this summer. It was well worth it.”

PHOTO: Portland linemen Adam Goodman (52) and Dylan Carroll (54) lead the way for teammate Auston Brandt during Saturday's Division 5 Final at Ford Field. (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.)