Prep Zone: District previews
December 16, 2011
Five undefeated teams, one that is ranked No. 1 in its division, plus another reigning MHSAA football champion are among those that will be featured in tonight's Prep Zone games streamed live on FoxSportsDetroit.com.
Here’s a look at this week’s Prep Zone matchups, along with links to media coverage heading into the games. All kick off at 7 tonight, and all also will be archived for on-demand viewing at MHSAA.tv.
DIVISION 4: Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (10-0) at Marine City (10-0)
Make it eight straight seasons Marine City has won at least 10 games, and 12 of the last 13. The top-ranked Marines also will try to knock Notre Dame Prep out of the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. That won’t come easily. The No. 6 Fighting Irish have set a school record for wins and are enjoying their best season since 1984 – and a strong turnaround from last season’s 4-5 finish, including a 47-13 toppling of No. 7 Marysville last week. Add in the four wins from last season, and Notre Dame Prep hasn’t lost in more than a calendar year. Marine City is riding the legs of senior running back Anthony Scarcelli, who has gained for 1,363 of the team’s 3,052 rushing yards and scored 25 touchdowns on the ground. Fighting Irish quarterback Danny Durkin is a dangerous two-way threat – he was 10 for 13 passing for 183 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 150 more yards and two more scores in the Marysville win. The key could be Notre Dame Prep's defense; it’s giving up just 7.2 points per game.
Read more in the Port Huron Times-Herald.
DIVISION 4: Grand Rapids Catholic Central (9-1) at Zeeland West (10-0)
The reigning MHSAA champion Cougars are rolling again with nine straight wins since falling to East Grand Rapids on opening night – a streak that opened with a shutout and then seven straight games giving up just seven points in each. But No. 2 Zeeland West presents arguably their toughest challenge. The Dux should have some added motivation after losing to Grand Rapids Catholic 50-42 in a 2010 District final. Quarterback Miles Morrissey is again directing the No. 4 Cougars’ high-powered passing offense, with Kevin Vicari among top targets. Zeeland West again has made its run doing exactly that – chewing up yards on the ground, as evidenced by their six rushing touchdowns (and the majority of 404 total yards) in last week’s playoff-opening win against Grand Rapids South Christian.
Read more in the Holland Sentinel and at Fox17online.
DIVISION 6: Leslie (8-2) at Grass Lake (10-0)
For these teams, it might seem like just yesterday they were sharing the field. Actually, it was only two weeks ago that Grass Lake iced a perfect regular season with a 36-28 win over the Blackhawks. Leslie was one of only three teams that gave the Warriors a challenge during that 9-0 run. The Blackhawks are being carried one last time by a group of seniors that took over after the team’s last MHSAA Finals appearance, in 2008, went 0-9 as sophomores but improved to 6-4 last fall. Senior quarterback Brendon Smith tossed the 80-yard scoring pass that beat Manchester 34-32 last week, and all-stater Kyle Bryson is his top receiver. Grass Lake does its damage on the ground, led by Frank Vuocolo and his 1,360 yards and 13 touchdowns.
DIVISION 7: Saranac (9-1) at Pewamo-Westphalia (10-0)
Pewamo-Westphalia won and Saranac was runner-up in the 10-team Central Michigan Athletic Conference, although the pseudo-championship game wasn’t nearly as close as one might’ve expected – the Pirates won 28-0. A closer game might benefit the Redskins, who have won their last four games and five overall by eight or fewer points. P-W has relied on a senior-strong group of skill players to score its most points in at least a half century, with running back Alex Thelen and quarterback Justin Thelen leading the way on that side of the ball. Saranac has continued to build this fall after last season’s historic run ended with the team’s first playoff berth since 1978. The Redskins have won three more games this fall under new coach Terry Johnson, and tonight he can lead them to their first playoff victory ever.
Read more in the Ionia Sentinel-Standard.
Zeeland West's Brad Mesbergen will be among those trying to outrun Grand Rapids Catholic Central in tonight's District final (Photo courtesy of the Holland Sentinel.).
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.)