Prep Zone: Pre-District Previews
October 28, 2011
A total of 272 Michigan high school football teams will begin driving this weekend for one of nine MHSAA state championships next month. And each week through the 11-player semifinals, the MHSAA Network will produce four games to be streamed live on FoxSportsDetroit.com’s Prep Zone.
Here’s a look at this week’s Prep Zone matchups. All kick off at 7 tonight, and all games also will be archived for on-demand viewing at MHSAA.tv.
DIVISION 1: Romeo (7-2) at Troy Athens (7-2)
Both are representing a Red division – Romeo from the Macomb Area Conference and Troy from the Oakland Activities Association – and both lean on a sturdy running attack to average roughly 26 points per game. Carrying the load for Romeo are seniors Zack Williams (638 yards, five touchdowns) and Brian Roth (605, seven TDs), while Sam Haskell leads Troy Athens with 718 yards rushing and nine scores. Both teams also capitalize on opportunistic defenses that averaged more than two takeaways per game during the regular season. Romeo is much more familiar with this time of year – the Bulldogs are in the playoffs for the seventh straight season, while Troy Athens is in the postseason for the first time since 2004. But despite multiple common opponents, it’s fair to say these teams aren’t too familiar with each other – this will be their first matchup since 1976.
Click to read more from Mlive.com or MIPrepZone.
DIVISION 2: South Lyon (6-3) at Holly (7-2)
Holly can add to what is likely to be considered its best season since 1952. The Bronchos split the Flint Metro League championship, their first league title since that long-ago fall, and with one more win would have their second-most victories for one season – again, behind only a 9-0 finish 59 years ago. After starting with losses to Lapeer East and Swartz Creek, Holly has won seven straight while outscoring those opponents 27-13 on average. South Lyon finished second in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association Central to Northville – the No. 7-ranked team in the final Division 1 state poll – and is back in the playoffs after a three-season hiatus. Holly junior quarterback John Williams has run for 1,123 yards and 15 touchdowns and thrown for five more scores. Offense isn’t South Lyon’s strong suit – it averages just 17 points a game – but the Lions also give up only 14 on average.
Click to read more from the South Lyon Herald or Flint Journal.
DIVISION 3: Sturgis (7-2) at Mason (8-1)
Mason was expected to be here and has won at least eight games for the fourth straight season. Sturgis, meanwhile, is one of the state’s most intriguing teams after beating usual powers Jackson Lumen Christi and Marshall on the way to earning its first playoff berth since 2004. The Bulldogs are led by a small nucleus of experienced seniors including three-year running back Saylor LaVallii, who has run for 975 yards and 22 touchdowns and will sign with Central Michigan this winter. Sturgis also has a big-time runner in junior Christopher Alexander – who has gained 1,205 yards and rushed for 13 scores – but another player turning eyes toward Sturgis is sophomore quarterback Chance Stewart. Already a two-year starter, the 6-foot-5 Stewart has thrown for 1,149 yards and 14 touchdowns this fall in far fewer attempts than some of his spread counterparts. He passed for 284 yards and three scores in a 35-28 loss to No. 3 Battle Creek Harper Creek, and may need to come up big tonight against the No. 7 Bulldogs.
Click to read more from the Sturgis Journal.
DIVISION 8: Saugatuck (9-0) at Muskegon Catholic Central (8-1)
This might be the game of the weekend for the entire state. Saugatuck is the reigning MHSAA runner-up for this division and ranked No. 5, and Muskegon Catholic is an eight-time champion and tied for the top spot in the final regular-season poll. Coming off its winningest season, Saugatuck didn’t surprise anyone and still won all of its games by at least 28 points. The Crusaders will host, though, after beating one Class A and five Class B schools this season, losing only to Class A Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern – and by just seven points. Blink and tonight’s game could be over, as the teams have combined for just 117 passes this fall and should keep the clock moving. Muskegon Catholic has run for 2,876 yards and 37 touchdowns, led by junior Jessie Anderson’s 1,278 and 12, respectively. Saugatuck tops that with 3,858 yards and 55 rushing scores. Senior Lance Kleino has carried the bulk of the load with 1,425 yards and 17 TDs.
Click to read more from the Holland Sentinel or Muskegon Chronicle.
Almost there: Mason running back Saylor LaVallii needs 25 rushing yards to reach 1,000 yards this season (Photo courtesy of Lansing State Journal).
(Site front) Good chance: Sturgis quarterback Chance Stewart hopes to lead his team to its first playoff victory since 2004 (Photo courtesy of Sturgis Journal).
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.)