Preview: '8' Finalists Light Up Board

November 21, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Legacy Field in Greenville will welcome Friday two teams that have steamrolled the competition on the way to this season’s MHSAA 8-Player Final – and two of the most prolific offensive stars in the young history of the sport in this state.

Rapid River quarterback Jake Pearson will be making his second MHSAA Finals appearance, while Peck running back Cody Abrego also enters the season’s last game with more than 2,000 yards rushing. 

Both will be added to the MHSAA and national record books when this season is done – and together with their teammates could make this championship game one of the most fast-paced score fests of this entire season.

Tickets for the 8-player Final cost $8. Can’t make the trip? Watch it live on, with live audio streaming on Because of conflicts with collegiate and professional games, the game will be broadcast delayed on FOX Sports Detroit at 9 a.m. Saturday and again on Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. The on-demand video archive will be available shortly after the game’s conclusion at MHSAA.TV.

Here’s a look at the contenders:

Coach: Rob McDaniel, third season (20-11)
League finish: First in North Central Thumb 8-Man League
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 61-38 and 73-34 (Semifinal) over Lawrence, 24-12 over Kinde-North Huron.
Players to watch: RB/CB Cody Abrego, 5-11/170, jr. (2,121 yards, 35 TDs rushing); RB/CB Caleb Dudley, 5-9/160, jr. (980 yards, 16 TDs rushing); QB/LB Tristen Haener, 6-3/210, sr. (54-98, 1,166 yards, 12 TDs passing).
Outlook: Peck is in its second season of 8-player football but had recent success in the 11-player game as well – the Pirates won 10 games in both 2001 and 2003 and made the playoffs three straight seasons from 2006-08. Their perfect run this fall has included a pair of wins apiece over 2011 MHSAA 8-player champion Carsonville-Port Sanilac and 2012 champion Deckerville. Abrego ran for 449 yards and seven touchdowns in last week’s Semifinal win over Lawrence, when Peck broke 70 points for the first time and 50 for the seventh. The 8-player game is generally more high-scoring than the 11-player format, but Peck’s defense is solid – the Pirates give up only 15 points per game and held half their opponents to single digits.

Coach: Steve Ostrenga, 15th season (82-66)
League finish: First in Bridge 8-Man Alliance
Championship history: MHSAA runner-up 2011.
Best wins: 45-28 over Cedarville, 74-42 over Bellaire, 40-8 over Kinde-North Huron in the Semifinal, 50-21 over Engadine in the Regional Final.
Players to watch: QB/LB Jake Pearson, 6-3/220, sr. (2,525 yards, 42 TDs rushing; 55-92, 1,009 yards, 15 TDs passing); RB/DB Pat Pryal, 5-10/155, sr. (791 yards, nine TDs rushing); FL/DB Mike Casey, 5-10/165, jr. (16 catches, 349 yards, five TDs receiving).
Outlook: Pearson has been incredible, adding 359 yards rushing, three touchdown runs and two touchdown passes in Rapid River’s Semifinal win. The Rockets are in the Final for the second time in three seasons, and Pearson threw touchdown passes for the team’s two scores in its 2011 championship game loss to Carsonville-Port Sanilac. Rival Cedarville, loser by only 17 points, came the closest to challenging Rapid River this season as the Rockets also were sound defensively giving up just under 20 points per game despite playing six during the regular season against eventual playoff teams.

MHSAA, MHSFCA to Provide Spring Evaluation Camps for College Football Hopefuls

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 25, 2023

The Michigan High School Athletic Association, in partnership with the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA), will be hosting first-ever Spring Evaluation Camps to provide athletes with aspirations of playing college football opportunities to show their skills and abilities to college coaches at one of five locations.

The one-day camps will take place between May 16-19 at Jenison High School, DeWitt High School, Jackson High School, Brighton High School and Detroit Country Day High School. The MHSAA’s involvement will allow for the opportunity for Division I college coaches to attend, and representatives from college football programs at all levels are expected.

Athletes who will be juniors or seniors in Fall 2023 may register to participate via a link on the Football page.

“This is an attempt by the MHSAA to help our athletes get exposure during the spring evaluation period in a way that does not intrude on spring sports,” said Brad Bush, an MHSAA assistant director and past high school and college football coach. “We are working with the MHSFCA to help put together a first-class experience for the athletes and college coaches.”

Cost is $20 per player, and each registrant will receive a shirt to wear based on the athlete’s graduation year and registration number so college coaches in attendance can monitor their camp performance. College coaches also will receive registration information for each athlete in attendance.

All athletes must have a coach from the athlete’s school staff present at the camp, and that coach must be a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.

MHSFCA executive director Andrew Pratley called the Spring Evaluation Camps a tremendous opportunity for high school athletes in Michigan.

“We are very excited with the partnership with the MHSAA that allows our kids the opportunity to wear a helmet and do drills in front of college coaches in the spring at a minimal cost,” Pratley said. “College coaches are thrilled, and it's a unique opportunity to have the rules waived by the MHSAA at these events only in order to showcase the tremendous talent all over the great state of Michigan.”

The Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) has been devoted to the promotion of high school football since its inception in March 1972. The MHSFCA has more than 2,500 members and provides several educational and development opportunities for members and their athletes, including an annual coaching clinic, an annual leadership conference for coaches and potential team captains, and the annual summer East-West All-Star Game for graduated seniors. Additionally, the MHSFCA’s Leadership Development Alliance is in its third year of training coaches and offering veteran members of the association as mentors.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.