By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
We finally have answers to some of the questions that have been asked all season.
Four 2012 MHSAA champions earned the opportunity Saturday to play for titles again this weekend. Five teams that finished runners-up at Ford Field last season will get another chance to finish the job.
We'll have two Finals rematches, in Divisions 2 and 7. And Clarkston and Clinton will play in the season's final games for the first time.
Read on for a few details from all 16 Semifinals, plus coverage of each from our statewide media.
Clarkston 61, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 26
Clarkston (12-1) has earned its first MHSAA championship game berth in its fourth Semifinal try, thanks in part to 355 yards and six touchdowns rushing from senior running back Ian Eriksen. Flint Carman-Ainsworth finished its best season ever in its first Semifinal and with a final record of 11-2. Click to read more from MLive Detroit.
Detroit Catholic Central 28, Detroit Cass Tech 0
The rematch of the last two Division 1 Finals went the opposite way this time as DCC (11-2) cruised against the two-time reigning champion Technicians. The loss ended an 18-game winning streak for Cass Tech (12-1), which hadn’t been shut out since 2009. Click to read more from the Oakland Press.
Muskegon 41, Portage Central 35
Big Reds quarterback Deshaun Thrower was the hero again, scoring with just under a minute remaining to put his team back in the Division 2 Final after Muskegon (12-1) finished runner-up a year ago. Portage Central (12-1) capped its best season since making the Semifinals in 1977 with its best record ever. Click to read more from the Muskegon Chronicle.
Birmingham Brother Rice 43, Detroit Martin Luther King 20
Brother Rice has set a school record for points with 450 this season. But its defense was equally key in getting the Warriors (13-0) back to Ford Field as it seeks to win a third straight MHSAA title. King (10-2) had averaged 33 points per game this season and scored fewer than 20 only three times. Click to read more from the Detroit News.
Zeeland West 42, Stevensville Lakeshore 7
The Dux’ offense continued to rumble in carrying West back to Ford Field for the second time in three seasons – the Dux will be attempting to add to their Division 4 title won in 2011. But the defense has to be applauded as well after holding Lakeshore (9-4) to its season low points; in fact, it was only the second time West (12-1) held an opponent to fewer than 13 this fall. Click to read more from the Holland Sentinel.
DeWitt 21, St. Clair 20
The Panthers (13-0) are headed back to the MHSAA Finals for the first time since 2004 after ending St. Clair’s longest run in program history. St. Clair (11-2) drove to DeWitt’s 5-yard line during the final minutes but could get no closer to a go-ahead score. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.
Grand Rapids South Christian 20, Comstock Park 6
The reigning champion Sailors (12-1) booked a return trip to Detroit by dispatching of Comstock Park (12-1) in a Semifinal for the second straight season. South Christian scored twice in the fourth quarter to earn the final advantage. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Marine City 12, Lansing Sexton 7
Marine City (12-1) is headed to the Finals for the third time in seven years after ending Sexton’s best season. Defense reigned as both held the other to their respective season low points totals. The Big Reds finished 12-1. Click to read more from the Port Huron Times Herald.
Menominee 59, Muskegon Oakridge 28
The Maroons (13-0) are one win from their fourth MHSAA title and first since the retirement of legendary coach Ken Hofer two seasons ago. Menominee gave up its most points this season to Oakridge (11-2), but jumped to a 49-0 halftime lead and never looked too far back. Click to read more from the Eagle Herald Extra.
Grand Rapids West Catholic 35, Livonia Clarenceville 0
It’s been brought up plenty over the last month, but West Catholic’s season has come nearly full circle – the Falcons (9-4) are back in the Division 5 Final for the second straight season after losing to Portland by three in last year’s championship game and then barely squeaking into the playoffs this fall. Clarenceville (12-1) did complete its best season since 2001. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Ithaca 21, Montrose 20
Never during Ithaca’s 55-game winning streak has an opponent come so close to ending it – in fact, the Rams (12-1) were the first to come within 10 points of the Yellowjackets since the 2011 Regional Final. Ithaca (13-0) also stopped a last-minute drive into its territory to earn a chance to play for a fourth straight MHSAA title. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.
Clinton 49, Shelby 3
Clinton will play for an MHSAA championship for the first time after winning in its first Semifinal appearance since 1990. The Redskins (13-0) scored 35 points during the first half to set the tone and keep the best season in program history going one more week. Shelby (11-2) also was seeking its first championship game berth. Click to read more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.
Ishpeming 44, Harbor Beach 10
Ishpeming (13-0) earned the opportunity to repeat as Division 7 champion by eliminating the reigning winner in Division 8. The Hematites' defense continued to shine – it’s now given up a combined 23 points in four playoff games this fall – while Harbor Beach (11-2) scored its fewest points since the 2011 Regional Final. Click to read more from the Marquette Mining Journal.
Detroit Loyola 52, Homer 7
Loyola (13-0) earned a Finals rematch against Ishpeming with another incredible offensive performance – the Bulldogs have outscored their playoff opponents by a combined 205-14. The Semifinal appearance was a first for Homer (11-1). Click to read more from MLive Detroit.
Beal City 34, Crystal Falls Forest Park 18
Forest Park (12-1) did hold Beal City to a season low in points and scored the second most of any opponent. That’s how good the Aggies (13-0) have been this fall, and they’ll get a chance to finish the run after falling to Harbor Beach in last year’s Division 8 Final. Click to read more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.
Muskegon Catholic Central 45, New Lothrop 14
The Crusaders (11-2) are headed to the Finals for the first time since 2008 and in search of their ninth MHSAA championship. New Lothrop (12-1) was the second straight previously-undefeated team to have its season ended by Muskegon Catholic Central. Click to read more from the Muskegon Chronicle.
PHOTO: DeWitt defenders swarm a St. Clair ball carrier during the Panthers’ 21-20 Division 3 Semifinal win Saturday at Goodrich High School. (Photo courtesy of Matt Stehouwer.)