By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
On Saturday, 16 football teams traded a long, relaxing Thanksgiving weekend for a work trip to Detroit.
They’d have it no other way.
There’s much to tell about every team heading to Ford Field for this weekend’s MHSAA Finals, and we’ll get to that soon. (Check back Wednesday evening for previews of all eight championship games.)
Let’s start the week with a glance at all 16 Semifinals from Saturday, including video highlights all by State Champs Sports Network. “Drive for Detroit” is powered by MI Student Aid.
Clarkston 21, Saline 3: The reigning Division 1 champion Wolves (11-2) prevailed by continuing a defensive effort that has now allowed only 16 points total over four playoff games. Saline (11-2) had 215 total yards and only 58 rushing on 20 carries. Click for more from the Oakland Press.
Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 28, Belleville 16: The Big Reds (13-0) moved on to the Finals for the first time since 2001 by handing the Tigers (12-1) their only loss. Chippewa Valley held Belleville to its second-fewest points in a game over the last two seasons. Click for more from the Macomb Daily.
Muskegon Mona Shores 49, Midland 28: After three seasons away, the Sailors are heading back to Ford Field for the second time seeking their first MHSAA title. Mona Shores (12-1) took the lead for good with 4:41 to play in the third quarter and then scored 22 points in the fourth to outlast the Chemics (9-4). Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.
Warren DeLaSalle 28, Birmingham Groves 0: The reigning Division 2 champion will play for its third title in five seasons after handing Groves (10-3) its first shutout since 2013. DeLaSalle (11-2) scored the game’s first points late in the first half before pulling away during the second. Click for more from the Macomb Daily.
Muskegon 45, Zeeland East 22: The Big Reds (13-0) averaged 50 points per game entering the weekend, so by that comparison they were slowed a bit. But considering Zeeland East (11-2) was giving up only 19 per game, it’s fair to say the reigning champs are in Finals form coming off their 27th straight victory. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.
Detroit Martin Luther King 34, DeWitt 21: DeWitt (12-1) pulled within six early in the third quarter before King scored 14 unanswered points to secure the win. The Crusaders (11-2) will be playing for their third title in four seasons after winning Division 2 in 2015 and 2016. Click for more from MLive-Detroit.
Edwardsburg 46, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 44 (OT): In arguably the most dramatic finish from the weekend, Edwardsburg won this rematch of the 2017 Division 4 Final. The Eddies (13-0) scored first in overtime and went up eight, then stopped GRCC (11-2) on a 2-point conversion try after the Cougars also found the end zone. Click for more from the Niles Daily Star.
Chelsea 38, Williamston 13: The Panthers (10-3) are headed to their second MHSAA Finals in four years after knocking off a league champion for the second time this playoffs. Chelsea held Williamston (10-3) to season-low scoring while putting up the most points the Hornets had given up this fall. Click for more from the Sun Times News.
Hudsonville Unity Christian 14, Saginaw Swan Valley 7: This may have stunned some as Swan Valley (12-1) was the reigning Division 5 runner-up and rarely had been challenged. But Unity Christian’s defense had its most impressive game of the fall, holding a Vikings offense averaging 42 points per game to just a first-half score. The Crusaders (11-2) earned their first Finals berth and set a program record for wins in the process. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Portland 35, Marine City 14: The Raiders (13-0) ran for five touchdowns and continued their streak of holding every opponent to 20 or fewer points to earn a trip to Ford Field for the first time since winning Division 5 in 2012. The Mariners (10-3) were on their longest playoff run since 2013, but scored their fewest points this season and tied their most given up. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
Montague 14, Traverse City St. Francis 7: In a season of solid wins, it’s hard to argue this wasn’t the best for the Wildcats (11-2), who will head to the Finals for the first time since 2009 after handing St Francis (12-1) its only defeat. The Gladiators had been held to single-digit scoring only one other game over the last five seasons – in last year’s Semifinal. Click for more from the Local Sports Journal.
Jackson Lumen Christi 42, Montrose 20: The Titans (12-0) will get a chance to earn their third straight Division 6 championship after ending Montrose’s best run since making the Semifinals as well in 2013. After the Rams (10-3) took the lead twice during the first quarter, Lumen scored 34 unanswered points. Click for more from the Jackson Citizen Patriot.
New Lothrop 51, Lake City 22: The Hornets (12-1) are headed to the Finals for the first time since 2006 after scoring 30 points during the first half and breaking away after Lake City cut the lead to eight early in the second. For the second straight season, the Trojans (12-1) ended with their lone loss in the Semifinals. Click for more from the Owosso Argus-Press.
Madison Heights Madison 37, Cassopolis 34: Madison (13-0) will play in its second Final after denying Cassopolis the opportunity to reach its first. The Rangers (12-1) trailed by one at halftime and two at the end of the third quarter but couldn’t catch completely up. Cassopolis had given up only 52 points this season heading into the game, and Madison hadn’t allowed more than 20 to any opponent. Click for more from the Oakland Press.
Breckenridge 12, Harbor Beach 0: Since going 0-9 in 2015, Breckenridge is a combined 32-3 including 13-0 this fall – and the Huskies will next play in their first MHSAA Final. The Huskies posted their eighth shutout (on the field, not counting a forfeit win) and second of the playoffs to stop the Pirates (11-2). Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.
Reading 38, Holton 0: The Rangers (13-0) also earned their first championship game berth with a shutout, their seventh this season. Holton was one of only three teams this fall to hold Reading under 40 points, but the Red Devils (8-4) saw their longest playoff run end with a first trip to the Semifinals. Click for more from the Hillsdale Daily News.
Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO: Clarkston's defense locks down a Saline ball carrier during the Wolves' Division 1 Semifinal win Saturday. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)