By Geoff Kimmerly
Special for Second Half
Buckle up. We’re headed for the home stretch.
The final 16 contenders for this season’s MHSAA 11-player football championships were set over the weekend, and Detroit on Friday and Saturday will be the final stop to conclude another memorable season.
Below we discuss all 16 Semifinals just a bit, with more detailed previews of the championship games coming out Wednesday. We’ll also include this past weekend’s 8-Player Finals – congratulations to first-time champions Colon and Pickford! – when we wrap up our review of the MHSAA Football Finals as a whole next week.
“Drive for Detroit” is powered by MI Student Aid
Brighton 22, Belleville 19
The Bulldogs (11-2) will play in their first MHSAA Final in football, while Belleville ended its season in the Semifinals for the second-straight year. Brighton scored with under a minute left to earn the first championship game trip, and also held Belleville (12-1) to its fewest points scored this season. Click for more from the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.
Davison 34, Sterling Heights Stevenson 27 (OT)
The Cardinals (11-2) also will play in their first MHSAA football championship game after outlasting Stevenson. Davison, playing its first Semifinal since 2008, trailed throughout but caught up before the end of regulation and then made a stop in overtime to finish the comeback. The Titans (8-5) had made the playoffs as an additional qualifier before reaching their first Semifinal since 2009. Click for more from the Flint Journal.
Muskegon Mona Shores 57, Walled Lake Western 56
The reigning Division 2 runner-up Sailors (11-2) booked their return to Ford Field with a touchdown with 17 seconds to play followed by a go-ahead 2-point conversion instead of kicking an extra point – making back-up quarterback Brady Rose one of the biggest stars of the weekend. Walled Lake Western (11-2) was playing in its fourth Semifinal this decade and tied its most points scored in a game this fall. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.
Detroit Martin Luther King 60, Birmingham Seaholm 17
The Crusaders (11-2) will play for a second-straight MHSAA Finals championship to follow up last season’s won in Division 3. The reached 60 points for the first time since Week 5 of 2017 and held Seaholm (9-4) to nearly 20 points before its average. The Maples were playing in their first Semifinal since 1997. Click for more from MLive-Detroit.
Muskegon 28, DeWitt 21
The Big Reds (13-0) outlasted DeWitt in their only playoff games decided by fewer than 38 points, and one of only two games they played decided by single digits this fall. Last season’s Division 3 runner-up, Muskegon went ahead to stay with just more than two minutes remaining and held off a final rally by the Panthers (10-3), who were playing in their fifth Semifinal this decade. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.
River Rouge 14, Chelsea 7
The Panthers (12-1) likewise received their toughest challenge of the playoffs, as Chelsea gave them one of only three games decided by single digits this season. River Rouge scored both of its touchdowns during the fourth quarter after Chelsea (12-1) led for a quarter and a half. The Bulldogs were trying for their second-straight trip to the Finals after finishing Division 4 runner-up a year ago. Click for more from the Detroit News.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central 56, Hudsonville Unity Christian 17
The Cougars (12-1) will play for their third Division 4 championship in four years after eliminating last season’s Division 5 title winner, Unity (9-4). It was the seventh time these teams met in the playoffs this decade, and fifth time the result went GRCC’s way. The Cougars scored their most points this season in earning the trip to Detroit. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Detroit Country Day 21, Flint Powers Catholic 0
Country Day (13-0) will return to Ford Field for the first time since 2016 (when it also faced GRCC) after posting its fourth shutout this season. It’s easy to marvel at the Yellowjackets’ defense, which is now giving up just 5.2 points per game. Powers (10-3) was playing in its third Semifinal this decade and capped its best run since 2015. Click for more from the Oakland Press.
Lansing Catholic 28, Kingsley 14
The Cougars (12-1) are known for offense, but headed to Ford Field for the first time since 2014 as much thanks to a defensive effort that held Kingsley (12-1) nearly 32 points below its season average. Lansing Catholic is giving up only 13 points per game. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
Almont 36, Detroit Denby 8
In its third Semifinal this decade, Almont (13-0) advanced to its first football championship game also with another outstanding defensive performance. The Raiders lowered their points-given-up average to 10 with their best showing of the playoffs, halting Denby’s longest playoff run and most successful season at 10-3.
Maple City Glen Lake 31, Montague 30 (OT)
The Lakers (12-1) are headed to their second MHSAA Final in four seasons thanks to a mighty comeback against last season’s Division 6 runner-up. Glen Lake trailed by 14 with under five minutes left in regulation, but pushed the game to overtime with a touchdown pass on the last play of the fourth quarter. Montague (10-3) finished with three losses this fall by a combined 13 points. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 17, Onsted 14
St. Mary will play in its third Final this decade and first since winning Division 6 in 2014 thanks to Wyatt Bergmoser’s 20-yard field goal on the game’s final play. The Falcons (11-1) held off an Onsted team that finished 10-3 and rallied after a 2-2 start to reach the Semifinals for the first time since 1993. The close win for SMCC came after its last two playoff runs ended in Regional Final losses by two and one point. Click for more from the Monroe News.
Pewamo-Westphalia 43, Iron Mountain 7
Friday night at the Superior Dome at Northern Michigan University saw two undefeated teams meet and P-W (13-0) earn its fourth trip to Ford Field over the last five seasons. After giving up 35 points to reigning champ New Lothrop in a one-point win the week before, the Pirates’ defense bounced back to hold the Mountaineers (12-1) to their season low. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
Jackson Lumen Christi 27, Cass City 0
Lumen Christi scored one point less than Cass City had given up over the last 10 weeks combined, finding enough openings against one of the state’s most accomplished defenses to reach a fourth-straight Final. The Titans (12-0) also posted their second shutout of the fall, like P-W bouncing back on that side of the ball after giving up 30 in a Regional Final. Cass City finished 11-2 in reaching the Semifinals for the first time. Click for more from the Jackson Citizen-Patriot.
Beal City 21, Ubly 20
The Aggies (12-1) came back from an early 14-0 deficit to edge Ubly and reach the MHSAA Finals for the first time since back-to-back trips in 2012 and 2013. The Bearcats went for the win after a last-minute score, but Beal City made a stop on the conversion and again after Ubly (10-3) recovered the ensuing onside kick. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.
Reading 62, Fowler 18
The reigning champ has earned an opportunity to repeat, as Reading (12-1) put up 60 points for the third time this season and held the Eagles scoreless during the second half. Fowler, playing in its first Semifinal since 2011, finished with its best record since that fall at 11-2. Click for more from the Hillsdale Daily News.
Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning 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. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO: Detroit King's Terence Maize (99) wraps up Birmingham Seaholm's Chaz Strecker during the Crusaders' Division 2 Semifinal win Saturday. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)