Moment: Streak-Ender Highlights 1st Finals

December 11, 2020

By John Johnson
MHSAA Director of Broadcast Properties

It’s been 45 years since the first MHSAA Football Playoffs took place, a two-week, 16-team tournament with the top teams of each of four regions in all four classes finally settling gridiron championships on the playing field.

In that first year, cries of “U.P. Power” thundered through the stands at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo and the new Perry Shorts Stadium in Mt. Pleasant as Crystal Falls Forest Park and Ishpeming claimed the 1975 titles in Classes D and C respectively. Bill Santilli ran wild for 179 yards on 37 carries and three touchdowns as the Trojans manhandled Flint Holy Rosary, 50-0, in the Class D game. But the Class C affair was one for the ages - perhaps the biggest upset in the history of the finals.

It was billed as David and Goliath. The mighty Hudson Tigers roared north to Mt. Pleasant riding a 72-game winning streak, which would stand as a national record until 1992; and is still a state record, only threatened once by a 69-game skein by Ithaca which ended in the 2014 Finals. Hudson had also laid claim to mythical state titles in Class C the three previous seasons. Ishpeming’s pedigree dated back to 1900, when it won the first of three straight - and of four in a five-year period - state titles in a championship conducted at and by the University of Michigan, primarily for the purpose of recruiting for Fritz Crisler’s Wolverines football program. The Hematites, having their best season in 15 years, had even lost a regular-season game along the way to a 9-0 Marquette squad that didn’t qualify for the playoffs.

On a cold, windy day at Central Michigan University, Ishpeming struck first and struck hard. Four minutes into the game, Tom Andriacchi blocked a Hudson punt and returned it to the Tigers' 10-yard line. Four plays later, quarterback Mark Marana kept the ball on the option and scored from two yards out. On its next possession just midway through the first period, the Hematites ripped off a 61-yard drive capped by a three-yard scoring run by Dave Farragh, and Ishpeming was up 16-0.

Hudson rallied following the ensuing kickoff with its first score, a 28-yard pass from Chris Luma to Dan Salamin, but the Hematites came right back with their third score of the opening frame, a 60-yard run by Mike Dellangelo to give Ishpeming all the points it would need.

The two teams traded scores in the second period, when Hudson then missed a golden opportunity to tighten things up just before halftime, fumbling at the Hematites' 2-yard line and with Ishpeming recovering for a touchback.

Dellangelo picked up a second TD in the third quarter, and finished the game with 156 of Ishpeming’s 336 rushing yards in the 38-22 victory.

“It wasn’t hard getting our guys up for the game,” Hematites coach Mike Mileski told Central Michigan Life after the game. “The emotion factor was a ready-made thing considering Hudson’s streak …”

Our action footage this week comes courtesy of Brian Sarvello, a member of that 1975 Ishpeming team. About 17 minutes film from that game was assembled with some of the local radio station call into a DVD that was shared with the team several years ago. We found it in a random internet search for this most recent series of MHSAA Moments, and appreciate Mr. Sarvello’s help in bringing it to you.

If you know of championship game footage from those pre-television years (1975-88) of the MHSAA Football Finals, we’d love to hear about it. Drop us a line at [email protected].

PHOTO: Ishpeming's Mark Marana works to break away from a tackler during the 1975 Class C Final. (MHSAA file photo). 

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

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 27, 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 15-18 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.