Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mythical State Champions in Football

The fun of mythical state championships is perfectly described in the phrase itself. They are mythical - existing in only the imagination. There was no series of playoff contests to determine rightful claim on the honor. There was no computer simulation that ranked teams based on strength of schedule. Instead, the titles were claimed based on swagger and sweat: by players who played the game; coaches who lead the teams into battle; administrators and townspeople looking for a little notoriety for the city, town or burg; press writers who compared the scores and final results against schools in the same classification, then pronounced a winner.

The news traveled by word of mouth, conversation, a phone call, letter, or via a well traveled copy of a newspaper. Claims to the crown were often made by schools on opposite coasts of the state. Seldom were the claimants able to square off in contest to narrow the field. Instead, the prize - bragging rights - was simply shared.

Or, subdivided...

Early on, it became obvious that the state's small schools could not compete with the juggernauts from the Michigan's biggest cities. Good old-fashioned American ingenuity quickly solved the problem. Claimants simply appended a little more descriptive text to the the phrase "Mythical State Champs".

I'm told East Grand Rapids claimed Michigan's "Class D" gridiron crown in 1926.

Richmond and Paw Paw battled to a 0-0 tie in their 1928 season finale, with each squad laying claim to Michigan's Class C mythical gridiron title.

Fortune Sullo's crack Class C squad from Michigan Center grabbed the 1936 title.

A banner at Bath High School proclaims their 1947 and 1948 Class D football teams as mythical state champs.

North Muskegon's teams from 1941 and 1942 are certainly strong contenders for Class C honors.
The North Muskegon football squads of 1941 and 1942 compiled a streak of 15 consecutive shutout victories, going undefeated, untied and unscored upon from the sixth game of the 1940 season through the fourth game of the 1942 schedule. No other Muskegon area prep grid team have gone through a single season of all shutout victories, let alone compile such a record over a two-year period.

Click on the image for a larger view

At Dearborn Fordson High School, a plaque on a school wall lists the 1930 team as "Class B Football Champions"

But the '30 season might also show Bessemer, Coldwater, Lowell, Ovid and Vicksburg as "Football Champions" as it appears each may have finished the year undefeated.

Some years back, I penned an article on Mythical State Titles that focused on Class A stake-holders in Michigan. Research was lacking beyond Class A.

Not much has changed in that area - so I post this entry.

I'm chasing names of other schools in Classes B, C and D that have laid claim on the crown to add to the schools listed above. My focus is primarily on the span 1950 and prior as I've assembled data from 1950 and beyond from Associated Press Polls.

I would, however, love to see what you have. Scans from scrapbooks, newspapers and yearbooks. Photos of banners, signs and plaques denoting a claim. I'd be thrilled to be able to compile a complete run of the final Free Press or News polls, as my collection is spotty at best.

Drop me a line at

I'd love to hear your stories!