In 1975, the Michigan High School Athletic Association started a state football playoff for the first time in the State's history. There had been a structured championship game in the '00s and occasional games afterwards, but never a playoff. However, for the first two years only four teams in each class (A-D) were selected to play in the State tournament. In 1977, it was expanded to eight teams, but this still meant that several great teams never had the opportunity to play in the state playoffs. Some of them were undefeated in the regular season. The reason they didn't get a chance is that teams were selected by a points system, which favored schools that played teams from higher classes.
In 1985, the playoff was expanded to 16 teams in each class. In 1990, the MHSAA created eight separate classes, doubling the number of teams eligible for the playoffs. Eventually, in 2001, it was expanded to a 32-team playoff for each of the eight classes, with any team compiling more than 6 victories in the regular season automatically getting a tournament bid.
Unfortunately, the teams on this panel were all greatly deserving of a chance to play in the playoffs, but never got their chance. We'd like to honor their excellence in this exhibit for achieving perfection, but not getting to truly finish their season.
Images courtesy of Baraga, Hancock, Marquette and Norway Public Schools.